News Watch: Apr. 6

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Today’s Topics: Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water

Climate Change
MPR: Will climate change open up the Arctic to tourism?

Commentary, Star Tribune: How to fight climate change? Put a price on pollution
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Climate change skeptic used discredited arguments
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Ignore misinformation; climate change is real
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Climate change skeptics ignore the hard truth

Energy
AP: Solar power project in southwestern Minnesota gets approval (In Politics in MN)
Brainerd Dispatch: Cass County Board: Deep Portage approved for solar panels
Business Wire: Andersen Corporation announces commitment to Community Solar
E&E: Minn. poised to import Canadian hydro to cut carbon featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Mankato Free Press: St. Peter residents, staff talk solar future featuring MEP member groups Conservation Minnesota and Environment Minnesota
MPR: Controversial solar farm near Marshall gets OK to start construction
SC Times: Stearns to hear input on solar rules
Star Tribune: State’s largest wind farm yet proposed in southwest Minnesota
Star Tribune: Solar `speed dating’ matches consumers with firms that are building solar gardens featuring MEP member group Fresh Energy
Star Tribune: Large solar project approved near Marshall, Minn. for Xcel Energy customers

Commentary, MinnPost: Clean energy drives Midwest job growth
Commentary, MinnPost: Clean energy is about keeping people healthy
Editorial, New York Times: A renewable energy boom

Mining
MPR: State’s new PolyMet consultant in line for $309K
Northland News Center: Gov. Dayton meets with Ely officials featuring MEP member groupNortheastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Star Tribune: Schafer: Here’s why this time really is different for Minnesota mining
Timberjay: Dayton defends position on Twin Metals

Commentary, Star Tribune: Proposal to limit mineral lease rights would cost Iron Range
Editorial, Duluth News Tribune: Our View: Props to Dayton; even if law broken
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Boundary Waters is dear, old friend in need of help
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 6): Minneapolis’ plastic-bag ban, mining, pipelines by Don Arnosti of MEP member group Izaak Walton League

Oil & Pipelines
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth Enbridge protesters found guilty of trespassing
MPR: Senate panel oks tougher railroad reporting standards
Pioneer Press: Investigation: MPCA worker’s Sandpiper emails had ‘poorly chosen words,’ not opposition
Pioneer Press: Stassen-Berger: State investigation of MPCA employee done, but not public

LTE, Bemidji Pioneer: Commissioners support Enbridge projects
LTE, Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Stopping Sandpiper

Parks & Trails
Bemidji Pioneer: DNR commissioner highlights Itasca needs in capital bonding request

Transportation
Bemidji Pioneer: Capitol Chatter: Driverless cars struggle when looking for lane lines
Fergus Falls Journal: Can Fergus get more pledges to bike than Little Falls? featuring MEP member group Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
Pioneer Press: Traditional GOP allies – businesses – are challenging party on transit
Politics in MN: Metro Transit hopes to add electric buses
Politics in MN: Shuttles may answer traffic issues near soccer stadium
Public News Service: National Walking Day highlights need for safe school routes featuring MEP member group Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
Star Tribune: Council panel deadlocks on 3rd Avenue lane redesign proposal
Star Tribune: Affordable housing a must along Southwest LRT, according to strategy
Star Tribune: City officials across Minnesota vie for aid to rebuild crumbling streets
Star Tribune: Nicollet Mall redo back on track, on budget with new bids
West Central Tribune: Bikes Alliance seeks input at open house

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Bicycle Advocate’s View: Sharing the road a shared responsibility
Commentary, SC Times: Northstar needs to prove its worth 1st
Commentary, SC Times: Knoblach’s Northstar plan for St. Cloud is promising
Editorial, Duluth News Tribune: Our view: Just who’ll ride the rails?
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 4): Free-transit proposal

Waste & Recycling
MPR: Minneapolis moves to ban plastic bags
Redwood Falls Gazette: Walking for the water featuring MEP member group CURE
Star Tribune: Minneapolis council votes to ban plastic bags, impose paper-bag fee
Star Tribune: Minneapolis City Council votes to ban plastic bags

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (April 5): Plastic bag ban

Water
AP: Federal judge throws out complaint over Red River diversion
Bemidji Pioneer: New bill alters sulfate discharge limits at Keetac mine featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Mankato Free Press: A united front on cleaner lakes in Lake Crystal
NPR: Drought-plagued Californians are still too thirsty (In MPR)
NPR: Elevated levels of suspected carcinogen found in states’ drinking water (In MPR)
SC Times: Lynden well tests: Metals from nature

