News Watch: January 4

Posted by

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Invasive Species, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish, Loon Commons

Agriculture & Food
MPR: Chronic wasting disease found on central Minnesota farm
Spring Grove Herald: LSP teaming up with Hatch to try and drive down health care costsfeaturing MEP member group Land Stewardship Project
Star Tribune: Farm by farm, working toward a cleaner river in western Minnesota featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project
Star Tribune: Two grocery stores are coming to north Minneapolis in 2017

Climate Change 
MinnPost: A look at some of the biggest subjects shaping environmental news in 2017
MinnPost: From climate to lizards in amber: top environmental news of 2016
MPR: 2016 was a record-setting warm and wet year
MPR: ‘The Unnatural World’: How innovation could reshape the environment
MPR: Wisconsin censors accepted climate science on DNR website
MPR: Wisconsin DNR: Climate change cause debatable

Conservation
Winona Daily NewsA natural decision: Landowners protect 86 acres along Root River with conservation easement featuring MEP member group Minnesota Land Trust

Opinion, Post-Bulletin: Jeffrey D. Rome: We must work to protect the Boundary Waters by Jeffrey D. Rome, an advocate working with the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters (of MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness)

Energy
Midwest Energy NewsSolar, energy efficiency part of Minnesota National Guard push for net zero
Public News Service: Minnesota’s Solar Capacity Gets Boost
Southwest Journal: Legislators talk energy policy at pre-session forum featuring MEP member group Environmental Initiative

Oil & Pipelines 
MPR: Dakota pipeline protesters, nearby residents brace for 2017
MPR: Pipeline protesters had Vikings tickets, entered U.S. Bank Stadium ‘properly’
Star Tribune: Two Dakota Access Pipeline protesters scaled the indoor heights of U.S. Bank Stadium during Vikings game
Star Tribune: U.S. Bank Stadium operator says protesters passed through security with rope and tickets to Vikings game

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Court order allows youth camp to use tract of public land in Fredenberg Township
Star Tribune: Downtown East Commons park in Minneapolis is still short on funds
Star Tribune: Rundown St. Paul parks need repairs — and it’s looking expensive

Pollution
MPR: Methane’s on the rise, but regulations to stop gas leaks still debated

Transportation
Duluth News Tribune: Agreement remains on transportation needs, not funding

Waste & Recycling
International Falls Journal: Students learn how waste impacts the environment
MPR: Company launches ‘farm-side’ plastic recycling in Minnesota
Public News Service: Study Calls for New Solution to Plastic Problem
Star Tribune: Sun Country organics program aims to make flights greener

Water
Duluth News Tribune: Dayton piles-on Northland projects in bonding bill proposal
Kare 11: New year brings new Minnesota laws featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississppi River
MPR: Dayton proposes $1.5B for state construction projects
MPR: Minnesota joins lawsuit to stop Red River flood diversion project
Star Tribune: A great river, at risk
Star Tribune: Low-salt diet for roads aims at keeping drinking water from tasting briny
Star Tribune: Minn. DNR goes to federal court to try to stop Red River flood control project
Star Tribune: Two key steps forward for Minnesota’s water quality featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River

Wildlife & Fish
Brainerd Dispatch: CWD found in two farm-raised deer near Merrifield
Duluth News Tribune: New walleye regulations to take effect on Lake Vermilion
Star Tribune: State slaps CWD quarantine on Crow Wing County deer farm

Commissioner Stine: Protect Family Farms & Get Environmental Review Right on Factory Hog Farm

Posted by

My family and I operate a dairy farm in Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township in southeastern Minnesota. My father bought our farm in 1942, and I have lived on this land my whole life. My wife, my sister, my brother and I milk cows and raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa. We’re proud of the life we’ve built off the land, and we rely on the clean air and water in Zumbrota Township.

Last winter, I learned of plans to build a 4,700-hog factory farm with a 3.7-million-gallon liquid manure pit next door to our family farm. The proposers, the Kohlnhofers, operate at least six other large facilities, as well as an insurance agency in Lakeville, Minn. Despite having all this, they want to devalue my property value and put my air and water at risk to get more. That’s wrong.

The factory farm would border my property on the north, bringing the stench of nearly 4,700 hogs to our doorstep. My family and I enjoy spending most of our days outside. I’m well-acquainted with the smell of manure, but the stench from an operation this large is different. Living next to millions of gallons of raw hog manure would ruin our lives. What’s more, the massive manure pit sits on land that is rated as highly susceptible to groundwater pollution because of our karst geology. The proposal threatens our air, our water and our family business.

