Policy Associate | Energy Access & Equity

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Location: Saint Paul

Job overview and requirements

Are you the type of person who has been successful working collaboratively in coalitions across different interests, specifically with diverse and traditionally underrepresented voices in energy? Would you enjoy engaging others in developing and implementing creative and inclusive solutions around equitably advancing clean energy in Minnesota? Do you want to be challenged at work, have a lot of fun, be inspired frequently, and make a significant impact at an innovative nonprofit working on electrifying our economy to reduce carbon emissions and benefit all Minnesotans?

Fresh Energy is hiring a full-time policy associate to join our Energy Performance team working on Energy Access & Equity. This position will actively support and sometimes lead on activities in this program area. Examples of current projects include the Saint Paul Tenant-Landlord Energy Project, a unique joint partnership with Community Stabilization Project, and collaborative work with environmental justice groups to improve air quality and reduce demand for oil through electrification of transportation.  We’re looking for someone who is visionary, yet pragmatic, to help us create a clean energy future that benefits all. If you have experience in this area, thrive on engaging with others, and have a results-oriented approach, please read on!

Our story

For more than 26 years, Fresh Energy has been speeding Minnesota’s transition to a clean energy economy to ensure that our region enjoys good health, a vibrant economy, and thriving communities today and for generations to come. Our mission is to shape and drive realistic, visionary energy policies that benefit all. Together we are working toward a vision for an economy we thrive in and energy that ensures our well-being.

Strong energy policy is creating new options for Minnesotans to reap the benefits of solar power, smart efficiency, electric transportation, and more. As our state shifts to a cleaner energy economy, it is vital to ensure that no one is left behind. Over the last four years, Fresh Energy has been expanding its work to look at not just how much wind, solar, and efficiency we have in our state but also who benefits. Fresh Energy is doubling down on this work through our new Energy Access and Equity program area. The program houses our work to create and expand clean energy opportunities for under-resourced households and renters and ensure that equity is at the heart of our efforts. Fresh Energy will continue to focus on providing policy and technical expertise, actively partnering with community and equity-focused organizations to identify and secure inclusive solutions.

Reports to

Director, Energy Performance

Essential responsibilities

 

  1. Policy and Programs:
    • Actively support, and sometimes lead, activities related to the development and implementation of key projects. (Current examples include the Saint Paul Tenant-Landlord Energy Project and collaborative work with environmental justice groups to improve air quality and reduce demand for oil through electrification of transportation.)
    • Represent Fresh Energy in key equity- and environmental justice-focused coalitions.
    • Explore opportunities to engage in local advocacy work, potentially including specific efforts in Minneapolis.
    • Support Energy Markets staff in work related to electric vehicles and environmental justice.
    • Support Energy Performance team in broader policy work as needed.
  • Make written and oral presentations to collaborators, community groups, policy makers, and other stakeholders as part of the program’s outreach and advocacy functions.
  • In collaboration with the communications department, create and publish reports, white papers, web content, e-newsletters, and other program information. When appropriate, work to optimize media coverage of program goals, activities, and successes; this may include media interviews as well as writing op-ed pieces, and also includes the recruitment and training of effective messengers.
  • Support the creation and management of the annual budget for the program.
  1. Participate in culture of collaboration and model our core values.
  • In collaboration with the development staff, participate in fund development and relationship building efforts.
  • Work effectively in the context of your immediate team, the broader Fresh Energy team, and with external partners; enhance collaboration by maintaining good communication, seeking and respecting diverse viewpoints, engendering trust, fulfilling responsibilities, and ensuring that all team members and their contributions are valued.
  • Model behavior and contribute to a culture that is consistent with Fresh Energy’s core values; A critical part of achieving our mission is by living the values we endorse.
  1. Other duties as assigned.


 
Our hiring process and timeline

  • We will review applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
  • Our hiring team will select finalists to interview in-person.
  • Finalists will be invited to a second-round interview; at that time, we will ask for three references and two work samples relevant to this position, e.g. a technical paper, a professional writing sample, or other relevant materials.
  • Ideally the selected candidate would begin work in early August.
  • Fresh Energy’s Equal Opportunity Employer Policy reflects our commitment to ensure equality, treat everyone with respect, and promote diversity in the workplace.


Job qualifications

Required:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree plus two years of experience in energy, economics, technology, or related field.
  2. Demonstrated experience working collaboratively in coalitions of stakeholders across different interests. Leadership within coalitions a plus.
  3. Proven success working closely with diverse and underrepresented voices.
  4. Ability to develop, implement, and advocate for creative and inclusive solutions and strategies to equitably advance clean energy in Minnesota.
  5. Ability to conduct rigorous research and compile findings into easily digested and compelling formats.
  6. Self-starter who is able to work independently.
  7. Planful and results-oriented.
  8. Excellent interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
  9. Demonstrated ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects in a fast-paced environment.
  10. Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  11. Solid computer skills in Windows environment, including MS Office.
  12. Team player who desires working in an environment where working as a team is valued and practiced.
  13. Ability to work occasional evenings/weekends is required.
  14. Persons in this position frequently lift, carry, push and/or pull objects weighing up to 20 pounds. They occasionally move objects weighing up to 50 pounds.

Preferred:

  1. Master’s Degree in related field, Juris Doctor, or other advanced degree.
  2. Demonstrated experience leading advocacy efforts related to equity and inclusion, environmental justice, community organizing, or related fields.
  3. Experience presenting before regulators, policymakers, utilities, and other key stakeholders.
  4. Experience developing communications to drive awareness of key issues, such as blog posts, research papers, social media, press statements, and/or video.

 Compensation and benefits

  • Starting salary range: $40,000-47,000 based on experience.
  • Full-time, exempt position, working 40 hours per week. We believe in work-life balance and are committed to keeping the workload in alignment with the true hours worked.
  • 24 days of PTO (increases each year of employment), 14 paid holidays, and a flexible, family-friendly schedule; plus summer Fridays, the office closes at noon.
  • We provide medical and dental plans, additional voluntary vision, short- and long-term disability, life, AD&D insurance, and 5 percent of annual salary contribution to 403(b) retirement plan after one year. In addition, we incentivize transit, biking, and walking, offering a dollar for dollar bus pass match, a free annual NiceRide subscription, $1 for each trip to and from work by bike or walk, and an indoor bike storage area and showers.
  • We foster a respectful, collaborative, and fun work environment.

To apply

E-mail cover letter and resume to Jillian Theuer at theuer@fresh-energy.org. No phone calls, please.

Line 3 and PolyMet: Two pivotal moments for Minnesota waters

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This month is shaping up to be a big one for the health of Minnesota’s water, land, and communities. Last week, the staff of the Public Utilities Commission released nonbinding recommendation that the proposed Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline be approved, and that its new route should be favored as the least harmful to the environment. While this report is disappointing and contrary to the Department of Commerce’s conclusion that Line 3 is not needed by Minnesotans, it is also not the end of the story: the PUC’s five Commissioners are scheduled to make their final decision by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s U.S. Senators have attached an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that would force through the land exchange for the PolyMet sulfide mine in northern Minnesota. The land exchange – which would trade public land with PolyMet’s parent company at bargain prices – is already scheduled to conclude on June 28. But it is contingent on four pending lawsuits filed to stop it, and could be suspended depending on the legal outcome. The amendment to the National Defense Act in Congress would eliminate the lawsuits and push PolyMet toward becoming a reality.

These two projects, though focused on different activities, represent two sides of the same coin: the devaluing and misuse of northern our state’s critical land and water resources, despite strong opposition from majorities of Minnesotans.

Both have created unprecedented debates

Line 3 is a replacement of an old line that would increase its capacity by doubling the number of barrels per day, delivering toxic Alberta tar sands oil across Minnesota. State and federal laws were written largely to favor pipeline construction, and the PUC has historically rubber-stamped these proposals. But in the wake of controversies like Dakota Access and Keystone XL and with the broader understanding of the increasing effects of climate change, the PUC has heard testimony from thousands of Minnesotans. It’s clear that such dangerous pipelines are no longer considered a no-brainer.

PolyMet is unprecedented in its own way – sulfide ore mining has never been conducted in Minnesota, and it has never been conducted in any location with freshwater resources without leaving acid pollution in its wake. Minnesota has a long-held tradition of iron ore mining, but sulfides are a breed apart. A mine waste spill at the PolyMet site would result in pollution that would harm the area for decades even if it occurred long after the mine ceased operations.

Both would trample over indigenous rights

The PolyMet mine would lie in the St. Louis River watershed upstream from Lake Superior. Downstream the St. Louis River flows through the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation. The Ojibwe of this reservation depend on the St. Louis River’s water and fishing resources for their health, well-being and guaranteed cultural rights. The fish in the watershed have already been contaminated by sulfates and mercury that threaten human health – the addition of acid drainage pollution in the likely event of a mine spill at some point would be an even greater blow.

Throughout the Line 3 debate, the Leech Lake Band and Ojibwe tribal members throughout Minnesota have condemned this pipeline proposal as a violation of their treaty rights, their culture, and the viability of their communities. A tar sands oil spill from this pipeline into the vulnerable waters it would cross would be catastrophic for the water and wild rice resources on which the Ojibwe rely.

Both have been falsely framed as the economy versus the environment

Minnesota’s most basic and vital resource is our supply of clean water. The health of our communities and the livelihoods of thousands of Minnesota residents and businesses depend on the safety of our lakes and rivers. An accident on Line 3 or at PolyMet would create tremendous financial burdens on Minnesotans. We can’t afford to continue piling up risks to our water and moving backwards on climate action by approving such projects. If these projects are approved, Minnesotans will end up paying the costs for generations after the few temporary jobs on Line 3 and PolyMet have disappeared.

