Legislative update: Assault on Minnesota’s environmental protections continues

This year, more so than any in recent memory, numerous bills are making their way through the legislature that would undermine Minnesotas foundation of environmental protection. Here is a quick summary of the bills FMR is following:

Repealing Protections for the Mississippi River Critical Area

Senate File 39 / House File 95 – Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area

As detailed in our recent article, 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. FMR reported in detail on this issue in February.

Increasing Pollution to the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin

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 phosphorous pollution to the Mississippi River and other waters. Read the recent Star Tribune editorial on this bill.

Banning New Water Regulations for Two Years

Senate File 196 / House File 182 – Moratorium on Water Quality Rules

Under the pretense of pausing to study Minnesotas 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 Minnesotas state agencies and prevent them from enacting rules designed to protect rivers, lakes, wetlands and ground water.

Watered-down wild rice protection

House File 1002 / Senate File 732 — Sulfates Water Quality Standards

These provisions would remove sulfate pollution standards for wild rice waters, threatening Minnesotas wild rice production and Native American heritage. Read more in the Star Tribune.

Banning Video of Farming Operations

House File 1369 / Senate File 1118 — Agricultural Offense Penalties and Remedies Imposed

These provisions would make it illegal for citizens to document pollution or other violations from agricultural operations — including livestock and crop operations, research facilities, and even animal shelters. The Star Tribune reported on the proposed bills, published an editorial advocating against them, and posted on the issue on the True North Blog.

A Coordinated National Strategy?

Finally, we have learned that there may be method to this madness. Recent news reports from around the country have detailed a concerted effort by the Republican Party to push deregulation and environmental rollbacks at the state level, as detailed in the New York Times.

Want More?

For a more complete listing of bills that undermine Minnesotas framework of environmental protections visit the Minnesota Environmental Partnership website.

Want to contact your legislators about your concerns about any of these bills? Heres how: