This July, Minnesota officially became the 15th Clean Car state in the nation, and the first in the Midwest. This success is the result of years of work by the Sierra Club North Star Chapter (an MEF member) and its partners to clean up and de-carbonize our transportation system – the leading source of climate pollution in Minnesota. Read on to learn about Sierra Club’s road to reach this accomplishment for our state and our climate.  

Mission: The Sierra Club’s mission is threefold – 

  • To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the Earth; 
  • To practice and promote the responsible use of the Earth’s ecosystems and resources; 
  • To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives. 

Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is America’s oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is the Minnesota branch of the national Sierra Club.  The North Star Chapter’s 80,000 members are working to protect our communities’ well-being through environmental protection. They accomplish this through grassroots political action — pairing volunteer energy with full-time staff to strategically address Minnesotans’ most pressing environmental issues. 

Impact:

Minnesota’s recent adoption of the Clean Car standards will require new cars and light trucks sold in the state to emit less climate-disrupting pollution. The standards will also increase the availability and sales of zero-emission cars in the state.  

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter was a major player in this win for Minnesota’s environment. For several years, Sierra Club leaders led both Minnesotans for Clean Cars and the Coalition for Clean Transportation. These groups organized meetings with policymakers, local government, and public works leaders, and were instrumental in transitioning bus fleets to zero-emissions electric vehicles. 

They also organized thousands of Minnesotans, empowering them to show up in support of Clean Car rules in our state.  During two days of virtual testimony in February and throughout a public comment period that lasted through March, tens of thousands of people expressed their support for Clean Cars Minnesota for health, economic, environmental, and consumer reasons, thanks in part to organizing by the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.  

“The success of this ruling was a direct result of tens of thousands of people showing up in support of Minnesota leading the way in the Midwest on this important policy that will help us act on climate and clean up our air,” said Margaret Levin, director of the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter. “It’s official. We’re a Clean Car state!” 

Current estimates suggest that Clean Cars Minnesota will eliminate 1 million tons of climate emissions annually by 2030 and help put the state on track to meet its emissions reduction goals. It would do this by expanding consumer choice, allowing residents to purchase clean vehicles that are right for them, including some of the newly announced electric trucks headed to the market. 

“Minnesota becoming a clean car state is a triple win for the environment, public health, and job creation,” said Hieu Le, campaign representative with the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign. “Minnesota is a part of a wave of states moving forward with these standards — including Virginia, New Mexico, and Nevada — ensuring that its residents won’t miss out on access to pollution-free vehicles.” 

Get Involved: 

  • Volunteer! Some organizations “have” volunteers. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter “is” volunteers – trained leaders supported by a professional staff, backed by national expertise and know-how. Their volunteers work with staff to select priorities, conduct the work, and make real change. 

To learn more about how MEF members are working together to advance solutions to climate change across Minnesota, visit the Impact page of our website.

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