Insider: July 21, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

The Costs of Cutting the Clean Water Rule

EPA Director Scott Pruitt visited Minnesota this week as part of a multi-state tour to gather input from “stakeholders” on changes to be made on EPA regulation of waters throughout the United States. Pruitt has said that his agency plans to roll back the Clean Water Rule, which defines the legally protected “Waters of the United States” and has greatly increased the mileage of streams and wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. This comes as little surprise, as Pruitt was previously involved in lawsuits against the Clean Water Rule, but rolling back the rule would be a serious mistake on the EPA’s part.

The Clean Water Rule is intended to clarify which waters are regulated under the EPA’s authority and extend protections to many wetlands and streams, including seasonal waters. As more than than 117 million Americans receive drinking water from public water systems that draw supply from headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams, this rule is deeply important for our drinking water. In Minnesota, the Clean Water Rule restores protection to more than half of Minnesota’s streams, which help provide drinking water to more than a million people in our state. These waters are also critical to our local fishing and hunting economies.

At a time when nutrient runoff and other water pollution is jeopardizing the health of our rivers, now is not the time to move backward on the Clean Water Rule. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership and many of our friends have submitted comments against this rollback, and we urge the EPA to listen to stakeholders who depend on endangered waters throughout their review of current rules.

For more information:


Mining Truth launches campaign to highlight financial risk from PolyMet

The Mining Truth coalition launched a public information campaign this week with a goal of ensuring Minnesota taxpayers are protected as permit applications are considered for PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine in northern Minnesota. Billboards near the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters in St. Paul and along I-35 highlight the $934 million damage deposit experts say is needed to cover cleanup costs. “PolyMet’s own permit application says polluted water from the site will require expensive treatment for decades, if not centuries, after this proposed mine closes” said Kathryn Hoffman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. >>Read the full press release here.


photo credit: Pioneer Press

Counterpoint: PolyMet is just feeding Minnesotans a line

(From Star Tribune, by WaterLegacy advocacy director Paula Maccabee) — U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and others seeking to prevent independent court review of the PolyMet land exchange aren’t walking a fine line (“Rep. Nolan walks ‘a very fine line,’ ” July 14) when they say they want to reduce America’s carbon footprint while still promoting the PolyMet copper-nickel mine proposal. In fact, they are feeding us a line — to benefit a small group of multibillion-dollar foreign corporate investors at the expense of climate change, as well as at the expense of our Minnesota water quality and public lands. The PolyMet mine project proposed for Minnesota would be a climate-change disaster. >>Read More.

Attend July 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the second of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest in Virginia, MN on Tuesday. This is a chance for concerned citizens to help make sure that the environmental study of mining in this area takes the critical hazards of copper sulfide mining into account. If you can attend this, meeting let us know by clicking the Take Action button!


           


 

Minnesota’s underground drinking water stable, but threats remain

(From MPR News) — Hundreds of feet below the ground, the Mt. Simon aquifer runs from south central Minnesota to the Twin Cities. More than a million state residents depend on the aquifer for drinking water. Mt. Simon has always been a robust source of water. Well drillers more than one hundred years ago found the aquifer had so much pressure in some places that it forced water to the surface, a phenomenon known as a “flowing well.” “Those days are long gone,” said Jim Berg, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. >>Read More.


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

Written comments will also be accepted until August 11 –  tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters!

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, Governor Dayton will host a total of ten town hall meetings on his proposed “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal throughout Minnesota. The Governor is seeking input on how we can improve the health of our state’s waters by 25% by the year 2025, and wants to hear Minnesotans’ ideas. Citizens and groups are invited to hold their own meetings to develop proposals and concerns to share with the administration. For info on how to attend or host a meeting, visit www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25


                

Met Council needs to slam the breaks on proposed fare hikes

(From Star Tribune, by TLC and St. Paul Smart Trips director Jessica Treat) — People used Metro Transit more than 82 million times in 2016, to go to work, to school or just to get around without adding to congestion. The Metropolitan Council will vote next Wednesday on whether to raise fares on those tens of millions of trips. It’s clear that the Met Council is in a difficult position. There’s a sense that increasing fares will somehow appease legislative leaders who, for years, have either ignored or attacked transit funding. But on this issue, many in the Legislature are simply out of step with what the public wants and needs. >>Read More.


          

After heated hearing, St. Paul city council delays vote on trash plan

(From Pioneer Press) — The St. Paul City Council will spend the next week mulling over the latest proposal for organized residential trash collection, which has received mixed reaction from residents and haulers. Following a heavily attended public hearing, the council chose Wednesday to hold off on voting on whether to enter into final negotiations for a five-year or seven-year contract with the city’s 15 private haulers, a proposal hammered out across nearly 11 months of difficult negotiations. The hearing drew 23 speakers in opposition and 18 in support. A council vote likely will take place July 26. The proposal — which has yet to be finalized — would charge all St. Paul homeowners rates of $21 to $32 per month, depending upon barrel size, on top of an annual administrative fee of $52 that has drawn many questions. >>Read More.


