Insider: March 2, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Water Infrastructure Targeted in Bonding Proposals

Why MN should turn on the tap for clean water funding

In late January, Governor Mark Dayton unveiled a $1.5 billion bonding proposal for public works projects throughout Minnesota, which includes a proposal for $167 million in critically needed funding for clean water projects throughout the state. This week, two Republican legislators, Senator Gary Dahms and Representative Dean Urdahl, introduced a bipartisan bill to allocate that funding – which would financially support communities in need of assistance in tackling their water infrastructure challenges. Though this issue tends to have a low profile, it’s absolutely critical to the health and well-being of Minnesotans statewide.

When we turn on a faucet or use a drain, we tend not to consider where our water comes from – or where it’s going. Only when the water turns off or darkens with pollution, or when our regular bills spike in cost, do many of us think about how our most precious natural resource is made safe and usable. Both drinking water and wastewater treatment are vital to our health and well-being, as well as the natural ecosystems around us. Diseases like cholera that once ravaged entire cities are now virtually unheard of in the United States thanks to long-term investments in our pipes and treatment systems.

Sadly, many of our communities are struggling with aging, obsolete infrastructure that is deteriorating and can’t meet standards for health or pollution protection. Rural towns and tribal communities are in especially dire need of upgrades and maintenance in the short and long term, and in many cases, the cost of this work is unaffordable without state or federal aid. It’s estimated that over the next 20 years, our state will need to $11 billion in funds for water infrastructure improvements. Those bills can’t simply be passed along to our rural communities.

That’s why we’re glad to see a bipartisan push for state funding that will, along with federal investments, greatly reduce the burden on our cities and counties to bring safe water treatment for every Minnesotan. This effort can help heal the more than 4,600 lakes in our state with impaired water, boosting our economy and our ecosystems. We should hold our water infrastructure to high standards – and make sure that our communities have all the resources they need to protect our water.


Help change the game for Minnesota’s waters!

Under Governor Dayton’s direction, the State of Minnesota Department of Agriculture has been working on developing a Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule to help prevent the rising nitrate levels that are making too much groundwater unsafe to drink. Such a rule could change the game for Minnesota’s waters!

The Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule is still in the drafting stages and details are being worked out. But some legislators want to stop it by taking away the Governor’s authority to protect groundwater.

If you care about this issue, you can help by calling your legislators. Let them know you value protecting our groundwater! To learn more or to send an email to your lawmakers directly, click here.

Registration is open for Water Action Day 2018!

Whether you joined us for our Water Action Day event last year or you’re a first timer, we hope to see you at the Capitol on May 2! This is your chance to show up and stand up to protect our waters!

This all-day event will include free breakfast and briefings in the morning, both on how to actively engage legislators and on the water issues that we face in Minnesota. Throughout the day, attendees will meet with legislators to ask them to protect our water, and the Clean Water Rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda at 1:30 pm. Sign up today and find out how you can volunteer and support this important event!


Study: Renewable energy now Minnesota’s 2nd-largest electricity source

(From MPR News) — Renewable energy is overtaking nuclear as Minnesota’s second-largest source of electricity generation, while coal remains the largest source, according to a report released Thursday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Coal made up 39 percent of the energy Minnesota generated inside its borders in 2017. That percentage is expected to go down dramatically in the next decade after Xcel Energy retires a large portion of its Sherco coal plant in Becker. When hydroelectric was added to wind and solar generation in 2017, it surpassed what Xcel’s two nuclear plants produced. And while nuclear capacity is static, Minnesota has been adding new wind and solar capacity every year. >>Read More.


Poll suggests growing opposition to mine near Boundary Waters

(From Duluth News Tribune) — A new statewide opinion poll appears to show growing opposition to copper mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In the poll, paid for by opponents to copper mining, 70 percent of 800 Minnesota voters said they opposed allowing a copper mine near the BWCAW. That’s up from 59 percent opposition in a similar poll in 2017. Statewide, 22 percent of those polled said they supported “sulfide ore copper mining in the areas near the Boundary Waters Wilderness.” The number of people who had no opinion dropped from 13 percent last year to 7 percent this year. >>Read More.

Croplands can suck lots of CO2 from air if treated with crushed rock

(From MinnPost) — Most home gardeners know at a least a bit about soil amendments — how you can make plants grow better by working in compost to fertilize and loosen the loam, maybe some crushed limestone to lower acidity. What if the same principle could be applied, at a massive scale, to take globe-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? What if it could work relatively quickly, compared to other carbon-removal methods, and perhaps even cheaply? While simultaneously improving plant health and crop yields for a world with ever more hunger in its future? And reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides? This is the bold, if still somewhat blurry, vision outlined in a fascinating paper published last week in the respected journal Nature Plants. >>Read More.

Apply now to be a Minnesota GreenCorps Host Site!

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is now accepting applications from organizations interested in serving as host sites for the 2018 – 2019 Minnesota GreenCorps program year. Minnesota GreenCorps is an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program coordinated by the MPCA. The program places AmeriCorps members with organizations around the state to spend a year of service addressing critical environmental issues. Eligible organizations include public entities, school districts, not for profit institutions of higher education, and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations.. Applications are due by 5:00 pm CDT on Friday, March 23, 2018.

Host site application materials, including a detailed guidance document and the application are available on the Minnesota GreenCorps website.


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. Construction on Minnesota’s state capitol was finished in which year: 1885, 1895, or 1905?

2. What national park is within the state of Michigan but lies closer geographically to Minnesota?

3. At 1,310 sq. miles, what tribal reservation is Minnesota’s largest in combined land and water area?

Upcoming Environmental Events

2018 Transportation Day at the Capitol, March 7
Best Western Plus Capitol Ridge, St. Paul
Hosted by MN Transportation Alliance

Think nationally, plan locally: How to get involved with Mississippi River planning, March 8
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Minneapolis
Hosted by Friends of the Mississippi River

HeArt Market LSP Fundraiser, March 10
Casket Arts Building, Minneapolis
Hosted by Land Stewardship Project

Talk Climate Institute, March 12-13
Wilder Center, St. Paul
Hosted by Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

Minnesota Bike Summit on Capitol Hill, March 15
Christ Lutheran Church and State Capitol, St. Paul
Hosted by Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota

Water Action Day 2018, May 2
Christ Lutheran Church and State Capitol, St. Paul
Hosted by MN’s clean water community

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Seasonal Outreach Assistant | Friends of the Mississippi River
Interim Executive Director | Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
Development and Membership Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Loyal Donor Officer | The Nature Conservancy
Administrative Assistant | Friends of the Mississippi River
Executive Director | Cannon River Watershed Partnership
See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) 1905. 2) Isle Royale National Park. 3) Leech Lake – though White Earth has greater land area

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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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