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Activists celebrate climate policy despite court battle

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File photo of Minnesota 5th District Congressional U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL).
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News File

Community leaders in north Minneapolis said they will keep pushing federal climate change policy despite a court dispute.

  Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., spoke Wednesday at a celebration at the Minneapolis Urban League marking the one-year anniversary of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's policy to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

  Ellison said the plan is especially important for the country's most vulnerable citizens.

  "We've seen polar bears out there suffering on some little piece of ice. But the truth is climate change is happening right to us, near us, right now. And the people least able to protect themselves from it are suffering the most from it," Ellison said.

  The Clean Power Plan is on hold because of a lawsuit two-dozen states and energy companies filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Minnesota is not among those states, but a group of state Republican lawmakers has urged the governor to halt state action on it.

  Karen Monahan of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter urged other climate change activists at the Urban League event to stay positive.

  "The first-ever national carbon rule. That's awesome, right? That's historical," she said. "It was a journey to get to this place."  

Monahan said the Clean Power Plan is especially important to low-income communities of color because they are disproportionately affected by air pollution from power plants.

  If the Clean Power Plan goes forward, Minnesota would be required to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by about a third. State officials have said the state's utilities are already on a path to come close to that by 2030.

  As for the policy's fate nationally, that will depend both on the court case and the outcome of this fall's presidential election.

Editors note: This story has been changed to correct the reporter's byline.