1,000 people packed the DECC in Duluth for the PolyMet hearing

1,000 people packed the DECC in Duluth for the PolyMet meeting

Duluth speaks on PolyMet

PolyMet's sulfide mine proposal attracted a lot of attention in Duluth over the last few weeks, as hundreds of concerned downstream residents had their say at a series of events. Over 1,000 people attended the final public meeting on the PolyMet draft permits, with hundreds of orange hankie waving citizens demonstrating their concern about the risk of a mine waste disaster. Speakers opposing the draft permits included Kevin Lee, MCEA Senior Attorney. He pointed out that Canada and other jurisdictions are moving away from storing mine waste mixed with water behind a dam, but that PolyMet's draft permit would allow this dangerous practice. Speakers concerned about the proposal outnumbered supporters 2-1, and media coverage focused on Duluth's concern about pollution from the proposal. 

If you haven't already had your say on PolyMet's draft permit, you have one week left! MCEA has made it easy - go to our website and sign the petition that we'll submit to the Minnesota DNR next week!

Kathryn Hoffman speaking at Amnesty International dinner

Kathryn Hoffman speaking at Amnesty International dinner in Duluth, February 12th

The week after the Duluth PolyMet hearing, a delegation from Amnesty International visited Duluth to talk to local leaders about the impact of the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster. The visit was organized by Duluth for Clean Water, a volunteer-led organization that has been doing amazing work in the Twin Ports to highlight the risk that PolyMet poses to Lake Superior. MCEA was part of the delegation visit, testifying in front of the Duluth City Council, meeting with local elected officials, and speaking at a dinner to honor our guests from Canada. Kathryn Hoffman, MCEA's CEO, closed the evening by describing the similarities between British Columbia and Minnesota in our work on the PolyMet mine proposal. One common theme: in both Minnesota and British Columbia, the government agency that is charged with regulating mines is also responsible for promoting mining. Thanks to Duluth for Clean Water and Amnesty International for bringing this important story to Duluth. 

RegenerateMN brough together legislators and lobbyists to learn how to maximize citizen impact

Four state senators and two advocates told RegenerateMN attendees how they can have the biggest impact at the Minnesota Capitol

MCEA supporters come together to learn how to maximize their impact at the State Capitol!

RegenerateMN, a program of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, met with over 60 other MCEA supporters for an afternoon to tour the Capitol building and hear from legislators and advocates about how to maximize their impact and influence decision makers. We also met at Rival House for a post-event social to continue conversations about the insights our panelists shared. Our panelists included Senator John Marty, Senator Jim Abeler, Senator Sandra Pappas, Patricia Nauman (Executive Director of Metro Cities), Molly Pederson (former Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Mark Dayton), and Senator Scott Dibble.

Click here to view more pictures from the event.

MCEA ready to defend environmental policies under attack this legislative session

Legislators returned to Saint Paul for a short legislative session, lasting from February 20 until May 21.  MCEA is watching to ensure that the legislature continues Minnesota's long tradition of protecting clean water and clean air.  

WATER CONSENSUS? MCEA has worked through the Legislative Water Commission to discuss how best to help cities meet their wastewater treatment obligations in a flexible and fair way. While wastewater treatment compliance issues can be controversial, MCEA hopes that the Legislative Water Commission will reach consensus on items that can make progress, by helping cities but not undermining the standards that protect the quality of our water. 

BONDING.  As part of MCEA's commitment to supporting city efforts to meet water quality standards, we will support $167 million in bonding for wastewater treatment needs.  In addition, MCEA will support bonding for the critical Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).   

DEFENSE.  MCEA will always work to protect the state's bedrock environmental protections from unwarranted and misguided attacks.  

AGENCY AUTHORITY.  Recent sessions have seen efforts to bypass the usual agency process and a betting person would put money on seeing those this year.  Among other things, MCEA will be watching to make sure that the role of the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates power companies, is not weakened.  

ACCOUNTABILITY.  After many rounds of "streamlining" of environmental review and permitting, MCEA is waiting to see if more proposals are made.  While we really like efficiency, MCEA is concerned that any efforts to speed things up also need to protect the clean air and water we all depend on.  All Minnesotans want to see fairness and balance in the way laws are enforced, and pollution limits are no different. 

WILD RICE.  The Senate began the session with a hearing to explore the decision of an Administrative Law Judge to throw out the PCA's proposal to change Minnesota's "wild rice rule." High levels of sulfates can damage and kill wild rice and other aquatic vegetation. MCEA's view is that changes to to the rule need to be based on science and protect all of the waters that support wild rice. Stay tuned for legislative attempts to stop enforcement of the current sulfate standard put in place to protect wild rice, Minnesota's state grain. 

MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER.  MCEA warned the Legislature last session that a bill to give municipal wastewater plants a 16 year free pass from upgrading their systems violated the Clean Water Act. They passed it anyway, and the new rule was struck down by an Administrative Law Judge who agreed with MCEA. Already, we are heading to the Capitol this week to testify on another bill that would try to do the same thing. MCEA supports efforts to give cities the resources and flexibility they need to protect water, but we will continue to oppose efforts to exempt them from environmental laws.  

Be sure to bookmark MCEA's legislative bill tracker to stay up to date on the latest developments on environmental policies relevant to MCEA's work throughout the legislative session. 


Read more about it... 

Dairyland's proposed NG plant gets pushback from Minnesota

Both utilities have plenty of “dispatchable resources” to support their renewable investments, said Leigh Currie, an attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. “It would be a different question if we were asking a utility to go 100 percent renewable and they said we need some gas,” Currie said. “That’s not the case with Dairyland and Minnesota Power.”

Read more of Leigh's comments here

January's Environmental Gubernatorial Forum now available on YouTube!

Learn where each of Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates stands on issues relating to conservation and the environment as they respond to questions about air, water, land and outdoor legacy issues facing our state. Watch the forum here. 

Big news!

After 27 years, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is moving to a new home! Our current office building is in the works to be restored and converted into a historic 75-room boutique hotel set to open by spring 2019.

MCEA will still be based in Saint Paul, but will be more centrally located in the Twin Cities at Prior and University come this Spring.  We are very excited to move into an office space that we feel better reflects our values as an environmental organization. The building itself is energy star rated with a new solar panel roof. It is located right off the greenline’s Fairview Station, affords ample parking, and features a bike storage and repair area for those who choose to take advantage of the area’s new bikeway.

We plan to host an open house for all MCEA supporters to come by and check out our new space in June after we move in, stay tuned for more details! 

Common Ground: Overcoming the Urban-Rural Divide in Minnesota

Regardless of age, race, and income differences, both rural and metro communities face problems such as the environmental degradation, healthcare, and unemployment. These issues are statewide, and solving them will require cooperation.

Read more by our Carleton College externs

This month's MCEA program spotlight: Water Quality

MCEA's water quality work helped halt adoption of a statewide rule that would have violated the Clean Water Act. The rule would have exempted sewage plants that have upgraded their system from further upgrades for 16 years, even if science or technology showed a need for improvements. Wastewater plants need to renew their water permit every five years to keep downstream water safe for fish, drinking, and recreation. While the legislature ignored our warnings and directed adoption of the rule, an Administrative Law Judge reviewing the rule heeded our comments and barred adoption of the illegal rule.

Learn more about MCEA's water quality program here

Welcome Irina!

Irina Herrera will be working with MCEA this legislative session through the Minnesota Capitol Pathways Program. She is a senior at the University of Minnesota studying Political Science with concentrations in Law & Politics. Learn more about Irina here.

Contact Us

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
26 E. Exchange St.
Suite 206
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
(651) 223-5969

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