May 23, 2017
Media Contact: Sara Wolff
Legislative Session Delivers Rollback, Raids to Minnesota’s Environment
This legislative session is a disappointment for Minnesota’s environment.
Steve Morse, Executive Director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said, “Unfortunately, the 2017 legislative session was about backpedaling. The legislature passed raids, rollbacks and restrictions to public participation that will further challenge our ability to protect and restore our state’s waters and lands.”
Dozens of provisions detrimental to the environment were advanced. Through a tremendous effort by citizens across the state, many were dropped. But many of the harmful provisions are still moving forward. For instance:
- Raiding $22 million of Legacy Amendment funds to fund local government operations. That shift cuts $22 million in drinking, ground and surface water protections across the state.
- Limiting a citizen’s right to participate in contested case hearings on proposed mining operations to those individuals who own land.
- Exempting cities that build new facilities from future technology updates to meet standards for clean water for 16 years.
- Prohibiting local governments from banning plastic bags.
And one provision, already vetoed twice by the Governor, eliminates safeguards from price gauging by power companies serving rural residents who want to use solar power.
The legislature also missed opportunities to make needed investments and policy changes. Proposals to protect pollinators, invest in cover crop research, and fund transit and transportation all fell critically short.
Morse said, “At the same time the public is eager to move forward to support our Great Outdoors, our legislature is dodging major challenges to the quality and health of our water, air and habitat.”
74% of Minnesota voters say they are concerned about environmental rollbacks, and 62% think environmental laws need to be made tougher.1 “But instead of moving forward, or even standing still, this legislative session moves us back. This is not what the public wants,” Morse added.
1According to a statewide phone poll conducted February 1-5, 2017 by the bi-partisan polling team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.