           

Northland College divesting oil, coal and gas investments

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Northland College in Ashland is cutting ties with the fossil fuel industries that most scientists who study climate say are spurring global climate change.The small college’s board of trustees last week voted to fully divest all of the school’s endowment funds from fossil fuel related investments — coal, oil and gas companies — within five years. The move comes after student activists have been pushing for the action since 2012. Nearly 3 percent of the school’s $28 million endowment, about $823,000, is currently invested in fossil fuels, according to the group Carbon Underground 200. >>Read More

House bill aims to make permitting process easier for pipelines that cross state borders

(From Inforum) — As Republicans rush to join the Trump administration’s efforts to boost oil and gas production, the House pushed two measures on Wednesday aimed at easing the permitting process for pipelines that cross state and international lines. Lawmakers voted, 254-175, to pass a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., which would transfer authority to issue permits for pipelines and power transmission lines that cross international borders from the State Department to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mullin and other Republicans argued the measure is necessary to keep politics out of the pipeline permitting process. >>Read More.


                

The surprising state where solar energy is flourishing

(From ozy.com) — Minnesota is on a hot streak in converting sunlight into usable power. The state tripled its solar energy capacity through the first quarter of this year. And, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, it has increased solar output twelve-fold since 2015. The vast majority of that energy has been led by state utility Xcel, including the 100-megawatt North Star and Aurora Solar projects. Yet while Minnesota still lags in total wattage, trailing industry leaders such as California, North Carolina and Arizona, the Gopher State is the epicenter of one nation-topping experiment: community solar, where multiple clients can subscribe to a single network — called a solar garden — to split costs and avoid the hassle of personally owning housing panels. >>Read More.


Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

Director | Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


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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.

 

News Watch: July 20

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July 20, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Mankato Free Press: My View: Farming can be sustainable and profitable
Duluth News Tribune: Multitude of markets: Northland residents have no shortage of options to buy locally grown food
Faribault Daily News: Faribault’s newest business offers array of local organic foods
Waseca County News: State investigating Monsanto weed killer after farmers’ complaints
Wall Street Journal: America’s farmers turn to bank of John Deere

Clean Energy
Star Tribune: Regulators debating whether to raise “social cost of carbon” in Minnesota
Minnesota Daily: Editorial: Charging stations needed at the U

Climate Change
MinnPost: A new way of seeing sea-level rise looks at chronic flooding of U.S. cities
MPR News: Climate scientist says he was demoted for speaking out on climate change

Conservation
Star Tribune: Goats at work: St. Paul’s weed-eating brigade moves to Crosby Farm Regional Park

Environmental Justice
MinnPost: Will we reverse the little progress we’ve made on environmental justice?

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: PolyMet land exchange: Right or wrong? Wrong: even the appraisal cheats the public
Timberjay: Study: Copper mining would have economic costs (featuring Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters)
Rochester Post Bulletin: Lawsuits against Winona frac sand mining ban joined into single case
Star Tribune: Foes of Twin Metals mine jam St. Paul listening session; advocates stay away

Oil & Pipelines
Duluth News Tribune: Northland college divesting oil, coal and gas investments
Bemidji Pioneer: In wake of Keystone fight, House bill aims to make permitting process easier for oil pipelines that cross borders

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth gets $750,000 grant to refurbish Lincoln Park

Pollinators
Park Bugle: Wildflower Project aims to turn scrappy pieces of land into pollinator-friendly gardens

Pollution
Pioneer Press: 3M refuses to pay latest cleanup bill from state
MPR News: EPA chief meets with Dayton on regulations

Transportation
Star Tribune: Edina investigates possible Dan Patch commuter rail service
Alexandria Echo Press: Watch for bicyclists this week in Alexandria
Star Tribune: Majority objects to Metro Transit fare increases as Met Council gets set to vote
West Central Tribune: Kandiyohi County Board eyes local sales tax to fund highway needs
Winona Post: Mn/DOT, county plan which roads to repair

Waste & Recycling
Pioneer Press: After heated hearing, St. Paul city council delays vote on trash plan
Mankato Free Press: Neighbors’ appeal of Waseca County wood recycling plant dismissed

Water
Star Tribune: EPA’s Pruitt, in departure from Trump budget, backs federal funding for Great Lakes cleanup
Detroit Lakes Online: MN city water treatment data now online
Winona Daily News: Wabasha isn’t ruling out legal opposition to dredge storage plans

Wildlife & Fish
MPR News: Minnesota scientists dive deep to learn why walleye are stressed
Alexandria Echo Press: Eurasian watermilfoil found in Lake Victoria
International Falls Journal: Minnesota gets money for bat research

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News Watch: July 17

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July 17, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Agrinews: RFS proposal draws mixed reactions
Inforum: Corn crop on verge of collapse under brutally dry conditions

