Insider: June 2, 2017

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Rollbacks and Raids at State and Federal Levels

On Monday, May 29, Governor Dayton announced that he is signing the Environment & Natural Resources and the Jobs & Energy budget bills. With a strong chorus of concern from many citizens across the state behind him, many of the most harmful provisions in these bills were negotiated out by the Governor before they reached his desk. However, as much as Minnesotans overwhelmingly want to see more protections for our Great Outdoors, the net effect of these bills is to move Minnesota backwards. These bills include delays to water cleanup efforts and a reduction of citizen’s rights to participate in contested case hearings for sulfide mining permits, which endanger vulnerable waters.They also introduce easing of solar and energy efficiency standards in rural Minnesota, limits on the DNR’s ability to protect wildlife from lead and preemption of city bans on plastic shopping bags.

“It is unfortunate that the legislature is so out of step with the majority of Minnesotans who want to provide further protection for our lakes, rivers, streams and habitat,” said Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. MEP polling in February found that 62% of Minnesotans want environmental protections strengthened or better enforced, showing these rollbacks have little broad support.

On Thursday, June 1, President Trump announced that his administration would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, abdicating American leadership on climate change and contradicting states, cities, and businesses that urged the administration to stick with the agreement. State and local government officials from around the country quickly distanced themselves from this dangerous decision, and Minnesota’s leaders were no exception.

Thanks to robust, continuing action by Minnesotans, our state continues to invest in renewable energy and clean air, water, and land. Governor Dayton has promised that Minnesota remains committed to meeting its emissions goals on schedule, no matter the backwards actions of the national administration. And even with the Legislature pushing rollbacks to environmental protection, there are bright spots for our state this year. The Governor signed a bonding bill that increases our investment in new clean water infrastructure throughout the state, helping local communities and providing funding for major clean-up work in the St. Louis River Estuary. Thanks to tremendous citizen engagement and pressure, some of the Legislature’s worst policy proposals were defeated, including giveaways to oil pipeline companies and further limits on buffer strips along waterways..

Many of Minnesotans’ environmental priorities still need a lot of work. We need to move forward on wind and solar energy in Minnesota for our planet and for our economy. We need to enact strong protections for imperiled pollinators crucial to our agriculture and our great outdoors. And we need to invest in sustainable soil and water projects, like the Forever Green Initiative to restore and protect our precious lands and waters.

Our collective efforts for the environment we live in matter now more than ever. Thanks to Minnesotans, we’ve made real change and defended against bad legislation. Our state needs to continue to lead.



After Trump announcement, Minnesota will proceed with its own climate change strategy

(From Star Tribune) — No matter the Paris Climate Agreement, Minnesota officials said Thursday that the state’s march to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will go on.With a plan adopted in 2007, the state has been a national leader in pursuing an aggressive plan to reduce emissions of the chemicals that cause climate change. And though Minnesota has missed its targets in recent years, President Trump’s controversial decision to pull the United States out of the global climate deal struck last year won’t change what has been slow and steady progress, state environmental officials said Thursday. >>Read More.

Big Minnesota companies among Paris pact supporters

(From Star Tribune) — If President Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, he will be moving against the wishes of some of Minnesota’s biggest companies. “We would be incredibly disappointed if the U.S. decides to withdraw from the agreement to which our country had committed,” Cargill CEO David MacLennan said Wednesday in a statement to the Star Tribune. “Signing the accord means being a champion for U.S. economic growth and job creation. Caring about sustainability of the planet is not only the right thing to do for people and the environment, it is also good business.” Three weeks ago in an open letter to Trump, MacLennan and 3M CEO Inge Thulin joined 28 other powerful U.S. corporate leaders who said the 195-nation agreement to limit man-made climate change would help American companies become more efficient and competitive. >>Read More.



Minneapolis plastic bag ban halted by state lawmakers

(From MPR News) — Minneapolis’ plastic carryout bag ban won’t take effect Thursday after all.The ordinance, initially passed last spring, was blocked when Gov. Mark Dayton signed a jobs bill this week with a provision preempting cities like Minneapolis from banning plastic bags. Dayton, a DFLer, said he was disappointed the bill contained that provision, but signed it along with eight other Republican-led budget bills to fund Minnesota state government the next two years.City Council member Cam Gordon, a co-author of the ordinance, was disappointed in the Legislature. >>Read More.


Report: Pipeline firm hired contractor for surveillance, infiltration of protests

(From Inforum) — A global security firm with ties to the government reportedly conducted extensive surveillance and infiltrated activist groups during the prolonged protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.The firm, TigerSwan, used “military-style counterterrorism measures” and worked closely with law enforcement agencies in five states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, according to a report by The Intercept, an online publication. A contractor leaked more than 100 pages of internal documents to The Intercept, whose reporters also obtained over 1,000 pages of documents through public records requests. >>Read More


Crow Wing County Board: Conserving clear and cold Big Trout

(From Brainerd Dispatch) — One of the area’s clearest, coldest lakes is about to get a protection boost from a recently funded runoff treatment project. Big Trout Lake, a part of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes and the only lake in the Brainerd area stocked with lake trout, is the intended beneficiary of a proposed system to treat runoff from County Highway 66. The Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District project was funded in 2016 with a $310,000 grant from the Clean Water Fund, one of the funds supported by the 2008 Legacy Amendment. >>Read More.


Goats: cute, entertaining and sustainable

(From Agrinews) — More people are turning to a new form of land management and invasive species elimination. Rather than opting for manual labor or machines, landowners are using goats to clean up tough spots.Goat Dispatch, a business run by Jake and Amanda Langeslag, of Faribault, is one of a handful of outfits offering grazing goats to those looking for a more sustainable way to manage land. The Langslags’ 180 goats are ferried in groups of roughly six to 30 to public and private locales across the state where they spend maybe four days to three weeks eating brush and clearing out buckthorn and other invasive species before moving on.
>>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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