We urge state officials and our United States Senators to consider the future of Minnesota and reject these ill-conceived and dangerous proposals.

Legislators attempt to block Groundwater Protection, but Dayton administration vows to move forward

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This week, leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate formally filed their resolutions to delay Minnesota’s draft Groundwater Protection Rule after having voted to do so near the end of the 2018 Legislative Session. This unprecedented measure, if upheld by Minnesota’s court system, could put the completion of the rulemaking process on hold, delaying much-needed action to protect Minnesota’s drinking water. However, the Dayton Administration has signaled its resolve to continue moving forward, and an actual delay is anything but certain.

The proposed rule

The draft rule proposed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) would finally begin to implement the regulatory authority of the 1989 Groundwater Protection Act to safeguard Minnesota’s groundwater from nitrate pollution. Nitrates in our water are increasingly common and are creating an expensive health problem for Minnesota communities and well owners, many of whom spent thousands of dollars to dig new wells to avoid contaminated water. Nitrates can cause blue baby syndrome in infants and are linked to certain cancers. They originate from various sources, but the largest is fertilizer runoff from row-crop agriculture.

The MDA rule proposes a modest but important framework to reduce nitrate runoff from cropland in vulnerable areas. First, it restricts fall and winter fertilizer application on vulnerable soils that make up only 12.6% of Minnesota’s farmland. Second, it promotes voluntary best management practices to reduce nitrate levels in at-risk community wellhead protection areas, accounting for 0.45% of Minnesota’s farmland. These educational efforts can then convert to requirements if water pollution levels do not decline.

The Legislative delay (or lack thereof)

This rule has been developed with input from farmers, scientists, stakeholders, and communities across the state, and continues to be adjusted based on public comments. The Legislature’s attempt to use an obscure law to block the rule’s implementation seems designed to ultimately block the rule and thereby the reasonable water protections it would afford to thousands of Minnesotans.

Fortunately, at a press conference at the end of the session, Governor Dayton announced that he directed the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture to proceed with the rulemaking. “We don’t believe that that action is even constitutional – it’s certainly ill-advised,” Dayton said. He added, “We’re not making this stuff up. It’s about protecting the safety of Minnesotans when they turn on their faucet.”

How to speak up on the Groundwater Protection Rule

The MDA is moving forward with continued community dialogue on the rule throughout June and July, with a public comment period to close on July 26. We encourage all Minnesotans with a stake in this issue to attend one of the informational meetings or July public hearings or comment online on the rule to help ensure that it protects the public interest. Minnesota is long overdue for action to protect our precious groundwater and drinking water supplies. This rule is an opportunity to work together to ensure that all Minnesotans can feel secure when they turn on the tap.

Legislative session misses opportunities, but gives Minnesota a chance to move forward

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

With Governor Mark Dayton’s final vetoes and bill signatures this week, the 2018 Minnesota legislative session ended with successes, losses, and missed opportunities for Minnesota’s environment. Thanks to the Governor’s veto, bad legislation like the Line 3 giveaway bill and the wild rice standard roll back, didn’t become law – critical victories for Minnesota’s land, air and water. And the bill blocking the Groundwater Protection Rule didn’t reach the Governor’s desk. We thank all Minnesotans who spoke up to make sure this and other bad legislation would not threaten our natural resources.

Unfortunately, critical projects to boost our health and our great outdoors – like Forever Green and the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program – were left underfunded this year. Worse still, the Legislature passed a raid in the bonding bill on the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The ENRTF uses state lottery proceeds to fund innovative research and projects aimed at solving Minnesota’s pressing environmental challenges. The bonding bill signed into law would spend this money on basic services – like infrastructure and waste projects – that should be paid for with general bonding. This raid poses a long-term threat to the ENRTF and all constitutionally-dedicated funds.

For a full session summary, see MEP’s 2018 legislative wrap-up.

Looking to Minnesota’s future

Fortunately, the end of the session left the MDA’s Groundwater Protection Rule process intact, keeping it on track to be finalized this year, with opportunity for citizen input online or at hearings during the summer. MEP will continue to engage with the Department of Agriculture and local leaders to work toward a long-term solution to nitrate pollution in our drinking water.

This month, the Public Utilities Commission is concluding its review of Line 3 at several hearings and deciding whether to grant Enbridge’s pipeline a certificate of need. We call on Minnesotans to speak up at those hearings, and we ask the PUC to recognize that Minnesota does not need this pipeline.

And with the Governor’s office and the future of the Legislature hanging in the balance in the 2018 election, we’ll be working to educate the candidates and prepare our Coalition to bring a positive environmental vision in 2019.

