House Environment Bill offers a lifeline to Minnesota’s natural resources

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Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This week, the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources released its omnibus budget bill, H.F. 1076. This bill is chock full of projects and protections that would improve our environment and fight ecological harm, and MEP Advocacy Director Sara Wolff testified in support of the bill on Wednesday.

The bill faces the challenge of having to be negotiated and reconciled between the DFL-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate, and MEP and our members will keep up our support throughout the remainder of this Legislative session. Among the great provisions we’re fighting for:

  • Healthy Soil and Water: The bill includes a stable funding source for Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which help farmers across Minnesota to enact conservation practices. It invests $1 million in establishing a Soil Health Cost Share Program to further support farmers, especially those from historically marginalized communities. It would also set a goal that at least 30 percent of Minnesota farmland implement soil-healthy farming practices like cover or perennial crops, no-till, or managed rotational grazing by 2030.
  • Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Spending: The bill would unlock funds from the constitutionally-dedicated, lottery-supported ENRTF for projects relating to habitat restoration, scientific research, and other projects to support our environment. The funds have been held up for the last year after the Senate refused to move forward without tying it to “poison pill” legislation. (See the Star Tribune article link further in this Insider for more on the controversy around the ENRTF.)
  • Environmental Justice: The bill would require a cumulative impacts analysis for new or expanded projects seeking permits in communities living in environmental justice areas. This means that permit seekers from an industrial project would have to consider how pollution would affect these disadvantaged communities over time.
  • Pollinator Protection: The bill would ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides or chlorpyrifos in many state lands, which would help cut down on this major health risk to pollinating insects and other wildlife as well as humans. It would also continue support of the Lawns to Legumes program that helps Minnesota residents create pollinator-friendly habitat in their own yards.
  • Carbon Sequestration: The bill requires the DNR Commissioner to set carbon sequestration goals for public and private Minnesota forests, ensuring that they can be better used to address climate change.

MEP hopes to see these great ideas make it into the final budget bills signed by Governor Walz, and we’ll be asking Minnesotans to speak out in their favor. As Minnesota grapples with multiple issues – economic, public health, environmental, and social justice – we have solutions on the table that can address many problems at the same time. Let’s make sure they become law.

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