Environment & Climate
Our Climate Emergency Demands Environmental Justice
We were getting so close, then our last president took us on a time machine ride back to the 50’s. We had the environmental revolution we have all been waiting for in 2020, then a pandemic hit us, and we increased our purchasing of restaurant take-out and our city stopped enforcing the ban on Styrofoam containers.
Hennepin County has a significant solid waste problem. The county operates a garbage incinerator called the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC). Cities within Hennepin County send trash to the HERC, the emissions from which disproportionately affect North Minneapolis where the HERC is located. Waste is also transported by truck to suburban landfills, which not only lack space, but also emit greenhouse gases. Single use plastic waste also ends up in the Mississippi River. It’s clear that waste is both a climate and environmental justice problem in Hennepin County. Environmental justice advocates, including Sierra Club, have pushed to speed up the timeline for expanding zero waste initiatives to move faster toward closing the HERC.
What's been done in the past?
In 2017, I applied for and received a grant through Hennepin County Green Partners to engage, train, and opt-in Northside residents into the Organics Recycling program for two years. Through this grant, I taught workshops on recycling and organics recycling at Hennepin County Libraries, Neighborhood Organizations, at thousands of residents' doors, and many community events. Through this, I engaged over 2,500 residents on how to recycle properly, how to participate in the organics recycling program, and to understand why it’s important to avoid littering.
I created the Clean City Youth Program funded by Mississippi Watershed Organization in 2018 and again in 2019 with Hennepin County. We employed over 20 youth per year for 2 years to clean out storm water drains, pick up litter along our business corridors and on their own blocks, and to visit waste & water facilities such as Eureka Recycling, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Organics Recycling Facility, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, and the Water Treatment Facility. We took public transportation, rented Nice Ride bicycles, and walked everywhere to provide them with an example of how to adopt an alternative mode of transportation lifestyle.
If you would like to learn more about Kristel and her environmental policies, please watch this video
Reducing City Waste
As your elected city councilwoman, one of my goals is to reduce waste.
1. I will work to provide incentives to residents that keep their waste low and continue to keep low or zero contamination rates in their recycling (blue) and organics (green) bins.
2. I will also support expanding the organics recycling program to larger residential properties and require food service businesses and publicly owned buildings that serve food to participate in the organics recycling program.
3. I will support restricting retail, department, grocery, restaurant, food service, and convenience stores from providing single use plastics or Styrofoam such as bags, straws, and carryout containers for customers.
4. I will support funding communities to provide recycling education to its residents.
5. I will support the development of local neighborhood drop sites for residents to recycle batteries, LED light bulbs, and other toxic materials. This would divert materials to be properly recycled instead of ending up at the HERC an I am also open to more ideas of ways we can divert our waste.
6. I will work with the city to contract organizations annually to provide education to their individual communities around single-use plastics and where they can find alternatives.
7. I will work with the city to incentivize organizations that choose to use compostable and reusable dinnerware through tax credits and license or permit renewal credits.
8. I will push for installing water fountains and bottle refilling stations on commercial corridors and encourage residents to re-use by providing quality refillable bottle vending machines throughout the city.
9. I will work with the city to incentivize residents to keep their trash and recycling bins under a set number of pounds by discounting their utility bills.
10. I will work to require all restaurants and stores to refrain from using Styrofoam and plastic bags and to, instead, use biodegradable and compostable take-out containers and reusable bags.
11. I will work to offer incentives for restaurants and grocery stores that provide bulk purchasing through the use of re-usable and returnable containers and those that provide spaces for customers to recycle batteries, LED light bulbs and other recyclable items that cannot be collected in their blue bins.
12. I will work to offer incentives for restaurants and grocery stores that provide bulk purchasing through the use of re-usable and returnable containers and those that provide spaces for customers to recycle batteries, LED light bulbs and other recyclable items that cannot be collected in their blue bins.
13. I will work to provide incentives for businesses that choose to provide bike racks, and carsharing on their properties.