We thank all those who contacted their representatives, joined us at our events, and followed the session with us in 2018. And we urge Minnesotans to keep speaking up on the environmental issues that affect us all!

Insider: June 3, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Legislative session misses opportunities, but gives Minnesota a chance to move forward

With Governor Mark Dayton’s final vetoes and bill signatures this week, the 2018 Minnesota legislative session ended with successes, losses, and missed opportunities for Minnesota’s environment. Thanks to the Governor’s veto, bad legislation like the Line 3 giveaway bill and the wild rice standard roll back, didn’t become law – critical victories for Minnesota’s land, air and water. And the bill blocking the Groundwater Protection Rule didn’t reach the Governor’s desk. We thank all Minnesotans who spoke up to make sure this and other bad legislation would not threaten our natural resources.

Unfortunately, critical projects to boost our health and our great outdoors – like Forever Green and the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program – were left underfunded this year. Worse still, the Legislature passed a raid in the bonding bill on the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The ENRTF uses state lottery proceeds to fund innovative research and projects aimed at solving Minnesota’s pressing environmental challenges. The bonding bill signed into law would spend this money on basic services – like infrastructure and waste projects – that should be paid for with general bonding. This raid poses a long-term threat to the ENRTF and all constitutionally-dedicated funds.

For a full session summary, see MEP’s 2018 legislative wrap-up.

Looking to Minnesota’s future

Fortunately, the end of the session left the MDA’s Groundwater Protection Rule process intact, keeping it on track to be finalized this year, with opportunity for citizen input online or at hearings during the summer. MEP will continue to engage with the Department of Agriculture and local leaders to work toward a long-term solution to nitrate pollution in our drinking water.

This month, the Public Utilities Commission is concluding its review of Line 3 at several hearings and deciding whether to grant Enbridge’s pipeline a certificate of need. We call on Minnesotans to speak up at those hearings, and we ask the PUC to recognize that Minnesota does not need this pipeline.

And with the Governor’s office and the future of the Legislature hanging in the balance in the 2018 election, we’ll be working to educate the candidates and prepare our Coalition to bring a positive environmental vision in 2019.

We thank all those who contacted their representatives, joined us at our events, and followed the session with us in 2018. And we urge Minnesotans to keep speaking up on the environmental issues that affect us all!


Office space available in MEP’s building!

Is your organization in the market for a convenient, comfortable office space in St. Paul? The office suite above MEP’s office at 546 Rice Street is available for lease! The approximately 2200 square ft. space is ideal for a small to midsize nonprofit organization, featuring a kitchen and break area and offstreet parking.

Located in the Capitol-Rice Street neighborhood, it is also within three blocks of the Capitol complex and across the street from the Women’s Building. It is also positioned along bus routes 3, 62, and 67, and a two-minute walk from the Green Line. And perhaps best of all, the new tenant would have good neighbors in MEP’s staff!

The landlord may be open to letting portions or the entirety of the office space to individual organizations. Contact us for details!

Please contact Matt Doll at matthew@mepartnership.org if interested.


Dayton vetoes wild rice bill, earning thanks from environmentalists

(From MPR News) — Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday vetoed a legislative attempt to put the brakes on regulations that could force the mining industry and municipal wastewater systems to invest in expensive treatment systems. Minnesota’s 45-year-old sulfate standard aimed at protecting wild rice has rarely been enforced. The Republican-led Legislature, with help from some DFLers, pushed through legislation that would have provided $500,000 for a work group to explore affordable solutions on how to protect wild rice from mining and wastewater discharge high in sulfate. But Dayton objected to provisions that would have prevented the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from taking action on the standard. >>Read More.

The lake or the lawn? Watering ban hangs over heads of White Bear Lake neighbors

(From Pioneer Press) — First a judge put the brakes on the additional pumping of water within five miles of White Bear Lake. Then the Minnesota Legislature put the brakes on that ruling. Now the cities and many of their residents near the lake are left wondering where we move forward from here. “Water is so valuable,” Jean Auger said recently as she dug up weeds in her garden as White Bear Lake sparkled in the sun nearby. Will a watering ban protect the lake next to her yard? Will it mean she is forced to change her gardening habits? >>Read More.


Pilot Program aims to reuse, recycle materials from condemned buildings

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Society as a whole has taken a much dimmer view of highway littering in the past 50 years, said Alex Baldwin, a project manager for Better Futures Minnesota. “We’d like to think sort of the same thing is going to happen, in terms of how people think about throwing away a house,” he said. Better Futures Minnesota is one of St. Louis County’s partners in a project now underway in Duluth’s Morley Heights neighborhood. At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Baldwin said: “What you see behind me is basically deconstruction versus demolition. So you see eight to 10 guys carefully dismantling and systematically reclaiming building materials.” >>Read More.


