News Watch: May 2, 2016

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Bonding, Climate Change, Energy, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollinators, Transportation, Water, Waste & Recycling, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
MN Daily: Reaping the benefit of urban greenery

Commentary, Star Tribune: Counterpoint: The downside of cage-free eggs

Bonding
MinnPost: Senate Democrats’ $1.5 billion infrastructure proposal sets up clash with House Republicans
MPR: Senate Dems propose $1.5 billion construction plan

Climate Change
Bloomberg: 14 states seek Clean Power Plan guidance despite stay
The Guardian: Peabody coal’s contrarian scientist witnesses lose their court case featuring MEP member groups Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Sierra Club

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Minority families would bear brunt of Clean Power Plan

Energy
Midwest Energy News: Q&A: An energy storage solution may already be in your basement
Midwest Energy News: Vision for improving Minneapolis air quality calls for more electric cars
MPR: Wind energy setting records in Minnesota
SC Times: Stearns to hear input on solar moratorium

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Column on coal supply was just plain wrong

Mining
MinnPost: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner: Permitting process for taconite mines ‘on pause’ featuring MEP member groups Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacyand WaterLegacy

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Environmentalists’ Views: Four questions PolyMet won’t answer by Scott Strand, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Paul Danicic, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and Paul Austin, Conservation Minnesota
Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Drawn-out mining permitting dampens economic growth
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Nolan naive to think feds won’t block mining

Oil & Pipelines
Duluth News Tribune: Have your say on pipeline projects

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Enbridge’s view: Public input urged on pipeline projects
Editorial, Duluth News Tribune: Our view: Pipeline delays only stall economic boon
LTE, Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Pipeline hearings
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Pipeline projects threaten Minnesota’s clean water

Pollinators
MN Daily: Sun helps guide monarchs home

Transportation
MPR: Dayton pushes transportation spending plan, but talks are in low gear
Pioneer Press: Minnesota legislators promise transportation funding plan
Pioneer Press: Real World Economics: Economic estimates usually imprecise at best
Star Tribune: The Drive: Metro Transit adds new bus services to boost ridership
Star Tribune: Seven DFL state senators threaten to withhold votes for bonding bill over Southwest light-rail line

Commentary, Brainerd Dispatch: Guest Opinion: Minnesota’s roads and bridges need to be addressed
Editorial, SC Times: Legislators, let’s extend Northstar
LTE, Echo Press: LETTER: Find compromise on paying for safe roads and bridges

Waste & Recycling
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (May 1): Recycling

Water
Duluth News Tribune: PCA commissioner pumps Duluth water projects
SC Times: Review of public waters, ditches buffer maps underway 
Star Tribune: Anderson: Dirt poor? Not this farmer near Northfield

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: A Great Lakes’ view: Waukesha’s water request may end up in court
Editorial, Star Tribune: Great Lakes Compact must be protected, with no exceptions

News Watch: Apr. 28

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Today’s Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Climate Change
MinnPost: Microbiomes essential to healthy soils may adapt poorly to changing climate
MPR: Greenland’s glaciers likely melting faster than thought

Energy
Midwest Energy News: In Minnesota, waste-to-energy debate firing up once again featuring MEP member groups Sierra Club and MPIRG
Post Bulletin: Rochester picked for German energy partnership
Republican Eagle: Planning commission says ‘no’ to solar in wetlands

Oil & Pipelines
Brainerd Dispatch: Public can comment on upcoming Sandpiper, Line 3 study
Reuters: Canadian regulator approves Enbridge Line 3 with conditions (In Duluth News Tribune)

Parks & Trails
MinnPost: Which Minneapolis parks are the highest priority for repairs?
MPR: Minneapolis parks could get major funding boost
Star Tribune: Minneapolis parks, roads maintenance plan clears key council hurdle

Pollinators
Commentary, West Central Tribune: Minnesota Opinion: Here’s the buzz on how to help out our bees

Transportation
Politics in MN: Research links rising property values to LRT
Star Tribune: Red Line bus service, which links MOA to south suburbs, to get $15M tune-up
Star Tribune: Access to transit helping boost home values in parts of Twin Cities

Commenary, Mankato Free Press: Compromise needed on long-term road funding
Editorial, Mankato Free Press: Our View: Transportation: We all lose with gridlock on road-transit bill
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Northern Lights Express is good for the economy