That’s why I was shocked when I learned that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) environmental review for this project missed my home in its maps and analysis. I’ve lived on this land my whole life, yet the MPCA failed to take my home into account in the assessment of this proposal.

Image“How can the MPCA expect the public to have confidence in a document that is so riddled with mistakes?”

But that’s not all. As I read more of the environmental review I saw that it was inaccurate and careless. In a situation where the MPCA should have been triple-checking information, basic details were clearly never fact-checked. Other critical information missing or wrong in the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) includes:

  • Four homes missing within one mile of the proposal. This basic information can be found through a simple Google search.
  • Thirteen wells missing within one mile. We rely on our wells for our drinking water. Our family farm cannot survive without access to clean water.
  • Visible and well-known sinkholes missing from the karst evaluation. Sinkholes are common in our area and can form at any time. In fact, in 1992 the wastewater treatment lagoon in nearby Bellechester, Minn., collapsed due to a newly formed sinkhole, and nearby wells were polluted. Imagine if, instead of treated wastewater, the lagoon was full of raw, liquid hog manure. The results would be disastrous.
  • An inaccurate air quality report. This report got the numbers for hydrogen sulfide emissions wrong. Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas with proven negative health impacts.

Click here to read more about the many inaccuracies and omissions in the EAW.

How can the MPCA expect the public to have confidence in a document that is so riddled with mistakes? The things we care about most—our homes, our wells, our water and our air—were neglected in this environmental review.

The MPCA has a responsibility to protect the environment and serve the people of Minnesota. So far, it seems to only be interested in issuing the factory farm permit as quickly as possible.

Moving forward with this careless EAW is simply unacceptable. The MPCA needs to re-do the EAW, and this time it needs to do it right. MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine has the responsibility to order a new, accurate and thorough EAW that takes our homes, our wells and all karst features into account. In Zumbrota Township, and on our family farm, our livelihood depends on it.

Frederick Fredrickson is one of a group of rural residents in Zumbrota Township who are expressing concerns about the proposed Kohlnhofers factory farm. For more on this issue, see the Land Stewardship Project’s recent press release.

We stand together around shared priorities

Posted by

Minnesota’s Great Outdoors is more than just the beautiful natural spaces, clean lakes, prairie lands and forests. It’s about the health and vitality of our people and communities.

The coalition members of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership believe that economic prosperity and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand. Our state’s growth and prosperity have been driven by our heritage of plentiful clean water. Agriculture, business, and recreation have all grown because of the fertile ground our clean water has nurtured.  Minnesotans want to protect that legacy and leave a healthy future for their children and their children’s children to reap the same rewards.

But our natural resources don’t just take care of themselves. It takes strong, common sense environmental laws and policies to ensure the purity of our drinking water and sustainability of our groundwater, and create safe and healthy cities, towns and communities to live, work, and play.

As the 2017 Minnesota Legislature convenes, our lawmakers will consider many opportunities to make our state even better, including protecting our Great Outdoors. We call upon our representatives from every corner of our state to listen to your constituents and work to preserve Minnesota’s treasured way of life.

Over the years, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and our member organizations have fought for laws that promote clean energy, and strengthen protections for our land, water, and air. We have also vigorously opposed short-sighted efforts to block, undermine, and undo those laws. Such efforts are out of step with the wishes of the voters of Minnesota. In accordance with the values of Minnesotans, we will continue to defend existing laws  from being weakened or repealed. These include:

  • Clean Energy: Minnesota is a national and global leader in our use of renewable energy sources. Our progressive energy policies increase our use of renewable energy sources, provide incentives to promote energy efficiency, and help us achieve our goal of reducing Minnesota’s carbon pollution 80% by 2050. This includes maintaining a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear reactors and coal plants.
  • Minnesota Environmental Policy Act: Minnesotans overwhelmingly want to maintain our state’s environmental review standards, which protect our communities and our Great Outdoors from avoidable harm caused by poorly thought-through projects and decisions.
  • Plentiful and Clean Water: Minnesota’s clean water laws and standards are essential to eliminating pollution, restoring and protecting our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. It is through these laws and standards that our state can avoid waste and over-use that imperils our quality of life and economic prospects.

MEP member organizations are also standing together and asking our Legislature to move forward on the following innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing our Great Outdoors.

Forever Green Forever Clean

Clean water is a core Minnesota value. Smart investments in promising solutions will protect and restore our water quality for all to enjoy.

Unfortunately, on any given weekend this summer, more than 4,600 of Minnesota’s lakes and streams are “impaired,” some no longer deemed safe for swimming or fishing. Nitrates in groundwater from excessive fertilizer use exceed safe-drinking water standards.

