Star Tribune, February 1, 2020: Minnesota’s state environmental agencies rack up court losses on project permits
“A large dairy cow operation, a leaking taconite tailings basin and the state’s first copper-nickel mine. Different projects, different owners. And four times since last summer the Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected or suspended the environmental permits state regulators gave them.” >>Read More.
MPR News, November 5, 2019: “Shipping Minnesota water to sate a thirsty world: Could it happen?”
“Last week came the surprising news that a company in Lakeville, Minn., wants to pump water from below the ground in Dakota County and transport it by rail to the western United States, where water is scarce.” >>Read More.
MinnPost, October 15, 2019: “One issue that unites Republicans and DFLers in Minnesota? Biofuels.”
“In turbulent times for trade-dependent corn and soybean farmers, elected officials across the political spectrum in Minnesota have rallied around a particular lifeline for agriculture: biofuels.” >>Read More.
MinnPost, September 24, 2019: “Minerals in northern Minnesota pale in importance to the health of the state’s waters”
“Regarding Walker Orenstein’s MinnPost story, “Should we mine copper and nickel in Minnesota … to help defeat climate change?”: Sulfide mining is not a solution to the “climate crisis”; nor is the need for copper a compelling reason to allow sulfide mining in northern Minnesota.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, July 17, 2019: “Leaked memo raises new questions about PolyMet water permit”
“Minnesota pollution regulators approved a water permit for the state’s first copper-nickel mine over serious reservations raised by their federal counterparts, according to a leaked memo obtained by the Star Tribune.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, June 9, 2019: “Landmark farm rule aims to protect Minnesota’s drinking water”
“As public works director for the city of Hastings, Nick Egger knows the cost of protecting drinking water from farm chemicals. The Mississippi River town already had to foot the bill for one $3 million water-treatment plant to remove nitrate from its drinking supply, and it has two more wells polluted by the fertilizer byproduct.” >>Read More.
MPR News, May 14, 2019: “Lawmakers crafting budgets turn to dedicated funds
“Minnesota voters have twice amended the state constitution to provide dedicated money for clean water, the outdoors, parks and trails, and arts and cultural projects. Over the decades, there’s been plenty of debate over how the money in those dedicated funds should be spent.” >>Read More.
City Pages, April 15, 2019: “Republicans go ‘slash and burn’ on Minnesota’s parks, environment funding”
“The people taking care of Minnesota’s parks, wildlife, air, and water aren’t thrilled. The Minnesota Senate’s Republican majority has unleashed a budget that reverses the state’s historic devotion to the environment, slashing funding by 25 percent.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, March 6, 2019: “It’s Minnesota’s time to move ahead with clean energy”
“Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has set an ambitious but needed goal for this state: carbon-free electricity within 30 years. By then, electrical needs would be met by a mix of renewable sources — wind, solar and others — along with nuclear energy, whose role is likely to fade over time as renewable energy becomes even less expensive.” >>Read More.
MPR News, February 20, 2019: Solar for schools and 9 other state environmental budget items to watch
“Gov. Tim Walz released hundreds of pages of budget documents on Tuesday, proposing to boost spending in education, transportation and health care. But environmental advocates hoping to see big commitments to solutions on climate change and water quality say the new environmental efforts the governor is proposing are only modest changes.” >>Read More.
Duluth News Tribune, February 16, 2019: “Legacy sales tax turns 10”
“As the Potlatch continued to sell off small parcels of its forest land across northern Minnesota, mostly to people to build second homes and cabins, conservation leaders became concerned. The Potlatch selloff was part of a larger trend of formerly large tracts of undeveloped land, managed for timber and wildlife habitat, being divided into small parcels and sold to private owners.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, November 12, 2018: “Legislators should undo raid on natural resources trust fund.” From Steve Morse and Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance President David Carlson.
“On the very last day of the 2018 legislative session, at 4:35 in the afternoon, nine members of a conference committee met in the Capitol. Within 26 minutes, they approved an entirely new bill that packaged together $825 million in traditional bonding projects, trunk highway funds — and $45 million in projects to protect our air, water and land.” >>Read More.
MinnPost, November 9, 2018: “The DFL will be in control of the Minnesota House. What does that mean for the environment?”
“On Tuesday, when House Democratic Leader Melissa Hortman addressed an election-night crowd after Minnesota’s lower chamber flipped to DFL control, she called for a legislative agenda that includes “keeping our air and water clean.” Hortman’s speech was one of many in a night full of DFL victories, but it also signified one of the more important power shifts when it comes to the debate over balancing jobs with environmental concerns in Minnesota.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, October 4, 2018: “Conservation groups accuse Minnesota legislators of draining environmental fund”
“Eight conservation and environmental groups plan to sue the state for tapping an environmental fund to finance a $98 million package of infrastructure projects in a way that they say violates the Minnesota Constitution and betrays voters’ trust.” >>Read More.