Minneapolis has some of the strongest leaders in our country that address our climate emergency. We can blow the rest of the country's minds if we allow our amazing environmental groups and organizations to lead us to addressing this issue. They know what to do, and we need to trust them. Our climate crisis is the biggest issue of our time, despite what makes it to headline news. Do not be fooled. We have the human capital to get it right, and we just need to allow them to lead us out of this storm.
When it comes to Energy Efficiency...
In 2019, I founded the Power North Program in North Minneapolis which taught over 40 workshops and registered over 80 households to receive energy efficiency audits and minor installations like replacing all their lightbulbs with LED’s, replaced their faucet aerators and shower heads, installed weather stripping on their exterior doors, installed a programmable thermostat, and wrapped their water heaters.
I worked on a coalition with organizations like Community Power, Sierra Club, MN350, Minneapolis Climate Action, MNIPL, COPAL and Frayeo to hold Xcel Energy accountable to their commitment to improve energy efficiency to underserved communities. I represented the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council on a partnership with Minneapolis Neighborhood Associations led by Community Power to study and to better understand Inclusive Financing and how it would allow communities to receive necessary energy efficiency upgrades in order to be better prepared for our goal to reach 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
As I represent North Minneapolis on the City Council:
I will push that we demand Inclusive Financing. If we are to continue our contract with these energy Monopolies and to rely on their ability to serve our needs for energy, we must demand that they provide all residents the proper tools in order to receive it efficiently. Accepting anything less would be cosigning the perpetuation of systemic racism and oppression of our bourgeois.
I will also write and support any and all legislation that would require Landlords to disclose to renters how efficient or inefficient their rental unit is and hold them accountable to receive energy efficient audits upon inspection, and when a property is to be sold; energy efficiency audits must be completed and disclosed before any closing.
When it comes to Natural Gas...
In December 2019, I discovered 13 leaks throughout my gas lines. My home was built in 1890 and the plumber informed me that many of the homes in Minneapolis that are turning the hundred year mark, are beginning to all have this problem. It took me 2 months to raise the money needed to replace all of the gas lines in my home and it would have cost me four times as much to electrify my heating system. I couldn’t allow my children to go any longer without heat, I had to replace the gas lines. This was heartbreaking for me. I am someone who thinks it is absurd that we continue to implement natural gas lines into new developments. We need to move away from natural gas and begin to electrify our heating systems.
While serving on Minneapolis’ City Council...
I will urge developers to electrify their heating systems and to provide incentives to do so.
I will also explore how we can utilize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to make necessary electrical upgrades on residential and commercial properties through a revamp of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) that is focused on meeting our goals in order to address our current climate crisis. This would allow us to phase out natural gas completely.
When it comes to Renewable Energy...
One aspect of the Power North Program that I founded in 2019 was to get residents to commit to a renewable energy option. We were able to get over 180 households in North Minneapolis to choose WindSource as an option on their electric utility bills, and we helped enroll 38 households into a Community Solar Garden. In 2020 I founded the Solstar Project which raised $750k through a mix of investments and crowdfunding in order to install solar onto 24 properties in North Minneapolis.
I have worked on a coalition with several different environmental organizations led by the Sierra Club and Community Power to meet with and demand that the Public Utility Commission holds Xcel Energy accountable on how they serve their low income customers and to adopt new practices like inclusive financing.
"Our community has been taken advantage of for years... we are surrounded by factories, polluting our air and harming our health. It is time we elect someone who can make an environmental change."
As your city councilwoman...
1. I will explore how we can utilize TIF to make necessary renewable energy upgrades on residential and commercial properties through an NRP revamp with a climate emergency focus. Both would include increasing power capacity for electrification and the installation of solar, solar thermal and geothermal options.
2. I will push that all publicly owned property be retrofitted with solar microgrids. As our climate changes we need to commit to emergency preparedness by having publicly owned and publicly accessible spaces where residents can access energy in the time of emergency. It is not safe for entire cities to depend on one source to provide its renewable power and to not diversify backup systems in order for communities to access it in times of need.
3. I will urge all new developments, especially larger developments, to implement solar into all development projects and smaller projects to be built solar ready such as load capability and south facing or flat roofs.