The agricultural economy in Minnesota that has stemmed from the fertile land in Minnesota is essential to our way of life, but it is also impairing our water quality. Dominated by summer-annual crops such as field corn and soybeans, row crops soak up most of the nutrients available to them during the production season. But the active production season of row crops is just a few months of the year. The rest of the year the fields are barren and inactive. Without active plant root systems to hold soil in place and absorb water, fields are much more vulnerable to wind and water erosion and nutrient run off. Six out of seven (86%) of water quality impairments in Minnesota are caused by excess nutrient run off.

Research associate Xiaofei Zhang and agronomy professor Jim Anderson are part of the team working on a perennial wheatgrass variety that could give wheat growers additional options.

To resolve this, we must diversify our landscape beyond our heavy reliance on summer annual row crops, to a next generation of agricultural that utilizes substantially more continuous living cover, while providing a good economic return for farmers.

Ongoing funding for long-term research on the development of high-efficiency smart cropping systems is required. Since 2014, the Legislature has provided one-time funding to the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative, which has been effective in the first stages of developing Minnesota’s next generation crops, such as perennial crops like Kernza and pennycress. Not only do perennial crops prevent runoff into lakes, rivers and streams with their long root systems, they also improve soil quality by replenishing their own nutrients and don’t require expensive fertilizers. Key to this program’s success, however, is ongoing funding to do the necessary research over multiple growing seasons.

To reach our clean water future we must provide long-term funding to advance the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative, accelerating the development of economically viable cover crops and perennial crops that enhance water quality, soil health, and habitat while providing an economic return for farmers.

Protect Our Pollinators

One in three bites of food we eat relies on pollinators, like honey bees, native bees, monarchs and other insects, and birds. They are responsible for the reproduction of 90% of all flowering plants. But in Minnesota, and across the nation, our pollinators are in decline. Over 2014-2015 alone, Minnesota beekeepers lost more than 50% of their colonies, and Minnesota’s 400 native bee species may be similarly threatened including the Rusty Patched bumble bee, Bombus affinis.

Multiple factors are contributing to pollinator losses:

  • Pesticides: Many pesticides are toxic to pollinators, and neonicotinoid insecticides (or neonics) are known to be a driving factor of pollinator decline. At high doses, neonics can kill bees, butterflies and songbirds outright. At lower doses, neonics damage pollinators’ navigation, reproduction, communication, and immune systems.
  • Habitat loss: Pollinators need flowering plants throughout the growing season. Native bees and butterflies require safe places to nest. Monarch butterflies need abundant milkweed to mature and reproduce. Decreased plant diversity in rural and urban areas, fragmentation and destruction of native habitat, encroachment of invasive plants, and increased use of herbicide-resistant crops have reduced the amount of high-quality habitat that pollinators need to survive.
  • Diseases and parasites: Pollinators become more vulnerable to parasites and diseases when subjected to stressors like pesticide exposure and poor nutrition.

 

The monarch butterfly is one of Minnesota’s important pollinating species. photo by laurieschneider.com

In August 2016, Governor Dayton released an Executive Order with a comprehensive plan to protect pollinators. This was issued at the same time as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture “Review of Neonicotinoid Use, Registration, and Insect Pollinator Impacts in Minnesota.”  If implemented well, the new rules would make Minnesota a national leader in protecting pollinators.

However, the Executive Order and MDA’s proposed steps need additional legislative action to fully address the problem. Unfortunately, while neonics are primarily used as coatings on seeds for crops like corn and soy, the MDA does not have the authority to regulate the sale and use of pesticide treated seeds. That means that the most significant use of these bee-harming pesticides is not monitored or regulated by MDA — including almost all corn seed and 20% of soybean seed. This loophole is a major contributor to pollinator decline.

Minnesota has the opportunity to be a national leader in protecting our pollinators and their contributions to our food system and agricultural economy. We need to close the loophole that allows seed coatings, such as neonics, to be exempt from pesticide rules. We will seek to:

  • Tackle the problem of neonicotinoid-treated seeds in Minnesota by:
    • authorizing Minnesota regulatory agencies to track and regulate pesticide seed treatments just as they regulate other pesticide applications
    • increase funding for research and outreach on the efficacy of neonicotinoid seed treatments
    • setting state targets for reducing use of neonicotinoid seed coatings
  • Fund ongoing pollinator conservation activities by assessing a fee on sales of pesticides known to harm pollinators.

Statewide Investment in Transportation Options

Minnesota’s transportation system has been neglected for too long. Increased investment is urgently needed to expand public transportation, to create safe bicycling and walking options, and to fix aging roads and deficient bridges.

