Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
This week, MEP is proud to announce our 2021 Collaborative Priorities. These priorities will shape our work at the Legislature, as well as our messaging and coalition-building throughout the year.
Our collaborative priorities have been developed by MEP’s member groups, representing thousands of Minnesotans across the state. The issues we work on are a result of consensus and compromise, but that does not mean they aren’t ambitious – the challenges we face require nothing less than bold, world-shaping action.
Our North Star, running through all of these priorities, is climate action. MEP and our members recognize that the things we value – public health, clean water, pollinator habitat – all benefit from the same policies and investments that reduce our greenhouse gas impact. In 2021, we’re to focus on investing in carbon-beneficial land use and fighting the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. We’ll push for climate impacts and resiliency to be incorporated in environmental review and state funding considerations – it’s long overdue for climate to be a key consideration in all new infrastructure and other projects.
Along those same lines, MEP will be focusing on making sure our public institutions, especially state agencies, are serving people and our environment. As we’ve seen with sulfide mining projects and oil pipelines, public institutions too often act as if industrial companies are their primary clients. Fixing this broken public trust will require changes in law, culture, and accountability systems, and we will work with our partners to develop an action plan to make it happen.
MEP has been leading on clean water issues for more than two decades, and this year, we’ll keep a particular focus on an insidious water issue: the prevalence of lead in our pipes and environment. Lead is present in paint, in drinking water infrastructure, and in habitat, and disproportionately threatens marginalized communities in Minnesota. This year, we’re building on our work in Duluth to protect residents from lead in their drinking water by bringing more awareness to this issue and developing a plan to replace more than a hundred thousand lead water lines in Minnesota. We’re also supporting a ban on lead fishing tackle and ammunition to protect people and wildlife.
MEP’s policy agenda is focused on positive, proactive measures that will improve Minnesotans’ quality of life, but we’re also well aware that opponents of environmental protections will push their own agenda this year. We anticipate – and indeed have already seen – attacks on water quality standards, funding for environmental restoration, free speech for pipeline opponents, and critical climate and environment rules. We will team up with partners to make sure these rollbacks don’t become law.
And as always, we will support the priorities of our members and allies in the environmental community. They are advancing numerous positive priorities this year, on clean electricity, transit, clean agriculture, waste reduction, water, wildlife habitat, and pollinators. They represent years of development and study by dedicated Minnesotans of all backgrounds, with knowledge of science, economics, policy, and community needs.
These priorities can reshape Minnesota’s landscape for the better, but they won’t happen if Minnesotans don’t stand up for them. Throughout the Legislative Session, we’ll ask for your voice in support of good policies, and for pressure on lawmakers when they support harmful ones. It may sound cliché, but given the crises we face and the opportunity we have to solve them, we’re all in this together.