A huge victory for our communities!
The Minnesota House and Senate have approved Cumulative Impacts legislation.
Watch our press conference here.
We still have work to do!
Who we are?
The Frontline Communities Protection (FCP) Coalition is a group of environmental and frontline community organizations, led by COPAL MN and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table. We work together to address environmental injustice at a systemic level, and to support fights for environmental justice across the state.
For decades, we have seen BIPOC and low income communities bear a disproportionate burden of pollution. This injustice, which has continuously been approved by our state agencies, has created environmental, economic, and health disparities that can last for generations.
Research has repeatedly proven the harmful effects of various kinds of pollution on the human body. Yet the decision on where to site major sources of pollution is nearly inaccessible to community members. We must establish a regulatory system that gives power to communities, and values their health and wellbeing over corporate profits.
The FCP Coalition came together with the goal of addressing Minnesota’s broken regulatory system, which has repeatedly failed to protect our most vulnerable communities from pollution. Our overall goal is to shift power from polluting corporations to our communities, and build a powerful environmental justice movement across Minnesota.
For the last four years, our coalition has worked with environmental justice champions at the legislature on The Cumulative Impacts Bill. This bill would ensure that the cumulative effects of pollution are incorporated into environmental permitting. This will ensure that Minnesota’s regulatory process cannot continue forcing pollution on overburdened communities.
In previous sessions, the Cumulative Impacts Bill has gained traction in the House of Representatives, but didn’t even get a hearing in the Senate. Now, after years of building grassroots and political support, and with strong leaders in the House and Senate, we were finally able to pass the cumulative impacts bill in 2023! This marks a significant step towards centering environmental justice in our regulatory system, and empowering our marginalized communities.
Passing the cumulative impacts bill through the legislature is not the end of the battle. The bill will still have to go through a rulemaking process, to clarify details on exactly how the law will function. This is a crucial part of the process, to ensure that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) upholds the true intentions of the law and creates rules that center environmental justice and community empowerment.
We also know that this law will not solve environmental injustice in Minnesota. What this law will do is act as a powerful tool for marginalized communities to have a strong say in whether a polluting facility should be cited in their community.
This law is also particularly focused on the metro area, Duluth, Rochester, and tribal communities. Environmental injustices happen across the state, and we intend to continue fighting for environmental justice for every Minnesotan.
There are numerous opportunities to change regulations, empower communities, and hold polluters accountable. Stay tuned for updates on future campaigns, and ways you can get involved in the fight for justice!
The concept of addressing cumulative impacts through the regulatory process is not new to Minnesota.
The momentum for addressing the problem of the role state permits play in generating toxic cumulative pollution in overburdened communities, has been growing for decades. In 2008, South Minneapolis environmental justice activists passed a state bill requiring a cumulative impacts analysis for any facility seeking an air permit in the Phillips Community, an environmental justice neighborhood. This law, though limited in geography, was formative in that it laid the groundwork for the state’s regulatory bodies to establish a framework for addressing cumulative impacts.
In 2017, the Northside-based grassroots organization Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) worked closely with their state representative, Fue Lee, to draft and introduce the first statewide cumulative impacts bill to protect all communities overburdened by polluting industry and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s permitting process. CMEJ and North Side Minneapolis residents worked tirelessly to keep this bill alive until its moment for passage was possible. In 2019, COPAL and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table began collaborating with mainstream environmental organizations to build the momentum for addressing cumulative impacts at a statewide level.
Over the last five years, under the leadership of CMEJ as well as COPAL and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table, numerous groups have continued to organize, testify, and show up to drive this bill forward. Through grassroots organizing and advocacy, our state’s broad and diverse environmental justice community has shown that Minnesota must address the systemic issue of environmental racism. The cumulative impacts law is a powerful step forward.
Sharing personal stories is a powerful way to create change, and make our elected officials understand the importance of these issues.
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On March 14, 2023, I testified before the Minnesota House of Representatives Environment and Natural Resources Committee in support of a cumulative impacts bill. Should it become statute,
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