Our current transportation system harms our economic competitiveness and quality of life, makes it difficult for people in communities of all sizes to access jobs and other critical destinations, and reinforces long-standing racial disparities and income inequality.

Buses and other transit options, as well as safe biking and walking routes are essential to making a complete transportation system for every Minnesotan.

Transportation also generates 25% of the carbon pollution in Minnesota, second only to the power sector.  Air quality is often worst near areas with bad traffic and congestion, creating an increase in asthma attacks and a variety of other health problems. Research shows that communities of color are exposed to nearly 40 percent more air pollution than white residents, putting them at higher risk for these adverse health effects.  Demand is growing for transportation options that are more affordable, more efficient, healthier, and less resource intensive.

  • Building out the metro region’s public transportation system would save $185 to $395 million in reduced emissions.
  • Bus transit produces 33% less carbon pollution per passenger mile than the average single-occupancy vehicle.
  • Inadequate funding is the biggest challenge faced by 94% of Greater Minnesota transit providers.
  • In the Twin Cities metro area, only 8% of jobs are reachable by transit in 60 minutes.
  • More than 50 communities across Minnesota have unfunded Main Street enhancement projects, and statewide in 2013 MnDOT received proposals for nearly four times as many Safe Routes to Schools projects as it could fund.
  • Minnesota’s roads are in poor condition, costing the average motorist $396.25 per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating expenses.

It is time for the Minnesota Legislature to pass balanced, comprehensive transportation funding that addresses these urgent needs. Increasing long-term statewide investment in all modes of transportation—bus, rail, bicycling, walking, roads, and bridges—will pay valuable health and environmental dividends, spur economic development, and support communities where everyone has equal access to opportunity. These investments can and should positively impact the people who have struggled the most during the recent Great Recession—communities of color, the elderly, low-income families, and people with disabilities.

Twin Metals: Victory for now, but still work to do

Posted by

Evidence has been piling up about the long-lasting risk that copper-nickel sulfide mining poses to Minnesota’s precious water and wild places. In 2014, Mount Polley’s “state of the art” sulfide mine in British Columbia burst a dam and spilled billions of gallons of polluted water into pristine lakes and rivers (https://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/second_year_anniversary_of_mount_polley#.WGVWZbYrLSw). In 2015, the Gold King mine in Colorado, despite being closed for ninety years, spilled millions of gallons of lurid orange polluted water hundreds downstream (http://www.hcn.org/issues/48.7/silvertons-gold-king-reckoning). In 2016, hydrologist Dr. Tom Myers published a study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169415009683) that showed that polluted water from a mine near the Boundary Waters would quickly spread into the wilderness.

After years of pressure and with the support of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the federal government made two significant decisions in December that protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Both of them involve mineral rights owned by the federal government in the area near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. A company needs to control the mineral rights for the area they want to mine, and without mineral rights no mine can be built.

First, the U.S. Forest Service refused to consent to extending two fifty year-old federal mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, effectively terminating these leases. The mineral rights included are at the center of Twin Metals’ proposed mine. Without them, the proposed mine is likely dead. Second, the Department of Interior announced they had received a request from the Forest Service to withdraw all federal mineral rights in the Boundary Waters watershed. This would prevent any company from leasing any of the over 200,000 acres of in the Rainy River/Boundary Waters drainage basin. The process calls for a “pause” of up to two years, during which the government will analyze whether to stop issuing federal mineral leases in the area for twenty years. Neither of these actions would directly affect PolyMet’s proposed mine, which leases privately owned mineral rights and is in the Lake Superior drainage basin.  

Both of these actions are victories for the BWCAW and the people who have working to protect it. However, these actions have been called into question by the impending presidency of Donald Trump. The incoming Secretary of the Interior, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, has been vocal in his support of mining and logging on federal lands. Backers of Twin Metals have argued that Trump’s incoming administration can reverse these decisions. Can President-elect Trump roll back these decisions?

In the case of the denial of Twin Metals’ mineral leases, the answer is probably no. Leasing decisions by one presidential administration are not necessarily subject to reversal by the next. However, there a pending court case filed by Twin Metals argues that the federal government does not have the ability to deny the extension of these leases. That means the courts will likely decide the fate of the Twin Metals leases. The first hearing in that case is scheduled for late April 2017.