Water
Austin Daily Herald: An overflow of cleanup efforts; Plenty of ways for public to support waterways
Duluth News Tribune: Effort to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes expands
Duluth News Tribune: House passes Great Lakes funding bill
MPR: Walking the waterways to raise awareness
MPR: Water around the world: Three views

Wildlife & Fish
Bemidji Pioneer: No critical habitat order for northern long-eared bats

News Watch: Apr. 25

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Energy, Invasive Species, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Star Tribune: Target tests food transparency ideas at Edina store
Star Tribune: Organic farms still on the rise

Commentary, Star Tribune: The new humane economy goes cage-free chic

Climate Change
AP: 171 states signing landmark Paris deal on climate change (In MPR)

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Expect more floods, droughts with climate change
Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Pro/Con; Should climate change deniers be prosecuted?  
Commentary, MinnPost: Minnesota’s true costs of pollution

Energy
Midwest Energy News: Report: Efficiency could provide big benefits to low-income renters
Public News Service: Report: Minnesota air-quality improves amid tougher standards

Invasive Species
Star Tribune: Study reveals zebra mussels’ effects on Lake Minnetonka
Timberjay: Hatchery takes steps to halt spread of invasives

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan: Interior not plotting to ban mining near BWCAW
Ely Echo: Interior Secretary’s speech hints of action to protect BWCAW, Novak in D.C. lobbying for copper mining

Parks & Trails
Commentary, Star Tribune: Minneapolis park funding: Take the 20-year City Hall plan
Commentary, Star Tribune: Minneapolis park funding: Quit the shell games

Pollinators
Editorial, Post Bulletin: Our View: Bees, farmers can work together

Transportation
Duluth News Tribune: Recycling bicycles: Bike Swap moves hundreds of two-wheelers, benefits United Way

Commentary, Post Bulletin: Advisory board: Is it time to raise the state’s gas tax?
Commentary, SC Times: Share your transportation troubles
Commentary, Star Tribune: Fund state transportation fully — and do it now
Editorial, Star Tribune: Met Council reform could be a transportation deal maker for Legislature
Editorial, West Central Tribune: Tribune editorial: It’s time to invest in broadband, transportation

Water
Bemidji Pioneer: A protector of water and soil: Pipestone farmer part of first wave of producers in state’s new Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
Brainerd Dispatch: Tips to protect, conserve water resources
Duluth News Tribune: Dayton honors ‘water heroes’ on Earth Day
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Great Lakes officials trim Waukesha’s water request (In Duluth News Tribune)
MPR: Documentary about Flint water crisis: ‘Not Safe to Drink’
MPR: Jonathan Foley on food, water and the global environment
MPR: Proposed water bill to replace lead pipes, boost Iron Range economy
Politics in MN: Status Report: IRRRB changes, runoff buffers, omnibus bills
Pioneer Press: Those strips of land between cornfields and water clarified, set for signing
Star Tribune: Buffer bill passes, sent to Gov. Mark Dayton for signature
West Central Tribune: Fighting nitrates in southwest Minnesota

Editorial, Post Bulletin: Our View: Action needed to protect our water

Wildlife & Fish
Pioneer Press: Viroqua: Mecca for Driftless stream trout

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 25): Wolves at Isle Royale, funding Minneapolis parks

Broadband For All: Supporting Sustainable Development in Greater MN

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This issue is perhaps a little unexpected, coming from us. Why would I take time on Earth Day to tell you about broadband development and environmentalism? It’s very important.

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It’s 2016, and there are still many parts of rural Minnesota without access to the internet. According to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, 20% of rural Minnesota households lack access to high-speed broadband. There is broadband funding legislation currently being heard in both the Senate and the House, but the two bodies of government need to compromise on the amount of funding. The Governor have proposed $100 million, but the House has only proposed $28 million. 

Health Care Improvements: Broadband is hugely important in the health care industry. Most of our health systems are hooked up to the net, but if there isn’t the infrastructure for high-speed broadband already in a community, the hospitals and clinics need to take on the added burden of upgrading their system. Without access to broadband, it is increasingly difficult for clinics and hospitals in greater Minnesota to stay up to date and meet the needs of Minnesota residents. 

