Insider: January 5, 2018

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

photo credit: NASA

DNR Releases Draft Permit to Mine for PolyMet

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

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

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

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 The plan also relies on outdated technology and a flawed tailings basin.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

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


MEP Events and Advocacy News
 

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

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

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

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


Sustainable: Planners charting Minnesota’s energy future

(From Finance & Commerce) —  Energy generation from wind and solar has grown significantly in Minnesota. Utilities have announced the retirement of thousands of megawatts of coal plants in the next decade. Popular technologies such as electric vehicles, sophisticated thermostats, battery storage and rooftop solar hold great potential to produce cleaner energy. And they pose challenges to the electric grid. Minnesota is entering a new era of energy production that promises to upend the traditional power grid in the same way the internet, the iPhone and deregulation transformed communications over the past 30 years. What the future might look like is being debated and studied by several leading environmentally oriented nonprofits and by Minnesota regulators. >>Read More.

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

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

 


               

Photo credit: MPCA

Test our water for nitrates? Minnesota county says no thanks

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

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

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

 


           

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

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


                

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

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

Trump moves to open nearly all offshore waters to drilling

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

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

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

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

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

See all job postings

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


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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
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www.mepartnership.org
 

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

PUC Finds Line 3 Environmental Study Lacking

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minnesota Winters Aren’t What They Used to Be

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By Jeni Gregory, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

Insider: December 8, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Minnesota Winters Aren’t What They Used to Be

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

>>Read More

 


               

Photo credit: National Park Service

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

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

>>Read More

 


           

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

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

>>Read More


Climate Change News                                                                                                                

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

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

>>Read More

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. What is Minnesota’s official state grain?
 

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

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

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

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

Development Director | International Wolf Center

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

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

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


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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insider: December 1, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


International Joint Commission wants faster Great Lakes cleanup

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

 


               

Photo credit: National Park Service

Ideas abound for Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul

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

 


           

LaDuke: Are pipeline spills the new normal?

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


                

Many Minnesota homes would benefit from an energy audit

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

Murray County hears proposal on energy storage

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

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

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

2. What river connects the aforementioned Great Lakes?

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


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

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

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

Development Director | International Wolf Center

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

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

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


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

Follow Us:

   

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

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

MEP Has a Lot to be Thankful For

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We know it’s felt like a tough year for our great outdoors, with many challenges to clean water, our greening economy, and public health in our state. But when we look at what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve defended in 2017, we find we have so many people and things to be thankful for!

  • We’re thankful for the hundreds of Minnesotans who showed up to the Capitol on Water Action Day in April to tell our lawmakers to protect our water!
  • We’re thankful for young activists working tirelessly for environmental justice – like the 13 Youth Climate Intervenors making a stand for the climate in the face of the proposed Line 3 oil pipeline.
  • We’re thankful for the incredible growth in clean energy – and the many jobs it brings – in Minnesota. Our state is stepping up and showing national leadership on wind, solar, and energy efficiency, helping us work toward ever more ambitious climate goals.
  • We’re thankful for our member organizations, old and new, who have made tremendous efforts this year to keep Minnesota clean, and to keep building a strong, inclusive, diverse coalition of environmental groups.

And most of all, we thank you, our subscribers, donors, action-takers and supporters!

  • We are grateful for everyone who donated on Give to the Max Day. You helped raise $6,500 in just 24 hours! Contributions help MEP support the work of environmental organizations across the state as we work to protect clean water, clean air, and pollinators!
  • We are grateful for the many thousands of contacts you made with your elected officials on behalf of Minnesota’s great outdoors this year! Your voices helped advance some important measures and put pressure on lawmakers to defeat many proposals that would have harmed our state’s land and water.
  • We are grateful to all those who help us share our message on social media, email, and in calls and meetings with your lawmakers – thank you for spreading the word on Minnesota’s great outdoors!

We couldn’t do it without you. From all of us at the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, thank you for helping to keep Minnesota beautiful, clean, and safe! 