But the petition to withdraw federal minerals in areas that water would flow into the Boundary Waters Wilderness face a murkier picture. A review period will kick off in January, including a ninety-day public input period with public hearings and the ability to submit written comments to the federal government. However, it will be the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management that will make the decision on whether to withdraw federal minerals near the BWCA from leasing. Given what is known about the Trump administration’s position on mining and oil and gas drilling, it will require a huge outpouring of support to win a twenty-year withdrawal.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently characterized the Twin Metals mine proposal as “stymied” but not dead. He’s correct – permanently protecting the Boundary Waters from the threat posed by sulfide mining requires further action by the federal and state government. Unless we can secure permanent protection for the Boundary Waters, Twin Metals’ mine proposal could come back like a zombie. That’s where you come in. Here’s what you can do:

First, tell Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken that you support the decision to terminate Twin Metals’ mineral leases. Senator Klobuchar in particular (http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/events-speeches-and-floor-statements?ID=61B3774D-3BDA-4418-AD46-CE8013D42A17) has been critical of the decision. The scientific evidence of a threat to the Boundary Waters has been clear and continues to grow. Pick up the phone and call their offices (Sen. Franken – https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=offices) (Sen. Klobuchar – http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/offices) to let them know that you support decisions by the federal government that protect the BWCA from sulfide mining pollution.

Second, get ready to participate actively in the upcoming public input period. We will need all hands on deck to make it clear to the incoming administration that action is needed to protect the BWCAW and that support for the BWCAW transcends partisan politics.

These actions are the result of years of hard work and your voices. Over 70,000 people joined together (http://www.friends-bwca.org/2016/12/federal-government-vetoes-twin-metals-leases-moves-to-permanently-protect-bwca/) to tell the Forest Service to deny Twin Metals’ leases, and they listened. Now we need even more people to tell the incoming federal government that it’s time to permanently protect the Boundary Waters from the threat of sulfide mining.

News Watch: December 28

Posted by

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Invasive Species, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish, Loon Commons

Agriculture & Food
The Kenyon Leader: Goodhue County citizens and MPCA discuss proposed factory hog farm near Zumbrota featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project
Mother Jones: The Rise of Pesticide Giants and Other Food Stories to Watch Next Year
MPR: Seeing problems on the horizon, counties seek delay in buffer law
Star Tribune: Superweed introduced to Minnesota with conservation seed mix
Winona Daily NewsLand Stewardship Project to hold farm transition workshops starting in January featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project

Climate Change 
Mother Jones: There’s One Last Thing Obama Can Do to Fight Global Warming
MPR: The major climate events of 2016

Conservation
Brainerd Dispatch: Crow Wing County Board: More green, less blacktop

Energy
Midwest Energy NewsSo long, 2016: The Midwest Energy News year in review 
MPR: Trump signals radical changes to energy policy with cabinet choices
Public News Service: Midwest Making Strides in Solar and Wind
Star Tribune: Xcel Energy flips switch on new plant, more than doubling solar energy generation in Minnesota​ featuring MEP member group Fresh Energy

Invasive Species
Star Tribune: Minneapolis Park Board seeks goats for invasive species control

Mining 
Duluth News Tribune: IRRRB approves taconite tax rebates to mining companies
Timberjay: Twin Metals dealt a major setback featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness

Commentary, Star Tribune: Editorial counterpoint: Denial of mine leases fulfills duty on BWCA by Steve Piragis, Becky Rom (of MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness), and Dave Zentner (past president of MEP member group the Izaak Walton League)

Oil & Pipelines 
MPR: Dakota Access pipeline protest tops year in North Dakota news
MPR: Obama oil pipeline rules face uncertain future under Trump
Native News Online: Hero Issued Warrant for Saving Lives at Standing Rock
Native News Online: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman’s Letter to Trump: Requests Meeting & for Fairness

Pollution
CBS: Minnesota becoming first state to ban common germ-killer triclosan in soap featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River
The Inquisitr: Minnesota Triclosan Ban: Law Prohibits Antibacterial Agent In Soap Products Due To Effect On Thryoid, Hormones featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River
Pioneer Press: Minnesota beats rest of country in banning germ-killer featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River

Transportation
Fergus Falls Daily Journal: Bicycle group looks into sharing program featuring MEP member group Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
MinnPost: Is it even possible to plan for transit to the Shakopee Amazon facility?
MinnPost: The 6 issues that will (probably) dominate the year in local government
Star Tribune: Family sues Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and MnDOT over intersection where pedestrian died
Star Tribune: Southwest light-rail project gets crucial approval from feds
Star Tribune: St. Paul’s Central Station area kicks off a year of pop-up events
Star Tribune: Twin Cities passenger rail climbs back on track

Waste & Recycling
Brainerd Dispatch: Two counties in metro Minnesota lead in garbage reduction
Duluth News Tribune: WLSSD’s tree recycling program begins today

