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Over 20 MN Organizations Urge MnDOT and Met Council to Focus Federal Funds on Equity & Climate Resilience

On Friday, February 25, Move Minnesota, joined by more than 20 Minnesota-based organizations, will call on the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council to spend Minnesota’s share of federal infrastructure dollars in ways that advance equity and climate resilience. The signatories include organizations focused on climate, disability rights, racial justice, health, community and economic development, and natural resource preservation.

The Minnesota letter was coordinated with partner letters from around the country and references explicit guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation that encourages state DOTs to prioritize transit and safety investments and discourages highway expansion projects when spending Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars.

“We call on leadership at the local, regional, and state levels to invest federal funds in ways that deliver climate, social, and racial justice for our communities,” said Sam Rockwell, Executive Director of Move Minnesota. “The Biden Administration provided flexibility on how to spend these funds and told us what we already know: that investments in transit and safety for our most vulnerable communities will create prosperity and security for generations to come, while highway expansions divide and pollute our towns and neighborhoods and undermine climate stability.”

Transportation is the most climate-polluting sector in the United States and in the State of Minnesota. It is also the second highest household expense for American families—at almost $10,000 per year, it is more expensive than healthcare and education combined.

Yet both the climate impacts and economic burden of transportation can be mitigated with strategic spending. As a Georgetown study on the federal infrastructure bill notes, “this historic infusion of federal funding has the potential to accelerate reductions in GHG emissions from surface transportation relative to business as usual.” These greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions will come in part from directing spending toward improving transit, biking, and walking infrastructure, thus delivering significantly more affordable ways of accessing daily needs.

But positive outcomes are not guaranteed. The Georgetown study shows that “if investments… flow mostly to adding more lanes and building more roads, the IIJA funding could result in an increase in emissions over what we’d expect without this additional investment.” Similarly, with cost of cars and trucks driving inflation, investments that increase reliance on personal vehicles—instead of improving public transit—with put families in increasingly dire financial situations.

Co-signers of the Minnesota letter include: Move Minnesota, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Fresh Energy, ISAIAH, The Arc Minnesota, COPAL, 100% Campaign, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, Climate Generation, Our Streets Minneapolis, Minnesota Ornithologists Union, Minnesota Well Owners Association, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Lake Street Council, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Resilient Cities and Communities, Clean River Partners, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Clean Water Action Minnesota, and Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate.

Updated February 25, 2022.