3 wins for clean air, water & energy

Wins across the Midwest for clean air, clean water and clean energy

In the past few weeks, MCEA attorneys have won some big cases in lots of different places.

In just two weeks:

  • we helped a community breathe cleaner air while pushing for justice and accountability
  • we won a critical victory that will help people across the Midwest access clean, renewable energy
  • and we stopped construction (for now) of the PolyMet sulfide mine proposal

These three wins really sum up the unique tools that MCEA uses to secure durable wins that protect people from pollution. 

Last Monday, the Northern Metals shredder in north Minneapolis was finally shut down after a decade-long battle. Northern Metals had long been suspected of polluting the air of the communities surrounding their plant with lead, other heavy metals, and particulates. When they blew through one more deadline to stop shredding metal at their plant, local residents in Community Members for Environmental Justice asked MCEA to represent them in court. We jumped in with both feet and won the right to intervene in the case on behalf of CMEJ. While we didn't get the public hearing we asked for where Northern Metals could be held accountable for the alteration of records, we're pleased that finally, after all of these years, Northern Metals' neighbors can breathe a less-polluted sigh of relief. We continue to push for a criminal investigation into the alteration of pollution control equipment records. 

Last Friday in Madison, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission issued a unanimous final order approving the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line. MCEA, also representing Fresh Energy and Clean Grid Alliance, argued this transmission line was needed to connect the rich wind resources of Iowa to Wisconsin. Wisconsin is way behind the rest of the Midwest in access to clean, renewable energy - currently just 10% of Wisconsin's electricity is supplied by renewable sources. Why is MCEA involved in a Wisconsin case? Because building a clean energy future requires access to renewable energy sources. We're already seeing Midwestern wind proposals being scaled back or shelved because there's not enough capacity on existing transmission lines to move the electricity. If this trend continues, it will be impossible to make the transition we need to carbon-free electricity. The next step in this complex case takes us to Iowa, where their Public Utilities Board takes up the case in early 2020. MCEA will be there to see it through and ensure that clean energy has a voice in the decision. 

Back in St. Paul, MCEA won a critically important stay (suspension) of two permits needed by the PolyMet sulfide mine proposal. On September 18th, the Minnesota Court of Appeals stayed the two permits on the basis of MCEA research that showed direct connections between the design of a mine tailings dam that killed nearly 300 people when it collapsed in Brazil and the PolyMet mine tailings dam. The Court stated that MCEA and other parties "raise serious, justifiable concerns about the ongoing regulation of the NorthMet project," and that a "full-scale review" of the connections between the collapsed dam in Brazil and the PolyMet dam is required by law. In addition, the Court ordered the Department of Natural Resources to address whether Swiss conglomerate Glencore, now majority owner of PolyMet, should be added to the permits. On October 23rd, we'll be at the Court of Appeals to ask for a continuation of the stay and to argue that the permits should be overturned.

These three wins in rapid succession demonstrate why MCEA is so critically needed, and the breadth of tools we have to build a better future.

 Thank you for being part of our success story. 

Kathryn Hoffman

MCEA Chief Executive Officer

P.S. Individual contributions allow us to quickly jump into cases like Northern Metals when we're needed by a community. Click here to make a contribution so we're able to respond quickly to rapidly developing cases. 


Legally Green 2019 is sold out! Join the wait list for MCEA's biggest event ever. 

We're busy preparing for Legally Green: The Next 45 on October 24th. MCEA celebrated our 45th anniversary this summer - what will the next 45 years bring? Demand has been so high, we've had to end ticket sales early because we are at capacity. This will be the biggest event in MCEA history! 

Some tickets may become available over the next few week as we get final commitments from table sponsors. Please email Steph Emerich to be added to the wait list. 

Thank you to the sponsors of Legally Green: The Next 45

Champion Sponsors: Ron Sternal & Nancy Gibson, Peter Bachman & Janet Rice, Peter & Anne Reich, Bruce & Julie Steiner, Andrew & Cassidy Steiner, Compass Capital, and Amy Steiner
Preservation Sponsors: Zelle, LLP, Design Forty-Five, Birchwood Financial Partners
Conservation Sponsors: Lockridge, Grindal, Nauen, P.L.L.P., Wallace Carlson, Gardner Builders, Xcel Energy, Doug & Paula Hemer, Metro Plains, Madigan, Dahl & Harlan P.A.
Trailblazer Sponsors: Shelter Architecture, Fresh Energy, KLH, Inc.
Steward Sponsors: Associated Financial Group, Piragis Northwoods Co., Bank Cherokee

Join RegenerateMN to plan the next big thing

Join RegenerateMN, MCEA's public engagement committee, for an informal happy hour at BlackStack Brewing on October 17th to connect, converse, and plan for the fall and winter. RegenerateMN's most recent event in May on brownfield redevelopment was a huge success, be part of the next big thing! RSVP and get more details on Facebook.  

RegenerateMN event

RegenerateMN members at our 2017 Transportation Trending event at Bad Weather Brewing. 

Contact Us

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