Insider: February 23, 2018

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photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Invasive Shrimp Appears in Lake Superior

Bill In Congress Would Worsen Problem

This week, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that a single specimen of the bloody red shrimp species had been discovered in water samples collected from the Duluth-Superior harbor area in the summer of 2017. This tiny freshwater shrimp, native to areas near Russia and Ukraine, has begun to infest the Great Lakes, carried to North America in the ballast water of ships. Previously, it had only been found in watersheds as far west as Lake Michigan – the dead specimen in the Twin Ports is the first in Lake Superior, and it’s not yet clear whether this lone shrimp represents an infestation.

It’s also unclear what effect the current population of bloody red shrimp is having on the Great Lakes since its discovery here in 2006, but the impact of other invasive species on the native ecosystems has often been strikingly negative. Species like the quagga mussel and blood-sucking lampreys have greatly harmed existing species of fish and invertebrates, creating real problems for the Great Lakes economy and ecology.

Fortunately, U.S. and Canadian regulators have worked to slow the spread of these invasive species by requiring ships to change their ballast water before entering the Great Lakes waterway, thus flushing out invasive stowaway species from foreign waters. Current federal rules also mandate that by 2021, any oceangoing ships entering U.S. ports must have ballast water treatment systems.

Unfortunately, a bill in the U.S. Senate would roll back these critical protections. The Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (also known as VIDA or CVIDA) would transfer regulatory authority for ballast water to the Coast Guard, watering down its enforcement in the process. It would also delay improvements to the current ballast discharge standard and introduce exceptions that would create openings for invasive species to infest previously safe watersheds. 

For instance, this legislation would roll back protections aimed at keeping invasives that have already become established in other Great Lakes, such as Lack Michigan, from being transferred to our clearer Lake Superior. Such as in the case with the bloody red shrimp. And it would remove state authority to act to protect Lake Superior and eliminate the rules on water treatment technology, increasing the chances of invasive species slipping through the cracks in the future.

The VIDA legislation would undo significant progress in protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species. As tiny as the bloody red shrimp is, it’s representative of a much greater danger to our lakes and the millions of people who make their livelihoods around them. If you’re concerned about invasive species threatening our shores, call your federal lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives, and tell them to reject VIDA and keep our Great Lakes healthy!

Thanks to 3M settlement, water in east metro to get an $850 million boost

(From Star Tribune) — The east metro communities that sit above 100 square miles of contaminated groundwater are about to get $850 million from the state’s settlement with the 3M Co. that they can devote to clean water — an amount that’s eight times what Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment provides annually for water projects across the entire state. “It will bring real and fairly quick relief to the people,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said at a news conference Wednesday to explain how the settlement will work and how the money can be spent. She was flanked by commissioners from the Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources, which were parties to the suit. >>Read More.

Mankato area projects in Dayton’s water bonding plan

(From Mankato Free Press) — As part of his $1.5 billion bonding proposal to this year’s Legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton includes $167 million to fund additional water infrastructure projects — mostly renovations or new construction of sewer and drinking water systems. Among the proposed projects are some in Blue Earth, Brown and Le Sueur counties. Projects in the governor’s newest bonding proposal include extending Mankato city sewer lines to the South View Heights II subdivision at a cost of $1.4 million.  >>Read More.


Mount Polley and PolyMet: What happened in Canada must not happen here

(From MinnPost) — Final permit decisions on PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet Mining Project are approaching, and for all the celebration of the process by politicians and company promoters here in Minnesota, we have grave concerns. We bring this message from Duluth, where we live downstream of the proposed PolyMet mine. Last week we welcomed a delegation from Amnesty International to discuss their experience with a British Columbia copper sulfide mine upstream of their own communities. This is a group that has heard it all before: promises of safety from mining companies, claims of new technology that isn’t, guarantees of zero discharge, and assurances from government officials that it will all be fine. >>Read More.


photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Electric cars have arrived in Duluth

(From Duluth News Tribune) — If Northlanders really wanted to be like Norwegians we’d stow the cross-country skis and stoic love of cold and buy a Tesla. Norway reached a milestone in December when electric vehicles accounted for 52 percent of all new vehicles sold in the country. All-electric Tesla models were the first and second most popular cars sold in Norway. It was the first time more than half of all new vehicles sold in Norway (or any other country) were electric, and that number is expected to only increase in years to come. Lightbulb moment here, Northland: The Norwegian climate is much like ours. Electric cars work in the cold. >>Read More.


A potential for protest: Sheriff’s office taking steps in case DAPL-type pipeline protest come to area

(From Bemidji Pioneer) — The potential for pipeline protests here in Bemidji similar to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota has led the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies to prepare in advance. On Tuesday, Sheriff Phil Hodapp asked the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners to approve a mutual aid agreement with various northern Minnesota agencies. This new agreement differs from state statute, which requires an emergency before a government unit can request aid from another. >>Read More.

Apply now to be a Minnesota GreenCorps Host Site!

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications from organizations interested in serving as host sites for the 2018 – 2019 Minnesota GreenCorps program year. Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA. The program places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues. Eligible organizations include public entities, school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations.. Applications are due by 5:00 pm CDT on Friday, March 23, 2018.

Host site application materials, including a detailed guidance document and the application are available on the Minnesota GreenCorps website.


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What toxin, a byproduct of power generation, mining, and industry, is especially prevalent in the St. Louis river?

2. What MN lake features two islands that form the smallest National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S.?

3. What state park, known for its namesake lake, is Minnesota’s oldest and second-largest?

Upcoming Environmental Events

2018 Watershed Summit, February 24
Normandale Community College, Bloomington
Hosted by Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division

Electric Vehicles: The Future Is Now, February 27
University Square, University of Minnesota-Rochester
Hosted by Fresh Energy

Rain Garden Pop-up, February 27
Lift Bridge Brewhouse, Stillwater
Hosted by St. Croix River Association

LSP State Policy Organizing Meeting in South Central MN, March 1
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Peter
Hosted by Land Stewardship Project

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Seasonal Outreach Assistant | Friends of the Mississippi River
Interim Executive Director | Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
Development and Membership Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Loyal Donor Officer | The Nature Conservancy
Administrative Coordinator | Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters
Administrative Assistant | Friends of the Mississippi River
Executive Director | Cannon River Watershed Partnership
Communications Director | Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Mercury. 2) Lake Mille Lacs. 3) Itasca

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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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