Editorial, Mankato Free Press: Our View: Water quality: Be proactive on St. Peter’s Lake Hallett

News Watch: Mar. 31

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

Agriculture & Food
AP: Grocery retailer Supervalu joins move toward cage-free eggs (In MPR)
Bemidji Pioneer: Lawmakers support Minnesota urban agriculture effort
MPR: Scientists worry massive Chinese lake a global bird flu cauldron

Climate Change
Echo Press: Ice leaves Lake L’Homme Dieu early
New York Times: The invisible catastrophe
New York Times: Climate model predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet could melt rapidly 
New York Times: Exxon Mobil climate change inquiry in New York gains allies
Washington Post: Antarctic loss could double expected sea level rise by 2100, scientists say (In Pioneer Press)

Conservation
Star Tribune: Hearing a call to protect the prairie in southwestern Minnesota

Divestment
Star Tribune: DFL legislators want pension fund investments in fossil fuel firms to end

Energy
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth mayor would invest in energy conservation
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota co-ops rolling out high fixed charge for solar customers featuring MEP member group Fresh Energy
New York Times: As nuclear security summit begins, materials remain vulnerable to theft
Utility Drive: How utility collaboration can cut community solar costs up to 40%

Mining
AP: Dayton to visit Eveleth after opposing Twin Metals project (In Star Tribune)
Duluth News Tribune: Dayton will meet with Ely, Iron Range officials about Twin Metals
Duluth News Tribune: State hires firm to figure PolyMet insurance fund
Timberjay: Ely officials to discuss mining with Gov. Dayton

Commentry, SC Times: Kudos to Dayton for protecting BWCAW
Editorial, Ely Echo: Governor attacks Ely’s economic future

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Minnesota DNR seeks bonding money to fix state park buildings, roads
Pioneer Press: DNR wants millions to fix these Minnesota state park facilities
Pioneer Press: DNR says it needs $132M. So why is it only asking for $33M?
SC Times: Lawmaker: Require local OK before clear-cutting state land
Star Tribune: Dakota County seeks $2.2 million for railroad crossing on Mississippi bike trail
Star Tribune: DNR wants $33 million to fix state parks, trails

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Park president’s view: Investments, momentum growing for Duluth parks

Pollinators
NPR: Adopt a beehive — save a beekeeper? (In MPR)

Transportation
Bemidji Pioneer: Commuter rail extension to St. Cloud wanted
Pioneer Press: The disabled should have access to driverless cars, Minnesota lawmaker says
Politics in MN: Knoblach aims to extend Northstar to St. Cloud
Reuters: Self-driving cars confused by poor road conditions
SC Time: Knoblach pitches bill to extend Northstar to St. Cloud
Star Tribune: Minn. high school teams racing to Eco-Marathon
Star Tribune: Minnesota legislators buzzing with electric, plug-in hybrid car rebate

Waste & Recycling
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 31): Proposed plastic bag ban
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 30): Minneapolis parks, proposed plastic-bag ban

Water
AP: Dayton, cabinet members, visit SW Minnesota to talk water
AP: Indigenous people lead water walk along Minnesota River (In Politics in MN)
Austin Daily Herald: Seeking third CREP in Minn. for water quality, habitat
Duluth News Tribune: Public hearings Thursday on Minnesota water quality rules featuring MEP member group WaterLegacy
MinnPost: Some of our smallest water systems have biggest contamination problems
MPR: Walkers along Minnesota River highlight need for clean water
Star Tribune: Gov. Mark Dayton travels to Edgerton, heart of farm country, to talk water quality

Wildlife & Fish
MinnPost: Can we have our fish and eat them too? Maybe so — with better management
MPR: That baby squirrel may not actually need your help
Timberjay: DNR: walleye numbers ‘exceptionally strong’

News Watch: Mar. 28

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

Agriculture & Food
NPR: How little Vermont got big food companies to label GMOs (In MPR)

Climate Change
MPR: Is climate change affecting fishing in Minnesota? featuring MEP member group Trout Unlimited
Star Tribune: Warmest 12 months on record for Minnesota, but arctic slap is 1 week away

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Climate change funds should be diverted