Wind energy: new revenue, new jobs, new hope

(From MinnPost) — It’s easy to list the reasons that rural communities love wind — they provide a new source of tax revenue for counties and townships, lease payments for rural landowners, new jobs and economic development in areas that need it most, and they help to fund community projects and schools. Now, a new report from Moody’s Investors Service highlights how wind projects are boosting tax revenues and helping erase debt in rural communities that host them.  A utility-scale wind farm is a multimillion-dollar project that provides a significant new source of tax revenue for the counties and townships through the Wind Energy Production Tax. Since 99 percent of wind projects are built in rural America, wind farms provide relief for small, rural towns that need it most. >>Read More.

St. Paul asks building owners to cut energy use this summer

(From Star Tribune) — St. Paul leaders are asking building owners to cut back energy use this summer, as part of a goal to reduce climate-changing pollution across the city. A city initiative called Energize St. Paul is kicking off this summer with Race to Reduce, a voluntary program in which the city will work with property owners to track energy use and make buildings more energy-efficient. >>Read More.


                

Coalition signs letters opposing Twin Metals’ mineral leases

(From Duluth News Tribune) — More than 170 businesses and outdoor groups signed letters opposing the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision to reinstate Twin Metals’ expired mineral leases in May and the mining company’s new plans released last week. The three separate letters were each signed by a coalition of conservation, businesses and outdoor sporting groups and sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. >>Read More.


Help sustain MEP’s work. Donate today!

Do you appreciate our coverage of environmental and conservation issues? You can help sustain MEP’s work with a donation. Your support will help MEP continue educating decision-makers and Minnesotans throughout the state about important issues that impact clean water, clean air, and land conservation. Contributions also provide the financial backing we need to help organize the advocacy efforts of our 70 member organizations and take action through public organizing, media campaigns, lobbying, and research.


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. Is the majority of home water consumption in the U.S. used indoors or outdoors?

2. What Illinois island is the largest on the Mississippi River?

3. What migratory bird has the scientific name Branta canadensis?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Film and Speaker on Ocean Acidification, June 3
Davannis in Woodbury
Hosted by Southeast Metro Climate Action

Launch Party: Unveiling Our New Name & Expanded Vision, June 4
Dual Citizen Brewing Company, St. Paul
Hosted by Transit for Livable Communities & St. Paul Smart Trips

Native Prairie Planting at Cherokee Park, June 9
Cherokee Park, St. Paul
Hosted by Friends of the Mississippi River


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Itasca Waters Coordinator | Itasca Waters
Organizing Representative – Duluth | Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Part-Time Administrative Associate | Wind on the Wires
Minnesota GreenCorps AmeriCorps Member | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Data Manager | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Office Manager | River’s Edge Academy
Warner Nature Center Director | Science Museum of Minnesota
Program Intern – Summer 2018 | Clean Water Action
Chief Financial Officer | Environmental Initiative
See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Outdoors – on pools, lawns, etc. 2) Arsenal Island. 3) Canada goose.

 


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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.

Insider: May 26, 2018

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With session’s end, dirty legislation dropped on Dayton’s desk

After three months of debate and discussion, the Minnesota Legislature on Sunday concluded its 2018 session following the passage of several last-minute bills. Governor Mark Dayton has less than a week and a half to decide whether to sign, veto, or modify spending in the bills that remain on his desk.

Fortunately, Governor Dayton has already vetoed several bills that would roll back environmental protections. We thank the Governor for vetoing:

  • The Line 3 Giveaway bill: This bill would have given Enbridge Energy immediate approval to construct its proposed pipeline along the company’s preferred route. It would have bypassed the Public Utilities Commission’s process for considering whether to grant a certificate of need to the project, a process that is scheduled to conclude with final hearings in June. This would have betrayed thousands of Minnesotans who have testified  and engaged throughout the process.
  • The Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill: This bill tied funding for programs to a pile of bad policy. Among the provisions were cuts to the Renewable Development fund, a 16-year holiday for industry to avoid responsible water treatment, and an irresponsible rollback of our protection against the spread of invasive species between Minnesota’s waters.

Now, we call on Governor Dayton to hold the line for our environmental protections and veto:

  • Items in the Bonding Bill that would raid our Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund: This fund was created by Minnesota voters via a constitutional amendment to spend lottery money on research and projects that help clean up and conserve Minnesota’s natural resources. This legislation would improperly take that money to spend on ordinary sewers, a basic government service. While these are worthy projects, they should be funded responsibly, as they have been traditionally, with state bonding – raiding the Trust Fund leaves it open to further raids for inappropriate purposes in the future.
  • The Guilty by Association Bill, which would create broad penalties against citizens and organizations who support or attend a protest where so-called “critical infrastructure” is damaged. For example, a person who attends or supports a protest against a pipeline at which someone else damages the pipeline could be held liable, even if they had nothing to do with the action. It’s against Minnesota values of democracy and free speech, and it’s targeted at those who want to protect our water and public health.
  • The bill to gut protections for wild rice waters by short-circuiting the regulatory process  for sulfate pollution. It would allow new industries like the PolyMet and Twin Metals sulfide mines to be completely exempt from requirements to control sulfate pollution that kills off wild rice and increases harmful mercury levels in our lakes, rivers and streams. The Governor vetoed the Legislature’s previous bill in hopes of a better compromise on protecting wild rice, but this bill is a step backward, not forward. (Use our action alert below to ask Governor Dayton for a veto!)

