Insider: January 6, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Photo Credit: Jim Brekke, Flickr CC

As the Legislative session begins, MEP members stand together around shared priorities

As the 2017 Minnesota Legislature convenes, our lawmakers will consider many opportunities to make our state even better, including protecting our Great Outdoors. We call upon our representatives from every corner of our state to listen to their constituents and work to preserve Minnesota’s treasured way of life. 

Over the years, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and our member organizations have fought for laws that promote clean energy, and strengthen protections for our land, water, and air. We have also vigorously opposed short-sighted efforts to block, undermine, and undo those laws. Such efforts are out of step with the wishes of the voters of Minnesota. In accordance with the values of Minnesotans, we will continue to defend existing laws from being weakened or repealed. 

MEP member organizations are also standing together and asking our Legislature to move forward on innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing our Great Outdoors. These include the Forever Green Initiative, pollinator protections, and statewide investment in transportation. >>Read More

From the Loon Commons Blog 

Photo Credit:
Chetan Jawale,
Flickr CC

Commissioner Stine: Protect Family Farms & Get Environmental Review Right on Factory Hog Farm

By Frederick Fredrickson, Land Stewardship Project — My family and I operate a dairy farm in Goodhue County’s Zumbrota Township in southeastern Minnesota. My father bought our farm in 1942, and I have lived on this land my whole life. My wife, my sister, my brother and I milk cows and raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa. We’re proud of the life we’ve built off the land, and we rely on the clean air and water in Zumbrota Township. Last winter, I learned of plans to build a 4,700-hog factory farm with a 3.7-million-gallon liquid manure pit next door to our family farm. The proposers, the Kohlnhofers, operate at least six other large facilities, as well as an insurance agency in Lakeville, Minn. Despite having all this, they want to devalue my property value and put my air and water at risk to get more. That’s wrong. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
ictoria Pickering,
Flickr CC

From Keystone XL Pipeline to #DAPL: Jasilyn Charger, Water Protector from Cheyenne River Reservation

(From Democracy Now!) —  As Native American elders fighting the Dakota Access pipeline extinguish the Seven Council Fires at Standing Rock, we speak with Jasilyn Charger, a water protector from Cheyenne River Reservation, who has camped at Sacred Stone Resistance Camp since it launched in April. Jasilyn founded the International Indigenous Youth Council at Standing Rock. She was also part of the resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline before that. >>Read More


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Flickr CC

Solar, energy efficiency part of Minnesota National Guard push for net zero

(From Midwest Energy News) — At the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley base, a sprawling 10 megawatt solar array is the most visible indicator of the organization’s commitment to eventually reaching net zero emissions. The Minnesota National Guard also has several geothermal systems operating at Camp Ripley and other facilities. It’s looking to save water and reduce waste dramatically by composting and changing over to compostable plates and silverware. “Our long term goal is to generate as much energy as we consume,” said Seth Goreham, environmental program manager. “The 10 megawatt system takes us a big step toward that. I think (net zero) is achievable but it will take some time and creative thinking on the part of multiple parties.” >>Read More


Photo Credit:
United Nations Photo
Flickr CC

MPCA releases report on Minnesota’s air quality

(From the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) — The MPCA released their biennial report on Minnesota’s air quality, The Air We Breathe: The state of Minnesota’s air quality, 2017. The report shares the status of the state’s air quality and what the MPCA and our partners are doing to continue to make improvements to protect the health of all Minnesotans. Overall, Minnesota’s air quality is good.  Levels of pollution in outdoor air have been going down for the past 30 years, even while the gross state product increases. Nonetheless, air pollution still impacts people’s health. And lower-income communities and communities of color are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. The MPCA is working to reduce air pollution across the state, with particular emphasis on reducing exposures in overburdened communities. >>Read More

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Flickr CC

Minnesota retailers cited for taking action on chemicals in products; others should follow

(From MinnPost) — Looking ahead to 2017, there’s some good health news for Minnesota consumers. Across our nation big retailers are adopting safer chemical policies as part of their sustainability programs and becoming increasingly important players in the movement to healthier products and safer chemicals, including right here in Minnesota. Retailers are using their considerable clout to address and eliminate chemicals of concern from their supply chains. U.S. consumers are demanding products that are free of hormone disrupting chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol A and chemicals associated with negative impacts on brain development, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and certain flame retardants. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Stewart Baird
Flickr CC

Conservation Corps Recruiting for More Than 700 Positions — Deadline Extended to January 20th 

(From Conservation Corps) — Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa has started recruiting for more than 700 positions that include summer jobs for high school students and year-long and summer AmeriCorps opportunities for those aged 18 to 25. Conservation Corps provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults from diverse backgrounds while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management and emergency response work. AmeriCorps is a real-life education and work experience. Members will learn teamwork and leadership, gain technical skills and earn certifications in habitat restoration. >>Read More

Photo Credit:
Bina, Flickr CC

Meet the new faces of farming

(From Agri News) — There is an abundance of farmers among the millions of immigrant and minority residents of the United States. Several groups in the Midwest are working to make it easier for immigrant and minority citizens, who often face lofty socioeconomic challenges, to be food producers. In anticipation of the upcoming 12th annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference Jan. 28-29 in St. Paul, we took a look at some movements supporting the growing wave of immigrant and minority farmers. Natural Resources Conservation Services urban conservationist Tom Petersen said, “The face of urban agriculture is immigrant and minority farmers.” >>Read More


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Flickr CC

Agreement remains on transportation needs, not funding

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Minnesota legislators express nearly universal agreement that state roads and bridges need an infusion of money, but a deep divide about where to get the funds prevented action the last two years.
The same disagreement exists as the 2017 legislative session begins, leaving in question whether anything significant and long term will be accomplished in transportation. Minnesota’s roads face an estimated $16 billion funding gap over the next 20 years, according to calculations from the state Department of Transportation. Many greater Minnesota residents say roads outside of the Twin Cities are in particularly bad shape. >>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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