Energy
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Clean, renewable energy makes ‘cents’
LTE, Mankato Free Press: Big box stores should go solar featuring MEP member group Environment Minnesota

Leg & Agency
Editorial, Star Tribune: White Earth Nation is best-suited to manage conservation project

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Silver Bay City Council draws criticism for decision to remove Bent Paddle beer

Commentary, MinnPost: Why Minnesota can’t afford mining near the Boundary Waters featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 28): Mining, beer and speech

Oil & Pipelines
Star Tribune: No change in review process for Minnesota crude oil pipelines

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: DNR says aging Itasca State Park in urgent need of refurbishment
Star Tribune: State briefs: Minnesota DNR seeks $72.5 million for repairs at state parks

Pollution
MPR: MPCA detects high lead levels in north Minneapolis
Star Tribune: Scrapyard owner responds to MPCA air-quality concerns

Transportation
Austin Daily Herald: 30 bikes ready to roll out with Red Bike debut next month
Pioneer Press: The east metro ruckus over $485 million Gold Line is getting louder
SC Times: 5,000-signature for rail service hits Capitol
Star Tribune: The Drive: Lessons learned with pilot Route 494
West Central Tribune: Regional transportation plans to be discussed

Commentary, Star Tribune: My tourism plan can make us the envy of the world

Sustainability
MN Daily: Like its neighbors, Marcy introduces green initiative

Waste & Recycling
MN Daily: City moves to ban single-use bags
West Central Tribune: Kandiyohi County sees progress in recycling

Commentary, Star Tribune: In praise of Minneapolis’ proposed plastic-bag ban cowritten by MEP members Deanna White of Clean Water Action, Ryan Kennedy of MPIRG and Mathews Hollinshead of Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Editorial, Star Tribune: Minneapolis has more work to do on plastic bag ordinance
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 28): Proposed plastic-bag ban, mining, beer and speech

Water
Duluth News Tribune: No new confirmed aquatic invasive species in Great Lakes for 10 years
East Side Review: New director of Lower Phalen Creek Project continues the non-profit’s dreams featuring MEP member group Lower Phalen Creek Project
Mankato Free Press: Indigenous people lead spiritual water walk along Minnesota River
MinnPost: An iconic Wisconsin lake goes murky, and a tiny invader is at fault
MN Daily: U team improves bioreactors to clean up fertilizer runoff
NPR: Gov. Snyder’s sweeping plan for Flint water crisis gets a reality check (In MPR)
Star Tribune: St. Croix River steward helps people understand protective regulations featuring MEP member group St. Croix River Association
West Central Tribune: Walking the length of the river: Spiritual journey calls attention to contamination of the Minnesota River

Wildlife & Fish
Duluth News Tribune: Steelheaders wanted: Genetics study aims to examine steelhead/kamloops rainbow trout interbreeding featuring MEP member group Trout Unlimited
NPR: Japanese fleet kills 333 whales in the Antarctic (In MPR)
Pioneer Press: Mille Lacs walleye impact: ‘We’re hurting.’ Should state offer aid?

Complete the Perennial Biofuels Program in 2016

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Perennial Biofuel Switchgrass Cr- Great Lakes Bioenergy Reserach Center, Flickr CC

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a hardy, key bioenergy crop. Credit: Great Lakes Bioenergy Reserach Center, Flickr CC

Farming is a Minnesota legacy. Clean water is a legacy Governor Mark Dayton hopes to leave behind. These two things don’t need to be at odds, and legislation to support perennial biofuels proves this. How do we protect the health of Minnesotans and our drinking water, while at the same time supporting a thriving community of farmers in greater Minnesota?

The answer is in finding a win-win crop that both protects our water and contributes to a farmer’s bottom line. This is where an incentive for growing perennial biofuels comes in.

Last session, a bill was introduced that would incentivize the production of perennial biofuels. Perennial biofuels are biofuels created from alternative materials to corn, such as grasses. Last year’s legislation provided the following opportunities:

  • Established a $5 million tax credit for perennial biofuel production
  • Requires producers building cellulosic ethanol plants to include 10% perennial crops the first year of production, escalating up to 50% in the fifth year

These things together could create a new $840 million industry in Minnesota, according to the Bioeconomy Coalition.

There is one key component of the legislation missing: where will we get these perennials? It’s time to fully incentivize the program and close the legislative gap. The demand has been created for perennial crops, but now we need the supply to match. This is the next logical step in ensuring that our new perennial biofuels program is a success.

