Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

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Legislative Update: Major assault on Minnesota’s environmental protections

This year, more so than any in recent memory, a spate of bills are making their way through the state legislature that would undermine Minnesota’s foundation of environmental protection.

Recently the Minnesota state legislature passed and Governor Dayton signed into law House File 1,which weakens our state’s environmental review framework, allowing project proposers to prepare their own environmental impact statements and making it more difficult and costly for citizens to appeal environmental review decisions in court.

Another bill would end Minnesota’s long-standing ban on nuclear power plants — a decision that seems especially short-sighted and foolish in light of the recent catastrophic near-meltdowns of Japanese nuclear reactors.

Still another piece of proposed legislation would repeal the current standards for building new coal fired power plants without a plan for offsetting the emissions. This legislation would undo a critical part of the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act that was passed with bipartisan support and signed in law by then Governor Tim Pawlenty.

There are many more anti-environmental bills working their way through the legislature this year. Here are a few that FMR is working on that would affect the Mississippi River:

  • Senate File 39 / House File 95 – Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area
    As detailed elsewhere in this newsletter, these bills would repeal state rulemaking for the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area – Minn. Statutes §116G.15. This 2009 law directs the DNR to work with local units of government and other stakeholders to update minimum standards and guidelines for the corridor – work that is now near completion. If allowed to become law this bill would prevent new standards and guidelines designed to update protections for the Mississippi River from being enacted. For more info or to help defeat this repeal effort, read our recent action alert.
  • Senate File 161 / House File 368 - Lake Pepin Phosphorus Standard
    These bills would attempt to save money for wastewater treatment plant operators by weakening enforcement of phosphorus pollution loading for eight months of the year. The result of which would be increasing rather than decreasing nutrient pollution to the Mississippi River and other waters. For more information, read the recent Star Tribune editorial on this bill.
  • Senate File 196 / House File 182 – Moratorium on Water Quality Rules
    Under the pretense of pausing to study Minnesota’s water governance these bills would place a two-year moratorium on any State rules related to water resources. The moratorium would tie the hands of Minnesota’s state agencies and prevent them from enacting rules designed to protect rivers, lakes, wetlands and ground water.

Want to contact your legislators about your concerns about any of these bills? Here’s how: Read more…