The primary reason MEP supports this initiative is this: Funding broadband is critical to making the move from extractive or other environmentally damaging industries toward a green economy.

Moving Beyond Extraction: Jobs and economic development depend on internet access. So much of the push toward extractive industries in Minnesota is driven by a need to develop the economy. Jobs are desperately needed in rural Minnesota, in particular on the Iron Range. Without development of new infrastructure to facilitate new industries, there will only be a continued expansion of mining and other environmentally destructive industries. The pollution from mining industries far outlasts the time when the mine is operating – for example, the PolyMet mine would require hundreds of years of water treatment, but would only create jobs for 20 years.

In an economy so dependent upon fossil fuels and extraction, throughout Minnesota and the United States we need the infrastructure in place to shift our economy away from traditional production. Access to broadband is one of the critical tools that we need to develop more sustainable businesses. The energy sector is changing rapidly at the moment, as well as the types of business that are taking off in Minnesota. Broadband connects us to the global economy, and it allows for the growth of sustainable and green businesses.

Creating the Rural Green Economy: There are new forms of businesses that have risen because of the unprecedented access to information that the internet provides. Sustainable energy – and energy projects broadly – rely on the internet for their operation. The grid system has become connected in a way it wasn’t before. In order to expand renewables and move toward distributed energy systems, we will need access to high-speed broadband in greater Minnesota. 

Green businesses thrive online. Local apiaries, native and heirloom seed exchanges, and other products could be produced remotely and then sold online. In fact – it’s almost a requirement to have a website in order to gain credibility in the business community these days. These statements may be obvious to you, but in light of the fact that 20% of rural Minnesotans don’t have access, they are important to remember.

Finally, if there were greater access to high-speed internet, there would be more opportunity for consultant business. Many people may be interested in moving to a smaller community, but concerned that they won’t be able to work in their field. Access to internet would allow for more people to work from home, to bring their expertise to rural communities, and thrive in smaller spaces.

It’s not just a luxury in 2016 to have access to the internet – it’s a necessity. Whether  you are job-searching, starting a business, or just trying to expand your business, it’s important to have access to the internet to grow and expand.

Tell your legislators to support full funding for Broadband and sustainable, self-reliant communities today.

Forever Green, Forever Clean

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Clean water is a Minnesotan value. We all have our favorite body of water that we escape to, whether it’s the Mississippi River running through the Twin Cities or an isolated lake in the Boundary Waters. The connections we as Minnesotans feel to our water is something that unites us all. Just as we treasure our clean water heritage, farming is an equally important part of our state’s economy and history. These two integral parts of Minnesota’s culture often come in to conflict with each other, as the fight to restore water quality often places much of the blame on agricultural practices.

We don’t need to pit clean water against agriculture in order to have vibrant, thriving farming communities and waterways that are swimmable, fishable and drinkable. Minnesota has the tools to reimagine our traditional practices into sustainable, economically feasible options through the University of Minnesota’s work with the Forever Green Initiative. This isn’t an either or situation. We can have clean water and farming coexisting side by side, which will benefit Minnesotans for many generations to come.

On April 19th, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and the University of Minnesota welcomed Governor Dayton and other state officials to hear more about the Forever Green initiative and tour the research first hand as part of Water Action Week. The Forever Green Initiative relies on funding through the Minnesota Legislature and is a key component of MEP’s Clean Water and Living Landscapes initiative this session. This vital program needs steady reliable funding so research can continue uninterrupted for many growing seasons to come. 

Tour of 'Forever Green' research at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus.  April 19, 2016.

Pennycress, a Forever Green winter annual cover crop used for advanced biofuels production. Credit: David Hanson, University of Minnesota

Agricultural runoff is the largest source of pollution in Minnesota’s waterways. The annual crops that make up the majority of Minnesota’s farming systems are only growing for three to four months out of the year, leaving fields exposed to the elements for the other eight months. Without root systems or vegetative cover in place, the soil is susceptible to erosion and runoff, leaving it and the chemical fertilizers it contains to be carried into nearby waterways.

