Local Sierra Club Chapter Celebrates 20th Annual Bike Tour – Tour highlights transportation options in the Twin Cities

Contact: Joshua Houdek,
Land Use and Transportation Program Manager, Sierra Club North Star Chapter
joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org w) 612-259-2447 c) 612-207-2295

Minneapolis, MN – On Saturday, September 19, the Sierra Club North Star Chapter will host its 20th year of “Touring the Metro by Bike.” The annual ride aims to bring together residents of all ages in an event that highlights sustainable land use and transportation infrastructure in the Twin Cities.

Each year, the ride features a different family-friendly route throughout the metro, with guest speakers at educational rest stops along the way. Past years’ topics include advocacy for bicycle and pedestrian safe spaces, transportation investments that spur sustainable living by increasing bicycle infrastructure and transit options, and creating a healthy workforce through transportation that helps the Twin Cities grow and remain competitive.

To celebrate its 20th year, the 2015 ride will begin in St. Paul, and will showcase past tours and celebrate biking and walking successes in the Twin Cities region.

Sierra Club’s Land Use and Transportation Chair, Andy Coldwell said, “The annual tour gives us a chance to meet local residents who are as passionate as we are about green transportation – transit options that allow people to enjoy everything the Twin Cities have to offer without needing to drive. We want our 20th anniversary tour to encourage community involvement and remind everyone of the pure joy that comes from simply riding a bike.”

Those interested in joining the ride can learn more and sign up at sierraclub.org/minnesota/tour


Duluth Community Leaders Support Clean Power Plan Implementation in Minnesota


August 3, 2015                   

Media Contacts:
Danny Wein, (202) 675-7902 or danny.wein@sierraclub.org

View as webpage

DULUTH, MN – This afternoon, community leaders will gather at Ecolibrium3 for a panel to highlight the health benefits of the new Clean Power Plan (CPP) recently finalized by the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CPP will help keep people in Duluth and other Minnesota communities healthy and safe by implementing the first-ever carbon pollution reductions for power plants. Carbon pollution is linked to life-threatening air pollution, notably smog, which can trigger asthma attacks and lead to heart attacks and even premature deaths.

Presently, these devastating effects disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. The CPP will help communities, like Duluth, across the country to retire dirty coal plants, the largest contributors to dangerous carbon pollution, and transition to clean energy, thereby cutting the dangerous pollution that makes families sick.

“Children, seniors and low-income families in our Minnesota communities have been disproportionately affected over the years by carbon emissions from industry and coal-burning plants,” said Rev. Dr. David A. Bard, Pastor of Duluth’s First United Methodist Church. “We must make sure people from all walks of life are protected as Minnesotans work together to cut this harmful pollution.”

Thanks to EPA and the Obama Administration, the air in Duluth and cities and towns across the country will be cleaner and safer due to the CPP.

“Minnesota is ready for the Clean Power Plan,” said State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter Margaret Levin. “The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses in Minnesota to prosper as we go above and beyond the goals set by this plan.”

Bret Pence, a program specialist at Ecolibrium3, also emphasized the economic benefits of the Clean Power Plan and investing in renewable energy.

“The life-saving measure of reducing carbon pollution by moving away from coal means more investments in renewable energy and efficiency. Clean energy works in Minnesota. The clean energy sector has already grown more than 78 percent since 2000 and created more than 15,000 jobs for hard-working Minnesotans. If we maximize our clean energy potential, Minnesota could create more than 35,000 new jobs and over $2 billion in wages over the next 15 years.”

A 2014 statewide survey found the majority of Minnesota voters (more than 70 percent) say they would rather reduce the need for fossil fuels by expanding the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

Minneapolis City Council Passes Protected Bikeway Update

Contact: Joshua Houdek, joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org, 612-659-2447

MINNEAPOLIS — July 10, 2015 — Bikeways for Everyone is pleased to announce that the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed the Protected Bikeway Update to the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, catapulting the City forward toward its goal of being bike friendly for anyone from kids going to school to seniors going to the park.