A bill has been introduced that will close this gap. HF2881 and SF2711 provide incentives for landowners that truly make a difference. These bills:

  • Give an incentive to those farmers willing to divert land to perennial crop growth from agricultural use
  • Give priority to farmers that also implement water protection programs.

The economic benefits of this are clear. Many farmers are reluctant to give up part of their land for water quality maintenance because they could theoretically be making gains from utilizing that land. However, this provision would mean that farmers no longer have to see a total loss in order to protect water. It promotes a new industry for Minnesota, while at the same time prioritizing clean water.

Minnesotans deserve clean, safe drinking water. It is essential for our health for generations, and if we act now we can make a very real difference. With the economy still recovering, it’s important to find new ways of generating wealth. When we can generate new wealth at the same time that we preserve our environment for generations to come, we create a truly sustainable Minnesota.

News Watch: Mar. 24

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

Agriculture & Food
Bemidji Pioneer: ‘Little, big idea’ reaches critical mass: Deep winter production co-founder speaking at TEDx

Biofuels
Star Tribune: First Midwest cellulosic ethanol plant is producing tank-car loads of fuel

Climate Change
NPR: An upside to climate change? Better French wine (In MPR)

Energy
Duluth News Tribune: PUC denies Minnesota Power electric rate change
Duluth News Tribune: Clean energy jobs increasing in Minnesota
Mankato Free Press: Blue Earth County OKs solar garden deal
Midwest Energy News: Report forecasts continued clean energy job growth in Minnesota
Midwest Energy News: New Minnesota nonprofit to focus on clean tech businesses
MN Daily: Minnesota power company plan draws concern from citizens featuring MEP member group Sierra Club Northstar Chapter
Newsweek: Is it game over for coal?

Invasive Species
MPR: Study details high cost of invasive species in lakes

Leg & Agency
AP: MPCA forming advisory committee on environmental justice (In MPR)
Star Tribune: Outdoors-friendly land deals getting brushed off at Legislature

Commentary, Mankato Free Press: Bonding for land acquisition should be a high priority

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: ‘BuyDownstream’ effort aims to support businesses that oppose Iron Range copper mining
Duluth News Tribune: Silver Bay City Council draws criticism for decision to ban Bent Paddle beer
MRR: Dayton sounds off on prison, PolyMet, MNsure and more
Star Tribune: Bent Paddle Brewing fights Silver Bay City Council over ban at municipal liquor store
Star Tribune: Gov. Dayton administration wants $4 million set aside for PolyMet legal costs featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Timberjay: EPA opens investigation of state’s mining regulation featuring MEP member groupWaterLegacy

Commentary, Mesabi Daily News: Gov. Dayton defends his decision
Commentary, Star Tribune: Editorial counterpoint: Feds got it right on mineral leases near BWCA by Becky Rom of MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness

Parks & Trails
MinnPost: Parks and wreck: How a ‘historic’ funding deal sums up the long-troubled relationship between Minneapolis and its parks board
Star Tribune: Minneapolis mayor vetoes alternative parks funding plan

Pollinators
NPR: With bees in trouble, almond farmers try trees that don’t need ’em (In MPR)  

Transportation
Politics in MN: Gold Line planners to alter BRT route
Star Tribune: New Route 494 suburb-to-suburb express bus route is suspended
Star Tribune: Bike storage facility coming to 38th Street Station
Star Tribune: Transportation Beat: It’s easier now to go car-free
Star Tribune: Walking in the Twin Cities: It’s hard out there for a pedestrian

Editorial, Pioneer Press: Crossing safety
LTE, Post Bulletin: Bus Rapid Transit systems operate with fewer problems and costs
LTE, SC Times: Bus service works; train not worth it

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Curbside organics recycling in Minneapolis expands next week
Star Tribune: Plastic bag ban wins approval of Minneapolis council committee

Commentary, MN Daily: Plastic garbage overwhelms our planet

Water
AP: In Minneapolis, bellying up for … tap water (In MPR)
NPR: What makes water unsafe? Not the color, taste or smell (In MPR)
NPR: Independent investigators: State officials mostly to blame for Flint water crisis (In MPR)
Pioneer Press: This is how St. Paul wants to put its storm water to good use
Star Tribune: Smell that? Careful noses improve scent and taste of Mpls. water

