By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
February 20 will mark the beginning of the Minnesota Legislature’s 2018 Session, which will run until late May, offering opportunities and risks for Minnesota’s natural resources. Each session carries with it unique challenges, but the MEP coalition also has a chance to change the conversation on our state’s land, air, and water – and support programs that help keep Minnesota clean. Fortunately, with the help of partners and concerned citizens, several strong programs to protect our land and water were funded, and proposals that would have taken our policies backwards were blocked during the last session. This year, we’ll be back at the Capitol, working proactively to advance positive proposals that would benefit all Minnesotans:
- Clean water investments for rural communities – Bonding funds for wastewater treatment and water infrastructure, which can be an enormous expense for rural communities, would help bring clean water to every Minnesotan. And bonding for the Conservation Reserve Easement Program (CREP) would further help by reducing runoff pollution in Minnesota’s water supply.
- Increasing perennials and cover crops in agriculture – Recent research has made it clear that perennial and cover crops are critical to boost farming productivity and preserve land and water resources. MEP supports the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program, which aims to create advantages for landowners to plant these healthy crops, and a boosted state investment in the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative, which aims to make these crop practices economically viable.
- Increasing the Renewable Energy Standard to 50% by 2030 – The current Renewable Energy Standard set in 2007 set a goal of 25% renewable energy statewide by 2025. Minnesota is well on track to meet that goal, and now is the time to update and double down on this standard. This will provide enormous benefits for job growth, energy cost savings, and positive impacts on our air and climate. Minnesota has been a strong leader on clean energy, and now is not the time to slow down.
MEP will continue to push hard for these positive programs, and other sound protections for our natural resources, at the Capitol this session. And we fully anticipate that problematic bills that aim to strip environmental protections and funding will require our best defensive efforts. We’ll continue to make a difference, but our coalition can’t do it without Minnesotans beside us!
In a political environment that threatens many long-standing environmental policies and norms, it’s critical that citizens from all communities stand up for the bedrock protections for our health and livelihoods – and this session is the ideal time to get active! By contacting or visiting your legislators, participating in action events, and testifying in hearings, you can help defend our natural resources and make positive change for Minnesota’s future. We hope to see you at the Capitol!