“This plan is a critical step forward for Minneapolis and we thank the City Council, Mayor Hodges, and staff for their work,” said Amy Brugh, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition President. “A network of great protected bikeways will transform biking by making it safer and more comfortable for thousands of families like mine. We can’t wait to see it built.”

The long-awaited City protected bikeway plan provides a smart blueprint for the critical first stage of building out that network. It lays out a system of up to 55 new miles of protected bikeways, 44 miles of which are identified as “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” projects that should be implemented in the next five years or so. When implemented, this plan will achieve the City’s target of 30 new miles of protected bikeways built by 2020. The City received 1,716 comments on the draft protected bikeways plan–1,683 were generally supportive, while 2 were generally opposed.

“The places where we live and work influence how healthy we can be,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “That’s why Blue Cross supports Bikeways for Everyone, along with organizations throughout Minnesota working for long-term, permanent community change to increase physical activity. We are proud to play a part in making Minneapolis a healthier city.”

IMG_2017A network of protected bikeways–where people biking are separated from cars (and sidewalks) by some sort of physical barrier–will connect our world-class trail network with key destinations. This will knock down a major barrier that prevents many from biking, according to Midtown Greenway Executive Director Soren Jensen. “As we’ve seen from the popularity of the Midtown Greenway, we know what happens when protected bikeways are created — people use them.  The protected bikeways plan is great news for biking in Minneapolis.” In fact, a 2012 study found that 65 percent of people say they would feel comfortable biking in a protected bikeway, while only 13 percent say they same about a street with no bikeway. New protected bike lanes on the Plymouth Avenue Bridge spurred an 81 percent increase in biking in the first year they opened.

Protected bikeways have more than tripled nationally from 2011 to 2014 as more than 50 cities have built new lanes. The proposed plan is among the most robust protected bikeway plans in the country and has draw national and international praise.“By approving the protected bikeway plan, Minneapolis positions itself as a national leader for making our streets safer and more accessible for everyone,” said Andrew Coldwell, Chair of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Land Use and Transportation Committee. “Kudos to City Council and the thousands of community supporters who are working together to make these meaningful improvements possible.”

The protected bikeway plan initially focuses on the areas of the city with the biggest barriers to comfortable biking and the most destinations–largely connections into and through downtown for surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s critical that we improve connections between North Minneapolis and other parts of region,” said Alexis Pennie of the North Minneapolis Bicycle Advocacy Council. “I’m excited that this plan will mean there are finally comfortable bike routes into downtown from North that will support the rapidly growing community interest in biking.”

“We are thrilled to see the Protected Bikeways Plan passed by the Minneapolis City Council. These additional protected bikeways will increasingly allow safer biking in our community and active, healthy lifestyles,” said Nice Ride Minnesota Marketing Director, Anthony Ongaro.

The Bikeways for Everyone partners look forward to working with Minneapolis Public Works to ensure this plan is implemented as quickly and as well as possible so that everyone in Minneapolis will have access to quality bicycle infrastructure.


About Bikeways for Everyone

Bikeways for Everyone is a collaborative campaign of Minneapolis organizations and businesses working to see 30 new miles of protected bikeways built by 2020. More information at http://www.bikewaysforeveryone.org/

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to Hear State-Level Environmental Justice Recommendations for Clean Power Plan

Karen Monahan, 952-220-1453, karen.monahan@sierraclub.org
Sean Sarah, 330-338-3740, sean.sarah@sierraclub.org

Justice groups to hold press event before MPCA meeting leading up to the first-ever limits on carbon pollution in long-awaited Clean Power Plan

**ATTENTION ASSIGNMENT/PHOTO DESKS: On-site visuals/signage will include these messages: “I HEART CLEAN AIR,” “ACT ON CLIMATE” and “CLEAN POWER PLAN PROTECTS OUR COMMUNITIES.” Pollution and health impacts b-roll here.