We thank Governor Dayton for standing against rollbacks to Minnesotans’ health and resources in his final session. And we thank all the Minnesotans who have spoken up to ask the Governor and the Legislature to protect Minnesota values!


Office space available in MEP’s building!

Is your organization in the market for a convenient, comfortable office space in St. Paul? The office suite above MEP’s office at 546 Rice Street is available for lease! The approximately 2200 square ft. space is ideal for a small to midsize nonprofit organization, featuring a kitchen and break area and offstreet parking.

Located in the Capitol-Rice Street neighborhood, it is also within three blocks of the Capitol complex and across the street from the Women’s Building. It is also positioned along bus routes 3, 62, and 67, and a two-minute walk from the Green Line. And perhaps best of all, the new tenant would have good neighbors in MEP’s staff!

Please contact Matt Doll at matthew@mepartnership.org if interested.


Ask Governor Dayton to please veto the second wild rice bill!

The harmful Wild Rice bill (that would’ve nullified the protective sulfate standard for wild rice) moving through the legislature all session was vetoed by the Governor. But then on the last day of the session, a conference committee (9 of the committee’s 10 members had co-authored the previous bill) put together a new bill. They emerged from discussions touting the new version as a “compromise.” It is not.

There are many things wrong with this bill – learn more using our Action Alert, and please call the Governor’s office at 651-201-3400 and ask for another veto!


photo credit: MPCA

Dayton veto brings GOP counterpunch to governor’s groundwater legacy

(From MPR News, featuring MEP Executive Director Steve Morse)  —  A new Minnesota Department of Agriculture rule aimed at protecting drinking water from nitrates could be delayed for a year after last-minute politicking at the State Capitol. The GOP-controlled Legislature sent Gov. Mark Dayton an agriculture policy bill just as the Legislative session was ending. The House and Senate agriculture committees followed up with some additional pressure: If the governor didn’t sign the bill, the committees said, they might invoke an obscure 2001 law that allows the Legislature to halt executive-branch rulemaking. Dayton vetoed the ag policy bill on Monday. And now, lawmakers are moving toward delaying his agriculture department’s groundwater protection rule, which establishes voluntary and mandatory farming practices in areas of the state where nitrate contamination is a problem. >>Read More.


10 million gallons of mine sludge turns Trempealeau River orange; officials investigating spill after dramatic rescue 

(From La Crosse Tribune) — State and local authorities are working to determine the environmental impact after about 10 million gallons of sludge was released from a settling pond to rescue a worker at a Trempealeau County frac sand mine. Emergency responders from multiple agencies responded to the Hi-Crush mine in Whitehall just before 8 a.m. Monday after a contractor’s bulldozer slid into the pond, which company officials said was 12 to 15 feet deep. The operator, Robbie Gunderson, was trapped inside the airtight cab of the 23-ton earth mover for two and a half hours as rescuers tried to reach him. >>Read More.

New Twin Metals plan moves processing plant site

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Twin Metals Minnesota on Thursday released new details for its underground copper-nickel mine planned near Ely, including a new location for its proposed processing plant. The company announced new details on its plan, which has yet to be presented for any kind of regulatory approval. The company recently won back critical federal mineral leases from the Trump administration that had been withheld by the Obama administration. The leases cover areas at and around the proposed mine site along the Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. >>Read More.


A well-balanced agro-ecological system is needed

(From St. Cloud Times, by Land Stewardship Project member Bryan Simon) — It’s not the cow or the sow, but the how. I hate to break it to all the conscientious consumers who have bought into the idea that completely avoiding meat is the answer to our planet’s environmental woes, but they’ve been misled. That’s right, I’m calling you out, Beyonce, Brad Pitt, Al Gore and others who are coaching fans to become vegan to save the planet. Such a message, while well-intentioned, misses the mark. Animals are not the problem; the problem is how they are managed. Animals provide valuable goods and services, like nutrient cycling, habitat diversity, clean water and soil health, but only when integrated with the land. Unfortunately, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have removed animals from the land, and the consequences are evident: a rapidly changing climate, polluted water, soil loss, rampant pest problems, and barren landscapes devoid of wildlife. >>Read More.