Water
KSTP: New Rules Aim to Protect Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River
Star Tribune: Aging, corroded regional sewers get multi-million dollar repairs
Star Tribune: Ice jams causing flooding, road trouble in Elk River and surrounding area
Star Tribune: Water pressure: St. Louis Park to close problematic water treatment plant

Wildlife & Fish
MinnPost: As Isle Royale prepares to add wolves, a look at just how that might be done
MPR: Concerns linger over Lake Superior’s historic herring fishery
MPR: Third deer with chronic wasting disease found in SE Minnesota
Star Tribune: Third infected deer discovered in Minnesota’s CWD outbreak
Winona Daily NewsWasting disease found in third Winona-area deer; special hunt beginsSaturday

News Watch: December 21

Posted by

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

Agriculture & Food
Star Tribune: In Brooklyn Park, sweet-corn grower reflects struggle to farm in metro

Climate Change 
MinnPost: Clean Power Plan B: Why Minnesota will be a climate leader in Trump’s America
MPR: For some, climate change cuts off access to clean water
MPR: Split government could curtail progress on climate change
MPR: Q&A: Secretary of state pick could affect climate policy

Conservation
Star Tribune: St. Paul neighbors give Ford site plan mostly high marks

Energy
Midwest Energy NewsAs Republicans take Minnesota’s legislature, clean energy still on the table

Mining 
Fox9: Feds deny Twin Metals mine lease near Boundary Waters featuring MEP member groupFriends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Herald Review: Ely copper mine project may be dead without access to federal lands featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Mesabi Daily News: Interior wants Twin Metals suit dropped featuring MEP member groupNortheastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
MinnPost: Defeat of mining near Boundary Waters is a rare victory for the value of place
MPR: Feds halt Twin Metals plan for Minn. copper mine near Boundary Waters featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Star Tribune: Feds slam brakes on copper-nickel mine near Boundary Waters featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
The Uptake: Federal Agencies Stop Twin Metals Mining Plans Near BWCA – Public Pressure Led To Decision featuring MEP member group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Oil & Pipelines 
MPR: 10 pipeline protesters face disorderly conduct trial
MPR: Obama designates Atlantic, Arctic areas off-limits to offshore drilling
MPR: Obama expected to bar drilling in swaths of Atlantic, Arctic
MPR: Standing Rock considers creating tribal utilities commission
MPR: The protests at Standing Rock: Oil, water, race and treaty rights
Star Tribune: Pipeline opponents urge U.S. Bank to divest its energy holdings

Parks & Trails
Brainerd Dispatch: Cass County Board: Board approves funding toward trail

Transportation
Star Tribune: Megaproject plan clears Ramsey County, but questions linger
Star Tribune: The Drive: I-35E becomes a HOT lane laboratory

Waste & Recycling
Brainerd Dispatch: Brainerd City Council: Organized collection talks to continue
Star Tribune: Minneapolis recycling plant catches fire; traffic disrupted
Star Tribune: Vehicles prepped for recycling may have started fire

Water
MPR: American RadioWorks documentary: Thirsty Planet
MPR: Emergency managers charged over Flint’s lead-tainted water
Star Tribune: Water pressure: St. Louis Park to close problematic water treatment plant

Wildlife & Fish
Duluth News Tribune: Wisconsin amends lake trout rules in Apostle Islands area
MinnPost: As Isle Royale prepares to add wolves, a look at just how that might be done
MPR: Officials may boost depleted Isle Royale wolf population
Star Tribune: On Isle Royale, Park Service intervenes to save nature

News Watch: December 15

Posted by

Today’s Topics: Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollution, Transportation, Water, Wildlife & Fish, Loon Commons

Climate Change 
MinnPost: Globe-warming methane emissions may be canceling gains on carbon dioxide
Mother Jones: Climate Change Is Shrinking Reindeer and Devastating Their Herders
NPR: Arctic warming at ‘astonishing’ rates, researchers say
NPR: Department Of Energy Defies Trump, Won’t Name Climate Change Workers
Washington Post: Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening

Conservation
Brainerd Dispatch: Family preserves 500 acres of wildlife habitat
Northland Press: “A dream come true – twenty years in the making” featuring MEP member group Minnesota Land Trust

Energy
Mother Jones: Google Says It Will Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy Next Year

