Insider: April 29, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Water Action Day is Wednesday at the Capitol!

In the Land of 10,000 lakes, water is one of our most precious and irreplaceable resources – and unfortunately, it’s in trouble. 40% of Minnesota’s waters already don’t meet health and safety standards, and many more are at risk of becoming undrinkable, unfishable, and unswimmable due to misuse and pollution. Many Minnesotans don’t have access to safe drinking water, or must pay large sums to have their water treated.

On Wednesday, May 2, hundreds of us are gathering to help change that.

Water Action Day is a collaborative community day of public action at the State Capitol, where we’ll tell our leaders it’s important to protect Minnesota’s water. We’ll begin at 8:00 AM with trainings and info sessions at Christ Lutheran Church (across University Avenue from the Capitol) on water issues facing our state and how to advocate for clean water. Throughout the day, Minnesotans will meet with their legislators to share their water concerns. And at 2:00 PM, we’ll hold a rally for water in the Capitol rotunda, featuring speakers including Governor Mark Dayton, Winona LaDuke, and former Senator Dave Durenburger.

Water Action Day is free and open to the public – but we do ask that all attendees register in advance! The organizers will provide complimentary breakfast and lunch at the church, as well as fact sheets and materials on water issues. And we encourage Minnesotans to join us at their convenience – come for all or part of the day if needed!

Last year, many hundreds of people stood up for our water, and some of the most passionate advocates shared their reasons for taking action in this YouTube video. We’re on track to have the same enormous turnout this year, when advocacy for our water is so crucially needed. With the Legislature nearing the finish line for passing bills that will shape our environment, now is the perfect time to stand up for water..

We thank all our partners and sponsors who are working to make Water Action Day 2018 a success. And we hope to see you there!

Water Action Day – Share Your Water Challenge!

On Water Action Day, Minnesotans will be gathering from around the state to stand up to protect our waters, and we’d like those joining us to show it in a literal way! Our challenge to you:

1. Fill a clear container with water from your favorite body of water, whether it be a lake, river, stream, or pond.
2. Take a selfie with the water and share it on the Facebook event page or on Twitter with the hashtag #WaterActionDay or #ProtectOurWater!

photo credit: MPCA

Fertilizer rule debate intensifies

(From Winona Post) — As the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) drafts the state’s first-ever regulation on commercial nitrogen fertilizer, Republican lawmakers are pushing back. As currently proposed, the rule would prohibit fall application of nitrogen throughout most of Winona County and would set up a system of mandatory best management practices (BMPs) for farmers near cities with high nitrate pollution levels in drinking water. Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill that would block the proposed rule from coming into effect without legislative approval. Its sponsors say it is bound for inclusion in a Senate omnibus bill, and ultimately, Governor Mark Dayton’s (DFL-St. Paul) desk. >>Read More.


image credit: Douglas Co, WI

Refinery fire victim in good condition, others treated and released

(From Duluth News Tribune) — A series of explosions and fires rocked the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior Thursday, sending a black plume of acrid smoke across the city, forcing massive evacuations and sending several people to local hospitals. Essentia Health today said its Duluth and Superior hospitals treated a total of 16 victims related to the refinery incident, all but one were released. The one patient admitted was in good conditon Friday morning. St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth confirmed treating one patient Thursday.  No fatalities were reported, and all employees and hundreds of contractors working at the refinery were accounted for. >>Read More.

Smoke from Superior refinery explosion poses health risk

(From MPR News) — An explosion and asphalt fire at a Wisconsin oil refinery sent huge plumes of smoke into the air that pollution experts said almost certainly contained large amounts of toxins, posing a serious health risk to those living downwind. Asphalt is a petroleum product that when burned emits chemicals in gaseous form and small particles that can linger long after the smoke dissipates, said Wilma Subra, a chemist with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network who has examined past refinery accidents. >>Read More.


photo credit: NASA

Counterpoint: Minnesota DNR cannot be neutral when it comes to PolyMet

(From Star Tribune, by WaterLegacy advocacy director Paula Maccabee) — Contrary to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr’s Star Tribune commentary (“Rest assured, DNR is rigorous on PolyMet,” April 19), the DNR’s insider review of scientific and factual objections to the proposed PolyMet NorthMet copper-nickel sulfide mine is not a “neutral” process. If there’s one thing PolyMet’s passionate proponents and opponents should agree on, it is that a great deal of political pressure has been placed on Minnesota regulatory agencies to approve the PolyMet sulfide mine project. >>Read More.

photo credit: Department of Energy

Minnesota team looks for synergy between solar and electric vehicles

(From Midwest Energy News) —  Minneapolis nonprofit has received a federal grant to study potential synergies between distributed solar and electric vehicle charging stations. And it doesn’t have to look farther than its own rooftop for an example. The Great Plains Institute is the lead organization on a $150,000 grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Energy Innovation Network. With a growing expectation that EVs will someday represent a significant share of the car market, the government and utilities are using this study and others to learn how to manage growing electricity loads through maximizing the growing amount of renewable energy on the grid. >>Read More.

Help sustain MEP’s work. Donate today!

Do you appreciate our coverage of environmental and conservation issues? You can help sustain MEP’s work with a donation. Your support will help MEP continue educating decision-makers and Minnesotans throughout the state about important issues that impact clean water, clean air, and land conservation. Contributions also provide the financial backing we need to help organize the advocacy efforts of our 70 member organizations and take action through public organizing, media campaigns, lobbying, and research.


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. How many oxygen atoms are in one molecule of ozone?

2. What Minnesota lake features the nation’s smallest National Wildlife Refuge?

3. After Voyageurs National Park, what state park is closest to Minnesota?

Upcoming Environmental Events

Water Action Day 2018, May 2
Christ Lutheran Church and State Capitol
Hosted by MN’s clean water community

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Warner Nature Center Director | Science Museum of Minnesota
Program Intern – Summer 2018 | Clean Water Action
Outreach and Engagement Coordinator | Fresh Energy
Business Manager | St. Croix River Association
Chief Financial Officer | Environmental Initiative
Communications Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Stewardship Associate | Minnesota Land Trust
See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Three. 2) Lake Mille Lacs. 3) Isle Royale.


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The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.

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