                

Minneapolis should combat climate change and inequality with bus lanes

(From MinnPost) — Go. Stop. Wait. Lurch. Wait. Go. Stop. That’s the daily experience of bus riders along Hennepin Avenue where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour and buses travel at 6 mph. The City of Minneapolis recently published a draft city plan that focuses largely on two great challenges: disparities and climate change. To address these challenges, the plan calls for “equitable and ample access” to transit options and stresses that “even with the adoption of electric cars, a 37 percent reduction in automobile trips is needed” for the city to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 80 percent by 2050. >>Read More.


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Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What invasive insect has the scientific name Agrilus planipennis?

2. How many rivers in the world have larger drainage basins than the Mississippi?

3. What state trail, stretching from Grand Rapids to Ely, is Minnesota’s longest?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Tend the demonstration prairie at Ole Olson Park, May 31
Above the Falls Regional Park, Minneapolis
Hosted by Friends of the Mississippi River

Plant shrubs, grasses and wildflowers at the Vermillion AMA, June 2
Vermillion Aquatic Management Area, Farmington
Hosted by Friends of the Mississippi River

WaterFest 2018, June 2
Phalen Regional Park, St. Paul
Hosted by Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District

Film and Speaker on Ocean Acidification, June 3
Davannis in Woodbury
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Launch Party: Unveiling Our New Name & Expanded Vision, June 4
Dual Citizen Brewing Company, St. Paul
Hosted by Transit for Livable Communities & St. Paul Smart Trips


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Organizing Representative – Duluth | Sierra Club North Star Chapter
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Minnesota GreenCorps AmeriCorps Member | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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Warner Nature Center Director | Science Museum of Minnesota
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Trivia Answers: 1) Emerald ash borer. 2) Three – the Amazon, the Congo, and the Nile. 3) Taconite State Trail

 


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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.

Press Statement: Governor’s veto defends wild rice, blocks special favors for sulfide ore mines

Posted by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2018

 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Sara Wolff, Advocacy Director
Minnesota Environmental Partnership
sara@mepartnership.org, 651-789-0651

 

This morning, Governor Mark Dayton announced his veto of the Wild Rice Bill, which would have taken Minnesota backward on protecting this important resource.

This bill would not have protected wild rice or set up a system of reasonable steps to do so in the future. It would have done nothing to invest in developing new technologies to clean up and prevent sulfate pollution in our waters. And it would have expressly allowed new industries like sulfide mining to add sulfate pollution without having to invest in implementing any sulfate control technologies. Under current law, new dischargers upstream of wild rice waters would have to control their sulfates.

This bill threatened water and wild rice resources that are important to all Minnesotans and especially critical to the culture and vitality of our state’s native communities.

“We thank Governor Dayton for his veto of this ill-conceived attempt to undermine wild rice protections in Minnesota,” said MEP Executive Director Steve Morse. “We should be continuing an inclusive conversation about how to leverage our resources to protect the future of our wild rice waters. By vetoing this bill, the Governor has ensured that we can continue to have that discussion and work toward a long-term solution.”

###

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

www.mepartnership.org
 

With session’s end, dirty legislation dropped on Dayton’s desk

Posted by

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

After three months of debate and discussion, the Minnesota Legislature on Sunday concluded its 2018 session following the passage of several last-minute bills. Governor Mark Dayton has less than a week and a half to decide whether to sign, veto, or modify spending in the bills that remain on his desk.

Fortunately, Governor Dayton has already vetoed several bills that would roll back environmental protections. We thank the Governor for vetoing:

  • The Line 3 Giveaway bill: This bill would have given Enbridge Energy immediate approval to construct its proposed pipeline along the company’s preferred route. It would have bypassed the Public Utilities Commission’s process for considering whether to grant a certificate of need to the project, a process that is scheduled to conclude with final hearings in June. This would have betrayed thousands of Minnesotans who have testified  and engaged throughout the process.
  • The Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill: This bill tied funding for programs to a pile of bad policy. Among the provisions were cuts to the Renewable Development fund, a 16-year holiday for industry to avoid responsible water treatment, and an irresponsible rollback of our protection against the spread of invasive species between Minnesota’s waters.

Now, we call on Governor Dayton to hold the line for our environmental protections and veto:

  • Items in the Bonding Bill that would raid our Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund: This fund was created by Minnesota voters via a constitutional amendment to spend lottery money on research and projects that help clean up and conserve Minnesota’s natural resources. This legislation would improperly take that money to spend on ordinary sewers, a basic government service. While these are worthy projects, they should be funded responsibly, as they have been traditionally, with state bonding – raiding the Trust Fund leaves it open to further raids for inappropriate purposes in the future.
  • The Guilty by Association Bill, which would create broad penalties against citizens and organizations who support or attend a protest where so-called “critical infrastructure” is damaged. For example, a person who attends or supports a protest against a pipeline at which someone else damages the pipeline could be held liable, even if they had nothing to do with the action. It’s against Minnesota values of democracy and free speech, and it’s targeted at those who want to protect our water and public health.
  • The bill to gut protections for wild rice waters by short-circuiting the regulatory process  for sulfate pollution. It would allow new industries like the PolyMet and Twin Metals sulfide mines to be completely exempt from requirements to control sulfate pollution that kills off wild rice and increases harmful mercury levels in our lakes, rivers and streams. The Governor vetoed the Legislature’s previous bill in hopes of a better compromise on protecting wild rice, but this bill is a step backward, not forward. (Use our action alert below to ask Governor Dayton for a veto!)

