Insider: July 14, 2017

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Protecting and Celebrating our Great Lakes Waters

On Wednesday, July 10, a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives released a bill that would fund the vital Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) with a $300 million appropriation, despite the Trump administration’s previous proposals to cut the program. If passed and included in the federal budget, this bill would allow federal departments, state agencies, and local leaders to continue work on cleaning polluted areas, preventing the spread of invasive species, and reducing fertilizer and nutrient runoff in the Great Lakes. Much more needs to be done to preserve and restore these waters, but this is a strong step in the right direction.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership applauds the legislators on both sides of the aisle who have come together in support of GLRI. The Great Lakes are among the world’s greatest freshwater treasures, and for Minnesotans, Lake Superior is an vital part of our livelihoods. The health of our lakes and rivers, the economies of cities like Duluth – they all add up to our common interest in keeping the Great Lakes clean and thriving.

If you’ll be in the Arrowhead region this weekend, it’s a great time to celebrate this common heritage! Lake Superior Day is this Sunday, and Duluth and Grand Marais will be holding events to recognize the importance of our nation’s largest lake and to teach the public about Great Lakes protection. Click here to learn more about Lake Superior Day and how you can get involved!

Attend July 18th or 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the first of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest on Tuesday. This is a chance for concerned citizens to help make sure that the environmental study of mining in this area takes the critical hazards of copper sulfide mining into account. If you can attend one of these meanings, let us know by clicking the Take Action button!


photo credit: DNR

State grant money to go toward area buffer compliance

(From Mankato Free Press) — About $5 million in new state funding is trickling down to farmers across the region to help them comply with Minnesota’s vegetative buffer laws. The new cost-share program will allocate funding to local conservation officials, who can then work with farmers on covering part of the cost of planting so-called buffer strips or other alternative practices. “If they’ve got questions, they should give our offices a call and we’ll walk them through the process and make sure they come into compliance,” Nicollet County Soil and Water Manager Kevin Osterman said. >>Read More.

photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

The MDA will hold a hearing this Monday in St. Paul – if you can attend, tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters! Written comments will also be accepted until August 11.

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, the Governor will host a total of ten town hall meetings on his proposed “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal throughout Minnesota. The Governor is seeking input on how we can improve the health of our state’s waters by 25% by the year 2025, and wants to hear Minnesotans’ ideas. Citizens and groups are invited to hold their own meetings to develop proposals and concerns to share with the administration. For info on how to attend or host a meeting, visit


Minnesota’s first e-bus hits the road

(From Alexandria Echo Press) — Future yellow school bus wheels will go round and round with electricity harnessed from wind power.Three partners collaborated to roll out the electric school bus pilot program: Schmitty & Sons, Dakota Electric Association of Farmington and Great River Energy, the power supplier for Dakota Electric. “It has been a really cool project and we have had great partners with Dakota Electric and Great River Energy, so it has been awesome to work on,” said Mike Forbord, who works in divisional operations with Schmitty & Sons of Lakeville, Minn., that operates a fleet of 100 school buses serving area districts. >>Read More.


St. Paul says it has a deal with garbage haulers on organized collection

(From Pioneer Press) — The city of St. Paul says it has reached an agreement in principle with a consortium of 15 garbage haulers who will coordinate residential trash collection between them. If approved by the St. Paul City Council later this month, haulers would divide residential routes — homes of one to four units. They could begin citywide pickup as soon as spring or summer of 2018.Financial details are expected to be released by early next week, in advance of a public hearing before the council on July 19. A final contract is possible in August. >>Read More.


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

State keeps Palmer amaranth at bay: Vigilant landowners benefit eradication effort

(From West Central  Tribune) — Propane blow torches, herbicide, the sharp blades of mowers, hand pulling, and most important of all, the vigilant eyes of landowners. These are among the weapons the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has employed to eradicate Palmer amaranth from 30 conservation plantings in Yellow Medicine and Lyon counties. And so far, it’s been working. “I think everything we have been doing has been successful, but there is just a series of things we need to keep doing to keep sure we’re not getting any mature plants out there,” said Anthony Cortilet, noxious weed program coordinator with the Department of Agriculture. He said the department is in the process of employing someone to work full time on the eradication effort this year. The state launched its eradication effort after it was discovered that 13 landowners had unknowingly spread seed mixes containing Palmer amaranth on the 30 conservation sites last year. >>Read More.


Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline

(From Star Tribune) — Most people have heard of the Dakota Access pipeline, but many Minnesotans may not know that Enbridge, one of the companies behind DAPL, is proposing an enormous pipeline expansion through our state. Enbridge wants to construct a new pipeline called “Line 3” to carry tar-sands oil from Alberta to Superior, Wis. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings on the pipeline proposal this fall and will decide whether to permit it in 2018. While citizens may testify at the hearings, some parties have been formally recognized as “intervenors,” based on having submitted petitions declaring that the project would directly affect them. Intervenors will participate officially in court proceedings, representing their specific opposition to Line 3. >>Read More.


High Energy; students study energy conservation

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Aggie McKichan stood by a series of propellers attached to rotors; some were situated so the blades turned horizontally and some, vertically. Next to the spinning objects were fans; together, they demonstrated the creation of electricity generated in the rotation of the blades — in effect, wind turbines. The 11-year-old was one of over 70 fourth to sixth graders who gathered this year to study energy conservation as part of the E3 Program. “E3” stands for “Engineering and Environmental Sciences for Everyone.” >>Read More.

Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota

(From MPR News) — A new report from the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab shows adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state. The report looked at several scenarios, including a common one in the summer: A hot day when electricity demand is much higher than usual because of air conditioning. “What would be more cost effective: to build a conventional plant or to put in a big battery? Or, alternatively, to put in a big battery and a big solar array at the same time? [The consultants] found that putting in solar plus storage was actually cost effective right now,” said Ellen Anderson, who directs the Energy Transition Lab. >>Read More.

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Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Administrative and Outreach Coordination Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Strategic Communications Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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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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