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Apr 28, 2023

Press Release: Minneapolis City Council unanimously passes interim moratorium on new and expanded high-polluting facilities



M C E A logo and C M E J logo

DATE: April 27, 2023      

CONTACT: - Shalini Gupta, CMEJ, shalini@sgupta.org,

Evan Mulholland, MCEA, emulholland@mncenter.org 651-287-4889


Today, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a six month moratorium on the permitting of new high-polluting industrial facilities and/or the expansion of existing high-polluting industrial facilities. 


Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) commend Council member Jeremiah Ellison for authoring this moratorium, and applaud the Council for taking this important action. The next step is for the City to make this temporary moratorium permanent. A permanent ban on the expansion of existing high polluting industries (like the GAF shingle plant and the Smith Foundry) will improve public health, particularly in neighborhoods already overburdened with pollution.


The City is currently rewriting its zoning laws to realize the vision and goals of its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Today’s passage of a moratorium on new or expanded high polluting uses is an important signal that the City takes seriously the high cost this type of industry poses to public health. Minneapolis’ most polluting industries are concentrated in neighborhoods and areas of the City with high populations of low-income residents and Black, Indigenous, and residents of color, like North Minneapolis. 


“We thank Council Member Ellison for his leadership and applaud the City Council for unanimously passing this moratorium,” said Roxxanne O’Brien, of Community Members for Environmental Justice. “We know that these types of high-polluting industries are harming our most vulnerable community members. We are grateful that we have public servants who care about getting this right."


CMEJ and MCEA seek permanent changes to City zoning rules that protect communities in Minneapolis disproportionately impacted by pollution. On March 24, CMEJ and MCEA submitted a joint comment to the City of Minneapolis calling for a number of revisions to reduce pollution and increase protections for environmental justice communities. CMEJ and MCEA’s comments included a call to ban new high polluting industries and prohibit the expansion of those that are already in place. CMEJ and MCAE also call for the inclusion of conditional use permits tied to an Environmental Justice Assessment for facilities that could add to the cumulative pollution burden in overburdened areas. 


On Monday, April 24th, the City Planning Commission finalized their recommendations for Minneapolis’ zoning rewrite, which included some, but not all, of the changes CMEJ and MCEA are pushing for. The current version, now headed to the City’s BIHZ committee for review on May 15th before a vote from the full City Council, does not currently include a permanent ban on the expansion of existing, high polluting uses or an EJ pollution assessment.