We thank Governor Dayton for standing against rollbacks to Minnesotans’ health and resources in his final session. And we thank all the Minnesotans who have spoken up to ask the Governor and the Legislature to protect Minnesota values!

Letter to Governor Dayton: The Wild Rice Conference Committee Report is no Compromise – Please Veto

Posted by

May 21, 2018                                                                                               

Dear Governor Dayton:

We, the undersigned organizations and the citizens we represent, respectfully ask you to veto HF 3422 – the conference committee report on wild rice. The bill does not protect wild rice now or set-up a system that reasonably takes steps to protect wild rice in the future. In fact, enactment of this statute would take us backwards by explicitly allowing new polluters, including sulfide ore mine industries, to discharge sulfates without using technologies to mitigate them.

  • The bill prohibits protection of wild rice growing in most waters in Minnesota until they can be officially listed as a Wild Rice Water. Only 24 waters are currently named as Wild Rice Waters in rule, though the MPCA, tribes and DNR between them have identified at least 1300-1600 wild rice waters that need protection from sulfate pollution. Blocking the listing and protection of wild rice waters violates the Clean Water Act. 
  • The bill requires an exhaustive list of scientific information to be gathered and analyzed for each water body before it can be listed as a Wild Rice Water (and thus earn protection under the law.) But the bill provides $0 for this work, effectively blocking any progress in identifying and limiting sulfate pollution in additional wild rice waters.
  • The bill prohibits protection of our existing Wild Rice Waters until “cost-effective treatment technology is available.” But the bill only creates barriers to using existing and new technologies to make progress in cleaning up sulfate pollution in wild rice waters. The bill requires evaluation of new technologies for sulfate control, but provides no funding for NRRI research in promising new sulfate controls or to assist dischargers in funding treatment to reduce sulfate discharge. 
  • The bill explicitly allows new industries such as PolyMet, Twin Metals or other sulfide ore mines to add sulfate pollution to our waters without implementing any technologies that require investment to control sulfides. This is a big step backward and a violation of the Clean Water Act. Under current law, new dischargers upstream of wild rice waters would have to control their sulfates.

 For these reasons this bill is no compromise and should be opposed.

 

Please veto HF 3422. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Steve Morse                                                                           

Minnesota Environmental Partnership                                                                                               

 

Alliance for Sustainability     
Audubon Minnesota                                      
Clean Water Action – Minnesota                                          
CURE (Clean Up our River Environment)                                        
Environment Minnesota                                                         
Eureka Recycling       
Freshwater Society                                                                
Friends of Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas                 
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness                         
Friends of the Mississippi River                                            
Honor the Earth                                 
Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division
Land Stewardship Project
League of Women Voters Duluth
Lower Phalen Creek Project
MN Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Council of Parks and Trails
Minnesota Native Plant Society
Minnesota Ornithologists Union
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Sierra Club – North Star Chapter      
St. Croix River Association
WaterLegacy
Wilderness in the City
Women’s Congress for Future Generations

Letter to Governor Dayton: Please Veto Guilty by Association Bill

Posted by

The Honorable Mark Dayton

Governor of Minnesota

75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Saint Paul, MN 55155

 

May 22, 2018

 

Dear Governor Dayton,

We are writing to respectfully request your veto of Senate File 3463, a bill that could make Minnesotans “guilty by association” when peacefully exercising their first amendment rights.

Senate File 3463 seeks to chill dissent and free speech by imposing “vicarious liability” to citizens and organizations who attend or support a protest where critical infrastructure is damaged. The language for this bill comes directly from the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As you have pointed out frequently in the last few days, too much legislation this session has catered to large corporate interests and left regular Minnesotans out in the cold. We urge you to use your veto power to prevent that in this case.

The bill uses excessively broad language in creating penalties to anyone who “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels…” while applying those penalties in a narrow and politically motivated manner only at selectively-defined “critical infrastructure” sites. Opposition to this legislation has been broad and included organizations working for free speech and civil liberty, Native American rights, environmental organizations, and unions, including the AFL-CIO. 

In short, Minnesotans of all backgrounds recognize that this legislation is a dangerous attack on a vibrant democracy to further corporate interests.  Thank you for your Administration’s work to remove this language from the Omnibus Finance Bill. We ask that you protect Minnesotans and free speech by vetoing SF 3463.

Sincerely,     

Steve Morse

Minnesota Environmental Partnership