Insider: June 30, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership


Celebrating and Protecting Minnesota’s Waters

Many of us in Minnesota will spend time this weekend and this Independence Day enjoying all that Minnesota’s lakes and rivers have to offer in the summertime. Those in the Twin Cities will swim in the City of Lakes, kayak the Mississippi, run through lawn sprinklers, or hike on the hundreds of lakeside trails throughout the Metro. Anglers will head to Mille Lacs, folks Duluth will boat, and intrepid canoeists will voyage into the one-of-a-kind Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The star of July is an excellent time to adventure in our natural water spaces, and an opportunity to remember that we can’t take them for granted – we’re responsible for protecting our waters.

And they continue to need protection. Nutrient runoff in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers is getting worse, while the Department of Agriculture proposes to implement a weak nitrogen fertilizer rule that would need heavy strengthening in order to make a dent in the problem. The two-year mining ban and environmental review study in the Boundary Waters area continues to be debated, leaving open the possibility of toxic sulfide mining threatening the ecosystem in the near future. Fortunately, Minnesotans who value these natural treasures have waged a strong campaign for their protection.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership will keep on working hard for our waters here in Minnesota, and we will keep celebrating them hard as well! And we encourage all of our friends and subscribers to do the same this July – we will use this month to #CelebrateOurWater! We will keep posting about our waters on our website, Facebook and Twitter, and in the Insider – read more and stay tuned for more news on how to get involved!


One Water Summit 2017 wraps up in Louisiana

The US Water Alliance held its annual One Water Summit in New Orleans this week, bringing together scientists, nonprofit leaders, and government officials to share ideas and solutions for our nation’s most pressing water issues. It was a tremendous opportunity to connect with water leaders from across the country, and MEP is excited to hear that the Summit will be coming to Minneapolis in 2018.

MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine gave a presentation on water infrastructure, and our own Steve Morse and Irene Folstrom represented MEP.  For photos of the event and more, check out Steveand Irene and our Duluth office on Twitter!

Popular Kandiyohi County lakes near “tipping points”

(From West Central Tribune) — The waters of Games Lake and Lake Andrew are still clear enough for swimmers to see their toes when they wade into them, or for anglers to see the sparkle of their spinner baits as they retrieve them. Those days might be coming to an end, water quality professionals say, unless action is taken soon. Water quality is at a “tipping point” in the lakes of the Upper Shakopee Creek basin in the northwest corner of Kandiyohi County, according to Skip Wright, district manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s Ecological and Water Resources office in Spicer. >>Read More.

Editorial: Here’s how to stop algal blooms

(From Alexandria Echo Press) — There’s a danger lurking in many of our lakes. Residents need to know it’s there — and how to stop it. It’s blue-green algae, which poses a health hazard to people and animals. Last summer, blue-green algal blooms were reported in lakes across the state. Pollution experts and the Minnesota Department of Health jointly investigated two reported human illnesses and multiple dog deaths following exposure to blue-green algae. Dogs in Douglas County have gotten sick from ingesting algae in past summers. Once exposed to blue-green algae, they can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, general weakness, liver failure, and seizures. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms after visiting a lake, seek veterinary care immediately. In the worst cases, blue-green algae exposure can cause death. >>Read More.



Hesperia dacotae 2.jpg
Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

This homely, endangered butterfly is a beautiful sight to a breeder

(From MPR News) — The Dakota skipper mysteriously disappeared from these southwest Minnesota prairies a decade ago. Nobody has pinpointed exactly why, but their numbers fell about a decade ago as farming practices changed. The moth-like skipper butterfly is no Monarch — they’re typically an inch wide, ruddy brown and fuzzy. Somewhat homely, you might say. But to Erik Runquist’s eyes, they’re a beautiful sight. The Minnesota Zoo butterfly conservation biologist is helping with the first effort to reintroduce skippers to their old habitats. >>Read More.


photo credit: Pioneer Press

Environmentalists criticize changes to PolyMet mine design

(From St. Cloud Times) —  An environmental group says the design for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota has changed in significant ways that require regulators to conduct a fresh environmental review of the revisions. WaterLegacy says changes in the mine’s tailings basin and wastewater treatment facilities, and a new disclosure of how much water would be pumped from the mine, obligate federal and state agencies to take a closer look — a move that could cause further delays in an already long process. The group was making the request in a letter Thursday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other agencies. >>Read More.

Come to the Forest Service Listening Session in Virginia, MN to speak up on sulfide mining!

(From Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness) —The U.S. Forest Service is holding two listening sessions in July to gather input on a proposed 20-year moratorium on the leasing of federal minerals to mining companies in the Superior National Forest upstream of the Boundary Waters. Join us to tell the Forest Service how sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters would affect your wilderness experience.

We want to see passionate Boundary Waters supporters like you on July 25 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Virginia. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the session will be held in the auditorium. RSVP here!


Paying more for power — An Environmentalist’s View: Rate hikes not needed to grow clean energy, protect environment

(From Duluth News Tribune, by MCEA Executive Director Kathryn Hoffman) — Power companies across the country realize that investing in clean, efficient energy is a win-win business decision. With the costs for electricity from wind now cheaper than coal and natural gas, utility providers like Minnesota Power are making common-sense investments in renewable energy. This is protecting our environment, creating good-paying jobs, and saving businesses and customers millions. >>Read More.

City Analysis: Minnesota’s commitment continues despite Paris pull-out

(From Fresh Energy executive Director Michael Noble) — The Trump Administration’s abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement has raised all five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But now is the time for everyone to move beyond acceptance to a renewed commitment to action.There is no sugar-coating it that President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the U.S. commitments to the world as part of the Paris Agreement made no sense strategically or economically or environmentally. There is little to be gained by rehashing all that has been written about the downside of the decision: loss of international prestige and leadership, estrangement of America’s best allies, dramatically increasing risk that the world will be unable to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. >>Read More.


City sends letter of concern for Line 3 project

(From Grand Rapids Herald Review) — The City of Grand Rapids is submitting concerns to the Minnesota Department of Commerce regarding the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project. A letter to Environmental Review Manager Jamie Macalister, dated June 26, was approved during a meeting of the Grand Rapids City Council on Monday.The letter cites the project’s draft environmental impact statement (D-EIS) that Enbridge has filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission detailing how pipeline abandonment regulations will be achieved. >>Read More. 

Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

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

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

SE MN Wastewater Facilitator | Cannon River Watershed Partnership – Apply by July 7

Chief Development Officer | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy – Apply by July 10

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Education Manager | Audubon Center of the North Woods

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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