Siiri Bigalke, a high school senior from Stillwater, Minn., testified Thursday, Jan. 27 at the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee during the hearing on House File 72. The bill proposes to repeal a Minnesota statute that limits carbon dioxide emissions by utilities.
Siiri is co-chair of Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA!MN), and delivered the following testimony:
“As a student of Stillwater Area High School and a member of Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota, a metro-wide coalition of students concerned with environmental affairs, I am a daily witness to the passion and desire present in our generation to transform our already beautiful state into a more sustainably conscious home. Yet, I am also continuously reminded of the reality of Minnesota’s reliance on dirty energy, as I see the Allen S. King Coal Plant positioned on the banks of the Saint Croix River and the plume of emissions it releases, every day on my way to school.
Scientifically, this energy source not only weakens the ozone layer but also degrades Minnesota’s air quality. Economically coal proves to be just as debilitating for the state, as Minnesota imports all coal resources from other states- even the King Coal plant right in my backyard imports low sulfur Wyoming coal. In 2008 alone, $550 million was sent to other states to pay for this energy source. I urge our Congressmen and women to finish securing jobs outside of our state and instead focus and fully support careers within the clean energy field for the people they represent.
Our state has an enduring and proud history of supporting environmental protection legislation, and Minnesotans have visibly confirmed their desire to continue this by implementing further conservation through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed in 2008. By supporting energy independence, the numerous potential clean energy jobs, and a clean energy economy, Minnesota can emerge as a national leader in the alternative energy sphere, which is only going to expand as President Obama noted in his State of the Union Address.
According to the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesotans favor policy limitations on coal by 69% and overwhelmingly support cleaner energy sources such as wind, solar, and natural gas to that of coal. Minnesota has the demonstrated capability to implement these alternative energy resources, which, plainly exhibits the absurdity of rollbacks, especially when Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, passed in 2007 already requires new coal plants to at least offset their emissions.
Again, I urge the Representatives of the people of Minnesota to consider the preexisting significant advancements to protect its environment and to further encourage Minnesota’s economical growth through clean energy.
Watch a video of Siiri and others testifying at the Jan. 27 hearing. Siiri’s part starts around 01:19:30.