Clean Energy
Mankato Free Press: Report: Solar more cost effective than natural gas
Albert Lea Tribune: Board requests increased setbacks for wind project

Climate Change
WCCO: ‘It’s climate change‘- Will Steger on massive iceberg break-off

Conservation
Agrinews: Wild carrot is noxious weed

Environmental Justice
MPR News: Listen: roundtable on environmental justice

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan pushed bill to force PolyMet land exchange
Ely Echo: Mining opponents speak out; Rom, Piragis face some pushback during Tuesday Group visit
Mankato Free Press: Fight over copper mining in northern Minnesota heats up

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Superior gets major grant for Wisconsin Point project
West Central Tribune: Transformation of Willmar’s Rice Park begins

Pollinators
Star Tribune: Queen of forgotten bees: Minnetonka woman is on a mission to save native species

Pollution
Star Tribune: Minnesota expected to get $47 million from Volkswagen settlement

Transportation
MinnPost: Streetcar desire: Transit options for Riverview corridor may not include light rail – but they do include rail
Minnesota Daily: Most used pedestrian bridge in Minnesota to be rebuilt

Waste & Recycling
Duluth News Tribune: Paddlers promote “positive trace ethic” by cleaning up litter along Minnesota, St. Croix and Mississippi rivers
Star Tribune: Minneapolis curbside composting yields high interest, less organic waste than expected
Star Tribune: Arden Hills neighbors raise stink over garbage idea for park

Water
City Pages: Imagine whitewater rapids coursing through downtown Minneapolis
Austin Daily Herald: ‘Future river keepers’ – Bill Thompson, nature center emphasize water care
Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan heralds Great Lakes funding
Mankato Free Press: Minnesota agency using electrofishing to learn water quality
West Central Tribune: Willmar water needs to cut back on the salt: City, Municipal Utilities plan improvements
Duluth News Tribune: Noisy fish? Lake Superior underwater noises include ships, wind…and eelpout
Rochester Post Bulletin: Wabasha neighbors band together in fight against Corps’ dredging plan

Wildlife & Fish
Bemidji Pioneer: Minnesota grouse drumming counts up 57 percent
Austin Daily Herald: Bugs to birds for your yard; Plants, insects key to attracting birds to your yard
Detroit Lakes Online: Purple martins faring well in parts of Minnesota

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Insider: July 14, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

Protecting and Celebrating our Great Lakes Waters

On Wednesday, July 10, a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives released a bill that would fund the vital Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) with a $300 million appropriation, despite the Trump administration’s previous proposals to cut the program. If passed and included in the federal budget, this bill would allow federal departments, state agencies, and local leaders to continue work on cleaning polluted areas, preventing the spread of invasive species, and reducing fertilizer and nutrient runoff in the Great Lakes. Much more needs to be done to preserve and restore these waters, but this is a strong step in the right direction.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership applauds the legislators on both sides of the aisle who have come together in support of GLRI. The Great Lakes are among the world’s greatest freshwater treasures, and for Minnesotans, Lake Superior is an vital part of our livelihoods. The health of our lakes and rivers, the economies of cities like Duluth – they all add up to our common interest in keeping the Great Lakes clean and thriving.

If you’ll be in the Arrowhead region this weekend, it’s a great time to celebrate this common heritage! Lake Superior Day is this Sunday, and Duluth and Grand Marais will be holding events to recognize the importance of our nation’s largest lake and to teach the public about Great Lakes protection. Click here to learn more about Lake Superior Day and how you can get involved!


Attend July 18th or 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the first of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest on Tuesday. This is a chance for concerned citizens to help make sure that the environmental study of mining in this area takes the critical hazards of copper sulfide mining into account. If you can attend one of these meanings, let us know by clicking the Take Action button!


           


photo credit: DNR

State grant money to go toward area buffer compliance

(From Mankato Free Press) — About $5 million in new state funding is trickling down to farmers across the region to help them comply with Minnesota’s vegetative buffer laws. The new cost-share program will allocate funding to local conservation officials, who can then work with farmers on covering part of the cost of planting so-called buffer strips or other alternative practices. “If they’ve got questions, they should give our offices a call and we’ll walk them through the process and make sure they come into compliance,” Nicollet County Soil and Water Manager Kevin Osterman said. >>Read More.
 


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

The MDA will hold a hearing this Monday in St. Paul – if you can attend, tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters! Written comments will also be accepted until August 11.
 

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, the Governor will host a total of ten town hall meetings on his proposed “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal throughout Minnesota. The Governor is seeking input on how we can improve the health of our state’s waters by 25% by the year 2025, and wants to hear Minnesotans’ ideas. Citizens and groups are invited to hold their own meetings to develop proposals and concerns to share with the administration. For info on how to attend or host a meeting, visit www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25


                

Minnesota’s first e-bus hits the road

(From Alexandria Echo Press) — Future yellow school bus wheels will go round and round with electricity harnessed from wind power.Three partners collaborated to roll out the electric school bus pilot program: Schmitty & Sons, Dakota Electric Association of Farmington and Great River Energy, the power supplier for Dakota Electric. “It has been a really cool project and we have had great partners with Dakota Electric and Great River Energy, so it has been awesome to work on,” said Mike Forbord, who works in divisional operations with Schmitty & Sons of Lakeville, Minn., that operates a fleet of 100 school buses serving area districts. >>Read More.


