Right now every new donor who contributes a minimum of $50 before the end of the month will have their gift TRIPLED. Our goal is to recruit 100 new supporters before the year's end contributing at this level.

If we're able to achieve this goal, we'll earn a $15,000 all-or-nothing bonus from a generous board member whose stepped up at the last minute to help us in our fight against PolyMet. 

This is an amazing opportunity to both expand our supporter base and ensure we have the financial resources necessary to take on PolyMet in 2019. Right now we need all hands on deck to pull this off. We need you to commit to support our work by our December 31 deadline.

PolyMet Update

On December 3, 2018, MCEA petitioned the Court of Appeals to review DNR's decision to deny our request for a contested case hearing and to issue PolyMet a permit to mine and a dam safety permit for its proposed copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.

Joining MCEA in these appeals are Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Duluth for Clean Water, Save Lake Superior Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest, and Save Our Sky Blue Waters. 

MCEA and its allies also asked the Court of Appeals to throw out the rules that DNR relied on in issuing the permit to mine, on the ground that the rules are so vague that they allow DNR to do whatever it wants.  In the appeals, we argue that DNR's permits will not protect the public.  We assert that DNR illegally allowed PolyMet to proceed with its mine despite not knowing how the reactive mine waste generated will be prevented from causing pollution when the mine closes.  We also argue that DNR failed to require PolyMet to use feasible and prudent alternative methods for managing its waste that would avoid the hazards associated with a poorly-constructed earthen dam that is supposed to hold back a 900 acre lake of contaminated water and tailings forever. 

MCEA anticipates that it will be a number of months before these cases are ready for the court to hear arguments and issue its decision, but in the meanwhile MCEA has requested that DNR stay the permits (so PolyMet can't begin mining).  If DNR refuses to grant this request, MCEA will appeal that decision to the Court of Appeals as well.

2019 Legislative Session on the horizon

Minnesota's 91st Legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, bringing with it 39 newly elected House members (34 DFL, 5 GOP), many of whom ran on some of the environmental issues MCEA and its members care about, such as keeping our water clean and addressing climate change through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

After winning a number of key races in the Twin Cities suburbs, the House picked up 18 seats and now holds a 75-59 advantage, with Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL) leading the House as Speaker, and an entirely new slate of committee chairs, including Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL), who will lead a newly rebranded "Energy and Climate" committee - the first time ever that "climate" has appeared in the name of a standing MN legislative committee. Along with the House, several changes are happening in the Executive Branch as well. Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan will soon occupy the Governor's office, supported by (likely) a mostly-new team of cabinet officials at key agencies like the Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Commerce and others.

With these significant leadership changes, state leaders will hope to improve on the disappointing end to the 2018 session, when several policy provisions, including rollbacks to bedrock environmental protections, were loaded at the last minute into a nearly 1,000-page omnibus bill that ended up being vetoed by outgoing Gov. Mark Dayton. As in previous legislative sessions, MCEA will continue to fight to prevent any rollbacks to Minnesota's environmental laws and to protect our state's constitutionally dedicated funds for clean water and the environment. We are also interested in addressing weaknesses in Minnesota's nonferrous mining rules and statutes that have not been updated since the 1990's, and to address gaps in our statutes that provide less protection to people who depend on surface water and private wells for their drinking water. We will continue to work with legislators across the aisle to protect Minnesota's natural resources by advocating for sound environmental policies. Follow our work at the Capitol here.

MPCA rejects Fillmore Co. hog farm

This week, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's actions took significant steps forward in protecting the drinking water of people who live in southeastern Minnesota. There is more work to be done, but we're pleased that for the first time in a long while, the MPCA has put the brakes on a dangerous mega-feedlot proposal in response to citizen concerns.

MPCA denied Catalpa LLC's application for a general permit to operate a 5,000 hog mega-feedlot on a vulnerable site in Fillmore County, as MCEA and our clients requested. Second, the MPCA recommended a region-wide study of nitrate pollution in groundwater. Both of these actions are dramatic improvements over past practices, which too often have allowed polluting proposals to escape scrutiny by state agencies.

Catalpa may re-apply for a permit, and if they do, we will continue to stand up for clean water and local residents. Whether the decisions Tuesday will protect the drinking water of the region over the long term depend on the next steps that are taken. We welcome the MPCA's steps in the right direction and look forward to working with them to achieve clean water in karst country.

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Power Lunch tackles water

The next episode of MCEA's Power Lunch is now available, and we've launched a podcast! Power Lunch is a periodic interview with an MCEA expert, focused on a specific area of our work.

This month, we talked with Betsy Lawton, MCEA's Water Program Director, about our work to protect drinking water in the karst country of southeastern Minnesota. Want to learn more about how MCEA is working with local residents to defend their water from the threat of super-sized animal feedlots with thousands of hogs or cows? Tune in! You can subscribe so you don't miss an episode - follow us on iTunesSoundCloud and YouTube

Contact Us

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
1919 University Ave W
Suite 515
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104
(651) 223-5969

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