Duluth News Tribune, October 3, 2018 “Groups sue over environmental trust fund spending.”
“Several environmental and conservation groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit claiming the 2018 Minnesota Legislature’s move to pay for construction projects with money from the state’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund is illegal.” >>Read More.
Public News Service, July 18, 2018: “Public Input Sought on Great Lakes Restoration”
“The future of the Great Lakes is up for public comment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is crafting the next phase of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Trump administration has recommended dramatic funding cuts for the initiative, so far without success.
Andrew Slade, a consultant with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said the next phase – known as “Action Plan Three” – covers the period from 2020 to 2024. He noted that the federal program to restore environmental health to the Great Lakes came only after decades of deterioration and neglect.” >>Read More.
City Pages, June 15, 2018: “A rule protecting Minnesota’s groundwater is 30 years in the making. Republicans are fighting it.”
“Minnesota – especially southern Minnesota – has a nitrate problem.
Nitrates are commonly found in fertilizers, and when too much of them get into drinking water, it can cause a number of health problems in babies and pregnant women — including “blue baby syndrome,” which lowers the blood’s ability carry oxygen and can be fatal.
Almost 10 percent of the wells in vulnerable areas test above the healthy limit, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) says more than 50 Minnesota communities have “high” nitrate levels in their drinking water. In Winona County, where MEP director Steve Morse lives, 19 percent of the wells tested exceeded safe nitrate levels.” >>Read More.
MPR News, May 30, 2018: “Dayton vetoes wild rice bill, earning thanks from environmentalists”
“Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have eliminated Minnesota’s sulfate standard aimed at protecting wild rice.
The Republican-led Legislature, with help from some DFLers, pushed through legislation that would have provided $500,000 for a work group to explore affordable solutions on how to protect wild rice from mining and wastewater discharge high in sulfate. But Dayton objected to provisions that would have prevented the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from taking action on the standard.” >>Read More.
MPR News, May 23, 2018: “Dayton veto brings GOP counterpunch to governor’s groundwater legacy”
“A new Minnesota Department of Agriculture rule aimed at protecting drinking water from nitrates could be delayed for a year after last-minute politicking at the State Capitol.
The GOP-controlled Legislature sent Gov. Mark Dayton an agriculture policy bill just as the Legislative session was ending. The House and Senate agriculture committees followed up with some additional pressure: If the governor didn’t sign the bill, the committees said, they might invoke an obscure 2001 law that allows the Legislature to halt executive-branch rulemaking.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, May 23, 2018: “Minnesota’s Republican leaders have outdoors fund headed in wrong direction”
“How clever Kurt Daudt and Paul Gazelka are, the Legislature’s head honchos.
Daudt, the Republican House speaker, and Gazelka, the Republican Senate majority leader, waited until the final hours of the recent legislative session to abscond with money from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF).
They succeeded. So far.” >>Read More.
Star Tribune, April 18, 2018: “2018 Legislature: Possible harm to wild rice is simply un-Minnesotan”
“Minnesota: land of 10,000 lakes, wild rice soup and wild rice hot dish. We want our children and grandchildren to know these gifts from nature that make us all Minnesotans.
But at the State Capitol, legislators are considering whether to sell our very identity to the highest bidder. Legislation (HF 3280/SF 2983) likely will be voted on that would gut protections for wild rice, our official state grain. This legislation would end a 40-year-old water pollution standard that protects wild rice and would prevent the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from using new, peer-reviewed science to set any new protective standard.” >>Read More.
MPR News, April 2, 2018: Ground Level: Is Minnesota on the right track for clean water? (Featuring MEP Executive Director Steve Morse)
“David Engels spends a lot of time thinking about water.
He lives in Hubbard County in north-central Minnesota, just off one of the Crow Wing lakes. He volunteers to check how clear the water is and whether the lake has any invasive species. So far, it doesn’t.
But Engels sees changes happening around the lake — cabins torn down and replaced with large homes, forests cleared to make way for potato fields.” >>Read More
Star Tribune, March 9, 2018: Bloody red shrimp a reminder that Great Lakes need stronger protections (From Steve Morse and Alliance for the Great Lakes Vice President Molly Flanagan)
“News broke last month that a solitary bloody red shrimp (hemimysis anomala), an aquatic invasive species not found before in Lake Superior, was discovered in the Twin Ports Harbor (“Worries of a new invasive species,” February 20). With ship ballast tanks being the top means of moving invasive species across the globe and around the Great Lakes, this news is disappointing but not a surprise.
This finding is a stark reminder of the unknowns floating around in ship ballast tanks waiting to be emptied in ports around the region. Bloody red shrimp were brought into the Great Lakes in the ballast tanks of oceangoing vessels and first discovered in 2006 in Lakes Michigan and Ontario. These tiny critters were added to the list of more than 180 aquatic invasive species found in the Great Lakes, causing irreparable ecological harm.” >>Read More
Star Tribune, March 9, 2018: Safe drinking water must be a shared value in Minnesota (Featuring MEP Executive Director Steve Morse)
“It’s hard to persuade residents of a state whose very name bespeaks an abundance of water to worry about water quality. Maybe that’s why three successive governors did little to implement a 1989 statute empowering state agencies to “promote best practices … to the extent practicable” to minimize groundwater pollution.
