Congressional Vote Against the Clean Power Plan Undermines Public Health


November 19, 2015

Media Contact:
Karen Monahan,, (612) 259-2451
Jessica Herrera,, (520) 260-1725

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Polluter-backed Congressional resolutions to block the Clean Power Plan passed the Senate Tuesday night in spite of widespread public support for the policy’s life-saving steps to curb unlimited carbon pollution from power plants for the first time ever. These legislative efforts to block the policy are expected to be vetoed by President Obama.

The resolutions are an extreme and controversial legislative tool that fall under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to nullify a final administrative rulemaking. According to the Government Accountability Office, lawmakers have only struck down one rule using CRA resolutions in 43 attempts and this tactic has been called extreme by both sides of the aisle.

Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted against the resolutions.

In response, Karen Monahan, organizing representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, issued the following statement:

“We applaud Senator Franken’s and Senator Klobuchar’s decision to side with the health and safety of their constituents and reject these polluter ploys to block the Clean Power Plan in Washington.

“These legislative gimmicks are just distractions from the great benefits the Clean Power Plan will bring to our state. The policy will protect our air and water from fossil fuel pollution while promoting our transition to a clean energy economy, which will bring good jobs and more opportunities from 21st century energy technologies like solar and wind.

“Senators Kobuchar and Franken showed real leadership today by bucking fossil fuel interests in Washington and standing with Minnesotans for a clean energy future.”


Sierra Club responds to release of PolyMet Final Environmental Impact Statement

Contact: Margaret Levin, State Director, Sierra Club North Star Chapter 612-259-2446,

Today the Final Environmental Impact Statement was released for the PolyMet proposed sulfide ore mine.   In response, Sierra Club State Director Margaret Levin issued the following statement:

“The Sierra Club will be carefully reviewing the final Environmental Impact Statement that was released today. But we already know that the risks of PolyMet’s flawed plan, and of sulfide ore mining, far outweigh the potential benefits.

“This is not the legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. PolyMet’s plan – to pollute water for centuries, destroy thousands of acres of wetlands, and put the health of people downstream at risk – should be rejected.”

The document is now available on the Department of Natural Resources website:


Minnesota Sierra Club responds to Keystone XL rejection, applauds President Obama’s leadership on climate


November 6, 2015

Margaret Levin, State Director, Sierra Club North Star Chapter:
Terry Houle, Beyond Oil and Tar Sands Committee, Sierra Club North Star Chapter:

[Minneapolis, MN] – Today, the Sierra Club and local North Star Chapter celebrated the Obama Administration’s decision to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, further cementing his climate legacy.

“President Obama said yes to clean energy and public health, and no to dirty oil and dangerous pollution. The Sierra Club is thankful that President Obama has chosen the clean energy promise of prosperity and innovation over the dirty fuels of the 19th century,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

“Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the planet, for the health and well-being of the communities along the pipeline route, and for future generations to come. It also demonstrates the power of the millions of people who raised their voices in opposition to the pipeline, and of the growing movement to end our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. Now, instead of building a pipeline that cuts our country in two, we are free to invest in clean energy that creates jobs and brings our country together,” said Brune.

While rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is a major step forward, Minnesotans also have their land, water and the climate put in jeopardy by the expansion of tar sands pipelines here at home. Another Canadian company, Enbridge, is pushing a proposed expansion of the Alberta Clipper that could be just as large as the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We applaud the President’s leadership to reject Keystone XL, as urged by thousands of Minnesotans and Sierra Club members who raised their voices through endless phone calls, emails and as part of the 5,000-person march in St. Paul this June,” said Terry Houle, Beyond Oil and Tar Sands Committee leader of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

“Unfortunately, pipeline proposals continue to advance that would wreak havoc on our environment while contributing no lasting benefit for our economy. The proposed Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion, which would move 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil through our state, threatens Minnesota’s waters and communities and poses just as much risk as the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

“We applaud the President for his courageous decision today. This is a clear signal that the oil industry’s destructive, dangerous new proposals won’t withstand public scrutiny. We urge the President to continue his leadership and commitment by requiring a full environmental review of the Alberta Clipper,” said Levin.


More than 11,000 Minnesotans Call for Retirement Plan for Sherco Units 1&2



Alexis Boxer, (203) 885-3629 or
Danny Wein, (202) 675-7902 or

MINNEAPOLIS – October 1, 2015 – This afternoon, more than 11,000 comments from Minnesotans throughout Xcel Energy’s service territory were delivered to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission calling for a retirement plan regarding two units at the Sherco coal plant and maximizing wind, solar and energy savings in Xcel Energy’s 2015 Resource Plan. The Commission is accepting comments until tomorrow afternoon on Xcel Energy’s Resource Plan, which was initially filed in January.