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Demonstration showing runoff from different forever green crops compared to bare soil

Luckily, there are solutions that farmers can employ that work with their existing agricultural practices, and even add value to their crops. The University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative researches perennial and cover crops that can extend the growing season and preserve soil and water health. The Initiative works on finding solutions that farmers can employ easily, giving them the freedom to choose a method that doesn’t hurt their bottom line. However, they are also focused on developing new innovate farming techniques that move away from the traditional annual cropping system of farming to perennial year round cover.

One of the most exciting crops in development is Kernza, an intermediate perennial wheatgrass grown that the Forever Green Initiative sees as one of its breakout stars. Unlike traditional wheat, the Kernza plant comes back year after year; reducing tilling and the need to buy seed each season. Because it is a perennial, Kernza’s roots extend deep into the ground, making it more able to withstand periods of drought. These long roots hold the soil in place while the plant is dormant during the winter months, preventing it from blowing away or washing into waterways. 

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Kernza’s dense roots hold soil in place, and filter clean water

Not only do perennial crops like Kernza prevent runoff into lakes, rivers, and streams, they also improve soil quality by adding nutrients back into the soil. Agricultural systems that replenish their own nutrients don’t require expensive fertilizers, cutting costs for farmers. It’s also an economically viable crop – local restaurant Birchwood is already using it in their kitchen, and other small businesses are testing out its uses as well. 

 

Forever Green is changing the way we practice farming in Minnesota without farmers having to sacrifice their economic future. We need to continue funding the innovation of Forever Green for generations to come. Projects that create solutions for farmers as well as water quality must be a priority for our state. Accelerating the development of economically viable perennial crops will move us forward towards cleaner water and healthier soil. In order to continue long term growth, we need long term investment in this research as it is ongoing over several growing seasons. Let’s make a smart investment in our future and fully fund the Forever Green Initiative for years to come.

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Governor Dayton tries Kernza scones from Birchwood

Tour of 'Forever Green' research at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus.  April 19, 2016.

They’re a hit! Gov. Dayton with Don Wyse, lead researcher on the Forever Green Initiative. Credit: David Hanson, University of Minnesota

News Watch: Apr. 21

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Today’s Topics: Climate Change, Earth Day, Emissions, Energy, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Climate Change
New York Times: 2016 already shows record global temperatures
New York Times: A new dark age looms
NPR: Climate change? Some people may not be sweating it because the weather is nicer (In MPR)

Earth Day
Star Tribune: Earth Day approaches; dig in with these ideas
Star Tribune: Appreciating Earth’s beauty is one way to steward

Emissions
NPR: What will Volkswagen do for its diesel customers? (In MPR)

Energy
Fox 9: Solar fields bring concerns, not excitement in Buffalo, Minn.
KQED Public Media: A rare look at factory Tesla hopes will revolutionize energy use (In MPR)
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota study challenges ‘coal car’ claims about electric vehicles
MinnPost: Environmental and community groups join forces to take on an old foe: the HERC featuring MEP member groups Sierra Club and MIPRG
MPR: ‘Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War’

LTE, New York Times: Coal mining in national forests

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Interior secretary touts BWCAW as special place featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Duluth News Tribune: PolyMet forum outlines permit process
Fox 9: The Twin Metal Mine has some worried about the environmental effects featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
MPR: PolyMet supporters, critics expected at permit info meeting
MPR: Meeting paves the way for PolyMet permit applications
Timberjay: PolyMet project timeline unclear
Timberjay: Interior Secretary touts BWCAW as “special place” featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness

Oil & Pipelines
AP: Oil tanker laden with North Dakota crude reaches Netherlands (In Star Tribune)
Duluth News Tribune: Which agency should lead pipeline environmental studies at issue?

Parks & Trails
Brainerd Dispatch: Klobuchar, Franken, Nolan introduce land swap bill for Voyageurs National Park

Pollinators
New York Times: Do honeybees feel? Scientists are entertaining the idea

Transportation
MN Daily: Automated cars could be the new norm
MPR: Met Council: Business booming along Twin Cities light rail lines
Pioneer Press: Did the Green Line directly spur $4.2B in development?
Politics in MN: Green Line continues to attract developers
Star Tribune: Met Council touts developments near LRT stops

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 19): Transit funding

Waste & Recycling
MinnPost: Will Keurig coffee pods really become recyclable? Don’t hold your breath
Star Tribune: What Minnesotans are throwing away, but could be recycling