Wildlife & Fish
Duluth News Tribune: Mille Lacs walleye rules: All catch-and-release, all artificial lures, all season
MinnPost: Options narrow for Isle Royale wolves, and genetic rescue option falls off the table
MPR: DNR: Mille Lacs walleye catch-release only; no live bait
MPR: Warm weather brings Minnesota bears out early, DNR warns
Pioneer Press: Minnesota lawmaker will seek to override Mille Lacs walleye rules
Star Tribune: New walleye season on Mille Lacs will be catch-and-release
Star Tribune: Tracking Minnesota’s frogs and toads speaks to outdoors health

Editorial, Star Tribune: DNR takes a painful but needed step to aid Lake Mille Lacs

News Watch: Mar. 21

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

Agriculture & Food
AP: General Mills to label products with GMOs ahead of Vt. law (In MPR)
Star Tribune: New Prague organic foods store has a self-serve twist

Climate Change
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota physicians organize to support the Clean Power Plan
MPR: House panel rejects U of M research projects
MPR: Warm weather triggers early ice outs on many Minnesota lakes featuring MEP member group Freshwater Society
MPR: Trees can adjust to warming temps, U of M study finds
MPR: Climate Cast: Why climate experts are so concerned about what happened in February
NPR: Can you grow the economy without adding pollution?
SNL: Minn. regulators provide 1st glimpse of state’s Clean Power Plan compliance

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Clean Power Plan a win-win-win for everyone

Energy
Farmington Independent: District approves solar panels for school roofs
Midwest Energy News: MISO projects additional coal retirements under Clean Power Plan
New York Times: As coal’s future grows murkier, banks pull financing
Star Tribune: Xcel Energy faces more big investments to keep its nuclear units running
West Central Tribune: Willmar’s wind turbines have best year ever

Frac Sand
Winona Daily News: Competing reports debate frac-sand ban in Winona County featuring MEP member group Land Stewardship Project

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Public meeting set on PolyMet permits
Ely Echo: Two DFLers, two vastly different views on Twin Metals
Star Tribune: Public hearing will start next phase of PolyMet mine review

Editorial, Star Tribune: Consistency is critical in Minnesota’s decisionmaking on mining
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: Silver Bay says it doesn’t care about clean water
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: BLM deserves credit for response on review by Becky Rom of MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Thanks to Gov. Dayton for protecting wilderness
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 19): Mining policies

Oil & Pipelines
Pilot Independent: PUC hearing for Enbridge’s Sandpiper pipeline EIS is March 24 featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: Grazing goats, fewer herbicides considered to fight weeds in Mpls. parks
Star Tribune: Roseville’s $19 million parks makeover nearly complete

Editorial, Star Tribune: More facts needed on financing plan for Mpls. parks

Pollinators
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth’s new policy could beckon bees
Star Tribune: In win for beekeepers, Minnesota links insecticide to damaged hives

Transportation
AP: As cycling booms, few penalties for drivers who hit bikers (In Pioneer Press) featuring MEP member group Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
Duluth News Tribune: Ambition meets reality at Highway 53 bridge project on Iron Range
Politics in MN: St. Paul approves Cleveland bike lanes
Politics in MN: Ridership estimates tricky for Gold Line planners
Star Tribune: Southwest light rail needs Legislature to act ahead of critical funding deadline
Star Tribune: Twin Cities Auto Show scraps Green Room for all Electric
Star Tribune: Americans haven’t eased up much on the gas pedal
Star Tribune: Minnesota rushes to carve new path for Iron Range highway

Editorial, Mankato Free Press: Our View: Legislature must pass transportation funding

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Minneapolis takes fresh look at plastic bag ban featuring MEP member group Clean Water Action

Editorial, MN Daily: Ban plastic bags in Minneapolis

Water
Brainerd Dispatch: Crow Wing County receives grant to protect groundwater
NPR: Before Flint, lead-contaminated water plagued schools across U.S. (In MPR)
NPR: Flint residents tired of talk and tests, eager for solution (In MPR)
Star Tribune: Minnehaha Creek cleanup crew still has plenty of work ahead

LTE, Austin Daily Herald: Letter: Thanks to Dayton for including water funding
LTE, Echo Press: LETTER: Standing up for clean water

Wildlife & Fish
AP: Agency asks anglers to scrape DNA from Lake Superior trout (In MPR)
Pioneer Press: On Mille Lacs this summer, you can’t keep any walleye
Star Tribune: DNR grades pheasant restoration project a mixed bag so far

Statement for the Senate Environment and Energy Policy Committee: Reinstatement of MPCA Citizens’ Board

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On March 10, 2016, League of Women Voters member Kathleen Doran-Norton delivered the below prepared testimony regarding the reinstatement of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board. In her testimony, she emphasizes the importance of maintaining the presence of transparency, accountability, and citizen involvement in state decision making processes.


