Insider: January 27, 2017

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Governor Dayton Delivers State of the State Address

This week at the State of the State Address, Governor Dayton released his budget proposal for the next two years. His plans include increasing funding for Minnesota’s drinking water protection program, $60 million in new broadband development grants, and extra fees issued by the Department of Natural Resources. >>Read More

From the Loon Commons Blog 

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Daniel Brock,
Flickr CC

Opponents of Minnesota’s buffer law claim it’s an unconstitutional taking. It’s not.

By Leili Fatehi, Friends of the Mississippi River — Yesterday’s joint House Environment and Natural Resources and Agriculture committee hearing on implementation of Minnesota’s buffer program included quite a number of statements from legislators and testifiers claiming that the law constitutes a taking of private land by the government without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Minnesota State Constitution. The hearing followed the introduction of House File 167 which seeks to entirely repeal the buffer law. Members of the GOP majority party have been vocal in expressing their intentions to, if not repeal, significantly weaken the existing buffer law. We’ll post more on the substantive merits of the buffer law in the coming weeks, but want to give immediate attention to this issues of the law’s constitutionality given what appears to be an attempt to mislead legislators, county and watershed officials, and the public alike. >>Read More

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Susan Melkisethian,
Flickr CC

“I’m Afraid They Are Out to Kill”: Water Protectors Testify to Police Violence at Standing Rock

(From Democracy Now!) —  On Tuesday, Donald Trump took action to revive the contested Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. He signed the presidential memorandum as water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota were gathered to testify to a wide range of police abuse. One of those to testify was Diné water protector Marcus Mitchell, who has lost sight in his left eye after being hit by a bean bag round fired by police last week. We hear his testimony and then get response from water protector Bobbi Jean Three Legs of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and longtime Anishinaabe activist Winona LaDuke. >>Read More

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Dark Sevier,
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Standing Rock Sioux tribe says Trump is breaking law with Dakota Access order

(From The Guardian) —  The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has called Donald Trump’s decision to push forward the controversial Dakota Access pipeline “utterly alarming”, and warned the president that rushing through the project would break federal law. On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order instructing the army corps of engineers to “review and approve in an expedited manner” the Dakota Access project, an 1,100-mile pipeline that would take oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The army corps of engineers is undertaking an environmental impact statement over concerns that the pipeline could contaminate the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water at Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The pipeline would cross the Missouri river, the tribe’s main source of drinking water, and pass close to the tribal reservation. >>Read More


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alfre32, Flickr CC

Q&A: Minnesota’s first state sustainability director talks solar, efficiency potential

(From Midwest Energy News) — Addressing climate change has become one of the focal points of Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. Though the state has missed its 2015 goal of reducing greenhouse gases, the governor’s office has created more coordinated leadership to direct agencies on sustainability. In July, Dayton announced the creation of Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Sustainability, and appointed Larry Herke as its director. Herke’s charge is to assist the state’s many agencies with their sustainability plans, share best practices and track results so citizens and state workers can see progress made and areas needing improvement. >>Read More

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tomislav medak,
Flickr CC

Elk River publishes guide to greening city fleets

(From Clean Energy Resource Teams) — Cities across Minnesota and the country are working to reduce costs and fuel consumption by greening and electrifying their vehicle fleets. The City of Elk River recently produced a Green City Fleet Guide as part of a Metro CERT Seed Grant funded project that can guide other cities in taking action. The goal of the guide is to provide communities with some tools needed to create greener city fleets. The guide provides information about alternative fuel vehicles, suggestions for efficient fleets, benefits of electric vehicles, a list of electric vehicles on the market, financial incentives, global trends in fleets and additional resources. The guide also shares results of short fleet survey in some Minnesota cities. >>Read More


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EPA freeze leaves Minnesota projects in limbo

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency received a directive to temporarily freeze its contracts and grants. As word of the freeze spread this week, officials have been scrambling to sort out what that move means for projects in Duluth and nationwide. State Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said Wednesday afternoon that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency still is searching for answers. He shared an email response he received from MPCA staff Tuesday that said if the freeze is made permanent, the agency could lose nearly $10 million in anticipated funding that would affect Superfund and other grants. >>Read More

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Joe Brusky,
Flickr CC

‘Resist’: Activists unfurl massive banner on crane behind White House

(From MPR) — On Wednesday morning, activists from Greenpeace unfurled a massive yellow and orange banner with the word “Resist” on a tall crane behind the White House. “We climbed up the crane this morning, and occupied it and locked and chained ourselves in,” the environmental group’s board chairman Karen Topakian, 62, told The Two-Way. We reached her as she was chained and locked high up on the construction crane with six other activists. “I have a long, long history of fear of heights,” she said. “As much as I have a fear of heights, I decided that I would do this because the risks are so great and so tremendous at this point with this administration.” >>Read More


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New river rules protects Mississippi River corridor

(From MPR) — The DNR is working to protect a 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that runs through the Twin Cities area. It published new development rules for businesses along the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area, which took effect on Jan. 4. MPR News host Tom Weber spoke to former Republican lawmaker Marty Seifert about how local businesses are concerned with construction restrictions. He also spoke to Dan Petrik, a land use specialist with the DNR and Friends of the Mississippi River Executive Director Whitney Clark. >>Read More

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Dayton in Morris Friday for “Clean Water Summit”

(From Willmar Radio) — Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith today will host a Town Hall Water Summit on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Morris. The Summit will bring together local government leaders, farmers, students, environmental groups, and businesses, to focus on water challenges and solutions in Greater Minnesota. “Communities in Greater Minnesota face special challenges to ensure that their citizens have access to clean water for drinking, washing, agriculture, business, and recreation,” said Governor Dayton. “These challenges are everyone’s responsibility, and everyone’s opportunity. I invite all Minnesotans to join us in seeking solutions, at the Town Hall Water Summit in Morris.” The Town Hall Water Summit is the second large public forum during Governor Dayton’s Year of Water Action, following the Governor’s Water Summit last year. >>Read More

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Aaron Carlson,
Flickr CC

Study: The Mississippi is pretty healthy, until it gets south of St. Cloud

(From Willmar Radio) — A new study paints a mixed picture of health for the Mississippi River upstream of the Twin Cities. The upper stretch of the river is in pretty good shape, but the lower river needs large-scale changes to reduce pollution, according to the report out Wednesday from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency “The pattern that we found, is that the water quality in the Upper Mississippi, from the headwaters down to about the St. Cloud area, is really very, very good,” said Dana Vanderbosch, manager of lake and stream monitoring with the MPCA. “But then, south of St Cloud, and into Minneapolis, the water quality really starts to degrade, and the river life isn’t as healthy.” >>Read More

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