Insider: April 7, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Telling Lawmakers: Stop Steamrolling Our Environment

At a time when the harmful effects of climate change and water pollution are beginning to mount up worldwide, the Minnesota Legislature has sadly fallen short of its duty to protect our state’s natural resources. Some legislators, emboldened by nationwide rollbacks to environmental protections, are pushing to defund, delay, and otherwise destroy the laws and agencies that protect Minnesota’s natural resources. From pollinators to plastic bags, on the issues that are critical to our environment, the Legislature has prioritized short-term profits for polluters over long-term gain. At a time when the state’s budget is healthy, the cuts coming out of the Capitol are especially harsh. Minnesotans don’t want or need cuts that would harm our our air and water.

Legislators may not understand that 62% of Minnesotans favor stronger environmental protections, not weaker. They may not recognize that three in four of us are concerned about environmental rollbacks. And if they don’t hear from those of us who care about land and water, they may pass a tidal wave of pro-pollution legislation.

The members of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership are hard at work lobbying legislators to reconsider the bad bills flowing through the Capitol during this session, but we can’t do it alone. The Legislature needs to hear your voice. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to fight for our environment. You can find contact info for your lawmakers here, and find out how to meet with them or give them a call! If you want to arm yourself with information, read out MEP’s letters to legislators here, and browse our website and Facebook page. And if you want to join your voice to hundreds of folks who care about clean water, sign up for our Water Action Day rally at the Capitol on April 19. Together, we can demand the Legislature respect and protect our environment.



MEP Opposes Harsh Cuts to Legacy Amendment Programs

On Tuesday, April 4, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and more than twenty of our partners issued a letter calling on lawmakers to reject H.F. 707, the Minnesota House Legacy Omnibus Bill. This bill violates the spirit of the Legacy Amendment, of which 75% of Minnesotans approve, and is an unfair deal for our water. H.F. 707 would raid the Clean Water fund to pay for programs that should have their own source of funding. It would cut water cleanup programs at a time when 40% of state waters are polluted. And it shrinks funding for scientific efforts to find new solutions to water pollution. 

You can make your voice heard on this issue by calling on your legislators to reject these cuts and maintain our state’s investments in clean water. Read the full letter here


Legislature makes a sweeping assault on Minnesota’s environmental traditions
(Insider note: Article features interview with MEP Executive Director Steve Morse and FMR Director Whitney Clark)

(From MinnPost) — When people like Whitney Clark and Steve Morse call out the Minnesota Legislature for a “full frontal assault” on the state’s traditions of environmental stewardship, for an “unprecedented” trashing of established and accepted practice, it’s time to take notice. Both men are activists of long standing. Clark is executive director at Friends of the Mississippi River (after earlier work at Clean Water Action and Citizens for a Better Environment). Morse has the same role at the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, a coalition of 70 nonprofits working for progress in a wide range of conservation and energy venues.  >>Read More.


Register for the 2017 Minnesota
Water Action Day 

Join us on Wednesday, April 19th for the 2017 Minnesota Water Action Day! This is a day of public action and advocacy to let lawmakers know we care about our water. This all-day event will include a rally, issue trainings and meetings with your legislators. Come for all or part of the day. There will be trainings in the morning, both on how to actively engage legislators and on the water issues that we face in Minnesota. Throughout the day there will be events and other ways to keep people engaged, and the rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda at 1:30pm. Register today

photo credit: Jean Pieri

What pollutes the urban Mississippi? Lawns, dogs and lots of pavement runoff
(Insider Note: though this is important data on urban pollution, there are other, greater threats to the Mississippi – >>read more.)

(From Star Tribune) — The major pollutants that flow from Twin Cities neighborhoods into the Mississippi River can be traced back to three of the characteristics that define cities: lawns, pavements and dogs. In one of the most the most detailed studies yet of phosphorus and nitrogen in an urban area, researchers at the University of Minnesota tracked where the pollutants come from and where they go in the seven small watersheds that make up the Capitol Region Watershed district in St. Paul. >>Read More.


Advocates rally against House proposal to shatter pipeline regulations

A coalition of Minnesota environmental groups rallied to the State Capitol on Thursday, April 7, to show their unyielding opposition to harmful pipeline provisions in the House energy and jobs omnibus bill. Representatives of Honor the Earth, Friends of the Headwaters, and other organizations called on the Legislature to reject policies that would give oil companies a freer hand to lay pipelines through Minnesota’s most vulnerable waters. The proposal in the bill would strip away critical parts of the PUC review process and prevent regulators from proposing alternate routes that would be less harmful to the state’s lakes and rivers. Most organizations view it as a blatant corporate giveaway to the Enbridge Line 3, which would cross tribal lands in Northern Minnesota. To read Honor the Earth’s full statement against this dangerous proposal, click here.

This survey data, collected in an MEP-commissioned poll from February 2017, shows that Minnesotans strongly oppose more dirty tar sands oil flowing through our state. New pipeline projects like Enbridge-3 are unwanted, unsafe, and potentially devastating to Minnesota’s water and ecosystems.

Read more poll results

photo credit: Duncan Harris

Thousands of defects found on oil train routes

(From MPR News) — Government inspections of railroads that haul volatile crude oil across the United States have uncovered almost 24,000 safety defects, including problems similar to those blamed in derailments that triggered massive fires or oil spills in Oregon, Virginia, Montana and elsewhere, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The safety defects were discovered during targeted federal inspections on almost 58,000 miles of oil train routes in 44 states. The inspection program began two years ago following a string of oil train accidents across North America, including a 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. >>Read more.


photo credit: Jennifer Wiggins

Coalition issues statement opposing anti-clean energy legislation

On Thursday, April 7, MEP issued a statement with our partners condemning provisions on the House Omnibus Job Growth and Energy Affordability Finance Bill as extremely dangerous to Minnesota’s environmental health. As described in the previous article, the Omnibus would strip away Minnesotans’ vital protections against risky oil pipelines that we don’t want or need. It would also exclude small communities from valuable solar energy funding programs. It wipes out the deeply successful Made in Minnesota solar rebate program, which has been a boon to industry and environment alike. And it includes yet another cynical attempt to prevent cities from instituting democratically passed plastic bag bans. Read the full letter here, and please share with lawmakers!

photo credit: Midwest Energy News
Approval of utility-scale solar gardens is booming across SE MN

(From Agrinews) — RED WING — When Paul Betcher’s phone rang last year, he had no idea how a rocky patch of land on his farm would turn into a windfall. Or, perhaps, bring a little ray of sunlight into his life. The call came from Innovative Power Systems, a Minneapolis-based solar power company that installs solar collectors from rooftops to farm fields. “They had seen I had land down here close to the electric line,” Betcher said. The land, a side hill with rocky knolls that wasn’t good for much more than cattle pasture, was just the 8 acres the company was looking for. Betcher was leery at first. A nearby wind project had been a financial mess for several area farmers. Now, another energy company was coming with a plan to generate power on his land, telling him it would be a great spot for solar power. Turns out, it wasn’t such a hard sell. >>Read more.


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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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