Insider: May 26, 2017

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New Round of Backward Bills Heads to Governor’s Desk

In the early hours of Friday, May 26, leaders at the Minnesota Legislature announced that it was concluding a long and sleep-deprived special session, sending a new round of bills to Governor Mark Dayton for review. Some of these bills, while less egregious than before thanks to negotiations, still greatly fall short of Minnesota’s priorities on the great outdoors. While 62% of Minnesotans polled want environmental protections strengthened or better enforced, the Legislature has seen fit to raid clean water funds and rollback reasonable regulations.

On Thursday, May 26, MEP and more than twenty other coalition members sent a letter to Governor Mark Dayton, thanking him for his efforts on behalf of Minnesota’s environment and asking him to continue those efforts by vetoing SF844, the Legislature’s latest Environmental Omnibus. Though improved from its previous iteration, this bill would still delay actions to clean up Minnesota’s water, limit citizen participation in mining permit review, reduces oversight by allowing corporations to draft their own Environmental Impact Statements, and prohibits rules restricting toxic lead shot.

This morning, May 27, we sent an additional letter to the Governor, requesting that he veto SF1456, the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Bill. Thanks to prodigious efforts by allied organizations, the bill no longer contains provisions giving tar sands pipelines a free hand in Minnesota, but it still falls far short of what Minnesotans deserve. This bill robs local governments of the ability to ban plastic bags, eliminates the job-creating Rooftop Solar/Made in Minnesota program, and prevents the Public Utilities Commission from restricting unfair price gouging that hurts clean energy customers in rural areas. 

At a time when Minnesota should be exercising strong leadership on clean water renewable power, the Legislature is pushing in the opposite direction. Working with local leaders and our partner organizations, we’ve helped the effort to eliminate some of the worst provisions in these budget bills. Now we call on Governor Dayton to exercise the leadership the state needs, and reject policies that would pollute our air, ignore our pressing clean water needs, and endanger Minnesota wildlife. 



McCollum says Trump administration won’t reverse copper-mine moratorium

(From Duluth News Tribune) — U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum on Thursday said she was assured by top Trump administration officials that the new administration won’t overturn the Obama-era decision to withdraw the federal mineral leases where Twin Metals wants to build a copper-nickel mine. McCollum, D-St. Paul, said she received assurances from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that the Trump administration will proceed with the two-year, science-based study of whether copper mining should be permitted on federal lands in the watershed that flows into Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. >>Read More.



Volunteers to search for E. coli causes in the Cedar

(From Austin Daily Herald, feat. MEP member group Izaak Walton League – MN Division) — A group of volunteers is in the early stages of testing points on the Cedar River in Mower County to trace the causes of E. coli in the river, and they want Mower County’s help in the process. About eight adult volunteers — with the help of youth volunteers — with Austin’s Chapter 10 of the Izaak Walton League will use McKnight Foundation grant dollars to collect samples to test for E. coli bacteria.“[We’re] looking for sources of specific contaminations,” Ikes member Larry Dolphin said.The volunteers went to the Mower County board Tuesday to request use of county resources. >>Read More.


Honey bee losses slow over last year, but still a concern

(From MPR News) — Honey bee losses slowed in the past year, according to an annual survey by the Bee Informed Partnership. The national survey found beekeepers nationwide lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies from April 2016 through April 2017. That’s the lowest annual loss since 2011-12. But bee losses are still double the acceptable rate, according to project director Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland.
>>Read More.


Transportation bill staves off transit cuts – for now

(From Star Tribune, feat. MEP member group Transit for Livable Communities) — The transportation budget package released early Wednesday at the Legislature maintains the current level of money for transit service provided by the Metropolitan Council in the metro area.The Met Council will receive a one-time infusion of $70 million in taxpayer money, which is part of its overall two-year budget of $250 million, under a plan negotiated by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders. The additional money will help the council trim its projected two-year deficit of $67.5 million. >>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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