Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has spent two years fighting in court to hold accountable some of the world’s most powerful corporate interests — ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute — for lying to Minnesotans about the overwhelmingly clear reality that their oil and gas businesses have fueled and continue to fuel our escalating climate crisis. Like tobacco companies before them, these groups sold and marketed dangerous products...
Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith, who works with MN350, said she has found that fewer than ten percent of victims felt safe involving the legal system. As a legal advocate, “I can go to court proceedings with people and make them feel safer and help them through the process, because the process itself is very re-traumatizing. That’s something that really needs to be addressed broadly statewide. I’ve had so many different cases in different counties all across the state, and it’s the same thing. People just don’t trust the system. There has to be better things in place.” Survivors also face backlash in their communities for calling out behavior, or trying to hold somebody accountable, Smith says. “People can easily push things underneath the rug. Families and survivors are left reeling, not knowing what to do or where to go. It starts with building that network of support, because that support is crucial.”
In order to meet climate goals and ensure that the benefits of the clean energy transition fall equally to everyone, local governments need to step up. As luck would have it, Minneapolis is in the process of updating its 10-year climate action plan. Teams of people from every ward across Minneapolis have been working with their council members and the mayor to advocate for the People’s Climate & Equity Plan for Minneapolis — a local effort headed up by a coalition of racial, environmental and economic justice organizations that would ensure that the clean energy revolution is accessible to all residents, regardless of income, race or zip code. So, what is the People’s Climate & Equity Plan?
“More often than not, our candidates come find us during election time and say ‘we need your vote, we’re really here to address your issues’ and then after election day we don’t see them anymore,” said Nancy Beaulieu, a northern Minnesota organizer for MN350. “So what we’re trying to do here is build people power.”
At MN350, we are committed to building a more racially just, sustainable future for Minnesotans in the face of climate change. In Minneapolis, the 2040 Plan outlines one possible path to that future by undoing the strict zoning limitations put in place in the 1960s and 70s, which banned new multifamily housing in large swaths of the city. But last month, in a suit brought under Minnesota’s bedrock environmental law — the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) — a Hennepin County District Court judge ruled that the city of Minneapolis must stop enforcing the Minneapolis 2040 Plan.