Insider: November 10, 2017

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Minnesota Faces the Climate Change Challenge

This week, delegates from 195 countries are meeting for the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany to work on solutions to climate change and further advance the Paris Climate Accord. The meeting coincides with the announcement that war-torn Syria has begun its accession to the agreement, leaving the United States as the only country not supporting the accord. The federal government will still participate in the climate talks in Bonn, but the Trump Administration’s officials plan to host a panel to promote fossil fuel and nuclear power generation, rather than engage in discussions on clean, renewable energy solutions. With 2017 recently recorded as one of the three hottest years on record, (along with 2015 and 2016) this is an especially poor time to abdicate American leadership on climate change.

Fortunately, Minnesotans aren’t backing down from this challenge, or from representing a better path to the international community. MEP partner organization Climate Generation is leading a group of Minnesotans in Bonn, where they’ll be participating in meetings with fellow leaders and advocates. They’re attending to share ideas and learn about what the rest of the world is doing to tackle emissions. And they’re demonstrating that while federal leaders may not be interested in contributing to the Paris Accord, Minnesota is still in.

As a member of the United States Climate alliance, Minnesota is committed to meeting the emissions goals of the Paris Accord and the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, and our energy industry is making enormous strides toward those goals. Since 2006, we’ve increased the share of our power that comes from wind from 4% to 18%. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is planning to invest $3-4 billion in wind power in the next few years, creating low-emissions power and passing along cost savings to consumers as it replaces cost-intensive coal usage. Solar has also been a success story: Minnesota’s solar capacity grew 80% in the first three months of 2017 alone.

Ongoing developments in clean power generation and batteries mean that we can continue to transition our economy to rely on clean-generated electricity for living, commerce, and transportation. Using steel, sun, and wind for fuel will continue to grow jobs and slow the carbon emissions that are endangering our climate. And while the U.S. government has failed to act as a strong global leader on this clean revolution, our state continues to light the way, in Bonn and at home.

photo credit: Kurt Haubrich

From the Loon Commons Blog: Government and Industries Have Moral Responsibility to Update Regulations on Pollutants

Contributed by Ariana Jahiel, Macalester student — On September 8th, the New York Times released an article entitled, “More Than 40 Sites Released Hazardous Pollutants Because of Hurricane Harvey.” At first glance, it is easy for us here in Minnesota to skim over this report and write it off as irrelevant due to our geographic location. But the truth is climate change-induced natural disasters impact Minnesota, too. Flooding and tornados are not uncommon in this state, and such storms are likely to increase in frequency and severity. And like Texas, Minnesota is also home to oil refineries, one of which, the Pine Bend Refinery located just outside the Twin Cities, is the largest of all oil refineries located in non-oil-producing states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. >>Read More.



Photo credit: NASA

Senate may move forward on dangerous VIDA law

Next week, the US Senate is considering a vote on a Coast Guard funding bill with a dangerous attachment: the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA. This act would strip away at Clean Water Act protections used by the EPA and state authorities to fight invasive species and pollution. It would expose our communities and water resources to future economic and ecological threats.

Invasive species, like the zebra mussels, are already costing our economy billions and hurting the lakes we love. This bill would do harm to waters throughout the United States. The dangers of VIDA go far beyond Minnesota, so no matter where you live, call your Senators at 202-224-3121, and tell them to send the Coast Guard bill back to committee until the VIDA bill is removed.

Demystifying the complex world of water: Your questions, answered

(From MPR News) — From quality to regulations to usage, there’s a lot to know about water in Minnesota. So, MPR News wants to know what you’re curious about regarding water. This summer, we asked people at the MPR News State Fair booth to give us their questions on water. Reporters Kirsti Marohn and Cody Nelson researched answers to five of them and are ready to tackle yours. >>Read More.



photo credit: NASA

Tom Emmer’s quest to subvert Boundary Waters mining moratorium

(From City Pages) — Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer (R), with co-sponsors Reps. Jason Lewis (R) and Collin Peterson (DFL), proposed legislation last month to undo Obama-era restrictions on copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters. The MINER Act would make it harder to halt mining on federal lands, and fast-track renewal of mineral leases for the contentious Twin Metals mine. Last December, the Obama Administration refused to renew leases for Twin Metals, a subsidiary of Chilean mining giant Antofagasta. At the same time, it proposed a 20-year moratorium on mining near the Boundary Waters, depending on the outcome of a two-year environmental review by the U.S. Forest Service. >>Read More.

Stop the sweetheart public land deal to PolyMet

Congress may vote soon on a bill – HR 3115 – to give PolyMet one heck of a deal on over 6,000 acres of National Forest land. PolyMet wants the land for its proposed copper-nickel sulfide mine. Sulfide mining is different from iron-ore mining and has never before taken place in Minnesota.

HR 3115 cheats taxpayers by undervaluing the land, circumventing court challenges and undermining bedrock environmental laws. Speak out here!


How solar-energy sites can provide habitat for our Minnesota monarchs

(From Star Tribune) — Forty years ago, amid a Mexican forest swirling with millions of monarch butterflies, an aging scientist and two young explorers solved a decades-old mystery when they found a thumbnail-sized sticker that two schoolboys in Minnesota had affixed to a monarch’s wing. Since that January day in 1976 — the first proof that monarchs were making an incredible migration to overwinter in the Sierra Madre mountains — Chaska, Carver County, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and our state as a whole have had an extraordinary and unique connection with the monarch butterfly. >>Read More.

Wisconsin DNR to restore 700 acres of monarch habitat along Mississippi River

(From La Crosse Tribune) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will restore or enhance more than 700 acres of goat prairie and oak savannas along the Mississippi River in an effort to improve habitat for the monarch butterfly. A $69,800 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, combined with nearly $107,000 in state, county and private sector donations, will fund the restorations on public lands between Trempealeau and Crawford counties. The DNR and its partners will use prescribed burns and other invasive-species control to restore the native prairie plants on steep slopes along the river. According to the DNR, the work will also benefit other pollinators, rare plants, reptiles and birds. >>Read More.


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. What conifer, named for a European country, is Minnesota’s official state tree?

2. What river, sharing its name with a type of liquor, connects Lake Mille Lacs with the Mississippi?

3. Minnesota has more bald eagles than any other state except for…?

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Trivia Answers: 1) Norway pine. 2) Rum River. 3) Alaska

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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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