          

St. Paul says it has a deal with garbage haulers on organized collection

(From Pioneer Press) — The city of St. Paul says it has reached an agreement in principle with a consortium of 15 garbage haulers who will coordinate residential trash collection between them. If approved by the St. Paul City Council later this month, haulers would divide residential routes — homes of one to four units. They could begin citywide pickup as soon as spring or summer of 2018.Financial details are expected to be released by early next week, in advance of a public hearing before the council on July 19. A final contract is possible in August. >>Read More.


        


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

State keeps Palmer amaranth at bay: Vigilant landowners benefit eradication effort

(From West Central  Tribune) — Propane blow torches, herbicide, the sharp blades of mowers, hand pulling, and most important of all, the vigilant eyes of landowners. These are among the weapons the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has employed to eradicate Palmer amaranth from 30 conservation plantings in Yellow Medicine and Lyon counties. And so far, it’s been working. “I think everything we have been doing has been successful, but there is just a series of things we need to keep doing to keep sure we’re not getting any mature plants out there,” said Anthony Cortilet, noxious weed program coordinator with the Department of Agriculture. He said the department is in the process of employing someone to work full time on the eradication effort this year. The state launched its eradication effort after it was discovered that 13 landowners had unknowingly spread seed mixes containing Palmer amaranth on the 30 conservation sites last year. >>Read More.


           

Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline

(From Star Tribune) — Most people have heard of the Dakota Access pipeline, but many Minnesotans may not know that Enbridge, one of the companies behind DAPL, is proposing an enormous pipeline expansion through our state. Enbridge wants to construct a new pipeline called “Line 3” to carry tar-sands oil from Alberta to Superior, Wis. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings on the pipeline proposal this fall and will decide whether to permit it in 2018. While citizens may testify at the hearings, some parties have been formally recognized as “intervenors,” based on having submitted petitions declaring that the project would directly affect them. Intervenors will participate officially in court proceedings, representing their specific opposition to Line 3. >>Read More.


                

High Energy; students study energy conservation

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Aggie McKichan stood by a series of propellers attached to rotors; some were situated so the blades turned horizontally and some, vertically. Next to the spinning objects were fans; together, they demonstrated the creation of electricity generated in the rotation of the blades — in effect, wind turbines. The 11-year-old was one of over 70 fourth to sixth graders who gathered this year to study energy conservation as part of the E3 Program. “E3” stands for “Engineering and Environmental Sciences for Everyone.” >>Read More.

Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota

(From MPR News) — A new report from the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab shows adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state. The report looked at several scenarios, including a common one in the summer: A hot day when electricity demand is much higher than usual because of air conditioning. “What would be more cost effective: to build a conventional plant or to put in a big battery? Or, alternatively, to put in a big battery and a big solar array at the same time? [The consultants] found that putting in solar plus storage was actually cost effective right now,” said Ellen Anderson, who directs the Energy Transition Lab. >>Read More.

Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Administrative and Outreach Coordination Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Strategic Communications Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


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.

News Watch: July 13

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July 13, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollinators, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Winona Post: Local kids learn how to garden
Star Tribune: No kidding: Minneapolis City Council candidates queried about goats

Clean Energy
Austin Daily Herald: High energy; students study energy conservation
Northfield News: Council sets up city solar subscription decision for July 18

Conservation
MPR News: Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota
West Central Tribune: State keeps Palmer amaranth at bay: Vigilant landowners benefit eradication effort
Alexandria Echo Press: DNR warns lakeshore property owners equipment to remove aquatic plants illegal
Inforum: Grant benefits prairie conservation in Grand Forks county
Rochester Post Bulletin: Corps studies plans to create Lake Pepin islands

Environmental Justice
MPR News: The fight for Native fishing rights in Minn., Wis.

