Insider: October 27, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   

Insect Decline Demands Action

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

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

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

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

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

More resources from MEP members working on pollinator protection:



photo credit: Pioneer Press

Gov. Dayton: I now support PolyMet mine

(From WCCO, featuring MEP Executive Director Steve Morse) — Gov. Mark Dayton is throwing his support behind a controversial copper-nickel mining project in northern Minnesota — and  environmental groups are not happy. He said Tuesday he supports the proposed PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes. The mine would bring nearly 400 jobs to the economically-distressed area, and supporters say it could lead to the rebirth of the mining industry. This proposal has been debated for at least ten years, and Dayton has been neutral until now, expressing his concern for both the environmental impact and the need to bring jobs to the area. Political analysts say the governor’s move is less about mining than providing a lifeline to a crumbling Democratic base on the Iron Range. >>Read and Watch More.

 


               

Groups respond to Line 3 hearing shutdown

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

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

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

MEP Releases Line 3 Fact Sheet

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

 


           

Organic farm program opens doors for Somali-American growers

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


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Farmer sequestering carbon for better soil health

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


                

Nuns bring another solar array to Mankato

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

Minnesota housing development to include community energy storage

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


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

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

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Conservation Information Manager IV | The Nature Conservancy

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Communications Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

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


Follow Us

   

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

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

Insect Decline Demands Action

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

More resources from MEP members working on pollinator protection:

Insider: October 20, 2017

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Sulfate Standard Change Would Weaken Wild Rice Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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



photo credit: EPA

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

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

 


               

Groups respond to Line 3 hearing shutdown

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


          

Study finds pollution is deadlier than war, disaster, hunger

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

 


           

Growing future conservationists: Pollinator plot nears completion in Minnesota

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


                

For clean energy jobs, sky’s the limit

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


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Communications Director | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Associate Director | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

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


Follow Us

   

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

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

Insider: October 13, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   
photo credit: MPCA

EPA Repeals Clean Power Plan, but Minnesota Moves Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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


Be aware of misleading ads pushing pipeline

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

Presenters speak at M State on Pipeline 3

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

MEP Releases Line 3 Fact Sheet

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

 


               

photo credit: MPCA

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

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

Slight gain in Minnesota wetlands acreage, but quality is concerning

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


          

MPCA considering troubling changes to wild rice sulfate standard

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

       


           

photo credit: the Land Institute

A new grain – Kernza – finds its way into products

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


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

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

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Associate Director | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

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


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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: October 6, 2017

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photo credit: NASA

Mining Waste and a Big Dam Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Reader’s View: Water too critical to risk

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

 


               

Lake Superior no longer the clearest of the Great Lakes

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


image credit: Great Lakes Commission

Register now for the 13th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference

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


          

Winona sustainable home open houses this weekend

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


image credit: MN350

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

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

       


    

Progress strong on new buffer requirements

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


Events and Advocacy News                                                                                              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

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

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

Partnership Coordinator | Fresh Energy

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

See all job postings

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


Follow Us

   

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

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

Sulfate Standard Change Would Weaken Wild Rice Protection

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPA Repeals Clean Power Plan, but Minnesota Moves Forward

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   photo credit: MPCA

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mining Waste and a Big Dam Problem

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photo credit: NASA

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Greening, Electric Economy

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A Greening, Electric Economy

By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

In many discussions over the future of energy in Minnesota and around the United States, the debate is often framed as a basic argument between protecting the environment and keeping jobs. Proponents of coal, oil, or gas contend that shifting too quickly away from carbon-heavy fossil fuels will mean sacrificing potential job growth in sectors like construction and power plant maintenance. A recent Minnesota Public Radio News headline, “At Line 3 pipeline hearing, it’s environment vs. jobs,” captures this dichotomy. More and more, many fossil fuel advocates admit that moving toward renewable energy is the prevailing trend, but consistently argue that it will happen sometime in the future, and that more fossil fuel infrastructure is needed in the meantime.

