By Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership
From September 21st to November 6th, more than two and a half million Minnesotans cast a ballot for the 2018 general election, setting a record for total votes cast and reaching a turnout rate among eligible voters not seen in our state since 2002. Minnesotans elected forty new House members, five new Congressional Representatives, and numerous new local and state-level elected officials. Our state’s new elected leaders will have the responsibility of charting a new course for the land, water, and air that Minnesotans call home.
We thank all the Minnesotans who made their voice heard in this historic election, and especially those who took the time to encourage others to vote and join in our civic discussion. We know that the best outcomes for our environment are found when Minnesotans from all areas and walks of life participate.
A new class at the Capitol and new opportunities
For Minnesota’s environmental community, a new Legislature and a new Governor mean new opportunities to build partnerships to improve and protect our natural resources with good policy.
The new Legislature has an opportunity to reverse the previous session’s raid on the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a raid which threatened the viability of this important fund and the trust of the voters who created it. Lawmakers can and should pass a bill to restore the money to the fund and pay for the projects the raid was intended to fund with traditional bonds. We’re encouraged to hear that a bill for this restoration has been drafted and is likely to be introduced early in 2019.
The Legislature can also build on Minnesota’s leadership on clean energy and climate action. MEP and our partners are hard at work on good policy and program ideas that can electrify Minnesota’s economy, increase our clean energy use, and continue to make our homes and cities more efficient.
Our lawmakers can work to bring clean water to every Minnesotan. In the land of 10,000 lakes, it’s deeply troubling that 40% of our waters don’t meet quality standards for human use, and that increasing numbers of Minnesotans struggle to access clean drinking water due to nitrate contamination. But we know that equitable, smart solutions are possible – and that by setting reasonable pollution standards and investing in new farming methods that clean our land and water, we can make tremendous progress on cleaning up our water.
This work belongs to us all
Minnesota is well-known for our high voter turnout, but other forms of civic participation are just as important. We ask that all Minnesotans do whatever they can to continue speaking up for the resources that nourish us. Writing letters to the editor, commenting on Minnesota agency rules and proposals, and speaking with your elected officials can all make powerful impacts on our environment.
We know Minnesotans love the air, land, water, and natural beauty of our state. Making sure our lawmakers remember it is a job best done by all of us.