Mining
MPR News: After Supreme Court victory, peat mine proposal’s fate in DNR’s hands

Oil & Pipelines
Star Tribune: Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline
Inforum: Disaster declaration declined for DAPL costs; feds unlikely to cover $38 million bill

Pollinators
Elk River Star News: Mainstreams: Bringing back the bees
St. Cloud Times: Legislature must do more for pollinators

Transportation
Alexandria Echo Press: Minnesota’s first e-bus hits the road
Star Tribune: Streetcars among 6 options for transit route between St. Paul, MSP
Marshall Independent: Area officials, MnDOT staff talk transportation funding

Waste & Recycling
Pioneer Press: St. Paul says it has a deal with garbage haulers on organized collection

Water
Mankato Free Press: State grant money to go toward area buffer compliance
Duluth News Tribune: Lake Superior Day events all weekend
Pioneer Press: New state funding will help landowners install buffer strips along Minnesota’s waters
Duluth News Tribune: House bill has Great Lakes funding, targets wolves
Austin Daily Herald: CRWD seeking volunteers for river clean-up

Wildlife & Fish
Timberjay: “We knew this was coming” Bat numbers plummeting in Arrowhead
Star Tribune: Dayton says walleye restrictions on Lake Mille Lacs could be eased

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News Watch: July 10

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July 10, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Featured Article:
Alexandria Echo Press: Group learns about tallgrass prairie, conducts bird surveys (featuring Land Stewardship Project and CURE)

Agriculture & Food
Austin Daily Herald: Cover Crop champs kicks off Water Festival
International Falls Journal: Plans for Aquaponic farm still on the table
Grand Rapids Herald Review: Garden is ‘cool’ community cooperative venture

Clean Energy
Star Tribune: With more electric cars coming, Minnesota officials consider changing network
West Central Tribune: Public invited to see wind and solar projects
St. Peter Herald: Aurora Solar Project begins full operations

Climate Change
Mankato Free Press: Local study aims to adapt to climate change

Conservation
International Falls Journal: County moves toward settlement with Blandin
Bemidji Pioneer: ‘Azhegiiwe Bagwajaya’ii’ He/She Returns to Nature/Wilderness camp
West Central Tribune: Maples next in tree pandemic?

Environmental Justice
Duluth News Tribune: State director gathering Native American input on Grand Mound
MinnPost: Short notice, low turnout: Northern Metals’ meeting draws criticism

Mining
St. Cloud Times: Nolan gets hearing on bill to push through PolyMet land swap

Oil & Pipelines
WKOW: Fifth annual Love Water Not Oil Horse Ride kicks off in Madison
MinnPost: Reading between the lines of Minnesota’s Draft EIS for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline

Parks & Trails
Rochester Post Bulletin: Natural shift grows concerns for park neighbors
Fergus Falls Daily Journal: Minn. state parks and trails programs offer valuable educational skills for beginners

Pollinators
Tri-State Neighbor: Learn what you can do to help bees

Transportation
Star Tribune: Duluth projects puts protected bike lane on training wheels
Star Tribune: Afton parades its new look in midst of major infrastructure project

Waste & Recycling
Pine Journal: Getting the dirt on SKB Environmental

Water
Marshall Independent: Dayton to hold water quality town hall in Marshall
West Central Tribune: MPCA fine paid as city looks back on stormwater projects in 2016

Wildlife & Fish
Star Tribune: Dayton cancels meeting with Mille Lacs-area businesses after protest
Mankato Free Press: Wright County to require boat inspections to combat invasives
Austin Daily Herald: Saving the martins; Open house to provide insight on the birds

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Insider: July 7, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   
photo credit: NASA

Sulfide Mining Debate Continues in the Northland

Less than two weeks remain until the U.S. Forest Service begins its two listening sessions on a proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal in the Superior National Forest. The first will take place on July 18 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, and the second will be held at Virginia High School in the Iron Range. These hearings will be used in development of an environmental impact statement for this proposal, which would include more than 230,000 acres of national forest land in the Rainy River watershed. The Forest Service is also taking comments through August 11 by email at comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us.

The comment period continues to be contentious. The mineral withdrawal would head off an enormous risk of toxic sulfide pollution, like the effects pictured above, in Northern Minnesota’s vulnerable waters. And groups like Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Save the Boundary Waters have issued calls for volunteers to speak up at the hearings on this important issue. Pro-mining advocates have announced that they will boycott the St. Paul hearing. It will take concerted action by concerned citizens to make sure that the Forest Service takes the critical environmental hazards of copper sulfide mining into account in their decision.

Meanwhile, Congressman Rick Nolan has introduced a bill, HR 3115, that would force the Superior National Forest to accept a land exchange with PolyMet for their open-pit sulfide mine, with the land value set at at the incredibly low price of $550 per acre. Allowing this level of sulfide pollution for such a cheap exchange does a disservice to Minnesotans and our national forests, and MEP has issued the Action Alert below to demand that Minnesota’s federal lawmakers oppose the bill. Thanks to dedicated defenders of Minnesota’s great outdoors, more than 2,000 emails to this effect have been sent to our Senators and Representatives, and we encourage all our friends to join in! Use the Action Alert or call your Senator or Representative to tell them to stand up for public lands and vulnerable waters in Minnesota!


Stop bill that lets Polymet pay fire sale prices to turn Superior National Forest land into an open-pit sulfide mine

If Rep. Nolan’s bill becomes law, all challenges to this land exchange on behalf of taxpayers would end and this land exchange would move forward. If PolyMet wants to destroy public land for their sulfide mine proposal, the very least they can do is pay a fair price for it.

