On Friday, December 7, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership held our annual meeting for member organizations, gathering together many of the groups around Minnesota that make up our coalition. We discussed the challenges we faced, but also the exciting efforts by hardworking people around the state to build a better future for ourselves and the generations that follow us. This week, we decided to highlight some of those inspiring efforts.
Minnesota groups are acting globally on climate change
This week, delegates from around the globe have been meeting in Katowice, Poland to share knowledge and cooperate on finding solutions to climate change. Minnesota’s environmental community has been well-represented, including by groups like Fresh Energy and Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy. These Minnesotans are representing our efforts to the world, and bringing home knowledge and ideas. And Minnesota has fresh hope for our efforts: Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy announced that it would deliver 100% carbon free electricity to all customers by 2050, and reduce its overall carbon emissions 80% from 2005 levels by 2030, a critical step in moving Minnesota (and the seven other states Xcel serves) toward meeting our climate goals.
Minnesotans are demanding review of projects that could harm their communities’ health
In southeastern Minnesota, communities are facing two large and potentially harmful feedlot proposals. The Catalpa swine feedlot in Newburg Township and the Daley Farms massive dairy expansion in Winona County would impact local air quality and threaten water quality, in part due to their position in lands uniquely vulnerable to pollution infiltrating the groundwater.
In large part due to the organizing efforts of the Land Stewardship Project, residents – including farmers – in both communities are coming together to demand that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conduct stronger research on the impacts of these projects. Residents in each area are demanding that the MPCA conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the feedlots, putting them under greater scrutiny to ensure that the final decision would take community impacts into account.
Minnesotans are standing up against sulfide mining
Earlier this week, several groups including MEP members Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and WaterLegacy filed an appeal against the DNR’s permits for the PolyMet sulfide mine proposal. They’re also challenging the DNR’s rules for this type of mining, arguing that they can’t effectively protect Minnesotans. For the Minnesotans living downstream from the PolyMet mine site in the St. Louis River Watershed, this appeal represents new hope that their water and land can be protected.
The problems Minnesotans face are enormous. But we know that our community is up to the challenge of meeting them.