But the future of our state’s economy is happening now. According to a report by Clean Energy Economy, Minnesota has more than 57,000 jobs in the clean energy sector – most in energy efficiency, but an increasing share are in harnessing our renewable energy resources like wind and the sun. Job growth in the sector is steaming forward at 5.3% a year, in comparison with overall growth in the state of around 1.3%. And our neighbors are seeing even faster results – in Wisconsin and Iowa, clean energy jobs are growing at almost 7% a year. Sources like wind and solar are becoming cheaper than ever to use for electric power, and much of Minnesota’s potential is still untapped, providing vast space for new production and new jobs.

Fossil fuel proponents point out that much of our transportation and economy still runs on gasoline, diesel, and other fuels, and this is certainly the case. But the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s testimony on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline demonstrated that Minnesota’s demand for oil products overall has been decreasing since 2015. The oil trains that once crossed the state with enormous frequency now travel through Minnesota at the rate of about one per day. Our vehicles are becoming more efficient and more reliant on electricity. Manufacturers like Volvo and major economies like the United Kingdom, India, and France have announced plans to halt new petroleum vehicles in favor of electric transportation entirely within a few decades.

With the effects of climate change becoming increasingly disastrous, and the demand for oil and coal declining, Minnesota can’t afford to waste resources on hazardous, unneeded new fossil fuel infrastructure. And the skyrocketing expansion of clean energy means we don’t need to choose between job growth and protecting our land, air, and water. The real debate is about how to best to invest in our natural, clean sources of energy to fuel Minnesota’s electric future.

Insider: September 29, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

 

A Greening, Electric Economy

In many discussions over the future of energy in Minnesota and around the United States, the debate is often framed as a basic argument between protecting the environment and keeping jobs. Proponents of coal, oil, or gas contend that shifting too quickly away from carbon-heavy fossil fuels will mean sacrificing potential job growth in sectors like construction and power plant maintenance. A recent Minnesota Public Radio News headline, “At Line 3 pipeline hearing, it’s environment vs. jobs,” captures this dichotomy. More and more, many fossil fuel advocates admit that moving toward renewable energy is the prevailing trend, but consistently argue that it will happen sometime in the future, and that more fossil fuel infrastructure is needed in the meantime.

But the future of our state’s economy is happening now. According to a report by Clean Energy Economy, Minnesota has more than 57,000 jobs in the clean energy sector – most in energy efficiency, but an increasing share are in harnessing our renewable energy resources like wind and the sun. Job growth in the sector is steaming forward at 5.3% a year, in comparison with overall growth in the state of around 1.3%. And our neighbors are seeing even faster results – in Wisconsin and Iowa, clean energy jobs are growing at almost 7% a year. Sources like wind and solar are becoming cheaper than ever to use for electric power, and much of Minnesota’s potential is still untapped, providing vast space for new production and new jobs.

Fossil fuel proponents point out that much of our transportation and economy still runs on gasoline, diesel, and other fuels, and this is certainly the case. But the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s testimony on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline demonstrated that Minnesota’s demand for oil products overall has been decreasing since 2015. The oil trains that once crossed the state with enormous frequency now travel through Minnesota at the rate of about one per day. Our Vehicles are becoming more efficient and more reliant on electricity. Manufacturers like Volvo and major economies like the United Kingdom, India, and France have announced plans to halt new petroleum vehicles in favor of electric transportation entirely within a few decades.

With the effects of climate change becoming increasingly disastrous, and the demand for oil and coal declining, Minnesota can’t afford to waste resources on hazardous, unneeded new fossil fuel infrastructure. And the skyrocketing expansion of clean energy means we don’t need to choose between job growth and protecting our land, air, and water. The real debate is about how to best to invest in our natural, clean sources of energy to fuel Minnesota’s electric future.


image credit: MN350

Minnesotans march to Hold the Line against Line 3

On Thursday, September 28, hundreds of Minnesotans from around the state gathered at the State Capitol to speak out against the proposed Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. Pipeline opponents gathered in St. Paul as a judge held the only hearing to be held in the Twin Cities asking the public to weigh in on two key permits for the project: the Certificate of Need and Route Permit. The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently submitted testimony recommending that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) not allow Enbridge to move forward with the project, and now the PUC will accept public comments over the next few months.

“We call on Governor Dayton and the PUC to act in Minnesota’s best interest and prevent more dirty tar sands from running through our state,” said Margaret Levin, State Director for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “If built, this pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s precious lands, water, climate, and Indigenous treaty-protected rights. That’s why thousands of Minnesotans have raised their voices and urged our state government to reject this pipeline once and for all.”

