Governor Candidates Forum on the Environment January 24

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

With so much at stake for Minnesota’s land, air, and water in today’s political climate, our next Governor will play a crucial role in determining the future of our natural resources and the health of our communities. That’s why Minnesota Environmental Partnership and our friends and partners in the community are proud to be co-hosting the Our New Environment Forum, where our state’s gubernatorial candidates will have the chance to share their views and plans on these critical issues. And we call on all interested citizens to watch and participate!

The forum has already drawn an impressive crowd – so much so that the live stage event at Hamline University is already full! But that doesn’t mean that Minnesotans can’t watch with friends and neighbors. Members of our coalition will be hosting satellite viewing parties where the event will be shown live with no cost of admission! Some satellite locations have limited space, so registration is needed. And for those who prefer to watch from the comfort of their home, the forum will also be streamed online – see the event page for details.

The Our New Environment Forum is for, by, and of the community, so we encourage Minnesotans to participate and interact. Registered participants will be able to pose and vote on questions using Pigeonhole – details to follow. We also encourage participants to engage on social media using the hashtag #ONEGovForum.

If you’re concerned about clean drinking water, renewable energy jobs, community health, sustainable agriculture, and more, please join us in asking candidates what they plan to do about these critical issues. The next few years will be critical for the land we live in, and our next Governor should fully understand how much Minnesotans value our vital resources.

Register here!

Insider: January 12, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Governor Candidates Forum on the Environment January 24

With so much at stake for Minnesota’s land, air, and water in today’s political climate, our next Governor will play a crucial role in determining the future of our natural resources and the health of our communities. That’s why Minnesota Environmental Partnership and our friends and partners in the community are proud to be co-hosting the Our New Environment Forum, where our state’s gubernatorial candidates will have the chance to share their views and plans on these critical issues. And we call on all interested citizens to watch and participate!

The forum has already drawn an impressive crowd – so much so that the live stage event at Hamline University is already full! But that doesn’t mean that Minnesotans can’t watch with friends and neighbors. Members of our coalition will be hosting satellite viewing parties where the event will be shown live with no cost of admission! Some satellite locations have limited space, so registration is needed. And for those who prefer to watch from the comfort of their home, the forum will also be streamed online – see the event page for details.

The Our New Environment Forum is for, by, and of the community, so we encourage Minnesotans to participate and interact. Registered participants will be able to pose and vote on questions using Pigeonhole – details to follow. We also encourage participants to engage on social media using the hashtag #ONEGovForum.

If you’re concerned about clean drinking water, renewable energy jobs, community health, sustainable agriculture, and more, please join us in asking candidates what they plan to do about these critical issues. The next few years will be critical for the land we live in, and our next Governor should fully understand how much Minnesotans value our vital resources.

Register here!



photo credit: Pioneer Press

PolyMet mine, inexorably moving toward approval, will doom more than water

(From Star Tribune) — Despite all the excellent coverage of the PolyMet/NorthMet mine proposal, and despite lengthy comment periods with persistent opposition by environmentally conscious groups, Minnesota is about to move forward with its first open-pit copper and nickel mine (“State outlines its PolyMet permit,” Jan. 6). Not just a little mine to test the waters, mind you, but a mine with a proposed 30 square miles of coverage. As a biologist and scientist — and as a Minnesota citizen — I am heartbroken. Yes, an emotional response, but it is grounded in tremendous concern for future generations. We really aren’t paying enough attention to the irreplaceable losses with these sorts of decisions. >>Read More.

Twin Metals decision part of a much broader initiative

(From The Timberjay) —  Now we know why the Trump administration has been so intent on reshaping America’s courts. For more than a century, governmental decisions have for the most part been made based on facts and law. Sure, politics intercedes at times, and no one would deny that the decision-making gears of the federal bureaucracy grind slowly. But the executive branch of government makes thousands of decisions every month, from administrative to regulatory, most of which the public never hears about, and despite the oftentimes rancid rhetoric of critics, most are sound and based on facts, the law, and a sincere desire to advance the public interest. And that’s a problem for an administration that acknowledges its desire to “blow up” the administrative state and effectively reverse decades of well-established rules, regulations, and protections that previous administrations, of both parties, have put in place. >>Read More.


               

Judge rejects PCA’s proposed sulfate limit for wild rice waters

(From Duluth News Tribune) — A state administrative law judge has flatly rejected a plan by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to abandon the statewide 10 parts-per-million limit for sulfate pollution in wild rice waters in exchange for a lake-by-lake system with varying limits. Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter, in an 82-page opinion approved by the state’s chief administrative law judge and released Thursday, considered 1,500 written comments on the proposed changes in state law and held five public hearings that drew a combined 300 people. Schlatter ruled against repealing the existing, statewide 10 ppm limit due to the PCA’s “failure to establish the reasonableness of the repeal, and because the repeal conflicts” with the federal Clean Water Act. >>Read More.

