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April 25, 2014

Team Minnesota Rocks the Capitol for Clean Energy

St.-Paul-Earth-Day-rally

By Michele Rosier, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign organizer

Team Minnesota Beyond Coal rocked it on Earth Day, partnering with the Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs campaign to turn out more than 500 people to a rally at the state capitol in St. Paul. The assembled activists urged that at least 50 percent of Minnesota's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and energy-efficiency programs in the state be quickly scaled up.

Speakers at the rally included Governor Mark Dayton, U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, Arctic explorer and climate activist Will Steger, Rev. Peg Chemberlin of the Minnesota Council of Churches, SEIU leader and Sierra Club North Star Chapter volunteer leader Javier Morillo-Alicea, clean-energy business owner Tim Gulden, and South St. Paul High School senior Priyanka Zylstra.

Before the rally, some 100 youth from all around the state met with Governor Dayton (below) to talk about clean energy.

Youth-with-Governor-Dayton

The meeting with the governor was coordinated by Minneapolis-based Sierra Club organizer Alexis Boxer and our allies Youth Environmental Advocates Minnesota, Minnesota Youth Environmental Network, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, and the Will Steger Foundation. The youth set the agenda, identified leaders from among their group to run the meeting, and did a phenomenal job. Meanwhile, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed an energy omnibus bill that included several clean-energy provisions that were strongly supported by the Sierra Club and the Clean Energy & Jobs campaign.

The Sierra Club's volunteer-led Clean Energy Action Nights helped ensure a big turnout at the Earth Day rally. Sierra Club intern Julie Drennen recruited for and led the action nights, with support from Caitlin Myhre and the Minnesota organizing team. North Star Chapter Clean Air and Renewable Energy (CARE) committee co-chairs David Howd and John Krenn (and many more) also helped with the action nights.

Clean-Energy-Action-Night

Chapter volunteer Jessica Tritsch played a major role working with Clean Energy & Jobs to plan the rally, making sure everyone had recruitment materials and leading the volunteer training and coordination at the event. Big thanks also go to Chicago-based Sierra Club online organizer Justin Uebelhor and associate press secretary Alison Flowers.

Environmental justice and Beyond Coal organizer Karen Monahan, also based in Minneapolis, is leading the planning effort for a May 15 climate justice event with Green For All, but she still pitched in to the team effort on Earth Day. Club conservation organizer Chelsey Permenter helped rally a contingent of activists to travel 75 miles from St. Cloud to St. Paul, and chapter lobbyist Justin Fay helped ensure that the energy omnibus bill passed on the House floor.

So proud to be a member of the Minnesota Beyond Coal team!


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