Xcel Energy has made great strides in recent years transitioning to clean, renewable energy, but still operates the largest coal plant in Minnesota. Sherco is one of the most significant polluters in the state for mercury pollution that contaminates our lakes and rivers; particulate matter that exacerbates asthma; and carbon dioxide that contributes to a changing climate. According to the Clean Air Task Force, each year Sherco contributes to 90 deaths, 1,600 asthma attacks, and 150 heart attacks a year, according to the most recent data available when all current units were operational.

In July, Clean Energy Organizations (Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Wind on the Wires, Fresh Energy and the Sierra Club) submitted a Clean Energy Plan alternative that would retire Sherco Units 1&2 in 2021 and 2024 respectively for the same cost as Xcel Energy’s Preferred Plan and result in significant improvements to public health and Minnesota’s great outdoors. This comes after five years of study and consideration on the future of the Sherco units at the Commission.

The 11,000+ comments are the result of hundreds of Minnesotans from all walks of life talking to their neighbors, friends and fellow Minnesotans about the future of Sherco and the need for clean energy. A broad coalition of groups including Conservation Minnesota, MPIRG, MN Interfaith Power & Light, Clean Up our River Environment, and Union for Concerned Scientists contributed to the collection of the comments.

Beth Mercer Taylor, a public health advocate and member of the Falcon Heights City Council whose daughter suffers from severe asthma, remarked on the health problems she’s witnessed in her family from pollution.

‘My daughter’s life and the quality of her life, are directly affected by the level of harmful pollution that she must breathe every day. It is critical that families like mine are taken into account as we plan our energy system.’

Rose Thelen, a Clearwater resident whose home overlooks the smokestacks of Sherco, has also been fighting for her community to thrive unrestrained from the weight of local air pollution.

‘As someone who has lived 20 years within six miles of the Sherco power plant, I am heartened to see that we as Minnesotans are prepared to continue building a clean energy economy that will benefit everyone. With a committed utility company, engaged labor and plant workers and allies in the environmental movement, we are already seeing our communities potential being tapped and opportunities being provided for growth. It is important to me and to folks in Central Minnesota that our next steps include a transition plan that positions us for success.’

St Cloud University Student and volunteer leader Ben Bourgoin focused on the importance of announcing a retirement plan as soon as possible to allow the communities affiliated with Sherco to plan for the economic transition that will follow.

“For too long we have put off hard decisions regarding Sherco; something that thousands of people across the state have called for action on. In order to protect our most vulnerable communities, lower costs for customers and ensure a just transition for the long term, we need to start planning today. Our communities cannot wait any longer. Nor should they.”

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will accept comments on this issue until 4:30 PM on October 2, 2015.

About the Sierra Club North Star Chapter
The Sierra Club’s members and supporters are 2.1 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America’s oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is the leading grassroots voice to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment. Some organizations have volunteers. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is volunteers. Our members pick our legislative priorities, conduct the work, and make real change for Minnesota’s environment. Our members lead work on a breadth of issues all across Minnesota to protect our state’s natural places and address our most pressing environmental challenges.

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Sierra Club to Highlight Green Transportation and Development on 20th Annual Bike Tour

On Saturday, September 19th, over 100 bicyclists will tour 20 miles of St. Paul to celebrate the capital city’s new bike plan, which will bring much more bike connectivity for everyone. This year’s tour highlights will also showcase the new A Line Snelling Rapid Bus and the Green Line LRT.

What makes the Sierra Club Bike Tour unique? Our Tour combines scenic rides with activism. We feature educational speakers and community leaders at several rest stops along the way to inform riders about important biking, transportation and land use issues.

WHAT: Sierra Club’s 20th Annual Bike Tour

WHEN: Saturday, September 19, 9:00am-2:00pm (Tour kicks off with speakers at 10:00am)

WHERE: Starts/ends at the Urban Academy Charter School, 1668 Montreal Ave, St. Paul, MN 55116. Travels through Highland Park to downtown St. Paul and lunch stop at Union Depot; then west through the Frogtown and Hamline Midway neighborhoods, and then south to Mac / Groveland. (route map)

WHO: Expert guest speakers include local activists, Chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, City of St. Paul Transportation Planner, Chair, Union Park District Council Land Use Committee and others.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Route includes: Features of the new St. Paul bike plan, future Snelling A Line Rapid Bus, Union Depot, Green Line LRT and more!

VISUALS: We can provide specific stops with approximate arrival times of 100 bicyclists, especially on front end of Tour.



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 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


Duluth Community Leaders Support Clean Power Plan Implementation in Minnesota


August 3, 2015                   

Media Contacts:
Danny Wein, (202) 675-7902 or

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