Mining 
Duluth News Tribune: Feds ask for Twin Metals lawsuit to be dismissed
MPR: Government seeks to dismiss Twin Metals mining lease lawsuit
Pioneer Press: Feds deny minerals lease renewals for Twin Metals mine near Ely
Star Tribune: Feds slam brakes on copper-nickel mine near Boundary Waters
Timberjay: MPCA, environmental groups reach temporary settlement on Minntac permitfeaturing MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Oil & Pipelines 
Associated Press: Company: Equipment didn’t detect North Dakota oil leak
Bemidji Pioneer: Line 3 meeting in Clearbrook cancelled
Bemidji Pioneer: ‘You couldn’t hear, you couldn’t sit’: Activists asked to leave Enbridge meeting Tuesday night
Democracy Now!: Rick Perry, Trump’s Energy Secretary Pick, is Close Ally to Oil Industry & Dakota Access Pipeline
Duluth News Tribune: Activists asked to leave Enbridge meeting in Bemidji Tuesday night
Duluth News Tribune: Enbridge cancels pipeline forum after heated community meeting
Duluth News Tribune: North Dakota oil pipeline spill estimated at 176,000 gallons
Duluth News Tribune: Trump energy department pick — Perry — on board of Dakota Access pipeline builder
MPR: Enbridge shuts down Bemidji meeting after confrontation with pipeline protesters
MPR: North Dakota oil spill raises questions about safety

Opinion, Duluth News Tribune: Native View: Enbridge must be held accountable in northern Minnesota

Pollution
Alexandria Echo Press: A $5.6 million pollution solution
Duluth News Tribune: Cleanup plan comes together near Fraser Shipyards in Superior
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Northside residents’ fight for clean air against Northern Metal Recycling reaches tipping point  

Transportation
International Falls Journal: MnDOT adds new features to 511 traveler information system
Star Tribune: Met Council’s transit operations facing big deficit

Water
Duluth News Tribune: Great Lakes spending included in federal water bill
Star Tribune: EPA fracking report offers few answers on drinking water

Wildlife & Fish
Alexandria Echo Press: Trumpeter swans finding a home around Alexandria
Associated Press: DNR bans deer-feeding in 5 Minnesota counties in CWD fight
NPR: Meet Lun Lun’s elegant and happy (panda) daughters

News Watch: December 12

Posted by

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Conservation, Invasive Species, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollution, Transportation, Wildlife & Fish, Loon Commons

Agriculture & Food
Herald Review: 12th annual immigrant and minority farmers conference featuring MEP member group Minnesota Food Association
Star Tribune: Eyesore or worthy experiment? Sunken greenhouse pushes the envelope in Minneapolis

Climate Change 
Democracy Now!: Trump’s War on Science: Exxon CEO Expected to Head State, While “Enemies List” Alarms Energy Dept.
MPR: Climate Cast: How is global warming changing the Arctic food chain?

Conservation
High Plains Journal: SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit is Feb. 15 to 16, 2017, in Fergus Fallsfeaturing MEP member group Sustainable Farming Association
Kare 11: 2018 Minnesota Weatherguide Environment calendar photo submission contest  featuring MEP member group Freshwater Society
MinnPost: Private land conservation surges in U.S., with the help of nonprofit trusts featuring MEP member groups Minnesota Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy

Invasive Species
Duluth News Tribune: Zebra mussel larvae found in Leech Lake

Mining 
Duluth News Tribune: DFL copper mining feud spills into public view
Duluth News Tribune: Minnesota DFL rejects resolution opposing sulfide mining
Mesabi Daily News: MCEA drops suit over Minntac pit featuring MEP member groups Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Save Lake Superior Association, and Save Our Sky Blue Waters
MPR: DFL copper mining feud spills into public view
The Olympian: Environmentalists drop lawsuit over expired Minntac permit featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Pioneer Press: Minnesota DFL rejects anti-sulfide mining move
Post-Bulletin: Environmental groups declare victory over Minntac permit featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Star Tribune: DFL avoids copper-nickel mining fight — for now
Star Tribune: Environmental groups settle lawsuit against MPCA over Minntac’s long-expired water permit

Oil & Pipelines 
Indian Country Today Media Network: Chairman Archambault’s Update on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Indian Country Today Media Network: With Pipeline Losing $20 Million a Week, DAPL Battle Moves to Court
MPR: In their own words: The ‘water protectors’ of Standing Rock
MPR: Pipeline spills 176,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota creek
MPR: Tribes suing over Dakota Access pipeline willing to put claims on hold
Star Tribune: Pipeline protesters briefly lock some doors to Wells Fargo Uptown branch

Parks & Trails
Brainerd Dispatch: Going wild on the Pacific Crest Trail

Pollution
Star Tribune: More soil and groundwater contamination suspected in Minneapolis’ Como neighborhood

Transportation
Pioneer Press: Groups merge to build clout of transit constituency featuring MEP member group Transit for Livable Communities
Star Tribune: MnDOT debuts new logo
Star Tribune: MnDOT misses federal goals for disadvantaged contractors
Star Tribune: Private plan for Twin Cities-Rochester high-speed rail draws pushback

