Insider: July 21, 2017

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The Costs of Cutting the Clean Water Rule

EPA Director Scott Pruitt visited Minnesota this week as part of a multi-state tour to gather input from “stakeholders” on changes to be made on EPA regulation of waters throughout the United States. Pruitt has said that his agency plans to roll back the Clean Water Rule, which defines the legally protected “Waters of the United States” and has greatly increased the mileage of streams and wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. This comes as little surprise, as Pruitt was previously involved in lawsuits against the Clean Water Rule, but rolling back the rule would be a serious mistake on the EPA’s part.

The Clean Water Rule is intended to clarify which waters are regulated under the EPA’s authority and extend protections to many wetlands and streams, including seasonal waters. As more than than 117 million Americans receive drinking water from public water systems that draw supply from headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams, this rule is deeply important for our drinking water. In Minnesota, the Clean Water Rule restores protection to more than half of Minnesota’s streams, which help provide drinking water to more than a million people in our state. These waters are also critical to our local fishing and hunting economies.

At a time when nutrient runoff and other water pollution is jeopardizing the health of our rivers, now is not the time to move backward on the Clean Water Rule. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership and many of our friends have submitted comments against this rollback, and we urge the EPA to listen to stakeholders who depend on endangered waters throughout their review of current rules.

For more information:

Mining Truth launches campaign to highlight financial risk from PolyMet

The Mining Truth coalition launched a public information campaign this week with a goal of ensuring Minnesota taxpayers are protected as permit applications are considered for PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine in northern Minnesota. Billboards near the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters in St. Paul and along I-35 highlight the $934 million damage deposit experts say is needed to cover cleanup costs. “PolyMet’s own permit application says polluted water from the site will require expensive treatment for decades, if not centuries, after this proposed mine closes” said Kathryn Hoffman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. >>Read the full press release here.

photo credit: Pioneer Press

Counterpoint: PolyMet is just feeding Minnesotans a line

(From Star Tribune, by WaterLegacy advocacy director Paula Maccabee) — U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and others seeking to prevent independent court review of the PolyMet land exchange aren’t walking a fine line (“Rep. Nolan walks ‘a very fine line,’ ” July 14) when they say they want to reduce America’s carbon footprint while still promoting the PolyMet copper-nickel mine proposal. In fact, they are feeding us a line — to benefit a small group of multibillion-dollar foreign corporate investors at the expense of climate change, as well as at the expense of our Minnesota water quality and public lands. The PolyMet mine project proposed for Minnesota would be a climate-change disaster. >>Read More.

Attend July 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the second of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest in Virginia, MN 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 this, meeting let us know by clicking the Take Action button!



Minnesota’s underground drinking water stable, but threats remain

(From MPR News) — Hundreds of feet below the ground, the Mt. Simon aquifer runs from south central Minnesota to the Twin Cities. More than a million state residents depend on the aquifer for drinking water. Mt. Simon has always been a robust source of water. Well drillers more than one hundred years ago found the aquifer had so much pressure in some places that it forced water to the surface, a phenomenon known as a “flowing well.” “Those days are long gone,” said Jim Berg, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. >>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.

Written comments will also be accepted until August 11 –  tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters!

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, Governor Dayton 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


Met Council needs to slam the breaks on proposed fare hikes

(From Star Tribune, by TLC and St. Paul Smart Trips director Jessica Treat) — People used Metro Transit more than 82 million times in 2016, to go to work, to school or just to get around without adding to congestion. The Metropolitan Council will vote next Wednesday on whether to raise fares on those tens of millions of trips. It’s clear that the Met Council is in a difficult position. There’s a sense that increasing fares will somehow appease legislative leaders who, for years, have either ignored or attacked transit funding. But on this issue, many in the Legislature are simply out of step with what the public wants and needs. >>Read More.


After heated hearing, St. Paul city council delays vote on trash plan

(From Pioneer Press) — The St. Paul City Council will spend the next week mulling over the latest proposal for organized residential trash collection, which has received mixed reaction from residents and haulers. Following a heavily attended public hearing, the council chose Wednesday to hold off on voting on whether to enter into final negotiations for a five-year or seven-year contract with the city’s 15 private haulers, a proposal hammered out across nearly 11 months of difficult negotiations. The hearing drew 23 speakers in opposition and 18 in support. A council vote likely will take place July 26. The proposal — which has yet to be finalized — would charge all St. Paul homeowners rates of $21 to $32 per month, depending upon barrel size, on top of an annual administrative fee of $52 that has drawn many questions. >>Read More.


Northland College divesting oil, coal and gas investments

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Northland College in Ashland is cutting ties with the fossil fuel industries that most scientists who study climate say are spurring global climate change.The small college’s board of trustees last week voted to fully divest all of the school’s endowment funds from fossil fuel related investments — coal, oil and gas companies — within five years. The move comes after student activists have been pushing for the action since 2012. Nearly 3 percent of the school’s $28 million endowment, about $823,000, is currently invested in fossil fuels, according to the group Carbon Underground 200. >>Read More

House bill aims to make permitting process easier for pipelines that cross state borders

(From Inforum) — As Republicans rush to join the Trump administration’s efforts to boost oil and gas production, the House pushed two measures on Wednesday aimed at easing the permitting process for pipelines that cross state and international lines. Lawmakers voted, 254-175, to pass a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., which would transfer authority to issue permits for pipelines and power transmission lines that cross international borders from the State Department to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mullin and other Republicans argued the measure is necessary to keep politics out of the pipeline permitting process. >>Read More.


The surprising state where solar energy is flourishing

(From — Minnesota is on a hot streak in converting sunlight into usable power. The state tripled its solar energy capacity through the first quarter of this year. And, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, it has increased solar output twelve-fold since 2015. The vast majority of that energy has been led by state utility Xcel, including the 100-megawatt North Star and Aurora Solar projects. Yet while Minnesota still lags in total wattage, trailing industry leaders such as California, North Carolina and Arizona, the Gopher State is the epicenter of one nation-topping experiment: community solar, where multiple clients can subscribe to a single network — called a solar garden — to split costs and avoid the hassle of personally owning housing panels. >>Read More.

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Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

Director | Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

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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