Insider: October 13, 2017

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photo credit: MPCA

EPA Repeals Clean Power Plan, but Minnesota Moves Forward

This week, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency announced the beginning of the repeal process for the Clean Power Plan, a major Obama Administration policy that aimed to cut carbon emissions from the U.S. power grid. The plan aimed for a 32% cut in power plant carbon dioxide emissions, relative to the 2005 levels, by 2032. It largely allowed states to achieve these mandated reductions in ways that worked for them – including investing in renewable energy and expanding efficiency-creating technologies. Because of legal challenges from certain states and opponents – including current EPA Director Scott Pruitt – the CPP never went into effect before it was repealed.

The EPA will now begin the long process of collecting public input on the repeal. Thanks to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, the agency will also need to determine a new policy to regulate carbon emissions. As it begins this process, it should keep in mind the projected benefits that would have resulted from the Clean Power Plan by the year 2030:

  • Smog and soot pollution would fall by 25% across the United States, preventing as many as 6,600 deaths caused by these pollutants.
  • Children in the United states would suffer 140,000 and 150,000 fewer asthma attacks
  • Up to $45 billion would be saved on health and environmental costs nationwide.
  • The average family would save $85 a year on energy costs.

And there is a less tangible but no less critical benefit to making cuts in carbon. The United States contributes roughly one-seventh of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we want to live up to our international obligations and convince other countries to invest in clean energy, we have to show our commitment. With the Trump Administration signaling the United States’ departure from the Paris Climate Accord and the Clean Power Plan, the United States is sadly resigning leadership on a critical issue.

Fortunately, Minnesota is helping to fill the gap on clean energy leadership. In 2005, 62% of our electric power came from coal-fired plants – today that portion is less than 40% and continues to shrink. It’s no coincidence that wind power has skyrocketed in that same period from 4% of our electricity to almost 20%, ranking Minnesota seventh in the nation for wind energy. In just the first three months of this year, we increased our solar generation by 80%, providing clean power and new jobs to our communities. And the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy rated Minnesota the most energy efficient state in the Midwest.

Along with the other states in the United States Climate Alliance, Minnesota is stepping up to ensure that the Clean Power Plan lives on in our actions, if not in federal law. We need to double down on our investments in our abundant renewable resources. We must reject calls to move backward toward more fossil fuel use. And we can and should embrace the enormous job growth that the clean energy industry offers. The health of our citizens, our economy, and our great outdoors depends on the commitment we make today.

Be aware of misleading ads pushing pipeline

(From St. Cloud Times, by Scott Russell, Sierra Club North Star Chapter) — Perhaps you’ve seen a TV ad supporting the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline expansion project through northern Minnesota. The Consumer Energy Alliance announced the ad buy Sept. 17. Here’s what you need to know about the Consumer Energy Alliance. It’s not about consumers the way you and I see ourselves as consumers, individuals making small purchases in a grocery store. The alliance represents large corporate interests. The players and organizations involved in the alliance would not have to live with the consequences of a northern Minnesota oil spill. The alliance does not appear to be concerned about the project’s broader environmental impacts. It is looking at spread sheets, not communities.  >>Read More.

Presenters speak at M State on Pipeline 3

(From Fergus Falls Daily Journal) — Area residents met at Legacy Hall on the Fergus Falls M State campus Thursday evening, for a presentation on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline development within the state of Minnesota. Organizers say the intention was to provide accurate information and raise awareness to an issue that has been hotly contested both here and in neighboring states. Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a roughly 1,000 mile stretch of 34-inch pipe, which carries some 390,000 barrels per day of oil from Alberta, Canada toward northern Wisconsin. Part of a project completed during the 1960s, the extensive system has been forced to run at half its capacity, due to concerns over the piping’s overall  integrity.  >>Read More.

