Insider: March 31, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Coalition Calls on Legislature to Reject Dangerous Environmental Budget Bills

On Wednesday, March 29, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and more than twenty allied organizations issued a letter to Minnesota Senators voicing strong opposition to SF 723, the omnibus bill from the Environment and Natural Resource Finance Committee. On Thursday, the coalition sent out a similar letter to the Minnesota House on its proposed version of this bill, HF 888, which is no better than its counterpart. These bills, supposedly focused on the budget, have cynically brought unpopular and pro-pollution policy measures into a nominal funding proposal. 

This legislation strips away important powers that the MPCA and DNR use to protect Minnesota’s air and water from pollution. It forces sound science and public need to take a backseat to corporate interests. It directly robs city councils of their sovereign right to ban or penalize plastic bags in retailers, despite the express wishes of city voters. And it decimates protections for clean water, such as buffer strip requirements and municipal clean-up operations, with hardly any regard for the health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Fortunately, Minnesota’s environmental groups stand firmly united in opposition to this harmful bill and call on Senators and Representatives and Governor Dayton to oppose it. Read and share the  Senate letter and the House letter and the comments below and contact your elected officials to voice your opposition to these so-called budget bills!


            
             

Legislature to let pesticides poison state’s pollinators

Bees contribute over $30 million to Minnesota’s agricultural economy by pollinating key crops and producing honey — but they’re in serious trouble. Honey bees, native bees, and butterflies have been dying off at alarming rates in recent years; Minnesota beekeepers reported losing more than 50 percent of their hives in 2015.

In a recent study, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) concluded that pesticides are a key factor in pollinator decline. But instead of moving forward by adopting MDA’s science-based recommendations, in the Agricultural Budget bills (SF780/HF895), Minnesota legislators are considering rolling back our state’s pesticide protections while they are more ecologically critical than ever before. This poses serious risks to Minnesota’s agriculture and natural areas.

Keep speaking for the bees!

Protect pollinators, don’t gut the pesticide law! Please tell your representatives and the Governor that you support the robust pollinator action plan proposed by the Department of Agriculture, not rollbacks for key pesticide laws!


           

Clean Water Under Threat at Capitol

Minnesota isn’t known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes for nothing. Our freshwater resources have always formed a critical part of our identity. But the quality of our water is greatly at risk from bills like S.F. 723 and H.F. 888, which are at the crest of a wave of anti-clean water bills this legislative session. With national funding for water programs in jeopardy, this is no time for weakening our state’s protections. If we let sulfide mining toxins and fertilizer runoff have free reign over our lakes and rivers, we won’t recognize Minnesota ten years from now. The threats we face make grassroots efforts like our 2017 Water Action Day more critical than ever.

Register for the 2017 Minnesota
Water Action Day 

Join us on Wednesday, April 19th for the 2017 Minnesota Water Action Day! This is a day of public action and advocacy to let lawmakers know we care about our water. This all-day event will include a rally, issue trainings and meetings with your legislators. Come for all or part of the day. There will be trainings in the morning, both on how to actively engage legislators and on the water issues that we face in Minnesota. Throughout the day there will be events and other ways to keep people engaged, and the rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda at 1:30pm. Register today

Republicans, Democrats in Congress demand Great Lakes funding

(from Duluth News Tribune) —  Saying the Trump administration’s lack of funding for Great Lakes restoration is unacceptable, 63 Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House on Thursday sent a letter to budget committee heads asking for full funding for the federal program.The letter asks for $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for fiscal year 2018, which starts in October. That’s the same amount Congress approved last year. President Donald Trump included nothing in his proposed 2018 budget for Great Lakes restoration. >>Read More.


           

Proposed House budget would deeply cut Metro Transit bus service

(From Star Tribune) — Local bus service provided by Metro Transit could be drastically cut back should a Republican transportation proposal move forward at the Legislature, the Metropolitan Council said Monday.The House transportation bill would result in a $122 million reduction in state funding for local transit service over the next two fiscal years, according to Met Council Chair Adam Duininck. That would severely affect local bus service — the system’s workhorse — and could force the Met Council to raise transit fares to generate more revenue, an option that is already being considered. >>Read More.


           

From the Loon Commons Blog: Time for Minnesotans to get serious about climate

Contributed by Rebecca Krasky, Macalester student – President Trump’s budget, released on March 16th, makes huge cuts to climate change programs administered by the EPA, Department of Energy, NOAA, and NASA. At a time when more Americans than ever believe in the urgency of climate change, it is outrageous that the federal government thinks investing in climate change research and mitigation is “a waste of money”, as stated by Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney. The fact is Minnesota’s climate is changing, regardless of whether President Trump believes in climate change. Radical climate action needs to be taken now, and the federal budget needs to fund it. >>Read More.

From the Loon Commons Blog: Minnesota Takes Two Steps Backward on Energy Policy

Contributed by Eliana Langer, Macalester student – Minnesota legislators are undoing decades of progress on renewable energy, public health, and civic engagement. On February 9, 2017, the Minnesota State Legislature passed two bills that are aimed at gutting renewable energy in Minnesota and raising costs for consumers. Together, these bills cripple a movement towards renewable energy that is better for the environment and healthier for Minnesotans than the alternative. >>Read More.


           

Wildlife Advocates Rally to Halt Minnesota Mine

(From Courthouse News Service) — MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Environmentalists accuse the federal government of ignoring the effects of proposed mining operations on the Superior National Forest’s designated habitats for the threatened Canada lynx, northern long-eared bat and gray wolf. The Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks and Save Our Sky Blue Waters filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or FWS, in Minnesota federal court on Tuesday, claiming the agency violated the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Forest Service and its chief, Thomas Tidwell, as well as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are also named defendants. >>Read More.


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