Reality Check on Proposed Line 3

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Next Wednesday, November 22 will mark the conclusion of the Public Utilities Commission’s public comment period on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. Since late September, the PUC has been collecting testimony from intervenors and members of the public on this proposal, specifically on the issue of the certificate of need and route permits that Line 3 would require. Without the PUC’s approval, the new Line 3 project can’t keep moving forward.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has concluded that the dangers of this pipeline to Minnesotans far outweigh any benefits. But with the debate continuing up to the PUC decision, Line 3 backers have attempted to convince public opinion, through ads and articles, that the pipeline is necessary for Minnesota’s economy and healthy for the environment. To help ensure that the debate is balanced and based in sound science, MEP has released a fact sheet on Line 3, and addressed some of the disingenuous claims that have been put forward.

  • “Minnesota needs the oil that the new Line 3 would carry.” Apart from the fact that Line 3 would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, Minnesota’s demand for finished petroleum products like gasoline is down 19% from its 2004 levels.
     
  • “If the old Line 3 is shut down, there won’t be enough pipeline capacity.” In fact, even if the old Line 3 were shut down and not replaced, there would be at least 500,000 barrels per day of capacity on the existing network to haul this oil – which is declining in volume.
     
  • “Without this pipeline, we’ll have to ship oil by rail, which is more dangerous.” Oil by rail has declined sharply in Minnesota, and there’s little sign it’s going to return. Since the peak in 2014, oil by rail traffic in the state has decreased by 70%. And while oil trains do run higher risk of accidents, rail spills are easier to clean up and tend to be smaller in volume than pipeline spills.
     
  • “Minnesota may be moving away from fossil fuels, but we still need this oil for now.”  While it’s true that Minnesota won’t transition to an all-electric, green economy overnight, this oil is a bridge too far. The tar sands oil that Line 3 would carry is among the dirtiest on earth, with more than 30% greater carbon emissions than conventional crude. Burning the fossil fuels from already-used sources and infrastructure is projected to push the world above a 2% global temperature increase, which spells even greater climate catastrophe in years to come. We need to redouble our investment in renewable technology and jobs, not subsidize a declining, environmentally disastrous fuel source.

For more information on tar sands pipeline, read our fact sheet and more at mepartnership.org, and contact the Public Utilities Commission before Wednesday the 22nd to share your concerns!

Insider: November 17, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Reality Check on Proposed Line 3

Next Wednesday, November 22 will mark the conclusion of the Public Utilities  Commission’s  public comment period on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. Since late September, the PUC has been collecting testimony from intervenors and members of the public on this proposal, specifically on the issue of the certificate of need and route permits that Line 3 would require. Without the PUC’s approval, the new Line 3 project can’t keep moving forward.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has concluded that the dangers of this pipeline to Minnesotans far outweigh any benefits. But with the debate continuing up to the PUC decision, Line 3 backers have attempted to convince public opinion, through ads and articles, that the pipeline is necessary for Minnesota’s economy and healthy for the environment. To help ensure that the debate  is balanced and based in sound science, MEP has released a fact sheet on Line 3, and addressed some of the disingenuous claims that have been put forward.

  • “Minnesota needs the oil that the new Line 3 would carry.” Apart from the fact that Line 3 would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, Minnesota’s demand for finished petroleum products like gasoline is down 19% from its 2004 levels.
     
  • “If the old Line 3 is shut down, there won’t be enough pipeline capacity.” In fact, even if the old Line 3 were shut down and not replaced, there would be at least 500,000 barrels per day of capacity on the existing network to haul this oil – which is declining in volume.
     
  • “Without this pipeline, we’ll have to ship oil by rail, which is more dangerous.” Oil by rail has declined sharply in Minnesota, and there’s little sign it’s going to return. Since the peak in 2014, oil by rail traffic in the state has decreased by 70%. And while oil trains do run higher risk of accidents, rail spills are easier to clean up and tend to be smaller in volume than pipeline spills.
     
  • “Minnesota may be moving away from fossil fuels, but we still need this oil for now.”  While it’s true that Minnesota won’t transition to an all-electric, green economy overnight, this oil is a bridge too far. The tar sands oil that Line 3 would carry is the dirtiest oil on earth, with more than 30% greater carbon emissions than conventional crude. Burning the fossil fuels from already-used sources and infrastructure is projected to push the world above a 2% global temperature increase, which spells even greater climate catastrophe in years to come. We need to redouble our investment in renewable technology and jobs, not subsidize a declining, environmentally disastrous fuel source.