Shingle Creek’s cautionary tale for Minnesota’s water

(From MPR News) — Fifty Minnesota lakes and streams are now on the state’s impaired waters list because of too much chloride, mainly from road salt. Excess chloride has widespread implications — everything from affecting aquatic life reproduction to corroding our infrastructure to health problems for humans. As scientists test more Minnesota lakes and streams, they expect to find more with salty problems. Shingle Creek was the first body of water added to the impaired list for too high a chloride concentration. But even 20 years of efforts to curb salt use around the creek haven’t made much of a dent in the amount of chloride in the watershed, illustrating the long-lasting damage salt can leave behind. >>Read More.


           

 Why construction of the Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota could happen as soon as this summer

(From MinnPost) — After meetings packed with protesters and more than a year of procedural delays, the decision to green light Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement pipeline could come as early as this summer. Earlier this week, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to set an April briefing deadline, provided the state’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project is deemed adequate; the agency narrowly rejected the EIS back in December and asked for four things to be fixed before moving forward. That’s anticipated to happen next month. That means Enbridge could finally be looking at discussions over whether to permit the 1,031-mile U.S.-Canada oil pipeline route as early as May or June. >>Read More.


                

Will millennials step up as hunting and angling continue decline?

(From Star Tribune) —  Most parents of children born between 1946 and 1964 – baby boomers – didn’t worry about whether their kids would hunt or fish. Of course they would. Or, at least, many would. These outdoor traditions dated to the nation’s founding, and had long been embedded in Americans’ aggregate recreational lifestyle. Yet whether hunting and fishing can catch on in significant numbers with more recent generations of Americans is an open question, particularly with the cohort known as millennials, who are now age 19 to 35, give or take. The issue is important for a number of reasons. >>Read More.


Report aims to help small towns mitigate climate change damage

(From Mankato Free Press) — A regional group that has been studying ways communities can better prepare for more turbulent weather amid climate change has a new name but the same focus. The Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force is now the Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council. Pam Rodewald, who is a Region Nine commissioner, a Courtland City Council member and a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency engineer, said a report developed by Region Nine is aimed at helping small communities take mitigation steps to help them prepare for crises such as worse flooding, more severe droughts, increased wildfires or increased pathogens. >>Read More.

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What state park in Cook County contains Minnesota’s highest waterfall?

2. Approximately what fraction of Minnesota’s land is forest?

3. Bradbury Brook, the earliest dated (7500 BC)  archaeological site in Minnesota, is located near what major lake?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Executive Director | West Wisconsin Land Trust and Bayfield Regional Conservancy
Advocacy Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Director, Legislative Water Commission | MN Legislative Coordinating Commission
Minnesota Campaign Organizer | Clean Water Action
Communications Director | Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Green Lands Blue Waters Director | MN Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Water Resources Technician | Prior Lake – Spring Lake Watershed District
Development and Membership Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Field Director, MN, ND, SD | The Nature Conservancy
Director of Strategy & Policy, MN, ND, SD | The Nature Conservancy
Managing Director, MN Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Grand Portage State Park. 2) One-third. 3) Lake Mille Lacs. 


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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.

Media Advisory: PolyMet Permit to Mine Released; Environmental Community Maintains Opposition

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MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 5, 2018
Contact: Steve Morse, 651.789.0653
Sara Wolff, 651.491.1229

PolyMet Permit to Mine Released; Environmental Community Maintains Opposition
 

January 5, 2018 (Saint Paul, Minn.) – Earlier today, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released the Permit to Mine for the PolyMet open-pit sulfide mining project in Northeastern Minnesota. The PolyMet Sulfide Mine poses a direct threat to Lake Superior and communities downstream, including the Fond du Lac Reservation. Sulfide mining is different from taconite mining, and no mine of this type has operated and closed without pollution to nearby lakes, streams, or groundwater.

The PolyMet mining plan is based on flawed science, and poses the risk of catastrophic failure. The mine will require continuous water treatment of the waste hundreds of years after the mine closes, even though PolyMet only plans to operate the mine for 20 years.

The plan includes reusing a forty year old, leaky dam and storing sulfide mine waste on top of an unstable foundation of old taconite mine waste. If this dam were to fail, mine waste would contaminate the St. Louis River, impacting thousands of people who depend on this water and potentially polluting Lake Superior.