BACKGROUND:  As the nation prepares for the first-ever limits on carbon pollution — the Clean Power Plan — Minnesota is considering how to implement these life-saving protections for the state. For decades, carbon pollution from industry and coal-burning plants have harmed communities, especially children, seniors and low-income families, while also destabilizing climate and playing a significant role in extreme weather events. In recent days, the U.S. Surgeon General testified at the White House Climate Health Summit that climate disruption will have a serious impact on human health.

The Clean Power Plan, soon to be published by the EPA in July, will not only curb the carbon pollution that directly contributes to climate disruption, but it will also reduce harmful air pollution, such as smog and soot and other toxic air pollutants.


Press event before Minnesota Pollution Control Agency meeting to hear Environmental Justice recommendations for state’s Clean Power Plan implementation


Environmental Justice advocates, community members, health professionals, Sierra Club

Dr. Bruce Snyder, Twin Cities neurologist, teaches at the University of Minnesota Medical School

Shiranthi Goonathilaka, Urban Heat Island Intern, Kitty Anderson Youth Science Center

Louis Alemayehu, North American Water Office, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, MN Interfaith Power & Light, North Star Sierra Club Board


12:30 PM, Tuesday, June 30 (MPCA meeting to follow on site at 1 PM)


Emerge (North Side), 1834 Emerson Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411


Sierra Club Statement: Legislative Session A Dismal Failure for Minnesota Values, Citizens

Early Saturday morning, the Minnesota House and Senate passed the Agriculture & Environment Omnibus budget bill and concluded the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Special Session. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement from State Director Margaret Levin in response:

“The Sierra Club is deeply disappointed at the passage of the Agriculture and Environment Omnibus bill in the Special Session. The final bill contains an alarming number of provisions which undermine the safeguards that have helped to make our state an environmental leader.

“The 2015 legislative session will be remembered for its unprecedented rollbacks of protections for clean water – at a time when our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water face historic threats; for clean air, and for Minnesota’s irreplaceable outdoors legacy.

“Unfortunately, it will be also remembered for the missed opportunity to grow clean energy jobs and address the urgent threat of climate disruption, by failing to consider a responsible clean energy plan. Instead, this legislature chose to roll back smart policies like Minnesota’s net metering law; and instituted decreased electricity rates for large corporations, such as mines and paper mills, which will transfer those costs onto the backs of small business and residential customers.

“And, we will remember the legislature’s failure to address Minnesota’s need for a comprehensive transportation bill that would dedicate funding for a modern, statewide transportation system, including real options for transit, bicycling, and walking, and fixes for our crumbling roads and bridges.

“Some of the worst rollbacks were passed literally in the middle of the night, with no opportunity for public response. The backroom deals and lack of transparency are both troubling and insulting to the people of Minnesota.

“The Sierra Club’s members and supporters across the state will be carefully evaluating the results of this Special Session, and the votes taken by their legislators in 2015. For those environmental champions who stood up against proposals to gut our state’s protections, we thank you for your courageous leadership and look forward to continued work together.

“Minnesotans deserve and expect better from their elected officials, and will hold accountable those legislators who are responsible for endangering our clean water, communities and climate. We will make our voices heard.”

Sierra Club Statement in Response to Vetoes of Agriculture & Environment and Jobs & Economic Development Omnibus Bills

May 23, 2015

Today, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the Agriculture & Environment Omnibus bill and the Jobs & Economic Development Omnibus bill, passed by the Minnesota House and Senate Monday evening.

Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, issued the following statement in response:

“The Sierra Club North Star Chapter applauds Governor Dayton’s vetoes of the Agriculture & Environment Omnibus bill and the Jobs & Economic Development Omnibus bill. Numerous provisions in the Agriculture and Environment bill fly in the face of the values that Minnesotans hold dear — for clean water, healthy communities, and environmental stewardship to preserve and protect the Minnesota way of life.