Then again, Govs. Arne Carlson, Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty were in office before Minnesotans knew the extent to which nitrate is contaminating groundwater, the drinking water source for 75 percent of Minnesotans. Nitrate causes a potentially fatal condition in infants and is a suspected source of other health disorders.” >>Read More
Finance & Commerce, January 2, 2018: Sustainable: Planners charting Minnesota’s energy future
“Energy generation from wind and solar has grown significantly in Minnesota. Utilities have announced the retirement of thousands of megawatts of coal plants in the next decade. Popular technologies such as electric vehicles, sophisticated thermostats, battery storage and rooftop solar hold great potential to produce cleaner energy. And they pose challenges to the electric grid.
Minnesota is entering a new era of energy production that promises to upend the traditional power grid in the same way the internet, the iPhone and deregulation transformed communications over the past 30 years.
What the future might look like is being debated and studied by several leading environmentally oriented nonprofits and by Minnesota regulators. In mid-December the Minneapolis-based Environmental Initiative, for example, held a conference on utility resource planning and ‘designing for disruption.'” >>Read More.
MPR News, December 13, 2017: PolyMet offers state $544M if it couldn’t pay for mine cleanup
“PolyMet Mining has submitted an updated plan detailing how much money it plans to make available in the event it can’t pay for the proposed mine’s clean-up.
The so-called “financial assurance” is a major step in the company’s more than decade-long effort to build the state’s first ever copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.
Think of financial assurance as a damage deposit. A landlord hopes that deposit will cover any repairs needed after a tenant moves out.
The state of Minnesota hopes financial assurance would protect taxpayers from future cleanup costs at PolyMet’s proposed mine and processing site near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes, Minn., if the company were to go bankrupt or couldn’t do the work itself.”
>>Read and hear more, featuring MEP’s Steve Morse.
WCCO/CBS Local, October 24, 2017: Gov Dayton: I Now Support PolyMet Mine
“Gov. Mark Dayton is throwing his support behind a controversial copper-nickel mining project in northern Minnesota — and environmental groups are not happy.
He said Tuesday he supports the proposed PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes.
The mine would bring nearly 400 jobs to the economically-distressed area, and supporters say it could lead to the rebirth of the mining industry.
This proposal has been debated for at least ten years, and Dayton has been neutral until now, expressing his concern for both the environmental impact and the need to bring jobs to the area.”
>>Read and watch more, including interview footage with MEP’s Steve Morse.
Star Tribune, October 24, 2017: Gov. Mark Dayton comes out in favor of copper-nickel mining project
“Gov. Mark Dayton said that the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project in northeastern Minnesota should be allowed to proceed if it meets environmental standards and financial safeguards, ending years of neutrality on one of the state’s most controversial private-sector projects.
“I’ve always believed environmental protection and economic growth can be complementary objectives,” Dayton said Tuesday after speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Minneapolis.
Dayton’s approval is no guarantee that the project, more than a decade in the making, will finally come to fruition. PolyMet first must obtain the necessary permits. The Department of Natural Resources is expected to issue a draft permit-to-mine by the end of the year, one of many permits necessary to begin the project. The draft permit would be followed by a public comment period of at least 52 days.
But Dayton’s support removes the chance that he would put up a roadblock. And he has provided crucial political cover to the agencies as they finalize their considerations about permitting.
Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said he and his allies “respectfully disagree” with Dayton’s stance, which he called “befuddling.”
“It’s a high-risk project in a highly sensitive watershed,” Morse said. “As Minnesotans, we ought to be protecting all of our water resources…”” >>Read More
WAMU 88.5, October 24, 2017: Ores, Mine And Ours: Mining And The Environment In Minnesota
MEP’s Steve Morse sat down with WAMU radio to talk about the human costs of sulfide mining that will occur in northern Minnesota if such mines are approved. Listen here.
TPT Almanac, September 15, 2017: Enbridge Oil Pipeline Controversy
MEP’s Steve Morse appeared on Almanac to debate the economics and the environmental and human risks of the proposed Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. Watch here.
Northland Press, September 13, 2017: Department of Commerce concludes that Line 3 Pipeline is not needed in Minnesota
“On September 11, 2017 the Department of Commerce submitted testimony to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission concluding that Enbridge has not established a need for the proposed Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota as required under state rules.
The testimony states that “in light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3 without any new pipeline being built.”
Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said, “We commend the Department of Commerce for taking a hard look at the data and carefully considering the criteria that are in law for this type of project. The Department found that this pipeline is not needed for Minnesota, that it does not benefit Minnesota, and is not good for Minnesota…””