We need you to tell Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken and Representatives Tim Walz, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum to oppose HR 3115!
 

Come to the Forest Service Listening Session in Virginia, MN to speak up on sulfide mining!

(From Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness) —The U.S. Forest Service is holding two listening sessions in July to gather input on a proposed 20-year moratorium on the leasing of federal minerals to mining companies in the Superior National Forest upstream of the Boundary Waters. Join us to tell the Forest Service how sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters would affect your wilderness experience.

We want to see passionate Boundary Waters supporters like you on July 25 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Virginia. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the session will be held in the auditorium. RSVP here!

 


       

Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Letter: Bees get no help from Minnesota Legislature

(From Detroit Lakes Online, by CURE program director Peg Furshong) — On June 23-24, over 150 people of all ages gathered at Glacial Lakes State Park to learn about the Tallgrass Prairie and just how important this ecosystem is for pollinator habitat. With less than 1 percent of this rare ecosystem left, it is considered the most threatened natural environments, and as such, the animals and insects that live there are threatened as well. But while Minnesotans in our region and beyond care deeply about pollinators, our legislators are out of step. >>Read More.


           


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use.

The MDA will hold hearings this month in McIntosh and St. Paul – if you can attend, tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters! Written comments will also be accepted until August 11.
 

St. Cloud among 10 sites for Dayton’s water quality meetings

(From St. Cloud Times) —  Gov. Mark Dayton is organizing town halls throughout Minnesota to discuss water quality. The Democratic governor has made improving the state’s drinking and recreational waters a top priority for his final term in office. He spearheaded a new law requiring buffer zones between cropland and waterways and defended it from GOP attempts to repeal it. >>Read More.


          

10 things to know about the proposed City Loop

(From Rochester Post Bulletin) — Work continues on a proposed City Loop to connect pedestrians and bicyclists to various points in the Destination Medical Center district. Proposed in the original DMC concept plan, the urban trail network seeks to use existing and new pathways to offer connections to green spaces throughout the center of the city as a way of encouraging private investment and enhancing quality of life for residents. St. Paul-based SRF Consulting Group is refining the concept while it works with city staff on transportation plans that also include street use, transit and parking needs related to DMC. >>Read More.


        


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Applicants needed for EQIB funds; Farmers can apply until Aug. 18

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Mower County agricultural producers and landowners looking to solve natural resource problems on their farms need to contact local conservation staff in advance of a mid-August deadline. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced farmers need to apply by Aug. 18 for USDA funding in 2018 under the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary program providing financial and technical assistance to ag producers and landowners. These contracts give financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, and related resources on ag land and non-industrial private forestland. >>Read More.

Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock

(From MPR News) — Each day for decades, five pipelines have quietly pumped more than 2 million barrels of Canadian crude oil below northern Minnesota’s forests, lakes and rivers to refineries around the Upper Midwest. It’s a network that for years saw little public scrutiny. The lines were built in an era with no federal environmental law requiring studies or public hearings, keeping opposition to a minimum. Those days are gone, replaced by a massive multi-year permitting process that requires transparency and public input — and an environmental movement determined to make its voice heard. >>Read More.

Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

SE MN Wastewater Facilitator | Cannon River Watershed Partnership – Apply by July 7

Chief Development Officer | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy – Apply by July 10

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


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.

 

News Watch: July 6

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July 6, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: Thousands of garden plants gifted to North Mpls
Austin Daily Herald: Applicants needed for EQIP funds; Farmers can apply until Aug. 18
AgriNews: Nitrogen fertilizer rule develops with public input

Clean Energy
Mankato Free Press: North Mankato looking at solar, other sustainable practices
Alexandria Echo Press: Sun power on tap: Minnesota solar project complete and producing renewable energy
Star Tribune: Minnesota dealers predict shift to electric cars will broaden Volvo’s appeal

Conservation
Minnesota Daily: Scientists not renewed for a second term advising the EPA, UMN professor among them 

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan presses PolyMet land exchange in legislation
Timberjay: Environmental group seeks additional PolyMet review

Oil & Pipelines
MPR News: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: Minnesota state parks fees rise for the first time in a decade
​Winona Post: Fishing made easy – no license, no equipment and no experience needed at Minnesota state parks

Pollinators
Inforum: Pollinator seminar set for July 11 in Fargo
Osceola Sun: Summer-long exhibit invites you to explore all things ‘bee’

Transportation
Northfield News: Hiawathaland Transit continues to expand
Pioneer Press: A $1.2 billion streetcar line in St. Paul? A vote approaches
Rochester Post Bulletin: 10 things to know about the proposed City Loop

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Landfills sue state over push to burn more garbage

Water
Star Tribune: Two-state flotilla along St. Croix plots mission against invasive species
St. Cloud Times: St. Cloud among 10 sites for Dayton’s water quality meetings
Marshall Independent: Lyon County OKs funding for road retention project
West Central Tribune: MPCA fines Willmar $18,500 after stormwater audit

