And they’re off

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Today is the first day of the 2007 legislative session and it’s promising to be good for the environment of Minnesota. 

I have recently returned from a trip to Colorado, where they have this crazy white stuff that they call “snow.”  Needless to say, pre-session hoopla was not my top concern, so I am a bit behind the curve on info.  However, I do know that yesterday’s press conference on the early 6 DFL priorities in the State Senate included two environmental items. 

And it just so happens that those two items are in the legislative package supported by 47 MEP member organizations, known collectively as Protect Minnesota’s Great Outdoors.

We all know that Minnesotans treasure our lakes, rivers, prairies and forests.  We want them protected so we can enjoy them today and pass them along to future generations.  But with 1.2 million more Minnesotans on the way in the next 25 years, we are facing a lot of pressure from development, increasing energy use, and our desire to be outdoors.  That’s why MEP’s Protect Minnesota’s Great Outdoors initiative includes three priorities:

  • Clean Water Legacy – If we want future generations to be able to enjoy our lakes and rivers, we need to invest in cleaning up and protecting our water now.  For three years, MEP member groups have been working with business and agricultural communities and local government representatives to tackle this issue.  Together, they’ve identified the need for $100 million a year dedicated to identifying sources of pollution and creating and implementing cleanup plans. 
  • Clean Energy Minnesota – We need to use Minnesota’s know-how, technological innovation and natural resources to help us build a cleaner, healthier, and more energy-efficient future.  It’s time to invest in an energy future that protects Minnesota’s air, water and Great Outdoors while creating new jobs, strengthening our economy, and controlling rising consumer prices.
  • Invest to Protect Our Great Outdoors – To protect Minnesota now and in the future, we need to establish a long-term source of funding for protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, parklands, trails and natural areas; protection and restoration of the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams; and acquisition of threatened lands for all to enjoy.

Yesterday the Senate DFL said that renewable energy and allowing voters to create a source of dedicated funding for the environment (and arts) were two of their top six priorities.  Kudos to them for that.  The Governor has also expressed support for similar issues, so let’s hope (or demand if needed) that everyone can get together quickly to finalize these policy items.  They must also finally make cleaning up our lakes and rivers a priority in the budget, which we’ll learn more about in another month or so.

Fantasy Legislature logoThings look rosy for the environment.  Also important, things are looking good for my fantasy legislature team.  My team, Saint Pauliticos, is the Gold League, which pits me against the likes of the bloggers for Minnesota Democrats Exposed and Minnesota Campaign Report.  I faired pretty well in the draft with my top choices and my six team members all have environmental qualifications, so I’m looking forward to the competition. My hat is off to Minnesota Public Radio’s team who put this adventure together. 

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