 

Statement for the Senate Environment and Energy Policy Committee

Reinstatement of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board  

Senate File 2384

Kathleen Doran-Norton, League of Women Voters Minnesota

March 10, 2016

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee:

My name is Kathleen Doran-Norton. I have been a township supervisor in Bridgewater Township, Rice County for the past ten years. And today I speak as a volunteer lobbyist for the League of Women Voters Minnesota.  As you know, the League is not an environmental organization; rather we are a non-partisan good government organization.  It is our mission to encourage informed and active participation in government. 

Along with protecting the right of every citizen to vote, we support the right of these citizens to know what their government is doing and to participate in government decisions at all levels. Transparency and Citizen Participation are top priorities.

The MPCA Citizens’ Board, as it existed at this time last year, exemplified public access and involvement, Transparency and Citizen Participation at its best. By abolishing the Citizens’ Board as it did, the legislature removed a critical balance on the MPCA’s decision making process, and it cast a shadow over this Legislature.

As the lead agency in protecting Minnesota’s environment and Minnesotans’ health, the MPCA is occasionally in the news in the midst of controversy. Its Citizens’ Board met monthly and made often difficult decisions in a public setting.  Members of the public attended and were able to testify before the Board to share their views. 

In the 2015 session, there was no bill to eliminate the Citizens’ Board, there were no hearings, and no public testimony was taken, before this open and transparent governmental board was abolished. In fact, one of my township residents came to our town board during the session last year, fearing the Citizens Board was threatened. But she had no bill number, and our board, which includes a former member of the Citizen’s Board, didn’t look hard enough. We thought this lady was exaggerating, imagining conspiracies. We couldn’t imagine anyone proposing to weaken a board which gave citizens direct access to the decision-making processes of our government. But we were wrong, weren’t we?

The board was abolished behind closed doors, in the early morning hours of May 25th, the last day of the legislative session. This was done by a conference committee, which put the abolition in the must-pass Omnibus Environment Finance Bill This was a travesty, a perversion of the representative democracy Minnesotans expect.

Protecting the environment is among government’s most important responsibilities, for us and for our grandchildren. The League of Women Voters Minnesota believes that the public has a right to view readily, to understand clearly and to take part easily in decisions on important environmental questions. 

The abolition of the Citizens’ Board did not reflect the will of Minnesota’s citizens. We need to reinstate the MPCA Citizens’ Board; the League of Women Voters Minnesota urges you to support this bill.

And we also urge you to develop legislative procedures which do not allow the kind of closed-door, back-room law making that resulted in the demise of this important board.

Thank you for your time.

News Watch: Mar. 17

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Water, Waste & Recycling, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
NPR: Bill blocking GMO labels stalls in U.S. Senate (In MPR
Star Tribune: Nicollet Mall Farmers Market moving to Government Center in Minneapolis 
Star Tribune: Ban on state-level GMO labeling fails to advance in U.S. Senate 
Star Tribune: Consumers’ distrust of food industry grows 

Climate Change
Pioneer Press: Ice out on White Bear Lake is earliest ever 
Star Tribune: Near record-breaking ice-out on Lake Minnetonka featuring MEP member group Freshwater Society 

LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s view: Get involved to fight climate change 
LTE, Echo Press: LETTER: Future cost of climate change is $369 trillion 

Conservation
Star Tribune: Roadside grass management becomes a hot topic 
West Central Tribune: Conservation coalition calls for state support featuring MEP member group Audubon Minnesota 

Energy
Bloomberg News: Coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. is near bankruptcy (In Star Tribune
Brainerd Dispatch: ‘Solar Power Hour’ slated for April 7 
Southwest Journal: Meet that special community solar garden featuring MEP member group Fresh Energy 

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Health care, productivity discussion lost in talk about cleaner forms of energy 