Water
Brainerd Dispatch: The Nature Conservancy launches campaign to protect Minnesota headwaters
Brainerd Disptach: MPCA to host open house on water quality assessments
MPR: Dayton presses Minnesota lawmakers to do more to protect water
MPR: Proposed water bill to replace lead pipes, boost Iron Range economy
NPR: 3 face criminal charges over Flint water crisis (In MPR)
Pioneer Press: Mark Dayton renews call for water-quality funding in Minnesota
SC Times: Lynden wells topic of meeting

Commentary, Austin Daily Herald: Others’ Opinion: Water quality – Don’t undercut buffer law
Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Governor’s View: On water quality, failure is not an option
Editorial, Post Bulletin: Our View: Action needed to protect our water
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Wastewater spills show potential for failure

Wildlife & Fish
AP: Isle Royale study: Moose thriving, but wolf population down to 2 (In Pioneer Press)
Duluth News Tribune: Researchers: Too late to save current Isle Royale wolves
MinnPost: Now, Isle Royale research can shift to all that’s being lost with the wolves
MPR: When two is the loneliest number: Isle Royale wolf population drops again
Star Tribune: Wolves on Isle Royale down to two
Star Tribune: DNR beefs up its Mille Lacs walleye management toolbox with a stocking trial

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 21): Wolves at Isle Royale

News Watch: Apr. 18

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Today’s Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Frac Sand, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Transportation, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Climate Change
MPR: Climate Cast: Why Minnesota corporations are greening up
Star Tribune: Warming temps will squeeze North Shore ski season, but bring surge in May

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Why use our atmosphere as an unpriced sewer?

Energy
Duluth News Tribune: PUC gets Minnesota Power solar project plan

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local view: Minnesota has ways to go on renewable energy
LTE, Mankato Free Press: Solar deals shine bright

Frac Sand
Post Bulletin: Winona County Board puts frac sand ban back on agenda featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project

Mining
AP: PolyMet supporters, opponents prepare for permit meeting (In MPR)
Ely Echo: Pro-mining group seeks gov’s records
Star Tribune: Sen. Bakk warns Cook County that anti-mining stance could cost it

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 15): Twin Metals mining by Paul Danicic of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Oil & Pipelines
LTE, Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Pipelines versus trains

Transportation
Austin Daily Herald: Red Bike pedals out
Pioneer Press: You’ll be able to use your phone to ride Metro Transit soon
Star Tribune: Fix for nasty Franklin-Cedar-Minnehaha junction needs one last approval
Star Tribune: Minneapolis City Council retains four lanes for 3rd Avenue downtown
Star Tribune: Franken urges state funding for Southwest Corridor light rail
Star Tribune: Some in St. Louis Park want city to curb its enthusiasm for sidewalks

Commentary, SC Times: Counties see big need for transportation aid
Commentary, SC Times: Knoblach’s Northstar plan doesn’t add up
Editorial, Star Tribune: Don’t delay needed transportation funding in Minnesota

Water
AP: Dayton renews call for water quality funding in Minnesota (In Star Tribune)
Bemidji Pioneer: Senate votes to eliminate buffer confusion
Mankato Free Press: Officials get clearer picture on buffer strips from DNR water maps
Pioneer Press: Minnesota Senate moves to clarify buffers, part of new water quality law
Star Tribune: Senate unanimously passes changes to contentious buffer law featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River
Star Tribune: Thirsty cities begin to eye water from the Great Lakes
Star Tribune: Gov. Mark Dayton kicks off water quality week

Editorial, Mankato Free Press: Our View: Water quality Don’t undercut buffer law

Wildlife & Fish
AP: Keeping trout from streams OK beginning Saturday (In MPR)
Star Tribune: Conservationists see politics creeping into Minnesota’s designated fish and wildlife spending featuring MEP and member group Izaak Walton League

MEP and members urge Governor Dayton to vote NO on Waukesha diversion proposal

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Minnesota Environmental Partnership and our member groups delivered the following letter to Governor Dayton urging him vote no on the Waukesha proposal to divert water from Great Lakes.

