SAINT PAUL, MN— Today, Senator Jeff Hayden introduced legislation that would ensure environmental justice. For years, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) worked on an Indoor Urban Farm project to be built at the Roof Depot in Minneapolis. The project would promote environmental justice and undo years’ worth of pollution in one of the city’s most racially diverse neighborhoods. Recently, the City of Minneapolis announced their alternate plans to instead demolish the site for a public works maintenance facility.
“A group of members from the EPNI have called for meaningful community consultation with the city regarding their conflicting plans for the space designated as a green zone and have been met with nothing but silence. That is why I have introduced legislation to ensure environmental justice not only for the residents of the East Phillips neighborhood, but for all Minnesotans,” said Assistant Minority Leader Senator Jeff Hayden. “The people in our neighborhoods are the ones who have lived, worked, and played closest to the sources of localized pollution. We must work collectively to improve and maintain a clean and healthy environment for our communities and their families. Additionally, we must make sure all levels of governments are held accountable when there is a sheer lack of environmental justice.”
“East Phillips was declared an environmental justice neighborhood by state law in 2008, because a majority of its residents are low-income people of color, Indigenous Native Americans, and are documented to have disproportionate environmental health complications related to toxic environmental exposure,” said Assistant Majority Leader Representative Hodan Hassan. “We are introducing this legislation to ensure that the City of Minneapolis follows this environmental justice law, which was designed to protect the vulnerable East Phillips Neighborhood from injustice. The ultimate goal is to protect this community from increased toxic exposures as a result of the Minneapolis’ proposed Hiawatha Expansion of their Public Works Department.”
House file 4594 requires a person to obtain a permit from the commissioner before demolishing a structure within near proximity of a highly impacted area and strengthens impact analysis requirements for certain demolitions. The bill requires the Commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency to prepare an analysis and consider the cumulative levels and effects of past and current environmental pollution from all sources on the environment and residents before issuing an air emissions permit for a facility or project that is likely to deposit emissions within a highly impacted area.
For years the Senator Hayden, Minneapolis state representatives, members of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), and many others have worked to secure funding for the Indoor Urban Farm Project and publicly stated their opposition against the public works maintenance facility.