Wildlife & Fish
Duluth News Tribune: Field reports: Minnesota deer advisory group will begin tackling issues Tuesday
MPR: DNR bans deer-feeding in 5 Minnesota counties in CWD fight
MPR: Giraffe now listed as ‘vulnerable’ to extinction as population plummets
MPR: Minnesota DNR finds evidence of zebra mussels in Leech Lake

Minnesota’s People, Communities, Businesses to Benefit from Water Bill that supports Great Lakes Restoration

Posted by

December 12, 2016 (Duluth, Minn.) —  In a major victory this weekend for the people, businesses, and communities in Minnesota which rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life, over the weekend, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that authorizes $1.5 billion for region-wide Great Lakes restoration investments. The  Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act, received bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate.

“This is a big victory for the Great Lakes and the people and businesses of Minnesota which depend on them,” said Steve Morse, Executive Director at the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “The authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the WIIN Act will directly benefit the people of Minnesota. We thank Minnesota’s Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, and Tim Walz, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. 

“Between 2010 and 2015, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has invested $39 million in Minnesota through 124 projects and the results are just as impressive: Fish are returning to the rivers, we are seeing fewer beach closings, and there’s significant progress on clean-up of toxic sediment. More work remains to be done, though, and thanks to authorization projects on the ground now have greater certainty their work will be funded and can begin to undertake longer, more complex work.”

Instrumental in getting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative authorization language in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act were Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Reps. Nolan, McCollum and Walz (D-Minn.), and many others  (link here). Other Great Lakes provisions were included in the act, such as authorization for funding to replace Flint, Mich.’s lead-lined and aging water infrastructure, the Army Corps’ Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Act, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.

News Watch: December 8

Posted by

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Invasive Species, Oil & Pipelines, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish, Loon Commons

Agriculture & Food
Alexandria Echo Press: Winter grazing of cover crops is subject of workshop featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project 
Fox 21: Annual Farmers Take the Stove Dinner Celebrates Harvest featuring MEP member group Sustainable Farming Association

Climate Change 
Democracy Now!: Noam Chomsky: Trump’s Climate Change Denialism Will Accelerate Global Race to Destruction
Democracy Now!: The End of the EPA? Trump Taps Climate Change Denier & Fossil Fuel Ally Scott Pruitt to Head Agency
MPR: Trump’s pick for EPA head is a climate skeptic, has repeatedly sued agency

Conservation
Brainerd Dispatch: Barrick named Soil and Water employee of the year
MinnPost: Debunking the myth that Minnesota’s rural towns are doomed featuring MEP member group The Nature Conservancy

Energy
Midwest Energy News: Microgrid powers new suburban Minneapolis office building

Invasive Species
Star Tribune: Lake associations, local governments boost spending against aquatic invaders

Oil & Pipelines 
ABC: The Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Delay Has Widespread Ramifications featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy 
MinnPost: Dakota Access Pipeline decision is a victory for Indians, for direct action — and for rule of law
Brainerd Dispatch: CLC professor runs supplies to Standing Rock
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth City Council votes in support of anti-pipeline demonstrators
Duluth News Tribune: Western North Dakota oil pipeline shut down after spill
MPR: Dakota Access pipeline company fighting small state fine
MPR: Pipeline decision marks victory in tribal effort to protect sacred sites
MPR: Protesters: We aren’t going anywhere without assurance pipeline won’t be built
MPR: Standing Rock chair: Pipeline off treaty lands is OK, but climate change is the bigger issue
Star Tribune: Bitter weather one more foe to those fighting Dakota Access oil pipeline

Pollution
Inforum: Your fleece jacket might be polluting the Mississippi River featuring MEP member group Friends of the Mississippi River

Transportation
Brainerd Dispatch: Brainerd City Council: Council approves non-motorized transportation plan
Pioneer Press: How to pedal from St. Paul to Canada: The North Star Bicycle Route
Star Tribune: Merger will create state’s largest transportation advocacy nonprofit

Waste & Recycling
Brainerd Dispatch: Brainerd City Council: Organized trash and recycling collection back on the agenda

Water
Duluth News Tribune: Lawsuit over Minntac permit dismissed
Pioneer Press: White Bear Lake wants answers about low water level, despite recent rise
Star Tribune: Environmental groups settle lawsuit against MPCA over Minntac’s long-expired water permit featuring MEP member groups Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Save Lake Superior Association, Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Wildlife & Fish
Pioneer Press: Deer disease in southeast Minnesota appears to be contained, DNR says