For more information on tar sands pipeline, read our fact sheet and more at mepartnership.org, and contact the Public Utilities Commission before Wednesday the 22nd to share your concerns!

 


Meet the young activists fighting Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline

(From MPR News) — Much of the debate over Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline proposal has been framed as environmental issues against jobs and oil needs. But for a group of 13 young people calling themselves the Youth Climate Intervenors, it’s much bigger than that. Here’s their case: All the oil Enbridge’s replacement pipeline would carry across Minnesota would exacerbate climate change — and the youngest among us will suffer the effects the most. Young people are leading the fight against the pipeline, said 23-year-old Brent Murcia. “And that makes sense, because it’s our fight. We are here to be a voice for the future.” >>Read More.


photo credit: Kurt Haubrich

Safety demands saying no to pipeline

(From St. Cloud Times) — I appreciate the Oct. 29 Your Turn “Family business built on projects like Enbridge pipeline” by Lori Schott stating jobs are an important factor when considering Enbridge’s Pipeline 3 replacement, but I must disagree with her assessment.  There is no doubt the old pipeline is an ecological disaster waiting to happen and needs to be shut down. The real question is not where a replacement should be placed, but whether it should be replaced at all. Enbridge has a poor safety record. Its website contains data indicating 804 spills between 1999-2010 that released about 6.8 million gallons of oil. >>Read More.

 


               

Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management

University of Minnesota researchers are blasting weeds with corncob grit to protect raspberries and other crops

(From Star Tribune) — University of Minnesota researchers are confronting the age-old problem of controlling weeds with a new approach: blasting them at high pressure with abrasive corncob grit. Scientists at the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center near Morris will begin a two-year research project next spring to test the technique on raspberry crops at the center and at two commercial raspberry farms. “When your plants are young and you’ve just worked up the soil, you get a flush of weeds from pigweed to lambsquarters to foxtail, and whatever else,” said Steve Poppe, a senior horticulture scientist at the center. >>Read More.

 


           

Recycling in Winona County: The good, the bad, and the non-recyclable

(From Winona Daily News) — Winona County residents appear to be getting the hang of it. Almost a year after Winona County shifted its recycling services from Veolia to Harter’s Quick Clean Up of La Crosse, Wis., the county’s sustainability coordinator, Anne Morse, said she is pleased with what she saw from a Winona County collection shipment on a recent tour of the county’s newest recycling servicer. “It was darn gratifying,” Morse said. “I didn’t see a lot of nonrecyclable materials.” And that impression mirrors the numbers. In 2016, Winona County recycled 28,565 tons of natural resources, while its wasted natural resource amount was just over 27,000 tons. This has given Winona County one of the best programs in the state in terms of items available to recycle and the number of homes participating, Morse said. >>Read More.


                

Would you change your commute for a possible reward?

(From Rochester Post Bulletin) — Rochester Public Transit has started a weeklong campaign encouraging people who live or work in Rochester to try a different way to get around. The fall Commuter Challenge is an invitation to visit the RPT website, www.rptride.com, this week and make an online pledge to give local transit, commuter bus, carpooling, biking or walking a try any time in the next six months. All completed pledge forms will be entered, subject to eligibility, into a drawing to win one of nearly 20 prizes being awarded. “Driving alone is not always the best — and certainly not the only way to get around Rochester,” said Nick Lemmer marketing and outreach coordinator for the City of Rochester Parking and Transit division. >>Read More.

 


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. A 2015 Minnesota government survey found that every dollar that businesses invest in Conservation Improvement Programs provides $4 to $4.30 in what area?

2. The deepest lake wholly within Minnesota was  artificially created from what type of hole?


Upcoming Environmental Events

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

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

Regional Policy Director, West | Wind on the Wires

Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition | Environmental Initiative

Events Coordinator | Environmental Initiative

Organizing Representative – Twin Cities | Sierra Club

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

See all job postings

Trivia Answers: 1) Energy savings. 2) Iron-mining pit


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Minnesota Faces the Climate Change Challenge

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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

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

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

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