Wildlife & Fish
MPR News: Minn. loons could get aid from BP oil spill cleanup funds
St. Cloud Times: Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs lake to close for 3 weeks
Detroit Lakes Online: Study: Warm waters increase lake trout hooking mortality
Mankato Free Press: Fish kill on Lake Elysian untimely but not unusual
 

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Insider: June 30, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

Celebrating and Protecting Minnesota’s Waters

Many of us in Minnesota will spend time this weekend and this Independence Day enjoying all that Minnesota’s lakes and rivers have to offer in the summertime. Those in the Twin Cities will swim in the City of Lakes, kayak the Mississippi, run through lawn sprinklers, or hike on the hundreds of lakeside trails throughout the Metro. Anglers will head to Mille Lacs, folks Duluth will boat, and intrepid canoeists will voyage into the one-of-a-kind Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The star of July is an excellent time to adventure in our natural water spaces, and an opportunity to remember that we can’t take them for granted – we’re responsible for protecting our waters.

And they continue to need protection. Nutrient runoff in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers is getting worse, while the Department of Agriculture proposes to implement a weak nitrogen fertilizer rule that would need heavy strengthening in order to make a dent in the problem. The two-year mining ban and environmental review study in the Boundary Waters area continues to be debated, leaving open the possibility of toxic sulfide mining threatening the ecosystem in the near future. Fortunately, Minnesotans who value these natural treasures have waged a strong campaign for their protection.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership will keep on working hard for our waters here in Minnesota, and we will keep celebrating them hard as well! And we encourage all of our friends and subscribers to do the same this July – we will use this month to #CelebrateOurWater! We will keep posting about our waters on our website, Facebook and Twitter, and in the Insider – read more and stay tuned for more news on how to get involved!


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One Water Summit 2017 wraps up in Louisiana

The US Water Alliance held its annual One Water Summit in New Orleans this week, bringing together scientists, nonprofit leaders, and government officials to share ideas and solutions for our nation’s most pressing water issues. It was a tremendous opportunity to connect with water leaders from across the country, and MEP is excited to hear that the Summit will be coming to Minneapolis in 2018.

MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine gave a presentation on water infrastructure, and our own Steve Morse and Irene Folstrom represented MEP.  For photos of the event and more, check out Steveand Irene and our Duluth office on Twitter!

Popular Kandiyohi County lakes near “tipping points”

(From West Central Tribune) — The waters of Games Lake and Lake Andrew are still clear enough for swimmers to see their toes when they wade into them, or for anglers to see the sparkle of their spinner baits as they retrieve them. Those days might be coming to an end, water quality professionals say, unless action is taken soon. Water quality is at a “tipping point” in the lakes of the Upper Shakopee Creek basin in the northwest corner of Kandiyohi County, according to Skip Wright, district manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s Ecological and Water Resources office in Spicer. >>Read More.

Editorial: Here’s how to stop algal blooms

(From Alexandria Echo Press) — There’s a danger lurking in many of our lakes. Residents need to know it’s there — and how to stop it. It’s blue-green algae, which poses a health hazard to people and animals. Last summer, blue-green algal blooms were reported in lakes across the state. Pollution experts and the Minnesota Department of Health jointly investigated two reported human illnesses and multiple dog deaths following exposure to blue-green algae. Dogs in Douglas County have gotten sick from ingesting algae in past summers. Once exposed to blue-green algae, they can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, general weakness, liver failure, and seizures. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms after visiting a lake, seek veterinary care immediately. In the worst cases, blue-green algae exposure can cause death. >>Read More.

 


       
Hesperia dacotae 2.jpg
Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

This homely, endangered butterfly is a beautiful sight to a breeder

(From MPR News) — The Dakota skipper mysteriously disappeared from these southwest Minnesota prairies a decade ago. Nobody has pinpointed exactly why, but their numbers fell about a decade ago as farming practices changed. The moth-like skipper butterfly is no Monarch — they’re typically an inch wide, ruddy brown and fuzzy. Somewhat homely, you might say. But to Erik Runquist’s eyes, they’re a beautiful sight. The Minnesota Zoo butterfly conservation biologist is helping with the first effort to reintroduce skippers to their old habitats. >>Read More.


           


photo credit: Pioneer Press

Environmentalists criticize changes to PolyMet mine design

(From St. Cloud Times) —  An environmental group says the design for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota has changed in significant ways that require regulators to conduct a fresh environmental review of the revisions. WaterLegacy says changes in the mine’s tailings basin and wastewater treatment facilities, and a new disclosure of how much water would be pumped from the mine, obligate federal and state agencies to take a closer look — a move that could cause further delays in an already long process. The group was making the request in a letter Thursday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other agencies. >>Read More.

Come to the Forest Service Listening Session in Virginia, MN to speak up on sulfide mining!

