Members from a variety of environmental student groups met with Senator Al Franken’s office on Wednesday, October 12th, asking if Senator Franken will commit to defend the Clean Air Act from future attack in Congress, and to speak in support of Clear Air Act safeguards on the floor. We also asked that Senator Franken help stop attacks on clean air by voting against the Rand Congress Review resolution on the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule allows the Environmental Protection Agency to protect downwind states from pollution from their neighbors. The review calls for formally repealing this rule. We also raised our concerns about the political culture of today that is so critical of the EPA, and we voiced our support of the good work the EPA does.
Health Concerns: The Clean Air Act is vital to the health of our nation. The amendments being challenged will prevent over 230,000 early deaths by 2020. A healthier nation is a more productive economic nation. Protecting the Clean Air Act is a long term investment in our health and economy.
Protecting the Next Generation: Future generations will look back on what action we take on this issue, just as we look back on the creation of Clean Air Act. We need to make the right choices for our future. We explained from personal experience that graduates coming out of college today would work in the environmental field if there were opportunities and support for it. Instead much of the money today is in Oil and Coal industries. Attacks on the EPA and environmental regulations eliminate job growth and opportunities for young people to seek careers in this important field. We need to foster an atmosphere of support for the environment in order to see real change.
We received a very favorable reception from Senator Franken’s staff. We met with Alana Petersen, State Director for Senator Franken, and Al Juhnke, the Senators Agriculture and Energy Field Representative. Petersen and Juhnke spoke about the Senator’s commitment to making educated decisions on these matters. They encouraged people to contact their representatives and senators. Our legislators take it seriously when we bring matters to the table, and it is an essential part of the process for constituents to be vocal in what needs to be done.
In attendance were Natalie Tungsvik, MPIRG Student Board of Directors Chair from Hamline University, Cora Ellenson-Myers and Logan Bailey from the UMN MPIRG chapter, Tim Sheehan, Co-Chair of Yea!MN, Alyssa Tucker from the MN Youth Environmental Network, and Gretel Lee from UMN Campus Beyond Coal.
Written by Cora Ellenson-Myers.