Insider: August 4, 2017

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   photo credit: MPCA

EPA reverses delay of air-quality rules

On Wednesday, August 2, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was undoing a previous decision to delay implementing new smog rules that would help reduce toxic air pollutants in the atmosphere, and would instead continue work on the rule as scheduled. The smog rule, which was created by the EPA in 2015, is meant to counteract ozone pollution, and is widely supported by health and environmental groups. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had planned in June to delay the rule by one year, but following strong pushback and a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Minnesota and 14 other states, the agency released a statement that recognized the states’ concerns and said it would tentatively move forward.

It’s encouraging to see the EPA respecting the needs of states and organization concerned about keeping our air clean and breathable. And it’s great to see our state taking leadership in defense of this important smog standard. We know that Minnesotans don’t want to see protections for our air and water rolled back – and it’s on us to make sure that the federal government is listening!


photo credit: NASA

The Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone is the biggest ever seen

(From MPR News) — It’s become a rite of summer. Every year, a “dead zone” appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an area where water doesn’t have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it. This week, NOAA announced that this year’s dead zone is the biggest one ever measured. It covers 8,776 square miles — an area the size of New Jersey. And it’s adding fuel to a debate over whether state and federal governments are doing enough to cut pollution that comes from farms. The debate actually goes back many years, at least to 1985, when Don Scavia was a top scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. >>Read More.

photo credit: MPCA

Red River water quality ‘generally poor’, Minnesota officials say

(From Inforum) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says water quality in the Red River watershed is “generally poor,” and recommends changes along the Red and its tributaries to trim levels of fecal coliform bacteria and sediments, reduce erosion, and improve habitat for fish and for recreational uses. Monitoring of the Red between Georgetown and Breckenridge — including Moorhead — found excessive levels of E. coli bacteria and suspended solids from field runoff and erosion, the MPCA said in a news release Wednesday, Aug. 2. “Water quality in the watershed is generally poor, reflecting intensely cultivated land use, changes to streams to increase drainage, intensive drainage,” and a lack of vegetation to act as buffers for many wetlands and streams in the watershed, the agency said. >>Read More.

Act Now

Governor seeks your ideas for improving water quality 

Governor Mark Dayton wants Minnesota to accelerate the pace of progress towards clean water. He announced a new “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal, aiming to spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality —  25% by the year 2025. Without additional action, the quality of Minnesota’s waters is expected to improve only 6-8% by 2034.

Governor Dayton is seeking your ideas on how to improve water quality and is hosting a series of Town Halls over the summer and fall. For info on how to get involved, click the Act Now button.

photo credit: The Land Institute

Kernza Field Day in Madison, MN August 10

Registration is open for the Kernza Field Day at the A-Frame Farm in Madison, where visitors can learn about this beneficial wheatgrass. Researched by the Land Institute and the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative, Kernza is being developed as a commercially viable crop that prevents soil erosion and improves the water health of areas where it is grown. This event is free with registration and will feature a tour of Carmen Fernholz’s farm and light refreshments.


Emmer bill would reinstate Twin Metals leases

(From The Timberjay) — New legislation introduced in Washington would reinstate mineral leases for a proposed mine near Ely and weaken the authority of the president to protect federal lands in Minnesota. The legislation, introduced July 25 by Republican Sixth District Rep. Tom Emmer, would reverse a decision announced by the Obama administration last December , which denied renewal of two mineral leases critical to a plan by Twin Metals to open a copper-nickel mine southeast of Ely. The bill would also end an ongoing study of a proposed 20-year withdrawal of 234,000 acres of federal land within the Superior National Forest from the federal minerals leasing program. >>Read More.


Minnesota biodiesel standards to double in 2018

(From Star Tribune) — The state’s standard for the biodiesel blend will double to 20 percent at gas pumps next May, a decision that displeased trucking industry advocates. The announcement made public by state commissioners at Farmfest in Redwood Falls has been in the works for a long time and was solidified last week. “B20 will help keep Minnesota at the forefront of the homegrown clean energy revolution that is expanding economic opportunities for the state’s farmers and rural communities while reducing pollution and improving air quality for everyone,” Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said. >>Read More.


Line 3 replacement getting spendier

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Enbridge says its Line 3 replacement pipeline is getting more expensive in the wake of regulatory delays and changes to the project. The proposed oil pipeline is now set to cost $6.5 billion, which is 9 percent higher than previous estimates. “(The increase) primarily reflects delays in the regulatory process, scope changes and route modifications as well as other changes that resulted from the extensive consultation process,” Enbridge said in a news release Tuesday, noting that a strong American dollar and lower operating costs will “fully offset” the higher building costs. (A figure of $7.5 billion used in some previous reports was in Canadian dollars.) >>Read More.

Nebraska regulators block testimony ahead of Keystone XL hearings

(From Reuters) —  Nebraska regulators weighing the fate of TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline have ruled that opponents of the project cannot use one of their best arguments against it in final hearings next week: that America does not need the oil. The state’s five-member Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold court-like hearings on Aug. 7 to 11 before deciding whether to approve the project’s route, marking the final hurdle for the long-delayed project after President Donald Trump gave it federal approval in March. >>Read More.



‘Bee Atlas’ comes to BSU: University hosts program to help support healthy bee populations

(From Bemidji Pioneer) —  Kevin Williams pointed at a large white strip in central California on a map of the United States. The strip, in contrast to larger, bluer swathes of the map, indicated that there was a low abundance of wild bees there. “That’s where the almonds are growing,” Williams, a facilitator from the University of Minnesota Extension, said as some attendees at Wednesday’s “Bee Atlas” at BSU nodded. Many of the bee-sparse areas, Williams noted, corresponded to places with a lot of agriculture — up the Mississippi River, and into Illinois, Ohio, the Dakotas and Greater Minnesota — and beekeepers across the country can make a hefty sum strategically transporting their bees to pollinate crops there, but that also makes it easy for diseases to fester and spread. >>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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