(From Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness) —The U.S. Forest Service is holding two listening sessions in July to gather input on a proposed 20-year moratorium on the leasing of federal minerals to mining companies in the Superior National Forest upstream of the Boundary Waters. Join us to tell the Forest Service how sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters would affect your wilderness experience.

We want to see passionate Boundary Waters supporters like you on July 25 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Virginia. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the session will be held in the auditorium. RSVP here!


          

Paying more for power — An Environmentalist’s View: Rate hikes not needed to grow clean energy, protect environment

(From Duluth News Tribune, by MCEA Executive Director Kathryn Hoffman) — Power companies across the country realize that investing in clean, efficient energy is a win-win business decision. With the costs for electricity from wind now cheaper than coal and natural gas, utility providers like Minnesota Power are making common-sense investments in renewable energy. This is protecting our environment, creating good-paying jobs, and saving businesses and customers millions. >>Read More.

City Analysis: Minnesota’s commitment continues despite Paris pull-out

(From Fresh Energy executive Director Michael Noble) — The Trump Administration’s abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement has raised all five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But now is the time for everyone to move beyond acceptance to a renewed commitment to action.There is no sugar-coating it that President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the U.S. commitments to the world as part of the Paris Agreement made no sense strategically or economically or environmentally. There is little to be gained by rehashing all that has been written about the downside of the decision: loss of international prestige and leadership, estrangement of America’s best allies, dramatically increasing risk that the world will be unable to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. >>Read More.


        

City sends letter of concern for Line 3 project

(From Grand Rapids Herald Review) — The City of Grand Rapids is submitting concerns to the Minnesota Department of Commerce regarding the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project. A letter to Environmental Review Manager Jamie Macalister, dated June 26, was approved during a meeting of the Grand Rapids City Council on Monday.The letter cites the project’s draft environmental impact statement (D-EIS) that Enbridge has filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission detailing how pipeline abandonment regulations will be achieved. >>Read More. 

Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

SE MN Wastewater Facilitator | Cannon River Watershed Partnership – Apply by July 7

Chief Development Officer | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy – Apply by July 10

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Education Manager | Audubon Center of the North Woods

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


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.

News Watch: June 29

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June 29, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Featured Article: 
MinnPost: From toxic prisons to sand’s scarcity, good reads for the holiday weekend

Agriculture & Food
Detroit Lakes Online: MDA seeks public input on draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule
Rochester Post Bulletin: Dodge County feedlot legal battle is over
Winona Post: East rec gardens take off

Clean Energy
Albert Lea Tribune: Mower County ranks 1st in wind energy production taxes; county receives $2.3M
Star Tribune: Minnesota’s second 100-megawatt solar project is up and running
Duluth News Tribune: Paying more for power – An Environmentalist’s View: Rate hikes not needed to grow clean energy, protect environment (by Kathryn Hoffman, executive director of MCEA)

Climate Change
Star Tribune: Art installation near U.S. Bank Stadium tells the story of Minnesota’s birds and climate change

Conservation
West Central Tribune: Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center finishes construction on new pavilion
Brainerd Dispatch: Private forest management for homeowners benefits of a forest stewardship plan
Pioneer Press: Minnesota scientist: EPA pressured her to change testimony to Congress

Mining
Timberjay: Litigation could risk Minntac expansion (featuring MCEA)
St. Cloud Times: Environmentalists criticize changes to PolyMet mine design (featuring Water Legacy)

Oil & Pipelines
Grand Rapids Herald Review: City sends letter of concern for Line 3 project
MPR News: Board: Pipeline security company operated without license

Parks & Trails
City Pages: NiceRide on the river: Kayak on the Mississippi for $20 through the Paddle Share program
MPR News: 6 Minn. state parks where the mosquitos aren’t so horrible
Albert Lea Tribune: State parks offer new benefits for Minnesota veterans
Rochester Post Bulletin: DNR to host prairie wildflower walk

Pollinators
Albert Lea Tribune: Native plants to be placed along Albert Lea highways
Star Tribune: With help from Minnesota researchers, imperiled prairie butterfly takes flight

Pollution
Hibbing Daily Tribune: HPU fined for air quality violations
MPR News: U.S. air pollution still kills thousands every year, study concludes

Transportation
Star Tribune: In its 200-year history, bicycling has gone from risky to healthy
West Fargo Pioneer: Moorhead looks to improve function, aesthetics of Central Avenue Corridor

Waste & Recycling
MPR News: When it comes to recycling, you’re (probably) doing it wrong

Water
West Central Tribune: Popular Kandiyohi County lakes “near tipping points”
Mankato Free Press: Nicollet County to enforce buffer strip law; other counties doing the same thing
NRDC Expert Blog: Craft brewers oppose proposal to repeal Clean Water Rule

Wildlife & Fish
City Pages: The DNR’s biggest illegal trapping case ever only yields a suspended sentence
Timberjay: DNR researcher: Wolves a factor making moose recovery “difficult”
MPR News: Researchers race to slow a disease that could wipe out some bat species
 

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©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

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