Dear Governor Dayton,

On behalf of the undersigned conservation and environmental organizations and their tens of thousands of Minnesota citizen-members, I am writing to express our shared concern that the City of Waukesha’s proposed Water Diversion Application fails to meet the appropriate conditions established under the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. As the first state to approve the Great Lakes Compact (Compact), Minnesota should be the first state to uphold it. We ask you to vote NO on the Waukesha proposal.

The Compact is an agreement adopted by all eight of the Great Lakes states (MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY), passed by Congress in 2008, and backed by a parallel agreement between the U.S. and Canada. It provides a structure within which the Great Lakes states and provinces work together to manage, protect, and conserve Great Lakes Water.

We’ve fought hard to keep Lake Superior water clean and plentiful. The lake gives us drinking water, cool air, and a distinct culture. A gubernatorial veto of Waukesha’s unwarranted proposal to divert Lake Michigan water of the Great Lakes basin is critical to defend our hard-won protection of Lake Superior and Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin water.

The decision on Waukesha’s proposal will be an important first test of and a critical proving ground for the Compact. As you know, the Compact bans water diversions outside of the Great Lakes Basin, except under extraordinary conditions.  Any community located outside the Great Lakes Basin that applies for a diversion of Great Lakes water must demonstrate that it is applying for the diversion only as a last resort rather, never as a preferred option; i.e., that it has exhausted all other available options to obtain water.  A community also must show that the amount of water requested is not more than what is needed.

We ask that you vote NO because the City of Waukesha: 1) has reasonable alternative safe water sources; 2) is asking for 50% more water than it actually uses; and 3) proposes to divert Great Lakes water to communities that do not need it. These failings in the proposal are further explained below:

1)    Waukesha has a Feasible and Much Less Expensive Alternative to Meet its Water Needs.

Under Section 4.9.3.d of the Compact, an applicant for a diversion must demonstrate that “There is no reasonable water supply alternative within the basin in which the community is located, including conservation of existing water supplies.” A July 2015 report by two independent engineering firms found that Waukesha has a feasible water supply alternative. The report concluded that Waukesha can use its existing deep and shallow water wells to provide ample clean and safe water to its residents now and in the future if it invests in additional water treatment infrastructure to ensure the water supply meets state and federal standards. This treatment alternative costs much less than a diversion, secures water independence for Waukesha residents, protects public health, and minimizes adverse resource impacts. Treating their existing wells for radium in order to provide potable water is an obvious option that the City of Waukesha does not even consider in the application. Over three dozen other communities in Wisconsin alone, not to mention scores of other communities around the country, have chosen this route and already provide potable drinking water to their residents. With a proven, reasonable alternative available, the proposed diversion is not consistent with the Compact.

2)    Waukesha Fails to Demonstrate its Need for Water.

The amount of water Waukesha requests far exceeds its need. Under Section 4.9.4.b of the Compact, “The Exception will be limited to quantities that are considered reasonable for the purposes for which it is proposed.” Waukesha is requesting 10.1 million gallons per day as an annual average to meet projected demand at full build-out. However, the application fails to demonstrate why the city needs so much more water than it is currently using, and independent analysis demonstrates that the request cannot be reasonably justified. A National Wildlife Federation report authored in February of 2013 by Jim Nicholas, a scientist and retired director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Michigan Water Science Center, shows that Waukesha’s forecasts of average-day demand and maximum-day demand are based on models that inflate the city’s need for water in the future and are inconsistent with historical trends. Waukesha’s per capita water use or demand is declining and has been declining for about three decades. Waukesha’s demand forecast for 2050, however, assumes a significant increase in per capita water use, despite planned implementation of conservation measures aimed at reducing water use. Without an explanation justifying the higher demand, the proposed diversion cannot be considered reasonable and, therefore, is inconsistent with the Compact.

3)  Diverting Great Lakes Water for Towns that Don’t Need It

If its proposal were approved, Waukesha would divert Great Lakes Water to other towns that don’t need it. Under Section 4.9.3.a of the Compact, “The Water shall be used solely for the Public Water Supply Purposes of the Community within a Straddling County that is without adequate supplies of potable water.” The city’s application proposes that Great Lakes water be diverted for other towns in Waukesha County, including Pewaukee and the towns of Delafield and Waukesha, among others, that do not need Great Lakes water. To date, none of the communities in this “extended service area” has demonstrated that it is without adequate supplies of safe drinking water. In fact, on February 26, City of Delafield Mayor Michele DeYoe stated, “We don’t have an issue right now, but that’s not to say that someday we will.”