According to a non-partisan poll produced by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership in 2017, 72% of Minnesotans are concerned about runoff from mines threatening to pollute the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior. In the same poll, respondents were asked if they were in favor of or opposed to sulfide mining. 52% reported they were opposed to sulfide mining.1

Below is a statement from Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s executive director Steve Morse on the release of the Permit to Mine:

“This would be Minnesota’s first ever sulfide mining project, and no mine of this type has operated and closed without polluting local waters with acid-mine drainage. This plan relies on outdated technology and a flawed tailings basin. The long-term risks to the safety and health of downstream communities and Lake Superior far outweigh the short-term benefits; the mine will only be operational for 20 years, but will need active water treatment plants for hundreds of years after it closes.”

 


1Minnesota Environmental Partnership; Public Opinion Strategies; Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. “Minnesota Voters’ Environmental Priorities in 2017: Results of a Statewide Voter Survey Conducted Feb 1-5, 2017.” Available here: https://www.mepartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Public_Mining-Polling-results.pdf.

 


1 Minnesota Environmental Partnership; Public Opinion Strategies; Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. “Minnesota Voters’ Environmental Priorities in 2017: Results of a Statewide Voter Survey Conducted Feb 1-5, 2017.” Available here: https://www.mepartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Public_Mining-Polling-results.pdf.

 

About Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Minnesota Environmental Partnership is a coalition of more than 70 environmental, conservation, and civic organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our natural resources. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership engages state leaders, unites environmental efforts, and helps citizens take action for the Minnesota they love.

www.mepartnership.org
www.facebook.com/MinnesotaEnvironmentalPartnership
www.twitter.com/MEPartnership
 

 

DNR Releases Draft Permit to Mine for PolyMet

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photo credit: NASA

On January 5, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources marked a major development in the PolyMet debate by releasing a draft Permit to Mine for the sulfide mining project. The permit is one of several that PolyMet would require to move forward with its proposed mine near Hoyt Lakes in Northeastern Minnesota, but its approval would be a major step toward allowing the mining operation to begin. By releasing this draft permit, the DNR has given PolyMet a signal that Minnesota may soon allow it to begin this hazardous project.

The PolyMet mine would be built in the St. Louis River watershed, where its toxic waste would be an ongoing threat to downstream communities like the Fond du Lac Reservation, as well as the waters of Lake Superior. Unlike taconite iron mining in Minnesota, this mine would create acid runoff pollution, which PolyMet intends to store behind a massive forty-year-old dam. The mine would only operate for twenty years, while the dam would have to be maintained indefinitely to prevent a catastrophic spill.

This mine poses a troubling threat to the health and livelihood of Minnesota’s communities. Our state should not be put on the hook for many years of cleanup for the damage to our lands and waters for sulfide mining, which the majority of Minnesotans don’t want to see happen here. Said MEP Executive Director Steve Morse: 

“This would be Minnesota’s first ever sulfide mining project, and no mine of this type has operated and closed without polluting local waters with acid-mine drainage. The plan also relies on outdated technology and a flawed tailings basin. The long-term risks to the safety and health of downstream communities and Lake Superior far outweigh the short-term benefits; the mine will only be operational for 20 years, but will need active water treatment plants for hundreds of years after it closes.”

Fortunately, the fight isn’t over. The DNR has opened a comment period on the draft permit from January 5 to March 6, allowing members of the public to comment on and object to the permit. They will also hold hearings in Aurora on February 7 and in Duluth on February 8. This is a critical time for Minnesotans to speak up! We need to let the DNR know that Minnesotans will not stand for a dangerous sulfide mine that would harm our communities now and for generations to come.

Insider: January 5, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

photo credit: NASA

DNR Releases Draft Permit to Mine for PolyMet

This morning, January 5, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources marked a major development in the PolyMet debate by releasing a draft Permit to Mine for the sulfide mining project. The permit is one of several that PolyMet would require to move forward with its proposed mine near Hoyt Lakes in Northeastern Minnesota, but its approval would be a major step toward allowing the mining operation to begin. By releasing this draft permit, the DNR has given PolyMet a signal that Minnesota may soon allow it to begin this hazardous project.

The PolyMet mine would be built in the St. Louis River watershed, where its toxic waste would be an ongoing threat to downstream communities like the Fond du Lac Reservation, as well as the waters of Lake Superior. Unlike taconite iron mining in Minnesota, this mine would create acid runoff pollution, which PolyMet intends to store behind a massive forty-year-old dam. The mine would only operate for twenty years, while the dam would have to be maintained indefinitely to prevent a catastrophic spill.

This mine poses a troubling threat to the health and livelihood of Minnesota’s communities. Our state should not be put on the hook for many years of cleanup for the damage to our lands and waters for sulfide mining, which 52% of Minnesotans don’t want to see happen here. Said MEP Executive Director Steve Morse: 

“This would be Minnesota’s first ever sulfide mining project, and no mine of this type has operated and closed without polluting local waters with acid-mine drainage. The plan also relies on outdated technology and a flawed tailings basin. The long-term risks to the safety and health of downstream communities and Lake Superior far outweigh the short-term benefits; the mine will only be operational for 20 years, but will need active water treatment plants for hundreds of years after it closes.”

