On Thursday, April 3rd, the public utilities office in Saint Paul served as a space for people to speak in opposition or in support of expansion to the Alberta clipper pipeline. The oil traveling through the Alberta Clipper comes from tar sands operations, said to be "the dirtiest form of oil on this planet" by 350.org. This expansion would mean an increase of 5 billion gallons per year coming through this pipeline. From my perspective, this expansion is not in the best interest of people and the planet, but when I was first presented with this opportunity to testify, I rejected it. The thought of speaking my mind in front of a powerful group of adults was terrifying, and that fear was enough to trump my commitment to act as an empowered young person and stand up for what I believe. However, I was lucky because Natalie Cook, the coordinator of theYouth Environmental Activists of Minnesota(YEA! MN) and the one who had asked me to testify in the first place, encouraged me to reconsider. I ended up deciding that there was no logical reason for me not to testify. If I don't want this pipeline expansion to happen, then I must add my voice to the opposition.
2012 was the hottest year on record within the United States. Many western states are in official states of drought. Climate change is now. Obama said this about climate change in his State of the Union address “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”
Thursday afternoon April 3rd, 300 protesters from across the Great Lakes region from multiple generations, marched with high spirits through the final fits of winter, to a contested case hearing, holding Enbridge on trial to re-examine the need to expand tar sands infrastructure, specifically Line 67, the Alberta Clipper, which would transport 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day across MN to Lake Superior. Young people brought their creative energy with chanting, drumming, and a pipeline puppet masquerade, which brought to life the speeches from organizers and respected community leaders at the send-off from Kellogg Park.
The Will Steger Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Mentorship Program is engaging forty environmental leaders in six Midwest states in powerful dialog across the generational spectrum. This co-mentorship model pairs young and veteran environmental leaders with complementing experience and growth interests to share perspectives in an egalitarian exchange.
Over 125 young people turned out for the Youth Environmental Lobby Day at the MN State Capitol, hosted by the Will Steger Foundation and the MN Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), calling for a stronger state Renewable Energy Standard to provide all Minnesotans with at least 50% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and to expand energy efficiency programs that work. High School Sophomore, Kendra Roedl, was as the event and shares her reflection below.
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