The Compact is clear that a need for water must exist in the community to be eligible for a diversion. If these areas are included as part of Waukesha’s diversion application, they must demonstrate that they meet all requirements of the Compact, including that they are without adequate supplies of potable water and that there is no reasonable water supply alternative, including conservation, before the application is approved.

In closing, we respectfully request that you veto Waukesha’s diversion request as inconsistent with the clear terms of the Great Lakes Compact.  We are not alone in making this request.  We are aware that of the more than 11,200 comments submitted to the Regional Body and Compact Council, only 75 (less than one percent) commented in favor of the diversion.  Your office has received more than 3800 comments opposed to the proposal. In addition, at the listening session hosted by the Minnesota DNR in Duluth last month, more than 70 Minnesotans attended, and while no speaker supported the Waukesha proposal, 23 spoke in opposition to it. 

We appreciate your consideration of our comments. We applaud the Minnesota DNR’s efforts in hosting an independent public review process to ensure that Minnesotans have the opportunity to have their voices heard on this precedent-setting decision.

If you have specific questions about our comments, please contact Gary Botzek of the Minnesota Conservation Federation at gary@capitolconnections.com, Allison Wolf with Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy at awolf@mncenter.org, or Matt Norton with Minnesota Environmental Partnership at mattnorton@mepartnership.org. We look forward to working with you throughout this process.

Sincerely,

Steve Morse, Executive Director
Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Alliance for Sustainability

Clean Water Action – Minnesota

Duluth Audubon Society

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest

Izaak Walton League of America – Minnesota Division

Land Stewardship Project

Lower Phalen Creek Project

Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota

Mankato Area Environmentalists

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Conservation Federation

National Wildlife Federation

Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Sierra Club – North Star Chapter

St. Croix River Association

Transit for Livable Communities

WaterLegacy

 

News Watch: Apr. 14

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Energy, Frac Sand, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Water

Agriculture & Food
Austin Daily Herald: Lessons from the soil: CHS specialist helps farmers maximize potential
MPR: Study: Many Minnesotans face long trips to buy fresh food
Star Tribune: Minnesota among 10 worst states for access to fresh healthy food

Climate Change
Duluth News Tribune: Gardening event touts planting for new climate reality
Grist: Here’s everything we know about how to talk about climate change

Energy
New York Times: Coal giant Peabody Energy files for bankruptcy protection (In Star Tribune)
WCCO: Why aren’t more power lines buried underground?
Winona Daily News: Tri-County merger overwhelmingly approved; change takes effect next year

Commentary, MinnPost: Clean energy: It’s creating jobs, and it’s affordable
Commentary, Washington Post: Bulb standards: Bright lights, big savings, no fuss after all (InStar Tribune)
LTE, Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Clean energy

Frac Sand
Winona Post: Winona Co. Board will consider sand ban featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project

Invasive Species
AP: Starry stonewort discovery prompts efforts to stop algae (In MPR)

Editorial, Star Tribune: Boost the fight against Minnesota’s newest aquatic invader

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan: Minnesota can have mining and clean water
Duluth News Tribune: Cook County board stays mum on copper mining

Commentary, Star Tribune: In blocking Twin Metals’ leases, Dayton rules by fiat

Oil & Pipelines
AP: Minnesota regulators set 12 public meetings on oil pipelines (In Star Tribune)

Parks & Trails
Brainerd Dispatch: A conservation controversy: Multi-use trail proposal on Legacy land raises concerns

Pollinators
AP: Garden-care giant Ortho to drop chemicals linked to bee declines (In Star Tribune)
NPR: Home and garden giant ditches class of pesticides that may harm bees (In MPR)

Transportation
Austin Daily Herald: Red Bike roll out
Austin Daily Herald: Get on a bike and ride; Respect, ridership will key Red Bike success
MinnPost: The downtown Third Avenue redesign debate: Which is better — four lanes or a ‘road diet’?
Politics in MN: Bill seeks oversight of high-speed rail plan
Star Tribune: Headaches expected as major metro road projects get underway
Star Tribune: North Minneapolis rapid bus project on Penn Avenue faces new delay