Fortunately, the fight isn’t over. The DNR has opened a comment period on the draft permit from January 5 to March 6, allowing members of the public to comment on and object to the permit. They will also hold hearings in Aurora on February 7 and in Duluth on February 8. This is a critical time for Minnesotans to speak up! We need to let the DNR know that Minnesotans will not stand for a dangerous sulfide mine that would harm our communities now and for generations to come.
 


MEP Events and Advocacy News
 

Join us in January for a Governor Candidate Forum on Minnesota’s Great Outdoors!

Join Minnesota’s conservation community for a gubernatorial candidate forum on environment and conservation issues in Minnesota! Candidates will respond to audience questions about air/climate, water, land/habitat and environmental funding.

Questions will be sourced live through the website Pigeonhole.at and we encourage all event participants to add questions or vote for their favorite questions. The Pigeonhole event password will be released in advance of the forum.

Because of space limitations, advance registration is required, but admission is free. Register today! 


Sustainable: Planners charting Minnesota’s energy future

(From Finance & Commerce) —  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. >>Read More.

Minnesota’s solar capacity on track to keep growing in 2018

(From MPR News) — Minnesota added enough solar panels in 2017 to power about 53,000 homes, and strong growth is expected to continue in the new year. The state’s overall capacity is now at more than 700 megawatts, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which tracks solar installations. “Our goal is to possibly reach a full gigawatt of solar in Minnesota by 2019,” Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman said. A gigawatt is less than half the capacity of Minnesota’s largest coal-fired power plant, the Sherburne County Generating Station, or Sherco. Power plants like Sherco have an advantage over solar because they can run continuously. Solar panels only produce energy at their full capacity when the sun is out. Battery storage can help us use the sun’s energy more effectively by saving it for when we really need it. >>Read More.

 


               

Photo credit: MPCA

Test our water for nitrates? Minnesota county says no thanks

(From Star Tribune) — A free well-testing program for Minnesota homeowners has become the latest target in the state’s increasingly fractious political battle over water and agricultural pollution.At its December meeting, the Brown County Board of Commissioners in New Ulm declined to adopt a plan that would allow some residents to get their drinking water tested for nitrates and other farm contaminants by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The tests are part of a statewide project to assess water quality in private wells in areas that are especially vulnerable to leaching from fertilizers and pesticides — a rising concern in some of parts of Minnesota’s farm country. >>Read More.

Minneapolis’ lakes are a major asset — so how are they doing?

(From MinnPost) — The motto Minneapolis proclaims to the world is: City of Lakes. Not City of Six Fortune 500 Headquarters. City of World-Class Arts Institutions. City of Well-Plowed Streets. Or City of Super Bowl LII. Yet often it feels things like these (while certainly important) dominate our attention and local pride, while the lakes are taken for granted. For the record, more than 40 Fortune 500 companies are based in New York City, not to mention many of the world’s top museums and performing arts venues. Burlington, Vermont, beats us gloves down when it comes to snow removal (the city plows sidewalks as well as streets). Miami and New Orleans each have hosted 10 Super Bowls. >>Read More.

 


           

Environmentalist’s View: Minnesota can lead on cutting pollution, protecting environment

(From Duluth News Tribune, contributed by Environment Minnesota) — With the administration of President Donald Trump reversing actions of the prior administration on climate change, state governments are taking new measures to cut pollution and protect people from harm. We with Environment Minnesota urge our state to lead the way. One of the best examples of state leadership on climate change right now comes from nine northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, five led by Republican governors and four by Democrats. These states were to have finalized by the end of the year a new plan to cut pollution from regional power plants by at least two-thirds below 2005 levels by 2030. >>Read More.


                

Tribes ask PUC to reconsider review of new Enbridge pipeline route, saying cultural study wasn’t done

(From St. Cloud Times) — Minnesota’s Ojibwe Indian tribes say state regulators failed to do a complete Native American cultural study and thus botched their environmental review of Enbridge’s proposed new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. In regulatory filing this week, five tribes asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reconsider its recent decision on the environmental review and order that a “full historic properties review” be done. The tribes and environmental groups have harshly criticized the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) done by the Minnesota Department of Commerce on Enbridge’s proposed new Line 3, which would replace an aging and corroding pipeline In December, the PUC rejected the EIS, but on narrow environmental concerns. >>Read More.