MEP Releases Line 3 Fact Sheet

For more information on the Enbridge Line 3 proposal, check out MEP’s newly released fact sheet on the pipeline, and why it is unneeded and hazardous for Minnesota.



photo credit: MPCA

Minnesota has 2,669 troubled bodies of water, draft list says

(From MPR News) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing to add more lakes and streams to the state’s list of impaired waters. As the MPCA continues testing water bodies across the state, more are being added to the list due to water quality problems such as excess nutrients, mercury, salt and bacteria. Under the federal Clean Water Act, Minnesota must update its list of impaired waters every two years. About 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams do not meet water quality standards. The draft 2018 list adds 618 new impairments on 362 lakes and streams. That brings the total list of impaired water bodies to 2,669 lakes and streams across the state. Many water bodies have more than one reason for being listed. >>Read More.

Slight gain in Minnesota wetlands acreage, but quality is concerning

(From Star Tribune) — Since Europeans began settling in Minnesota, about half of the state’s wetlands have disappeared. But in recent years, the state has stopped the loss and actually gained a few acres, according to data released last month. Wetland quality is another matter. “From a strict acreage standpoint, Minnesota is holding steady and maybe even gaining small amounts of wetlands, but there’s some concern with the type changes,” said Steve Kloiber, wetland monitoring coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Not all wetlands are the same, and they don’t have the same functions.” >>Read More.


MPCA considering troubling changes to wild rice sulfate standard

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is considering changes to the Wild Rice Sulfate Standard. Excess sulfate in our water systems makes it difficult or impossible for the rice to grow. It also leads to accumulation of mercury in water and fish, eventually leading to dangerously high concentrations in humans – particularly infants and children. This is the wrong time to change the standard, as PolyMet (Minnesota’s first sulfide mine) is actively seeking permits and would have a dramatic impact on sulfate and sulfide levels in MN’s waters. To speak out in favor of wild rice and a strong sulfate standard, comment or learn how to attend a hearing on the MPCA website.



photo credit: the Land Institute

A new grain – Kernza – finds its way into products

(From Star Tribune) — There’s something in wheat that speaks to our American souls. We sing to “amber waves of grain.” Wheat sheaves were minted on the backs of pennies until 1959. Wheat, milled into flour, earned Minneapolis the nickname of Bread Basket of the World. Now a new grain, bred from intermediate wheatgrass — a different species but a wild cousin of wheat — is being introduced to our farms. After nearly a half-decade of research and development, Kernza is entering the market as a delicious, healthful grain. >>Read More.

Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

Women’s Congress for Future Generations to meet in Brooklyn Park, Nov 3-5

The Women’s Congress works to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the “Beloved Community.” It supports people stepping into collective power to use laws, policies and norms to transition to a just and sustainable world. The 2017 conference focuses on climate, health, and justice. It bears witness to communities of color who are hit hardest by climate change and pollution as people of color are statistically more likely to suffer from autism, lead poisoning and breast cancer, and seeks to create more just systems in response. 

Speakers include nationally recognized experts on climate change and women working in communities impacted by groundwater contamination, pipelines, and toxins in our homes.

Learn more and register with the Women’s Congress for Future Generations! 

Calling all advocacy groups: Apply to be a Capitol Pathways Internship Host

Applications are now open for organizations to host a Capitol Pathways intern in the 2018 Legislative Session. With the long-term goal of making our government truly representative of our communities, the program seeks to open access to the Minnesota capitol to the next generation of leaders of color. Through this program, interns will build relationships with established capitol leaders, gain exposure to various kinds of careers in policy, get real-world experience in career fields they would like to learn more about and build a strong professional resume in the process. This is a spring internship and will run from January-May 2018.

Click for more information on Capitol Pathways and how to apply!


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. Minnesota was recently ranked 9th in the country, and 1st in the Midwest, for what “green” metric?

2. Around what percentage of Minnesota’s electricity comes from wind turbines? A)7, B)10, C)18, D)26

3. What eastern county is known as the “solar capital of Minnesota” for its many solar farms?

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Associate Director | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

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Trivia Answers: 1) Energy efficiency. 2) C-18. 3) Chisago County.

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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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