Insider: January 20, 2017

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Photo Credit: Bart Rousseau, Flickr CC

Buffer law debated at the Capitol on Thursday

State House environment and agriculture committees met on Thursday to discuss a law that requires plant buffers between cropland and water. Proponents of the law say it helps clean the state’s water and filter pollutants, especially in areas of the state with high farming concentration, but many farmers continue to express frustrations with the law and how it impacts their farming. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Susan Melkisethian,
Flickr CC

Four major #NoDAPL legal developments, as clashes continue

(From Honor the Earth) —  Today saw four significant legal developments in the Dakota Access Pipeline campaign. This afternoon, US District Court Judge James Boesberg denied Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) attorneys’ request for a Temporary Restraining Order, which sought to block publication in the Federal Register of the Army Corps’ Notice of Intent for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Lake Oahe crossing. This morning, the Army Corps of Engineers officially published a notice of intent in the federal register to prepare a partial EIS. This opens a formal scoping comment period lasting through February 20th, where the public and interested parties can give the Army Corps input on the scope of the EIS. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Dark Sevier,
Flickr CC

Dear Al: Letter to Enbridge “..We expect you to clean up your old mess…”

(From Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth) —  For the past two months, I have been asking you to use your influence to stop the violence on Standing Rock, and in North Dakota, but while hundreds of people were arrested and injured, Enbridge, and you, said nothing.  I think this is a very bad decision for you. I want to give you another chance to make the right decision.  In our prophecies, there a choice spoken of.  A choice between a well-worn, scorched path, and a new path, which is green.  This scorched path is a path of violence and the new path is the path of peace.  You, Al, and the rest of the global corporate leaders need to make a decision of which path they would like to walk down.  Let’s review how this scorched path has been treating us this last year. >>Read More


Photo Credit:
Doug McAbee,
Flickr CC

City of Farmington uses Energy Efficient Operations Manual to guide savings

(From Clean Energy Resource Teams) — Building operation is a huge cost that most cities, counties, and other local governments have in common. But often there’s a disconnect between building operation and energy savings, one that a new manual available to Minnesota local governments is designed to fix. It is well documented that most energy-consuming devices in buildings can perform their intended function while using less energy—but often these energy hogs go undetected. It’s important to have some sort of check to make sure that buildings are operating efficiently. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR) developed the B3 SB 2030 Energy Efficient Operations Manual, which provides this type of check to the building system. >>Read More


Photo Credit:
Flickr CC

Donald Trump Just Replaced the White House Climate Website With…This

(From Mother Jones) — As Donald Trump was sworn in Friday, the White House website got a major makeover. One of the casualties in the reset: any mention of the need to fight climate change. The original White House page dedicated to the problem of climate change and former President Barack Obama’s policies to address it is now a broken link: “The requested page ‘/energy/climate-change’ could not be found.” Instead, the White House website features Trump’s energy talking points from the campaign. The page—titled, “An America First Energy Plan”—makes no mention of climate change, other than to say, “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.” >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Joe Brusky,
Flickr CC

Climate Denier Scott Pruitt Faces Protests at Senate Hearing as 2016 Is Declared Hottest Year Ever

(From Democracy Now!) — On Wednesday, scientists with both NASA and NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—confirmed 2016 was the hottest year on record, topping the previous record set in 2015, which topped the previous record only one year earlier. The unprecedented warming of the planet due to human-caused climate change comes as Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testified in front of the Senate Wednesday during his confirmation hearing to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has long denied the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. Dozens of people protested outside his hearing. At least three people were arrested. We hear Sen. Bernie Sanders questioning Pruitt, and speak to Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Bill Dickinson,
Flickr CC

Business, consumer groups bash Minnesota utility’s push for new natural gas plant

(From Midwest Energy News) — A group of large industrial users joined consumer advocates in decrying a bill that would permit Xcel Energy to build a 786 megawatt combined cycle natural gas plant without regulatory approval. The gas plant, likely to cost more than $1 billion, would replace two coal-fired units at Xcel plant near the town of Becker that are slated for closure by 2026. Sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Newberger, whose district includes Becker, the bill was approved by the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committee yesterday. A companion bill will be heard in the Senate. >>Read More


Photo Credit:
Kevin Saff,
Flickr CC

More data needed on PolyMet financial risk

(From The Timberjay) — The state of Minnesota should require PolyMet Mining to provide an updated financial feasibility study and cash flow analysis prior to approval of the financial assurance provisions for the company’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbitt. That’s the recommendation of financial consultants hired by the Department of Natural Resources last year. The agency hired Twin Cities-based Emmons Olivier Resources, or EOR, to provide guidance to the state as it negotiates a financial assurance package with PolyMet to ensure that state taxpayers aren’t left with the financial costs of future clean-up and pollution control at the proposed mine. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Janet, Flickr CC

Twin Metals: Victory for now, but still work to do

(From Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness) — Evidence has been piling up about the long-lasting risk that copper-nickel sulfide mining poses to Minnesota’s precious water and wild places. In 2014, Mount Polley’s “state of the art” sulfide mine in British Columbia burst a dam and spilled billions of gallons of polluted water into pristine lakes and rivers. In 2015, the Gold King mine in Colorado, despite being closed for ninety years, spilled millions of gallons of lurid orange polluted water hundreds downstream. In 2016, hydrologist Dr. Tom Myers published a study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology that showed that polluted water from a mine near the Boundary Waters would quickly spread into the wilderness. >>Read More


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Flickr CC

MPCA to host 2017 wild rice sulfate open house events

(From MPCA) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will be hosting three open houses on the wild rice sulfate standard rulemaking in January 2017. The purpose is to provide the interested public with an opportunity to learn more about the MPCA’s proposed approach for revisions to its wild rice sulfate water quality standard before the proposed rule goes on public notice later this year. MPCA staff will be available to provide information about the agency’s proposed approach to protect wild rice from sulfate, the list of proposed wild rice waters, the rulemaking schedule and upcoming opportunities for public comment.  The two remaining open house events are January 25th in Duluth and January 31st in Mountain Iron. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Flickr CC

Dayton announces $350M in federal funds for water quality

(From MPR) — Minnesota has secured $350 million in federal funds for a voluntary program to pay farmers to protect and improve water quality in southern and western Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Tuesday, but the state will have to come up with about $95 million more to get the full amount from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program targets 60,000 acres across 54 counties that are facing significant water quality challenges. “Through this landmark agreement, Minnesota will be better able to protect and improve our waters for our families, natural habitat, and our future,” the governor said in a statement. >>Read More

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