Trump moves to open nearly all offshore waters to drilling

(From New York Times) — The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard. The proposal lifts a ban on such drilling imposed by President Barack Obama near the end of his term and would deal a serious blow to his environmental legacy. It would also signal that the Trump administration is not done unraveling environmental restrictions in an effort to promote energy production. >>Read More.

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. Which has greater volume, Lake Superior or the combined water of Lakes Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Michigan?

2. At less than 60°F, what northern community has the lowest average summer temperature of any Minnesota city?

3. What eastern county is known as the “solar capital of Minnesota” for its many solar farms?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Executive Director | West Wisconsin Land Trust and Bayfield Regional Conservancy
Advocacy Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Director, Legislative Water Commission | MN Legislative Coordinating Commission
Minnesota Campaign Organizer | Clean Water Action
Communications Director | Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Green Lands Blue Waters Director | MN Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
Water Resources Technician | Prior Lake – Spring Lake Watershed District
Development and Membership Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Field Director, MN, ND, SD | The Nature Conservancy
Director of Strategy & Policy, MN, ND, SD | The Nature Conservancy
Managing Director, MN Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Lake Superior. 2) Grand Marais. 3) Chisago County.


Did you receive the Environmental Insider from a friend? Subscribe here!

Follow Us:

   

Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.

PUC Finds Line 3 Environmental Study Lacking

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

Last week, the Public Utilities Commission declared that the environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 oil pipeline was inadequate, and that the Department of Commerce would have to revise it within 60 days. The required changes are few in number, but this will delay the PUC’s final decision on whether to approve Line 3, originally estimated to conclude in April. This is a step in the right direction. The PUC commissioners should have complete information on the pipeline’s impacts before making a decision. And they made an encouraging statement that the pipeline could not be constructed before a survey of cultural resources – resources important to Minnesota’s indigenous communities – can be completed.

When the commissioners make their final decision on whether the new Line 3 will get a certificate of need and move forward, they should protect Minnesotans by taking into account what we know about this pipeline.

  • The Department of Commerce has recommended that the replacement Line 3 not be granted a certificate of need because Minnesotans don’t need it – and its risks outweigh any benefits.
  • Minnesota’s demand for petroleum continues to fall – oil sales in our state are down 19% since 2004. What’s more, there’s so much unused capacity in the existing pipeline system that even without the old or the new Line 3, the current system could transport the same amount of oil and still have than 600,000 barrels per day of extra capacity.
  • Minnesota’s tribal communities have repeatedly stated that this pipeline would be an unacceptable threat to their cultural resources like wild rice and clean water, which are legally guaranteed to them by treaty. A Line 3 spill would release toxic tar sands oil into these lands and waters – and once tar sands spills, restoring the site is virtually impossible.

But it’s not just water and land pollution that would cost Minnesotans – Line 3 would be a hit to our pocketbooks. When a pipeline is built, needed or not, local oil customers end up paying transportation costs even if the pipeline is underused, due to shipping rates set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It is estimated that Minnesotans would end up paying at least $1 billion over 15 years in higher fees for the pipeline to move oil through our state to Wisconsin, even though we don’t need to use it here. The new US Bank Stadium cost roughly that same amount – now imagine if instead of Minnesotans using it, it would only host Green Bay Packer games. Regardless of one’s team affiliation, the analogous Line 3 makes little sense for Minnesotans. 

Finally, the oil carried by Line 3 would be Alberta tar sands oil, which emits significantly more carbon pollution than conventional crude. This would exacerbate climate change at a time when its effects are becoming increasingly apparent – and dangerous. We can’t move forward on protecting future generations from climate change while building more unnecessary and expensive fossil fuel infrastructure. 

We call on the PUC to continue looking at the facts, and to make the right decision on Line 3 in 2018. This pipeline isn’t needed by Minnesotans – but we would pay for it, both with our dollars and with the damage it would do to our land, air, and water.

Minnesota Winters Aren’t What They Used to Be

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By Jeni Gregory, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Minnesotans love to talk about weather. In recent years, winter brings a flurry of conversations about the shortage of frigid days and good old-fashioned snowstorms. While this week fulfilled some fundamentals of a Minnesota winter with plunging temperatures, wind-driven snow, and treacherous driving conditions, we started the week with record-breaking mild weather.

While it’s easy to speculate that Minnesota winters aren’t what they used to be, a recent report illustrates just how much temperatures are actually changing here. The report from nonprofit group Climate Central shows that winters are warming faster in the Great Lakes and Great Plains than anywhere else in the U.S. In parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern New England, winters have warmed at an average rate of more than 1 degree per decade since 1970. Mankato and Minneapolis ranked among the fastest warming cities with a 6 degree increase; Fargo is 5.9 degrees warmer and Duluth registered 5.8 degrees warmer.

Sean Sublette, a meteorologist with Climate Central, explained that the coldest places are warming the most because, “It takes less energy to warm something cold than it does to warm something already warm.” He added that’s why the Arctic and Antarctic areas are among the fastest warming on Earth.

In Minnesota, this warming has meant shorter seasons for snow and lake ice which has impacted businesses that depend on outdoor winter recreation. It means that pests like the Japanese beetle and emerald ash borer are more likely to survive winter, allowing for major attacks come summer. It’s also having an effect on birds’ migratory patterns and our state’s habitat and wildlife.

Warming trends are expected to continue, and the consequences are getting harder to ignore. While milder winters are appealing to some, climate change has increased catastrophic weather events across the country, including Minnesota. Please visit Climate Generation’s website for information on how you can take action on climate change.

Insider: December 8, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Minnesota Winters Aren’t What They Used to Be

Minnesotans love to talk about weather. In recent years, winter brings a flurry of conversations about the shortage of frigid days and good old-fashioned snowstorms. While this week fulfilled some fundamentals of a Minnesota winter with plunging temperatures, wind-driven snow, and treacherous driving conditions, we started the week with record-breaking mild weather.

While it’s easy to speculate that Minnesota winters aren’t what they used to be, a recent report illustrates just how much temperatures are actually changing here. The report from nonprofit group Climate Central shows that winters are warming faster in the Great Lakes and Great Plains than anywhere else in the U.S. In parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern New England, winters have warmed at an average rate of more than 1 degree per decade since 1970. Mankato and Minneapolis ranked among the fastest warming cities with a 6 degree increase; Fargo is 5.9 degrees warmer and Duluth registered 5.8 degrees warmer.

Sean Sublette, a meteorologist with Climate Central, explained that the coldest places are warming the most because, “It takes less energy to warm something cold than it does to warm something already warm.” He added that’s why the Arctic and Antarctic areas are among the fastest warming on Earth.

In Minnesota, this warming has meant shorter seasons for snow and lake ice which has impacted businesses that depend on outdoor winter recreation. It means that pests like the Japanese beetle and emerald ash borer are more likely to survive winter, allowing for major attacks come summer. It’s also having an effect on birds’ migratory patterns and our state’s habitat and wildlife.

Warming trends are expected to continue, and the consequences are getting harder to ignore. While milder winters are appealing to some, climate change has increased catastrophic weather events across the country, including Minnesota. Please visit Climate Generation’s website for information on how you can take action on climate change.


Road salt is polluting our water.
Here’s how we can fix it.

(From MPR) — Just a teaspoon of road salt pollutes 5 gallons of water — forever. And each winter, Minnesota dumps some 730 million pounds of salt on roadways. That’s probably far more salt than we need to keep our roads safe. Once snow melts, salt flows into lakes and streams. Once salt is in a body of water, it’s nearly impossible to remove. In fact, the only feasible way to clean up salt-contaminated water is through reverse osmosis, which remains too expensive to implement on a large scale.

>>Read More

 


               

Photo credit: National Park Service

A MINER problem: Emmer mining bill passes House, but who will take it up in the Senate?

(From MinnPost) — The battle over mining in northern Minnesota — which has played out in Washington and Minnesota over the last year — reached a critical point in Congress last week. Eleven months after Barack Obama’s administration released an order that could block mining in a part of Superior National Forest for 20 years, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation, introduced by 6th District Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, to undo that decision, and to make it significantly harder for the executive branch to issue similar orders in the future.

>>Read More

 


           

PUC rejects state’s environmental review for Enbridge’s Line 3 project

(From Star Tribune) — The state environmental review of Enbridge’s controversial new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota was rejected by utility regulators Thursday, though only on a few narrow concerns.The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, by a vote of 4 to 1, deemed “inadequate” the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed new Line 3 pipeline. The EIS, conducted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, looked at myriad potential environmental outcomes of a new pipeline but made no conclusions.

>>Read More


Climate Change News                                                                                                                

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

(From The New York Times) — The last great hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change may lie in a substance so commonplace that we typically ignore it or else walk all over it: the soil beneath our feet. The earth possesses five major pools of carbon. Of those pools, the atmosphere is already overloaded with the stuff; the oceans are turning acidic as they become saturated with it; the forests are diminishing; and underground fossil fuel reserves are being emptied. That leaves soil as the most likely repository for immense quantities of carbon.

>>Read More

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What is Minnesota’s official state grain?
 

2. What are the names of the two U.S. National Forests in Minnesota?
 

3. What 60-mile-long land formation in southwest Minnesota features more than 200 wind turbines?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Part-time Fellow, Energy Policy Research (Summer 2018) | Fresh Energy

Part-time Fellow, Energy Policy Research (Winter 2018) | Fresh Energy

Development Director | International Wolf Center

Youth and Policy Manager | Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Wild rice. 2) Superior and Chippewa. 3) Buffalo Ridge.


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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
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546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.

Two Bad Mining Bills Pass in House, but Fight Isn’t Over

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This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of two hazardous bills – H.R. 3115 and H.R. 3905 – that would provide major boosts to copper sulfide mining proposals in Minnesota. These bills support the PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the Twin Metals mine near Ely, respectively. The two mine proposals are in different watersheds, but both could have catastrophic effects on the water, land, and people in those areas.

PolyMet seeks to mine for copper and nickel at a site in the St. Louis River watershed. the PolyMet project would require water treatment long after the mine closes, for 500 years or more. The processing plant is built on an abandoned taconite site, raising the walls of a 40 year old dam by hundreds of feet and layering sulfide mining waste on top of an unstable foundation of taconite mining waste. A failure of this dam would have catastrophic consequences on communities living downstream. The St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior, meaning our greatest freshwater resource would be endangered as well. This land is also in the heart of 1854 Treaty Territory and will impact treaty rights and downstream communities, including the Fond du Lac Reservation.

H.R. 3115 would push forward a land exchange between the federal government and PolyMet that is currently under litigation. The bill bypasses due process on this critical decision. And PolyMet hasn’t completed the required permitting process, so forcing the exchange is a problematic step at this time. Unfortunately, the bill passed the House on Wednesday. We hope the Senate will not follow up with similar legislation. The PolyMet permitting and approval process will be a long one, and this would be a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

H.R. 3905, also known as the MINER Act, would override the authority of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and grant mineral leases to the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine project. Federal agencies rejected mineral leases for Twin Metals because they concluded it was too risky in this water rich environment without further study. The Twin Metals mine would extract sulfide ores in the Boundary Waters watershed, and threaten our vulnerable waters and the livelihoods and jobs of Minnesotans who live and work there. H.R. 3905 would subvert science and due process not only by approving these leases, but by requiring Congressional approval for agencies to withdraw  mineral leases anywhere in the country. And it would single out Minnesota for unfair treatment by eliminating the presidential power to create national monuments in our state.

H.R. 3905 passed the House on Thursday, but it did so by a thin margin of only twelve votes, and the high level of opposition is a strong boost to the effort to make sure a similar bill does not succeed in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would set a bad policy for this and future copper sulfide mining proposals.

Thanks in large part to the tireless work of advocates, including MEP’s staff, friends and partners, there was significant pushback against both bills.

We thank all of those who took action against these bad bills, and we have no intention of stepping aside in the face of this continuing challenge. We urge all Minnesotans who value clean water, healthy communities, and sustainable jobs to continue to speak up! You can call the United States Senate at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senators’ offices to tell them to oppose giveaways to PolyMet and Twin Metals. Or visit our website, mepartnership.org, where we’ll be posting action forms you can use to email your Senator on these destructive bills. It’s time for all of us to speak up to defend our waters, our economy, and our communities.

Insider: December 1, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Two Bad Mining Bills Pass in House, but Fight Isn’t Over

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of two hazardous bills – H.R. 3115 and H.R. 3905 – that would provide major boosts to copper sulfide mining proposals in Minnesota. These bills support the PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the Twin Metals mine near Ely, respectively. The two mine proposals are in different watersheds, but both could have catastrophic effects on the water, land, and people in those areas.

PolyMet seeks to mine for copper and nickel at a site in the St. Louis River watershed. the PolyMet project would require water treatment long after the mine closes, for 500 years or more. The processing plant is built on an abandoned taconite site, raising the walls of a 40 year old dam by hundreds of feet and layering sulfide mining waste on top of an unstable foundation of taconite mining waste. A failure of this dam would have catastrophic consequences on communities living downstream. The St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior, meaning our greatest freshwater resource would be endangered as well. This land is also in the heart of 1854 Treaty Territory and will impact treaty rights and downstream communities, including the Fond du Lac Reservation.

H.R. 3115 would push forward a land exchange between the federal government and PolyMet that is currently under litigation. The bill bypasses due process on this critical decision. And PolyMet hasn’t completed the required permitting process, so forcing the exchange is a problematic step at this time. Unfortunately, the bill passed the House on Wednesday. We hope the Senate will not follow up with similar legislation. The PolyMet permitting and approval process will be a long one, and this would be a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

H.R. 3905, also known as the MINER Act, would override the authority of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and grant mineral leases to the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine project. Federal agencies rejected mineral leases for Twin Metals because they concluded it was too risky in this water rich environment without further study. The Twin Metals mine would extract sulfide ores in the Boundary Waters watershed, and threaten our vulnerable waters and the livelihoods and jobs of Minnesotans who live and work there. H.R. 3905 would subvert science and due process not only by approving these leases, but by requiring Congressional approval for agencies to withdraw  mineral leases anywhere in the country. And it would single out Minnesota for unfair treatment by eliminating the presidential power to create national monuments in our state.

H.R. 3905 passed the House on Thursday, but it did so by a thin margin of only twelve votes, and the high level of opposition is a strong boost to the effort to make sure a similar bill does not succeed in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would set a bad policy for this and future copper sulfide mining proposals.

Thanks in large part to the tireless work of advocates, including MEP’s staff, friends and partners, there was significant pushback against both bills.

We thank all of those who took action against these bad bills, and we have no intention of stepping aside in the face of this continuing challenge. We urge all Minnesotans who value clean water, healthy communities, and sustainable jobs to continue to speak up! You can call the United States Senate at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senators’ offices to tell them to oppose giveaways to PolyMet and Twin Metals. Or visit our website, mepartnership.org, where we’ll be posting action forms you can use to email your Senator on these destructive bills. It’s time for all of us to speak up to defend our waters, our economy, and our communities.


International Joint Commission wants faster Great Lakes cleanup

(From Duluth News Tribune) — The governments of Canada and the U.S. are making “considerable progress” in cleaning up the Great Lakes but should set time-specific targets for fixing wastewater and drinking water systems, reducing agricultural and urban runoff and eliminating toxic pollutant releases into the lakes. That was the assessment Tuesday by the International Joint Commission, the quasi-government, cross-border group charged with overseeing U.S.-Canada border water disputes and with monitoring the health of the Great Lakes. The IJC report found notable gaps in how the two countries are achieving the goals of making the lakes safe for both swimming and drinking… >>Read More.

 


               

Photo credit: National Park Service

Ideas abound for Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul

(From Star Tribune, featuring MEP member group Lower Phalen Creek Project) — Indigenous gardens, an array of indoor and outdoor exhibits and a community meeting space are what hundreds of current and future visitors to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul want to see at a proposed interpretive center, according to a recent survey. More than 600 people, including sanctuary neighbors, area business owners and more than 20 members of the Dakota community, not only said the Wakan Tipi Center is needed, but shared what programming and services they want in the wildlife area on the edge of downtown. Melanie Kleiss, executive director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, said she hopes the survey results continue building momentum for the proposed $6.7 million center. >>Read More.

 


           

LaDuke: Are pipeline spills the new normal?

(From Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, by Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke) — This isn’t about “I told you so.” It is moreso the question of “Have we normalized pipeline spills?” This past week, Nebraska state regulators voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline extension, five days after that pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to give the project the go ahead, but rejected TransCanada’s preferred route. TransCanada must now submit an application for an alternative route or appeal the decision, a process that could take up to two years. One thing is for sure: the new route will face fresh opposition from Nebraska landowners whose property wasn’t previously in the pipeline’s path >>Read More.


                

Many Minnesota homes would benefit from an energy audit

(From MPR News, featuring MEP member group Center for Energy and Environment) — Many Minnesota homes still have lots of room for energy savings. “Any home built before 1970, there’s no guarantee that there’s any insulation in the walls,” said Stacy Boots Camp, outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Center for Energy and the Environment.The group helps homeowners cut their energy use. She says a quarter of Minnesota homes still lack sufficient insulation. And many that have enough insulation may still leak a lot of air. “There’s still hundreds of thousands of houses that could be better insulated. Probably, the main issue we see is the potential for air sealing,” she said. >>Read More.

Murray County hears proposal on energy storage

(From Marshall Independent) — Invenergy Solar Farm’s Project Development Senior Manager Dan Litchfield,Thermal Development Manager Robert Howard and Westwood’s Environmental Services Director Eric Hansen, presented a proposal to develop an energy storage in Murray County to the county board Tuesday. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Litchfield explained the concept of storing the electrical energy at the Big Lake Wilson solar farm site. It may also include the smaller site, he said. Showing a slide with a bell curve, Litchfield described the choppy service that solar energy could produce if not modified with stored electricity. A cloudy day could make reception of electricity static-y, just like some satellite television service, but with stored energy, it is much smoother. >>Read More.

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What Great Lake do the waters of Lake Superior flow into?

2. What river connects the aforementioned Great Lakes?

3. Dorothy Louise Molter, who lived in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in 1986, was in part known for selling what beverage to passing canoeists?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Part-time Fellow, Energy Policy Research (Summer 2018) | Fresh Energy

Part-time Fellow, Energy Policy Research (Winter 2018) | Fresh Energy

Development Director | International Wolf Center

Youth and Policy Manager | Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Huron. 2) St. Mary’s River. 3) Root beer.


Did you receive the Environmental Insider from a friend? Subscribe here!

Follow Us:

   

Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.