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Cruising into spring: Dave and Amy Freeman nearly halfway through their year in the Boundary Waters 
Timberjay: Mondale joins call to protect BWCAW featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness 

Commentary, Brainerd Dispatch: Guest Opinion: Let the dirt fly on Polymet 
Editorial, Duluth News Tribune: Our View: At least acknowledge wilderness request featuring MEP member group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wildernes
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 17): Twin Metals mining 

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: Alternate parks proposal gains votes at City Council 

Pollinators
Pioneer Press: UMN honors bee expert with prestigious Siehl Prize 
Star Tribune: Nature Notes: Minnesota has butterflies that hibernate 

Transportation
Bemidji Pioneer: TRANSPORTATION: Roundtable for the roads: Lt. Gov. Smith to visit Bemidji on Thursday 
Mankato Free Press: Blue Earth County unveils five-year draft transportation plan 
Pioneer Press: St. Paul council approves Cleveland Avenue bike lanes, parking 
Star Tribune: Stop For Me seeks to improve St. Paul crosswalk safety 
Star Tribune: Controversial Cleveland Avenue bicycle lanes move forward in St. Paul 
Star Tribune: New Metro Transit app will allow riders to pay fares by phone 
Star Tribune: Gov. Mark Dayton outlines transportation initiative, concedes pessimism 
Star Tribune: Nice Ride will offer a new flat fee structure when season starts in early April 

Waste & Recycling
MinnPost: Minneapolis to debate banning the ubiquitous plastic bag 

Water
Duluth News Tribune: EPA reviewing Minnesota’s water permits featuring MEP member groupsWaterLegacy and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
MinnPost: Cover crops, buffers, fewer chemicals: All would improve Minnesota’s waterways cowritten by Peter of MEP member group Environment Minnesota
NPR: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testifies on the Flint water crisis (In MPR
Pioneer Press: Minnesota lawmakers to revisit ‘buffer strip’ conservation law 
Pioneer Press: Minnesota panel OKs revisions to buffer strip conservation law featuring MEP member group Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Star Tribune: My Outdoor Life: State’s rivers got his full attention 

Commentary, Mankato Free Press: My View: Protecting Minnesota waters, one farm at a time 

Wildlife & Fish
AP: Officials taking closer look at Isle Royale wolf population (In MPR
Duluth News Tribune: Isle Royale narrows wolf study as just two remain on island 
Mankato Free Press: Dayton seeks bonding money for wildlife areas 
Pioneer Press: Why scientists need anglers to scrape DNA from Lake Superior trout 
Pioneer Press: Minnesota DNR report card: More must be done to restore pheasants 
Post Bulletin: Pheasant Summit Report card shows need for action 

Should Governor Dayton give away Duluth’s greatest competitive advantage?

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As a 25-year resident of Duluth, I’ve grown pretty attached to this region and its unique blend of natural and cultural resources. I’ve accepted the trade-off of fewer professional opportunities for far better recreational opportunities. This has been called Duluth’s “scenery tax”: Duluthians give up money in order to live in a beautiful place.

Duluth’s economy is holding steady and even growing through tough times. Increasingly, it is our proximity and access to the clear cold waters of Lake Superior that undergird our economic growth. Whether it’s the vibrant brewery scene or the health care professionals who move here so they can surf, experiences are showing that having Lake Superior right here is critical to diversifying and strengthening the economy.

Now the City of Waukesha, in Wisconsin’s Mississippi River, wants to tap Lake Michigan water to continue its economic growth. If Governor Dayton allows that, he would undercut one of the few economic advantages Duluth has. Fortunately, under the terms of the Great Lakes Compact, Dayton can just say no.

If there’s a business that needs plentiful clean water and needs to grow, they are welcome here in Duluth. If you’re looking to resettle your family and you want your kids to swim in a big inland sea, there’s room for you here. Hey, skip Waukesha, Duluth has what you need.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle saw this back in 2008, when the Great Lakes Compact was being negotiated. He wrote, “One of our greatest competitive advantages in a 21st Century global economy is our water – water that will help Wisconsin businesses grow and draw new businesses to our state.”

MEP has set up an Action Alert so you can let Governor Dayton know how you feel about this.

I hope Governor Dayton understands that we’re doing the best we can with what we have up here. Nature didn’t leave us with deep rich soil. The mineral ores in our bedrock are low grade and have always been exported out of here.  But we do have access to a big clear cold Great Lake. I hope he won’t give away our one great competitive advantage.