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 14): U.S. Bank stadium and birds, transportation policy, 35W and 3rd Avenue projects
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 13): Third Avenue redesign

Water
Austin Daily Herald: Farmers sought for water-quality certification program; Producers encouraged to contact Mower SWCD office in April
Austin Daily Herald: One Watershed, One Plan launches statewide
Austin Daily Herald: Big state bonding session this year for CRWD
Brained Dispatch: MPCA team from Brainerd to conduct water monitoring
International Falls Journal: MPCA starts water quality monitoring
NPR: Chicago’s upgrades to aging water lines may disturb lead pipes
Star Tribune: St. Croix waterfront case sets up property rights showdown

Commentary, Austin Daily Herald: State should embrace Gov. Dayton’s clean water infrastructure plan
LTE, Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Protect our water

News Watch: Apr. 11

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Conservation, Emissions, Energy & Efficiency, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Sustainability, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Public News Service: Expanding rural Minnesota food access through mobile, farmers markets

Editorial, Washington Post: White House dirt-digging should continue to grow (In Star Tribune)
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Evidence is mounting against using Roundup
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: The more we know about our food the better

Climate Change
International Falls Journal: Spring gardening event focuses on adapting to climate change

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 10): Paying for pollution

Conservation
MinnPost: Half of world’s best natural places are under pressure from industrial activity

Emissions
Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Environmental cost may exceed public benefit

Energy & Efficiency 
Southwest Journal: Minneapolis has room to grow on solar
Star Tribune: Largest wind farm proposed; trade seminars; tech firm money raise off to good start
Star Tribune: Report faults Xcel’s handling of solar garden project
St. Peter Herald: Community forum a good conversation on solar energy featuring MEP member groups Environment Minnesota and Conservation Minnesota

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Investment in energy conservation will pay off by Will Nissen of MEP member group Fresh Energy
LTE, Mankato Free Press: Solar energy could benefit all St. Peter residents

Mining
Ely Echo: Twenty RAMS members lobby Dayton
Ely Echo: Governor defends stance to Ely officials, slams project, but says he won’t make final call
MPR: Mine layoffs bring new calls to remake Iron Range economy, but into what?
Wall Street Journal: Mining dams grow to colossal heights, and so do the risks

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Mining, oil industries integral to protesters

Oil & Pipelines
Brainerd Dispatch: GOP legislators ask Dayton to release state investigation on Sandpiper comments
Star Tribune: Minnesota legislators want railroads to open books on emergency response

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: Park Board, neighbors seek to beautify Cedar Lake beach

Sustainability
Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Sustainability is an evolution that is here to stay

Transportation
Politics in MN: Hope and nope as deadlines pass for small bills featuring MEP member groups Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and Transit for Livable Communities
Pioneer Press: Nice Ride is taking off – and waiting for St. Paul to catch up
Star Tribune: Pedestrian group battles for wider 3rd Avenue sidewalk at City Hall

Commentary, Austin Daily Herald: Sparks: Transportation a priority for 2016
Commentary, SC Times: Here’s how Northstar extension might work
Commentary, Star Tribune: A comprehensive transportation bill is sorely needed for roads, bridges, transit in Minnesota
Commentary, Star Tribune: Emissions by the numbers: Gas vs. hybrid vs. electric
Commentary, Star Tribune: It’s time to pull the plug on electric-car subsidies

Waste & Recycling
NPR: What happens when fashion becomes fast, disposable and cheap? (In MPR)

Water 
AP: U.S. water systems repeatedly exceed federal standard for lead (In MPR)
Duluth News Tribune: Photo show kicks off monthlong ‘One River, Many Stories’ collaboration
MPR: Lead poisoning still a worry for kids in pockets of Minnesota
Star Tribune: Cover Crops may improve water quality near farms

Commentary, Star Tribune: Minnesota should embrace governor’s clean water infrastructure plan

Wildlife & Fish
AP: Federal agency offers reward for arrest in eagle killing (In MPR)
MPR: DNR lifts live bait ban on Mille Lacs walleye fishing
Pioneer Press: Mille Lacs walleye fishing could close by Aug. 1 without live-bait ban, DNR warns
Star Tribune: EagleCam eaglets are growing up; banding next week