“We thank Governor Dayton for listening and responding to thousands of citizens across the state, who said that this bill did not reflect their values.

“The Jobs & Economic Development bill includes provisions that move our state in the opposite direction — including changes to the net metering law, which would allow rural electric co-ops and municipal utilities to increase charges for customers who own solar panels and other small-scale renewable energy. No opportunity for testimony or debate on the final bill was provided until the final hour of session on May 18.

“The lack of public input on aspects of both bills was deeply troubling.

“We thank the Governor for this responsible action and look forward to a fix that will allow crucial funding to move forward in the special session without new obstacles to clean energy jobs and the protection of our environment.”

New Agreement Requires Minnesota’s Dirtiest Power Plant to Curb Pollution

MAY 15, 2015

Kevin Reuther, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 612-210-0211, kreuther@mncenter.org
Joshua Smith, Sierra Club, 415-977-5560, joshua.smith@sierraclub.org
Stephanie Kodish, National Parks Conservation Association, 865-329-2424


Clean air advocates say more steps are necessary to reduce Xcel Energy’s Sherco coal plant pollution that harms community health, national parks, wilderness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today clean air advocates announced an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Northern States Power Company (NSP, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy) to require its Sherburne County Generation Station (Sherco) in Minnesota to reduce its harmful emissions – but more reductions will be necessary to prevent ongoing degradation to the Midwest’s most pristine places, including Boundary Waters Canoe  Area Wilderness and Voyageurs and Isle Royale National Parks.

“Nearly 240,000 visitors enjoy kayaking, hiking, boating, camping, and fishing in Voyageurs National Park each year and contribute more than $18 million to the local economy,” said Christina Hausman, executive director of Voyageurs National Park Association. “Minnesotans and national park visitors from around the world expect and deserve clean air and clear visibility while enjoying the beauty of Voyageurs.”

The agreement will bring an end to a lawsuit brought by advocates, which include the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park Association, Fresh Energy and the Sierra Club. To help mitigate air quality problems at Voyageurs and Isle Royale national parks, which the National Park Service found were caused by pollution from Sherco, the settlement requires Sherco to comply with significantly reduced sulfur dioxide emission limits.

More specifically, the settlement requires NSP, by the end of 2015, to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from two of the three Sherco units by approximately 10,000 tons annually, and will require further reductions of sulfur dioxide from the third unit by mid-2017. EPA has agreed to finalize the terms of the settlement through a federally enforceable implementation plan in exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit.

“Minnesotans can celebrate this agreement as a smart decision that reduces harmful air pollution,” said Michelle Rosier of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “But Minnesotans also want to see a transition plan beyond coal that makes room for Minnesota wind, solar and efficiency.”

The groups filed the lawsuit in 2012 after years of EPA’s delay in taking the steps legally required to curtail the pollution created by the 35-year-old Sherco plant, the dirtiest in Minnesota. The plant’s emissions are a major contributor to smog that jeopardizes public health and reduces visibility in the region’s treasured national parks and wilderness areas, such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

“The long-term health of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the communities around it depend on a commitment to clean air for the region,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness“Cleaning the air benefits people, economies and wildlife.”

In 2009, the National Park Service certified that the pollution from the Sherco coal plant significantly impairs visibility in Voyageurs and Isle Royale national parks. As a result, EPA was required to verify the impairment and order the installation of the best available pollution controls at this coal plant. But three years after the certification, EPA had failed to act.

“Today’s settlement represents a strong first step toward protecting Midwest communities and treasured natural landscapes,” said Stephanie Kodish, director and counsel of NPCA’s Clean Air Program. “Under this agreement, Sherco will make meaningful smog reductions that will improve air quality and public health, but those reductions will not be enough to eliminate the plant’s impact on the region’s national parks and wilderness areas. NSP can and must do more to clean up Sherco emissions and transition the plant to cleaner energy to help restore clean, clear skies to the region.”