News Watch: Mar. 15

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

Agriculture & Food
Iowa Public Radio: Low prices could push farmers into new crops

Climate Change
International Falls Journal: Forum brings ‘new science, new findings’ featuring MEP member group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
MinnPost: Tracing the climate-change roots of awful weather, a new science advances
MPR: Climate Cast: Why so little climate coverage on TV news?
NY Times: Rising sea levels may disrupt lives of millions, study says

Commentary, Duluth News Tribune: Local view: Global warming may bring some cold weather
LTE, Duluth News Tribune: Reader’s View: MPCA listening sessions allow public input
LTE, Winona Daily News: Winona climate-change dialogue should be just the beginning

Energy
Midwest Energy News: Minneapolis clean energy partnership receiving national recognitionfeaturing MEP member group Institute for Local Self Reliance
MPR: Minnesota won’t slow renewable energy push, Dayton tells students
Pioneer Press: Solar gardens are about to flood across the Twin Cities – here’s why featuring MEP member group Fresh Energy

Commentary, Clean Tecnica: Utility & community solar should use native landscaping
Commentary, Star Tribune: Target stores should be a bull’s-eye for rooftop solar by Megan Spear of MEP member group Environment Minnesota

Invasive Species
MPR: Is the war on invasive species really worth fighting?

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Silver Bay City Council votes to remove Bent Paddle beer from municipal liquor store
Star Tribune: North Shore town bans Bent Paddle beer over PolyMet fight

Commentary, Pioneer Press: Will global prices undermine PolyMet?
Commentary, Star Tribune: Walter Mondale on fighting to save the soul of Minnesota: the Boundary Waters
Commentary, Star Tribune: Counterpoint: Don’t knock PolyMet’s environmental review
Editorial, Ely Echo: Dayton’s actions against Twin Metals lack common sense and may be illegal
LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 13): PolyMet mine proposal

Oil & Pipelines
AP: In reversal, Obama admin to block oil drilling in Atlantic (In MPR)
Duluth News Tribune: Enbridge pipeline studies provoke debate in Superior

Parks & Trails
Pioneer Press: Minnesota state parks change campsite reservation policies
Star Tribune: Minnesota state park campsites go to all-reservation system

Pollinators
Star Tribune: Southern Minnesota bee operation joins historic register

Transportation
Duluth News Tribune: Northern Minnesota watches transportation funding debate
Mankato Free Press: Past, future to be discussed at bike summit
MinnPost: Transit-oriented development in St. Paul: connections that create value
MPR: Transportation talks set to resume at Capitol
Pioneer Press: Will Fourth Street become St. Paul’s Nicollet Mall?
Pioneer Press: Minneapolis students who ride city bus are absent less, study finds
Pioneer Press: Electric cars get a room of their own at Twin Cities Auto Show
Politics in MN: Report: MnDOT project selection needs more transparency
Star Tribune: Study: Transit pass program brings academic, social and economic benefits to MPS students
Star Tribune: Cyclist group seek coalition on lower urban speed limits featuring MEP member group Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota

LTE, Star Tribune: Readers Write (March 11): Bike lanes, PolyMet proposal

Water
Austin Daily Herald: An eye on waterways; SWCD still has buffer work to do as county hits 94 percent in compliance
InForum: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency proposes ban on mislabeled toilet paper, wipes
MPR: Your most pressing water questions, answered
Public News Service: Presidential hopefuls asked to support Great Lakes Restoration
Star Tribune: Not even spring yet, but Twin Cities suburb already clamps down on water use
Star Tribune: Minnesota cities are on the hunt for an ocean of lost water

Commentary, SC Times: New program helps farmers improve water
Commentary, SC Times: Little Rock Lake needs cleaning up
LTE, Austin Daily Herald: Letter: Put money into clean water, not lawsuits

Wildlife & Fish
MPR: DNR wants limited ban on lead shot; some hunters opposed featuring MEP member group Audubon Minnesota
MPR: Grand Portage Band, state diverge on collaring moose
Pioneer Press: Minnesota DNR’s lead ammo ban proposal in lawmaker’s sights
Star Tribune: Lead ammo debate heats up featuring MEP member groups Audubon Minnesota,Izaak Walton League, and the Center for Biological Diversity
Star Tribune: Eaglets visible on state DNR’s eagle cam