News coverage: MPRStar TribuneDuluth News Tribune

                

image credit: MN350

Greenspace: ‘There’s plenty of room for growth’

(From Rochester Post-Bulletin) — Minnesota’s clean energy industry continues to surge. A report released Sept. 7 by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota found clean energy jobs grew nearly four times faster than overall state job growth since last year — adding 2,893 jobs to the economy. Thirty percent of the state’s roughly 57,000 clean energy jobs are found in greater Minnesota, the report found. Roughly 5,800 of those jobs are located in Minnesota’s 1st congressional district, which covers Rochester and Southeast Minnesota. Curt Shellum, owner of Solar Connection, a Rochester solar installer, spoke with the Post Bulletin on Friday about Southeast Minnesota’s clean energy industry growth. >>Read More.

Plant closures could be turning point for Minnesota biomass industry

(From Midwest Energy News) — Minnesota utility regulators are studying a proposal by Xcel Energy to close two biomass plants that could mark a turning point for the industry here, particularly as prices for renewable energy drop. The proposal — which has approval by the state legislature and the communities affected — would close Benson Power, which burns turkey waste and wood, as well as a biomass plant in northern Minnesota owned by the Laurentian Energy Authority (LEA). Closing the two plants, which make up half of Minnesota’s biomass generation, could cost hundreds of jobs, and state forest management officials and the poultry industry say it will create turmoil among various suppliers to the plants. Their message is simple: slow down. >>Read More.

          

New tool helps farmers stay in compliance with Buffer Law

(From Fergus Falls Daily Journal) — The Nov. 1 deadline is quickly approaching for Minnesota farmers to commit to a plan to comply with the Minnesota Buffer Law. The law requires farmers to install a 16.5-foot buffer on public ditches and a 50-foot buffer on public waters that run along their farmland. “There was a lot of questions and discussions concerning the law from its conception,” Paul Meints, research director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), said. The law was put in place to prevent phosphorous and sediment runoff. While the law left room for alternative practices to be implemented, it wasn’t clear on what those acceptable alternatives would be. >>Read More.

Dayton hosting two more 25 by 25 town halls

Governor Dayton has so far hosted eight of his ten planned town hall meetings on his proposed “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal throughout Minnesota. The Governor is seeking input on how to improve the health of our state’s waters by 25% by the year 2025, and wants to hear Minnesotans’ ideas. The next several meetings will be coming next week to Burnsville and Stillwater. To find out how you can give your own input at a town hall, visit www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25

           

photo credit: Tom Westbrook

Federal forests bill new irritant for Nolan critics

(From the Timberjay) — Federal forest management has become the latest flash point between environmental groups and supporters of industry, and this time it’s backers of industry, including Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolan, who are on the offensive. Nolan is one of only two Democratic co-sponsors of a measure that would, in effect, eliminate most environmental review related to timber management on federal forests, including the Superior and the Chippewa national forests in Minnesota. Minnesota Seventh District Rep. Collin Peterson, whose district includes no national forest land, is the other Democratic co-sponsor. The bill, HR 2936, is known as the Resilient Federal Forests Act, and it’s being pushed by a handful of mostly western lawmakers who say they are hoping to streamline federal regulations in order to increase timber production on national forests. >>Read More.

           


photo credit: NASA

Environmentalists seek more comment time on PolyMet permits

(From Star Tribune) — Environmental groups have asked the Department of Natural Resources to give the public more time to comment on the draft dam safety permits for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. The latest request came Wednesday from four groups: WaterLegacy, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest and the Izaak Walton League. It followed a request last week from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. The comment period on the two draft permits closes Oct. 16. >>Read More.

 


Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. Northern Minnesota is home to two continental divides, separating waters that flow in three different directions. What are the names of those divides?

2. From the continental divides, Minnesota waters flow into the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and what other body of water?

3. What border lake is the source of the Minnesota river?

Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Managing Editor, Energy News Network | Fresh Energy

Clean Energy Associate | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Laurentian and St. Lawrence 2) Hudson Bay 3) Big Stone Lake


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.