It’s our water, and our Capitol

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

In last week’s Environmental Insider, we reported on several bills moving through the Minnesota legislature that would have dangerous consequences for our ability to protect the vital waters of our state.

  • A bill to prevent the Minnesota Department of Agriculture from adopting policies that would protect community drinking water and well owners from nitrate pollution and the staggering financial costs of treating it.
  • A bill to prevent the Pollution Control Agency from protecting against toxic sulfate pollution in wild rice waters – a resource guaranteed to the Ojibwe people and critical to their health and culture.
  • A bill to bypass the Public Utilities Commission’s review process and approve construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline across Minnesota’s most vulnerable lands and waters.

Why the bad bills?

All this seems surprising, knowing that a large majority of Minnesotans don’t want protections for our water stripped away. MEP-sponsored public opinion polling last year found that 79% of Minnesotans were concerned about our state’s drinking water, and 70% said that they would look less favorably on their legislator if they tried to weaken our environmental laws. But citizens’ concerns – and critical state safeguards to protect them – too often take a backseat in the face of lobbying by interests who want the legislature to maintain the status quo, or, as in the case of Line 3, hand over extraordinary power to enrich a private company.

Governor Mark Dayton has promised to veto several of these bad bills. But this drive to preempt pollution protections can only be stopped by organized, vocal opposition at the Capitol. MEP and our partners are at the Capitol every week to urge lawmakers to reject these bills and make positive change for Minnesota’s Great Outdoors.

The strongest power to make positive change lies with citizens.

Lawmakers consistently say that the biggest impact a constituent can make is to come to a meeting in person, and make themselves heard – showing up is indeed half the battle. Meeting with your legislature to talk about legislation, calling them to express your concerns, and attending town halls and hearings are some of the strongest steps that you as a citizen can take to help steer the policy boat in the right direction.

Your legislators represent you, and you have the power to let them know you stand for Minnesota’s water, land, and air. Minnesota Environmental Partnership is here to help you accomplish that, and we invite you to contact us if you need information or help navigating the process.

And that’s why we invite you to join us at the State Capitol on May 2 for Water Action Day. We’ll handle the work of arranging meetings with your legislators to talk about clean water – all you have to do is sign up and prepare for a good conversation! And in the afternoon, we’ll hold a rally in the rotunda to send a strong, clear message to the Legislature – our state’s water, like our State Capitol, belongs to all Minnesotans, and we’re here to protect it.

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