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'They're Galvanized': Youth Activists Get Behind MN Climate Plan

Minnesota House Democrats say a portion of the state's budget plan should go toward initiatives that would encourage action on climate change. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesota House Democrats say a portion of the state's budget plan should go toward initiatives that would encourage action on climate change. (Adobe Stock)
February 18, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Democrats in the Minnesota House want to spend budget surplus money on more immediate climate-change initiatives.

Youth activists say the plan highlights their demands for policy action.

It would set aside more than $190 million for efforts that supporters say could get residents and local governments directly involved in combating climate change. For example, $26 million would go toward solar investments for public schools and homes.

Marco Hernandez is a recent college graduate and environmental advocate. As an organizer for the group COPAL MN, he says younger activists are throwing their support behind the proposal as their voices grow louder in demanding change.

As Hernandez put it: "They're learning the legislative process already, and are already advocating for some bills, too. They're galvanized."

House Democrats say they want to dip into the state budget surplus of more than $1 billion for these one-time expenditures before a more comprehensive plan is unveiled.

It's unclear yet if Republicans, who control the state Senate, will back the plan. They're pushing their own proposal, which calls on utility companies to prioritize carbon-free technology.

Hernandez notes these discussions also can raise awareness of environmental injustice. He says too often, communities of color can feel the effects of climate change based on their surroundings.

"During the summer, it's really hot in those areas, since there are less parks and trees, and more concrete," he adds.

A recent study published in the journal Climate lends support to claims that impoverished communities and communities of color tend to be hotter during heat waves, creating adverse effects for residents.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN