Minnesota Faces the Climate Change Challenge

Posted by

 

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This week, delegates from 195 countries are meeting for the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany to work on solutions to climate change and further advance the Paris Climate Accord. The meeting coincides with the announcement that war-torn Syria has begun its accession to the agreement, leaving the United States as the only country not supporting the accord. The federal government will still participate in the climate talks in Bonn, but the Trump Administration’s officials plan to host a panel to promote fossil fuel and nuclear power generation, rather than engage in discussions on clean, renewable energy solutions. With 2017 recently recorded as one of the three hottest years on record, (along with 2015 and 2016) this is an especially poor time to abdicate American leadership on climate change.

Fortunately, Minnesotans aren’t backing down from this challenge, or from representing a better path to the international community. MEP partner organization Climate Generation is leading a group of Minnesotans in Bonn, where they’ll be participating in meetings with fellow leaders and advocates. They’re attending to share ideas and learn about what the rest of the world is doing to tackle emissions. And they’re demonstrating that while federal leaders may not be interested in contributing to the Paris Accord, Minnesota is still in.

As a member of the United States Climate alliance, Minnesota is committed to meeting the emissions goals of the Paris Accord and the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, and our energy industry is making enormous strides toward those goals. Since 2006, we’ve increased the share of our power that comes from wind from 4% to 18%. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is planning to invest $3-4 billion in wind power in the next few years, creating low-emissions power and passing along cost savings to consumers as it replaces cost-intensive coal usage. Solar has also been a success story: Minnesota’s solar capacity grew 80% in the first three months of 2017 alone.

Ongoing developments in clean power generation and batteries mean that we can continue to transition our economy to rely on clean-generated electricity for living, commerce, and transportation. Using steel, sun, and wind for fuel will continue to grow jobs and slow the carbon emissions that are endangering our climate. And while the U.S. government has failed to act as a strong global leader on this clean revolution, our state continues to light the way, in Bonn and at home.

Student Voices Column: Government and Industries Have Moral Responsibility to Update Regulations on Pollutants

Posted by

The above image is from Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota
Retrieved from: pinebendrefinery.com

 

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is proud to feature the following post as part of a series of columns as part of a Student Voices Series issues. This is part of a continuing collaboration with Macalester College’s Geography Department and its students.

Contribued by Ariana Jahiel, Macalester Student:

On September 8th, the New York Times released an article entitled, “More Than 40 Sites Released Hazardous Pollutants Because of Hurricane Harvey.” At first glance, it is easy for us here in Minnesota to skim over this report and write it off as irrelevant due to our geographic location. But the truth is climate change-induced natural disasters impact Minnesota, too. Flooding and tornados are not uncommon in this state, and such storms are likely to increase in frequency and severity. And like Texas, Minnesota is also home to oil refineries, one of which, the Pine Bend Refinery located just outside the Twin Cities, is the largest of all oil refineries located in non-oil-producing states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

So what type of toxic exposure actually happened? And why? Over 1.5 million pounds of toxic pollution was released into the air by fossil fuel-producing companies including, but not limited to ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, and Chevron Phillips Chemical. In the face of an imminent natural disaster, oil refining and petrochemical facilities are often forced to make the choice to temporarily shut down due to environmental conditions. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), when an industrial facility decides to stop running, especially when the decision is made last minute, emissions will increase, possibly to an illegal level as was the case in Texas. Large amounts of pollution are also released when plants start up again after a closure. Making matters worse, the EDF states that many of these facilities use out-of-date technology, inefficient design, and poor training techniques, all of which act to magnify the problem.

As more and more of these climate change-induced natural disasters occur, it becomes even more critical that there be stricter standards to which all facilities must adhere. These standards work to avert these types of preventable environmental harms from adding to an already dire situation. Although there are state and federal protocols already in place to curb the effects of hurricanes on these facilities, they are clearly not enough; they have not prevented the 1.5 million pounds of pollutants from entering the atmosphere, ground, and water. When a storm hits, there are enough concerns for people who cannot evacuate; they should not have to worry about whether or not drinking water and the air they breathe has been contaminated with toxic chemicals.

 

The above map shows the location of plants that released hazardous emissions due to Hurricane Harvey. Image retrieved from: NY Times 

 

What does this mean for the future? First, it is important that we recognize that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are not merely flukes. Global warming has raised the temperature of ocean waters, fueling the unprecedented fury of these storms. Climate change is real, and so are its consequences. These hurricanes are indications of what is yet to come.

We can’t let industries continue their lax protocol and profit-driven negligence. At the bare minimum, refineries and other like facilities must function using the precautionary principle, the idea that the possible harmful impacts of a given situation present a social responsibility to protect public from these potential outcomes. Thus, industries must shut down enough in advance of the natural disaster so as to prevent large amounts of pollution entering our environment. Additionally, these events mean that the pollution-control devices are not well designed or sufficiently up to date so as to protect citizens or the environment from harmful toxins. According to Luke Metzger, the director of Environment Texas, all pollution-control devices must be renovated and meet more stringent standards.

Perhaps most importantly, these events mean that citizens must demand intense regulation from our governmental bodies. This is particularly important in this time when the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Trump Administration more generally are trying to deregulate and leave decision-making to the corporations themselves. Thus, we cannot look to our national government to meet our demands for a safer and healthier state. But we can and should demand of our state institutions to uphold such measure.

We must put pressure on the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Health to enact safer regulations on industrial facilities in Minnesota. Additionally, we as Minnesotans must pursue with rigor our current commitment to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing our use of renewable energy. We cannot back off this trajectory.

Buffers Help Boost Minnesota Water Health

Posted by

Wednesday, November 1 marked the deadline for Minnesota farmers to comply with the buffer law, which mandates that farms keep a 50-foot strip of perennial vegetation between their cropland and the streams and ditches that feed into Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. The law, passed in 2015, seeks to tackle the problem of agricultural runoff by implementing these strips to filter that runoff before it enters Minnesota waters. Though the buffer debate has been contentious, the Board of Water and Soil Resources estimates that over 95% of farmers are now in compliance with the law.

The vegetation grown on a buffer strip varies, but the general process is to rely on perennial vegetation’s root systems to absorb a portion of the pesticides and fertilizers that flow downstream. Pesticides in our rivers can kill off native wildlife and harm humans who drink or recreate in the water. Nutrient fertilizers cause harmful algal blooms that leave lakes and estuaries unlivable for fish and other animals. Nitrates in particular pose a health threat – over time, they leach into groundwater that people rely on for drinking, and can cause birth defects in the lungs of infants if consumed by pregnant women.

It’s important to recognize that this buffer law isn’t a cure-all for agricultural pollution. The law allows for the perennial vegetation on buffer strips to be used for other purposes, such as harvesting or grazing, that can reduce the strips’ effectiveness. Even under ideal conditions, not all of the nutrient pollution is filtered from entering lakes and rivers.

But an admittedly imperfect buffer law is still an important step toward restoring Minnesota’s waters, and comes at a critical time. Cities like Adrian and St. Peter, and residents with private wellsthroughout the state, have incurred enormous financial costs to treat water contaminated by nitrates. Buffers may present  farmers with costs of their own, but even prior to the law, a large majority of farmers already implemented buffers. Working to combat runoff pollution by leveling the playing field for farmers is a fair and reasonable policy.

Much more action is needed to restore and improve Minnesota’s water quality and make drinking water safe and accessible for all residents. The buffer law is a helpful step in the right direction, and we commend Minnesota farmers and communities for taking on this clean water challenge.

Student Voices Column: Stop the “Poison Our Waters Act” Before We Poison Ourselves

Posted by


The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is proud to feature the following post as part of a series of columns as part of a Student Voices Series issues. This is part of a continuing collaboration with Macalester College’s Geography Department and its students.

Contributed by Julia Fritz-Endres, Macalester student:

When was the last time you swam in a lake, splashed in a stream, or drank tap water from your sink? Chances are, you have interacted with surface or groundwater at least once today. Water is omnipresent in our lives, and it is essential to our survival. When our water sources are contaminated, we pay the consequences.

For a state proud to call itself the ‘land of 10,000 lakes,’ Minnesota is struggling to keep its lakes clean and healthy. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, about 40% of water bodies in the state are ‘impaired,’ meaning that they fail to meet water quality standards. Many of the pollutants impairing these waters come from pesticides, which can increase health risks when highly concentrated.

The only way that we can hope to track the use of pesticides near water bodies, and to prevent dangerous amounts of pesticides from entering our bodies, is to stop mass dumping of those chemicals. The good news is that the Clean Water Act currently requires pesticide permits nation-wide for anyone planning to spray pesticides near bodies of water. This permit requirement helps to keep Minnesotan lakes clean, and allows the Minnesotans to track what pesticides do enter their waterways.

The bad news? Ohio Representative Bob Gibbs has proposed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which aims to do away with the permit requirement entirely. Nicknamed the “Poison Our Waters Act,” the bill would allow anyone to spray pesticides into or near any water bodies they choose. On May 24, 2017, the bill was approved by the House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will vote next on the bill.

If signed into law, the bill would limit all oversight, federal and local, of pesticide spraying. On the federal level, this would undermine the Clean Water Act and the protection of U.S. waterways. In Minnesota, this would reduce the State Government’s ability to notify the public about pesticide contamination in local water bodies, including groundwater and wells. For a state like Minnesota, which is already struggling to keep its waters clean, the “Poison Our Waters Act” would be a huge step backward.

The act may also increase health problems across the state. A survey conducted by the United States Geological Survey found that atrazine, a popular pesticide in Minnesota, is found most commonly in water bodies of the Midwest. The Environmental Protection Agency states that atrazine is a highly dangerous chemical that increases one’s likelihood of developing cancer and reproductive problems. If permits are not required for using harmful chemicals, anyone can spray large quantities of atrazine without repercussion.

Why do some lawmakers want to pass the “Poison Our Waters Act,” knowing that it may have detrimental effects on public health? Some argue that the bill would protect farmers’ rights by reducing burdens on their pesticide usage. However, the permit requirement does not apply to runoff from land-based agriculture and other non-point sources of pollution. Farmers have no burdens to begin with. The bill would actually increase burdens on farmers by polluting water bodies that everyone (including farmers) rely upon.

Either the proponents of this bill are ignorant of its health costs, or they are willing to accept those consequences in order to benefit pesticide companies supporting the bill. The latter seems far more likely. They want to help pesticide companies make money, even if that means limiting public knowledge of pollution and crippling Minnesota’s ability to protect its water.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will vote next on the bill. Contact your representatives and tell them to vote no on the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. This is our opportunity to stand up, to protect one of our most vital natural resources, and to take action against those who want to restrict public knowledge and poison our waters.

Further reading: House Passes Bill Nicknamed “Poison Our Waters Act”

Letter to Congress: Oppose HR 3115, the PolyMet land swap bill

Posted by

October 30, 2017

Honorable Paul Ryan                                                                      Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Speaker of the House of Representatives                            House Minority Leader
H-232 Capitol Building                                                                   H-2404 Capitol Building

Washington, DC 20515                                                                   Washington, DC 20515                  

 

Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:

The undersigned groups strongly oppose HR 3115, and ask you to join us in opposing this legislation.

HR 3115, sponsored by Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, would compel the U.S. Forest Service to exchange 6,650 acres of contiguous National Forest land with PolyMet Mining Corp. for a proposed open pit copper-nickel sulfide ore mine. The PolyMet mine is deeply controversial and poses a threat to water quality, exceptional wetlands, endangered species, and Treaty-reserved rights and resources. Recent polling shows that a majority of Minnesotans are opposed to the proposal.  

If it passes, HR 3115 would set a terrible precedent across the United States.  HR 3115 undercuts due process, undermines bedrock environmental laws, and undervalues public land.

Undercuts due process – There are currently four separate lawsuits pending against the PolyMet land exchange. These lawsuits address issues that tens of thousands of citizens have raised in public comments on the environmental review of PolyMet’s proposed mine.  If passed, HR 3115 would substitute political judgment for the deliberative judgment of the federal court system. It is rare and highly unusual for the U.S. Congress to intervene in a land exchange while the courts are considering whether that land exchange is legal.

Undermines bedrock environmental laws – The lawsuits filed against the PolyMet land exchange argue the exchange violates bedrock U.S. environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.  The land in question is home to the threatened Canada Lynx and was acquired under the Weeks Act, which prohibits open pit mining on this National Forest land. HR 3115 would prevent federal courts from upholding these laws in this exchange – in effect repealing them for PolyMet and for future proposals that would seek the same exemption. 

Undervalues public land – One core principle of public land exchanges is that the public must benefit. In this case, 6,650 acres of contiguous public land, including thousands of acres of irreplaceable wetlands at the headwaters of the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior were valued for exchange at a paltry $550 per acre. The appraiser was specifically instructed to ignore the fact that a mining company wants to mine this site when valuing the land. There is a long and sordid history of public land giveaways to industry in the U.S., and the public suffers when resources are traded away at bargain basement prices.   

PolyMet’s mine proposal has not received a single federal or state permit and may never be in a position to use the lands proposed for exchange, yet HR 3115 would transfer National Forest lands to this mining company. Congress should let the federal courts do their job, uphold bedrock laws enacted to protect public lands, endangered species and the environment, and reject HR 3115.

Sincerely,

Minnesota Groups:

Alliance for Sustainability

Clean Water Action of Minnesota

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest

Honor the Earth

Humming for Bees

Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division

League of Women Voters Duluth
League of Women Voters Minnesota

Mankato Area Environmentalists

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Minnesota Ornithologist’s Union

MN350

Pollinator Friendly Alliance

Renewing the Countryside

Save Lake Superior Association

Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Voyageurs National Park Association

WaterLegacy

Wetland Action Group

 

Regional & National Groups:
American Rivers

Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project

Center for Biological Diversity

Conservation Congress

Deer Tail Press

Earthjustice

Earthworks

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

Freshwater Future

Friends of Bell Smith Springs

Friends of the Bitterroot

Friends of the Clearwater

Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK)

The Front 40

Great Old Broads for Wilderness – Boise Chapter

Heartwood

Impact Fund

Information Network for Responsible Mining

John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Kootenai Environmental Alliance

Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin

MiningWatch Canada

National Parks Conservation Association

Northwood Alliance Inc.

Rock Creek Alliance

Save Our Cabinets

Sequoia ForestKeeper

Sierra Club National

Sierra Club John Muir Chapter

Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Swan View Coalition

The Lands Council

Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition

WildEarth Guardians

Wilderness Watch

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Yellowstone to Uintas Connection

 

cc:           Honorable Timothy Walz
Honorable Jason Lewis
Honorable Erik Paulson
Honorable Betty McCollum
Honorable Keith Ellison
Honorable Thomas Emmer
Honorable Collin Peterson
Honorable Richard Nolan
Honorable Amy Klobuchar
Honorable Al Franken
Honorable Chuck Schumer
Honorable Rob Bishop
Honorable Raul Grijalva
Honorable Mark Pocan
Honorable Steny Hoyer

Insider: October 27, 2017

Posted by

Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

Insect Decline Demands Action

Last week, a multinational team of European scientists released the disturbing results of a study of insect populations tested throughout Germany. Their data confirmed a major environmental concern, showing that flying insects – including flies, bees, and butterflies – had decreased in population by roughly 75% over the last 27 years. Though pollinator decline has been recognized for some time, this research throws the problem into stark contrast.

The global decline in flying insects is hitting Minnesota strongly. Judy Chucker, a member of the Izaak Walton League’s Minnesota Division, calls it a “quiet disaster.” During the past summer, she traveled with fellow members to farmland in southeastern Minnesota, and says that in contrast to previous years, there were “no bugs on the windshield. Not many birds there, either.” However, she added, “when we got to organic farm areas, it was a different story – we started to see insects and birds again.”

The loss of these insects is quiet, but it is indeed an imminent disaster. Insects help form the foundation of ecosystems around the world – birds, fish, and other important species depend on them to survive – humans included. According to a League of Women Voters-Minnesota briefing paper, honeybees alone enable over 90% of American crops to reproduce, and pollinators in general contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy.  It’s abundantly clear that the dramatic decline in insect species spells danger for all other ecosystems and human life.

While a number of factors are causing insects to die off, it’s clear that pesticides are a major cause. Commonly-used pesticides, including neonicotinoids, permeate the environment. These pesticides kill grasshoppers, flies, bees, and butterflies without distinction. And the elimination of safe, pesticide-free habitat in both urban and rural areas is destroying remaining safe havens for these vulnerable species.

In Minnesota, we agree that we need to protect our pollinators. According to MEP polling from February 2017, 87% of Minnesotans are concerned about the disappearance of pollinators, and a majority favor steps to restrict harmful pesticides to alleviate the problem. But so far, the political will to enact scientifically-backed solutions has not gathered enough steam to tackle this issue. For the sake of our farms, our great outdoors, and our way of life, we need to make sure our leaders take action to slow and halt the insect decline – and soon.

More resources from MEP members working on pollinator protection:



photo credit: Pioneer Press

Gov. Dayton: I now support PolyMet mine

(From WCCO, featuring MEP Executive Director Steve Morse) — 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. Political analysts say the governor’s move is less about mining than providing a lifeline to a crumbling Democratic base on the Iron Range. >>Read and Watch More.

 


               

Groups respond to Line 3 hearing shutdown

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Pipeline protesters caused an early end to the Enbridge Line 3 public hearing at the DECC on Wednesday night. “The crowd got lively after the judge repeatedly refused to let indigenous women speak if she recognized them as a speaker at any other time,” photographer Rob Wilson wrote on Facebook. “People called into question if she knows every speaker from memory and why the white Enbridge workers could talk twice.” Videos taken toward the end of the second round of the day’s hearings, scheduled from 6-9 p.m., show a group chanting “shut it down” as Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly tried to quiet the room before ultimately ending the hearing. Line 3 opponents Honor the Earth said in a statement Thursday, “We would like peace, and urge the state not to issue the permit.” >>Read More.

Enbridge ordered to publicly disclose the probability of spills along proposed new pipeline

(From Star Tribune) — The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled Thursday that Enbridge must publicly disclose projections for potential oil spills on its proposed new pipeline that would cross the northern part of the state. Meanwhile, the PUC canceled two public hearings on the Line 3 proposal scheduled for Thursday in St. Cloud. The PUC says the city advised of it “logistical and safety issues related to numerous events” being held at venue for the hearings. The cancellations came a week after a public hearing on the issue in Duluth was cut short by protesters. >>Read More.

MEP Releases Line 3 Fact Sheet

For more information on the Enbridge Line 3 proposal, check out MEP’s newly released fact sheet on the pipeline, and why it is unneeded and hazardous for Minnesota.

 


           

Organic farm program opens doors for Somali-American growers

(From MPR News) — In early October, a group of volunteers took down a greenhouse at Big River Farms near the town of Scandia. The 150-acre incubator farm, a 45-minute drive northeast of Minneapolis, offers hands-on farmer education, land and equipment for immigrants and people of color. The growing season was winding down, but Naima Dhore’s quarter-acre plot was still a colorful display of Swiss chard, curly kale and carrots. Her two sons ran around in their rubber rain boots, jumping in puddles, while Dhore washed the mud off a carrot for them. “My husband works a lot, so trying to juggle between my children and my work and here, it’s a lot. But I’m passionate about farming, I love it, and it’s a beautiful place here,” Dhore said. >>Read More.


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Farmer sequestering carbon for better soil health

(From Rochester Post Bulletin) — Where do you keep your carbon? If you’re Jon Luhman, you’re trying to sock some away in the ground. Preferably for a rainy day. Luhman and his son, Jared Luhman, raise beef cows, black beans and corn, plus forage for the cattle — all of it organic — on a little more than 700 acres at Dry Creek Red Angus farm, northwest of Goodhue. In the process, Luhman is putting carbon back into the soil, a process he said helps his farm in a multitude of ways. “The number one reason is for fertility,” he said. “Its a big benefit for production. It absorbs more moisture. So there’s more water infiltration, more organic matter and less tillage.” In fact, a pound of organic matter — which consists of 58 percent carbon — can hold as much as six pounds of water in the soil, according to University of Minnesota Extension. >>Read More.


                

Nuns bring another solar array to Mankato

(From Mankato Free Press) — When a developer suggested in 2015 that the Mankato-based School Sisters of Notre Dame sign up as a subscriber for the power generated by a planned solar array in the area, the nuns had a more ambitious idea: build the array on our land. Two years later, Innovative Power Systems of Roseville is beginning construction on a 1.3 megawatt solar array with roughly 40,000 solar panels capable of creating enough energy to power 165 average Minnesota homes. The School Sisters will be a major subscriber for the new power, expected to go on line by late winter, as will Blue Earth County, the Hilton Garden Inn and the city of New Richland. >>Read More.

Minnesota housing development to include community energy storage

(From Midwest Energy News) — A new housing development in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul will use grid-interactive electric thermal water heaters to enable the Midwest’s first community energy storage project. Country Joe Homes’ Legacy 2 development in Lakeville is building 79 homes over the next two years. Each home will have 80-gallon water heaters manufactured by Steffes Corp. The sophisticated water heaters will allow Great River Energy (GRE) and Dakota Electric Association — the cooperative providing electricity to the development — to use them as community storage capable of integrating the state’s growing wind and solar resources. “The water heaters behave as a battery and absorb energy, mainly at night, but they can be turned on and off in a moment’s notice,” said Gary Connett, Great River Energy’s director of member services. >>Read More.


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

Women’s Congress for Future Generations to meet in Brooklyn Park, Nov 3-5

The Women’s Congress works to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the “Beloved Community.” It supports people stepping into collective power to use laws, policies and norms to transition to a just and sustainable world. The 2017 conference focuses on climate, health, and justice. It bears witness to communities of color who are hit hardest by climate change and pollution as people of color are statistically more likely to suffer from autism, lead poisoning and breast cancer, and seeks to create more just systems in response. 

Speakers include nationally recognized experts on climate change and women working in communities impacted by groundwater contamination, pipelines, and toxins in our homes.

Learn more and register with the Women’s Congress for Future Generations! 

Calling all advocacy groups: Apply to be a Capitol Pathways Internship Host

Applications are still open for organizations to host a Capitol Pathways intern in the 2018 Legislative Session. With the long-term goal of making our government truly representative of our communities, the program seeks to open access to the Minnesota capitol to the next generation of leaders of color. Through this program, interns will build relationships with established capitol leaders, gain exposure to various kinds of careers in policy, get real-world experience in career fields they would like to learn more about and build a strong professional resume in the process. This is a spring internship and will run from January-May 2018.

Click for more information on Capitol Pathways and how to apply!

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. What insect species is Minnesota’s official state butterfly?

2. “Lester” is the name of the official state ______ of Minnesota?

3. What toxin, a byproduct of power generation, mining, and industry, is especially prevalent in the St. Louis river?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Conservation Information Manager IV | The Nature Conservancy

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Communications Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Monarch butterfly. 2) Official state soil 3) Mercury


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.

Insect Decline Demands Action

Posted by

 

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Last week, a multinational team of European scientists released the disturbing results of a study of insect populations tested throughout Germany. Their data confirmed a major environmental concern, showing that flying insects – including flies, bees, and butterflies – had decreased in biomass by roughly 75% over the last 27 years. Though pollinator decline has been recognized for some time, this research throws the problem into stark contrast.

The global decline in flying insects is hitting Minnesota strongly. Judy Chucker, a member of the Izaak Walton League’s Minnesota Division, calls it a “quiet disaster.” During the past summer, she traveled with fellow members to farmland in southeastern Minnesota, and says that in contrast to previous years, there were “no bugs on the windshield. Not many birds there, either.” However, she added, “when we got to organic farm areas, it was a different story – we started to see insects and birds again.”

The loss of these insects is quiet, but it is indeed an imminent disaster. Insects help form the foundation of ecosystems around the world – birds, fish, and other important species depend on them to survive – humans included. According to a League of Women Voters-Minnesota briefing paper, honeybees alone enable over 90% of American crops to reproduce, and pollinators in general contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy.  It’s abundantly clear that the dramatic decline in insect species spells danger for all other ecosystems and human life.

While a number of factors are causing insects to die off, it’s clear that pesticides are a major cause. Commonly-used pesticides, including neonicotinoids, permeate the environment. These pesticides kill grasshoppers, flies, bees, and butterflies without distinction. And the elimination of safe, pesticide-free habitat in both urban and rural areas is destroying remaining safe havens for these vulnerable species.

In Minnesota, we agree that we need to protect our pollinators. According to MEP polling from February 2017, 87% of Minnesotans are concerned about the disappearance of pollinators, and a majority favor steps to restrict harmful pesticides to alleviate the problem. But so far, the political will to enact scientifically-backed solutions has not gathered enough steam to tackle this issue. For the sake of our farms, our great outdoors, and our way of life, we need to make sure our leaders take action to slow and halt the insect decline – and soon.

More resources from MEP members working on pollinator protection:

Insider: October 20, 2017

Posted by

Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

Sulfate Standard Change Would Weaken Wild Rice Protection

This month, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is holding hearings on its proposed  changes to the state’s Wild Rice Sulfate Standard, which regulates the level of sulfate pollution allowed to be discharged into wild rice waters. If enacted, the amendments would shift the regulation from enforcing a uniform level of sulfate across these waters to a more complicated formula, creating a different amount of sulfate allowed for each body of water. While the changes have been promoted as a flexible way to balance wild rice protection with the individual needs of the area, the practical effect of the change is likely to do more harm than good to Minnesota’s state grain.

Sulfate pollution is most commonly discharged by mines, industrial plants, and municipal wastewater systems. When sulfate sinks to a river or lake bed, it combines with sediments to form sulfide compounds, which have harmful effects on wild rice and other organisms. Enough sulfide in a water body can make it hard or even impossible for wild rice to grow.

Getting a sulfate standard wrong could result in catastrophe for Minnesota’s already-diminished wild rice resources. This would be especially harmful to Minnesota’s tribal communities, who rely on wild rice for health, economic activity, and cultural survival.

The supposed strength of the new sulfate rule is its key weakness: making an individual standard for each body of water. The MPCA identifies approximately 1,300 waters as wild rice areas, (a conservative figure that does not cover all wild rice waters), and proposes to study and regulate each one individually.

Budget and time constraints and political considerations mean that many waters will likely not get the enforcement they need to keep sustaining wild rice. And that means they will continue to diminish from toxic pollution. Our waters would be much better served if the current standard were adequately enforced and expanded across all wild rice waters.

Fortunately, there’s still time to speak up for strong protection of this precious resource! Over the next two weeks, the MPCA will hold public meetings on the new standard in St. Paul, Virginia, Bemidji, Cloquet, and Brainerd, and will have a videoconference available on November 2. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership has set up an Action page to RSVP to one of these hearings – let us know if you show up and speak up! The MPCA will also accept written comments until November 22. Let the agency know that for the sake of the long-term health of our waters and our  wild rice, Minnesota can’t afford to get this one wrong.



photo credit: EPA

Regulators delay action on environmental study requirements for southeast Minnesota frac mine

(From La Crosse Tribune) — Minnesota regulators agreed Wednesday to delay action on a request to lift environmental review requirements for a would-be mining company with claims to thousands of acres in southern Minnesota. Minnesota Sands asked the Environmental Quality Board to terminate the board’s 2013 order requiring the company to complete a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement before moving ahead on proposed mines on about 615 acres in Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties. The company, which has sued to overturn Winona County’s frac mining ban, now says its plans are limited to one 50-acre mine in Fillmore County because of legal and market conditions that have made the other locations unfeasible. >>Read More.

 


               

Groups respond to Line 3 hearing shutdown

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Pipeline protesters caused an early end to the Enbridge Line 3 public hearing at the DECC on Wednesday night. “The crowd got lively after the judge repeatedly refused to let indigenous women speak if she recognized them as a speaker at any other time,” photographer Rob Wilson wrote on Facebook. “People called into question if she knows every speaker from memory and why the white Enbridge workers could talk twice.” Videos taken toward the end of the second round of the day’s hearings, scheduled from 6-9 p.m., show a group chanting “shut it down” as Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly tried to quiet the room before ultimately ending the hearing. Line 3 opponents Honor the Earth said in a statement Thursday, “We would like peace, and urge the state not to issue the permit.” >>Read More.


          

Study finds pollution is deadlier than war, disaster, hunger

(From MPR News) — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2 percent of the global economy. >>Read More.

 


           

Growing future conservationists: Pollinator plot nears completion in Minnesota

(From Agweek) — Approximately 15 acres of Nobles County-owned land was seeded Tuesday with the hope of growing future conservationists.  Around 260 Worthington Middle School fifth-grade students helped sprinkle 80 April through October blooming wildflower varieties on a preconditioned plot of land south of the Prairie Justice Center as part of a youth pollinator habitat tour. “They’ll be able to come back next year and the year after and see what they helped build,” said Scott Rall, president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever, a fundamental group of the pollinator project. The fifth-graders also received an introduction to pollinators, such as honey bees and butterflies, and learned about the vital role they play in putting food on their plates. >>Read More.


                

For clean energy jobs, sky’s the limit

(From Star Tribune) — Golden cornfields stretched out 24 stories below Will Osborn, the autumn landscape dotted with silos and farmhouses. Of course, he didn’t have much time to gaze. Planted atop a wind turbine — one of a few dozen here — Osborn was diagnosing a weather sensor. Osborn’s job, wind technician, is the fastest growing occupation in the nation. As utilities rapidly increase the amount of power they get from wind farms, workers willing and able to climb hundreds of feet to keep turbines running smoothly are in high demand. Students in wind power training programs in Minnesota are getting jobs as soon as they graduate or even before.  “I do what pays the bills, and I looked at what was happening and will be happening for the next 30 years, and wind maintenance seemed win-win,” said Osborn, who works for Vestas, a global wind energy giant. >>Read More.


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

Women’s Congress for Future Generations to meet in Brooklyn Park, Nov 3-5

The Women’s Congress works to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the “Beloved Community.” It supports people stepping into collective power to use laws, policies and norms to transition to a just and sustainable world. The 2017 conference focuses on climate, health, and justice. It bears witness to communities of color who are hit hardest by climate change and pollution as people of color are statistically more likely to suffer from autism, lead poisoning and breast cancer, and seeks to create more just systems in response. 

Speakers include nationally recognized experts on climate change and women working in communities impacted by groundwater contamination, pipelines, and toxins in our homes.

Learn more and register with the Women’s Congress for Future Generations! 

Calling all advocacy groups: Apply to be a Capitol Pathways Internship Host

Applications are now open for organizations to host a Capitol Pathways intern in the 2018 Legislative Session. With the long-term goal of making our government truly representative of our communities, the program seeks to open access to the Minnesota capitol to the next generation of leaders of color. Through this program, interns will build relationships with established capitol leaders, gain exposure to various kinds of careers in policy, get real-world experience in career fields they would like to learn more about and build a strong professional resume in the process. This is a spring internship and will run from January-May 2018.

Click for more information on Capitol Pathways and how to apply!

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. What two Minnesota counties are tied for the greatest number of State Parks in the state?

2. The Minnesota Environmental Quality board features representatives from 9 government  agencies. How many of these agencies can you name?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Communications Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Associate Director | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Cook and Lake. 2) Metropolitan Council, Board of Water and Soil Resources, Pollution Control Agency, and the Departments of: Agriculture, Employment and Economic Development, Commerce, Transportation,  Natural Resources, Administration, and Health


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.

Insider: October 13, 2017

Posted by

Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   
photo credit: MPCA

EPA Repeals Clean Power Plan, but Minnesota Moves Forward

This week, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency announced the beginning of the repeal process for the Clean Power Plan, a major Obama Administration policy that aimed to cut carbon emissions from the U.S. power grid. The plan aimed for a 32% cut in power plant carbon dioxide emissions, relative to the 2005 levels, by 2032. It largely allowed states to achieve these mandated reductions in ways that worked for them – including investing in renewable energy and expanding efficiency-creating technologies. Because of legal challenges from certain states and opponents – including current EPA Director Scott Pruitt – the CPP never went into effect before it was repealed.

The EPA will now begin the long process of collecting public input on the repeal. Thanks to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, the agency will also need to determine a new policy to regulate carbon emissions. As it begins this process, it should keep in mind the projected benefits that would have resulted from the Clean Power Plan by the year 2030:

  • Smog and soot pollution would fall by 25% across the United States, preventing as many as 6,600 deaths caused by these pollutants.
  • Children in the United states would suffer 140,000 and 150,000 fewer asthma attacks
  • Up to $45 billion would be saved on health and environmental costs nationwide.
  • The average family would save $85 a year on energy costs.

And there is a less tangible but no less critical benefit to making cuts in carbon. The United States contributes roughly one-seventh of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we want to live up to our international obligations and convince other countries to invest in clean energy, we have to show our commitment. With the Trump Administration signaling the United States’ departure from the Paris Climate Accord and the Clean Power Plan, the United States is sadly resigning leadership on a critical issue.

Fortunately, Minnesota is helping to fill the gap on clean energy leadership. In 2005, 62% of our electric power came from coal-fired plants – today that portion is less than 40% and continues to shrink. It’s no coincidence that wind power has skyrocketed in that same period from 4% of our electricity to almost 20%, ranking Minnesota seventh in the nation for wind energy. In just the first three months of this year, we increased our solar generation by 80%, providing clean power and new jobs to our communities. And the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy rated Minnesota the most energy efficient state in the Midwest.

Along with the other states in the United States Climate Alliance, Minnesota is stepping up to ensure that the Clean Power Plan lives on in our actions, if not in federal law. We need to double down on our investments in our abundant renewable resources. We must reject calls to move backward toward more fossil fuel use. And we can and should embrace the enormous job growth that the clean energy industry offers. The health of our citizens, our economy, and our great outdoors depends on the commitment we make today.


Be aware of misleading ads pushing pipeline

(From St. Cloud Times, by Scott Russell, Sierra Club North Star Chapter) — Perhaps you’ve seen a TV ad supporting the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline expansion project through northern Minnesota. The Consumer Energy Alliance announced the ad buy Sept. 17. Here’s what you need to know about the Consumer Energy Alliance. It’s not about consumers the way you and I see ourselves as consumers, individuals making small purchases in a grocery store. The alliance represents large corporate interests. The players and organizations involved in the alliance would not have to live with the consequences of a northern Minnesota oil spill. The alliance does not appear to be concerned about the project’s broader environmental impacts. It is looking at spread sheets, not communities.  >>Read More.

Presenters speak at M State on Pipeline 3

(From Fergus Falls Daily Journal) — Area residents met at Legacy Hall on the Fergus Falls M State campus Thursday evening, for a presentation on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline development within the state of Minnesota. Organizers say the intention was to provide accurate information and raise awareness to an issue that has been hotly contested both here and in neighboring states. Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a roughly 1,000 mile stretch of 34-inch pipe, which carries some 390,000 barrels per day of oil from Alberta, Canada toward northern Wisconsin. Part of a project completed during the 1960s, the extensive system has been forced to run at half its capacity, due to concerns over the piping’s overall  integrity.  >>Read More.

MEP Releases Line 3 Fact Sheet

For more information on the Enbridge Line 3 proposal, check out MEP’s newly released fact sheet on the pipeline, and why it is unneeded and hazardous for Minnesota.

 


               

photo credit: MPCA

Minnesota has 2,669 troubled bodies of water, draft list says

(From MPR News) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing to add more lakes and streams to the state’s list of impaired waters. As the MPCA continues testing water bodies across the state, more are being added to the list due to water quality problems such as excess nutrients, mercury, salt and bacteria. Under the federal Clean Water Act, Minnesota must update its list of impaired waters every two years. About 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams do not meet water quality standards. The draft 2018 list adds 618 new impairments on 362 lakes and streams. That brings the total list of impaired water bodies to 2,669 lakes and streams across the state. Many water bodies have more than one reason for being listed. >>Read More.

Slight gain in Minnesota wetlands acreage, but quality is concerning

(From Star Tribune) — Since Europeans began settling in Minnesota, about half of the state’s wetlands have disappeared. But in recent years, the state has stopped the loss and actually gained a few acres, according to data released last month. Wetland quality is another matter. “From a strict acreage standpoint, Minnesota is holding steady and maybe even gaining small amounts of wetlands, but there’s some concern with the type changes,” said Steve Kloiber, wetland monitoring coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Not all wetlands are the same, and they don’t have the same functions.” >>Read More.


          

MPCA considering troubling changes to wild rice sulfate standard

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is considering changes to the Wild Rice Sulfate Standard. Excess sulfate in our water systems makes it difficult or impossible for the rice to grow. It also leads to accumulation of mercury in water and fish, eventually leading to dangerously high concentrations in humans – particularly infants and children. This is the wrong time to change the standard, as PolyMet (Minnesota’s first sulfide mine) is actively seeking permits and would have a dramatic impact on sulfate and sulfide levels in MN’s waters. To speak out in favor of wild rice and a strong sulfate standard, comment or learn how to attend a hearing on the MPCA website.

       


           

photo credit: the Land Institute

A new grain – Kernza – finds its way into products

(From Star Tribune) — There’s something in wheat that speaks to our American souls. We sing to “amber waves of grain.” Wheat sheaves were minted on the backs of pennies until 1959. Wheat, milled into flour, earned Minneapolis the nickname of Bread Basket of the World. Now a new grain, bred from intermediate wheatgrass — a different species but a wild cousin of wheat — is being introduced to our farms. After nearly a half-decade of research and development, Kernza is entering the market as a delicious, healthful grain. >>Read More.


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

Women’s Congress for Future Generations to meet in Brooklyn Park, Nov 3-5

The Women’s Congress works to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the “Beloved Community.” It supports people stepping into collective power to use laws, policies and norms to transition to a just and sustainable world. The 2017 conference focuses on climate, health, and justice. It bears witness to communities of color who are hit hardest by climate change and pollution as people of color are statistically more likely to suffer from autism, lead poisoning and breast cancer, and seeks to create more just systems in response. 

Speakers include nationally recognized experts on climate change and women working in communities impacted by groundwater contamination, pipelines, and toxins in our homes.

Learn more and register with the Women’s Congress for Future Generations! 

Calling all advocacy groups: Apply to be a Capitol Pathways Internship Host

Applications are now open for organizations to host a Capitol Pathways intern in the 2018 Legislative Session. With the long-term goal of making our government truly representative of our communities, the program seeks to open access to the Minnesota capitol to the next generation of leaders of color. Through this program, interns will build relationships with established capitol leaders, gain exposure to various kinds of careers in policy, get real-world experience in career fields they would like to learn more about and build a strong professional resume in the process. This is a spring internship and will run from January-May 2018.

Click for more information on Capitol Pathways and how to apply!

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. Minnesota was recently ranked 9th in the country, and 1st in the Midwest, for what “green” metric?

2. Around what percentage of Minnesota’s electricity comes from wind turbines? A)7, B)10, C)18, D)26

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Associate Director | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Energy efficiency. 2) C-18. 3) Chisago County.


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.

Insider: October 6, 2017

Posted by

Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

 


photo credit: NASA

Mining Waste and a Big Dam Problem

Last month, the Department of Natural Resources released draft dam permitting for PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine in Northern Minnesota, and opened up a comment period on the permit that ends on October 16. The permit would allow PolyMet to use a 40-year-old dam, previously used to store taconite waste, to store waste from the new mine. Proponents present this as a safe way to keep wastewater and byproducts contained and out of other waters. But the reality is much more alarming.

First, as the permit itself states, the dam would be permanent – not just a long term risk, but a fixture that generations of Minnesotans would have to pay to maintain for hundreds of years. In comparison, the mine itself would operate for about 20 years. The indefinite maintenance, well after the area has been mined out, would be required just to keep this already-leaky dam from releasing its toxic contents into the watershed beyond it.

That’s not a guarantee, however, that the dam wouldn’t break – and the consequences of a rupture would be catastrophic. Three years ago, a similar dam at the Canadian Mount Polley mine collapsed, spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of mine waste into previously clean waters. The dam contained toxic heavy metals like arsenic and lead, which are still contaminating vulnerable lakes and rivers. The resulting long-term damage to the local environment has been catastrophic and continues to mount.

A similar spill at PolyMet’s dam would threaten the St. Louis river watershed and other waters that thousands of Minnesotans depend on. The St. Louis River is the largest river to flow into Lake Superior, so a threat to this river is a threat to this Great Lake. Within hours, a spill of PolyMet’s dam could destroy buildings and wildlife areas and permanently damage local communities.

PolyMet refuses to consider using much a safer dry storage method, recommended by experts in the wake of the Mount Polley collapse, despite these dangers.

Risking the water, wildlife, people, and buildings downstream of the mine by approving this dam permit would be a shortsighted, dangerous move. Future generations of Minnesotans will not thank us for leaving them a dam that leaks toxic waste and saps their resources. The time to speak up is now – the DNR comment period closes on October 16! 

Click here to send a message to the DNR: that we need to commit to the health of Minnesota’s people and land, not to accepting this dam catastrophe. Click here for more information on the dam permit on the DNR website.
 

Many thanks to the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy for their tremendous research on this issue and setting up the comment submission page. Click here to watch an MCEA video on the dam project.


U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer pitches new pro-mining legislation

(From St. Cloud Times) — Twin Metals Minnesota could get its mineral licenses back and resume exploration in the Superior National Forest if a new bill from U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer becomes law. The Republican lawmaker’s proposal would give Congress the authority to approve mineral withdrawals in Minnesota’s national forest land — a task currently under the U.S. Forest Service’s purview. The bill also gives Congress, rather than the president, authority to designate national monuments on federal forest land in Minnesota.  Emmer says his bill, called the MINER Act, promotes economic development in Minnesota. But some conservation groups oppose the effort and say future mines put the Boundary Waters at risk. >>Read More.

Reader’s View: Water too critical to risk

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Human beings are 60 percent water. We are walking, talking, upright columns of water. Almost 100,000 miles of interconnected vessels, arteries, and capillaries run on water in our bodies. You are what you drink. Like in the human body, water flows in systems in the natural world, too. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest hold 20 percent of the fresh water in the National Forest System. Preserving fresh water must have value beyond commercial profit. Copper-nickel mining in sulfide rock is not like Minnesota’s mines of the past. >>Read More.

 


               

Lake Superior no longer the clearest of the Great Lakes

(From MPR News) — Many people who’ve spent much time around the Great Lakes take for granted that Lake Superior is the largest, coldest and clearest of the lakes. Not anymore. While Lake Superior has not gotten any dirtier, lakes Huron and Michigan have gotten significantly clearer in the past 20 years or so, a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Great Lakes Research found. Anecdotally, scientists knew water clarity was improving in those lakes. But it hadn’t been quantified. “What surprised us was the magnitude of the change,” said Robert Shuchman, a study co-author and co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute. >>Read More.


image credit: Great Lakes Commission

Register now for the 13th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference

(From Healing Our Waters Coalition) — Join us at the 13th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Buffalo, New York! This year’s conference will run from Tuesday, October 17 through Thursday, October 19, 2017, and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo. The Great Lakes Restoration Conference is the largest annual gathering of Great Lakes advocates and supporters, providing a three day forum to learn about cutting edge Great Lakes issues, hear from diverse voices from around the lakes, network with leaders at the center of Great Lakes restoration efforts, and develop strategies to advance federal, regional, and local restoration goals. We hope you will join us! Click here for registration and more info!


          

Winona sustainable home open houses this weekend

(From Winona Daily News) — This weekend area residents will have an opportunity for a firsthand look at the energy saving features featured in sustainable homes. This Saturday the Minnesota Sustainable Home Tour, promoted by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, will be holding several open houses in the area. Two homes in Winona and a home outside of La Crescent are among around 30 locations statewide showcasing ways to become more sustainable, use clean energy and save money. >>Read More.


image credit: MN350

Xcel’s solar garden program passes milestone: 40 projects online

(From Star Tribune) — Xcel Energy announced Wednesday that 40 community solar gardens are up and running, passing the 100-megawatt threshold for electricity production. The Community Solar Garden program was created by the legislature and launched in 2014. It’s aimed at bringing solar energy to residents and businesses who don’t want the expense and complications of building their own solar arrays. The program got off to a slow start, delayed by a flood of applications and disputes between Xcel and solar developers.  Xcel had once projected that 200 megawatts of solar garden power would be online by the end of 2016. Instead, only around 50 megawatts were running. (A megawatt is one million watts). >>Read More.

       


    

Progress strong on new buffer requirements

(From Mankato Free Press) — Almost all landowners required to put in 50-foot buffers along rivers and other public waters have installed them or are in the process of doing it as the Nov. 1 deadline approaches. Many more, narrower buffers still need to be installed along farm drainage ditches, but the deadline for those isn’t until Nov. 1 of 2018. “On the public water component, 94 percent of the parcels in the state have a sufficient parcel in place. We feel very good about that,” said Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Executive Director John Jaschke Thursday during a press conference where state officials gave an update on the program. Gov. Mark Dayton worked with lawmakers to pass buffer strip regulations in 2015. >>Read More.


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

Women’s Congress for Future Generations to meet in Brooklyn Park, Nov 3-5

The Women’s Congress works to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the “Beloved Community.” It supports people stepping into collective power to use laws, policies and norms to transition to a just and sustainable world. The 2017 conference focuses on climate, health, and justice. It bears witness to communities of color who are hit hardest by climate change and pollution as people of color are statistically more likely to suffer from autism, lead poisoning and breast cancer, and seeks to create more just systems in response. 

Speakers include nationally recognized experts on climate change and women working in communities impacted by groundwater contamination, pipelines, and toxins in our homes.

Learn more and register with the Women’s Congress for Future Generations! 

Calling all advocacy groups: Apply to be a Capitol Pathways Internship Host

Applications are now open for organizations to host a Capitol Pathways intern in the 2018 Legislative Session. With the long-term goal of making our government truly representative of our communities, the program seeks to open access to the Minnesota capitol to the next generation of leaders of color. Through this program, interns will build relationships with established capitol leaders, gain exposure to various kinds of careers in policy, get real-world experience in career fields they would like to learn more about and build a strong professional resume in the process. This is a spring internship and will run from January-May 2018.

Click for more information on Capitol Pathways and how to apply!

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. What MN lake features two islands that form the smallest National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S.?

2. What state forest in the Arrowhead region is named for a European country?

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Lake Mille Lacs. 2) Finland State Forest. 3) Grand Marais.


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.