Alliance Environmental Legislative Successes in Minnesota

Credidt: Minnesota Environmental Partnership

By Alliance President Terry Gips

The Alliance successfully supported the passage of a number of bills as a long-time partner member of the MN Environmental Partnership, made up of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations in Minnesota who join together to enact key MN legislation. Here’s a short summary of the Alliance-backed legislation prepared by MEP in a longer summary that addresses everything from clean energy and environmental justice to PFAS forever chemical pollution and packaging waste.

Fighting for a Healthy Climate and Renewable Energy

  • Maintains a robust “carbon-free” standard for energy sources under the 100% Law by rejecting an amendment to add ill-conceived woody biomass language.
  • Ensures a just and equitable transition toward a clean energy future by upholding the moratorium for all nuclear-generating facilities.
  • Establishes the Geothermal Energy System Planning Grants program and provides $1.2 million to support the expansion of clean geothermal building heating in Minnesota.
  • Investments and incentives to make solar energy more accessible, including funding of $2 million to award financial incentives to local units of government that deploy the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) This federally developed software automates the review of applications and issuance of permits for residential solar, making solar energy more accessible. The Solar Interconnection Bill streamlines the process of connecting solar systems to the grid.

Supporting Environmental Justice 

  • Enhances enforcement of air regulatory work in environmental justice areas, dedicating onetime funding of nearly $3 million and ongoing funding of $2.6 million.
  • Expands the use of mobile air pollution testing equipment in communities overburdened by pollution, appropriating onetime funding of $1 million and ongoing funding of $535,000.
  • Improves water quality and addresses the nitrate crisis in southeastern Minnesota, including funding of $2.8 million for home water treatment for private wells, $2.8 million from the Clean Water Fund to inventory, test, and provide education and outreach around private wells, and $3 million from the Clean Water Fund to monitor and evaluate nitrate levels.

Preventing Pollution and Waste while Protecting Water, Lands and Wildlife

  • Monitors PFAS substances in sewage sludge, and directs the Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Department of Health (MDH) to develop strategies to protect Minnesotans from PFAS in drinking water.
  • Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act establishes producer responsibility for packaging, reducing waste upstream by requiring producers to pay for the lifecycle of their packaging and move towards more recyclable, compostable, and reusable products and packaging. Over time, this legislation will help dramatically reduce the waste we send to incinerators and landfills.
  • Allocates $25 million to Minnesota’s Clean Water Fund to support water-quality-related projects.
  • Allocates $192.7 million to Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund to enhance and restore wildlife and habitat, including $12 million for a deterrent system to protect the Upper Mississippi River from invasive carp.
  • Clarifies the definition of public waters with funding of $8 million for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to comprehensively update Minnesota’s Public Waters Inventory (PWI) over the next eight years. This will provide clarity and guidance towards future management and protections of all public waters in Minnesota.
  • A State Salt Purchase Report and Reduction Goal to quantify the amount of salt the state uses for deicing purposes and to reduce that usage by 25 percent from the initial reported total.
  • A State Nitrogen Fertilizer Purchase Report and Reduction Goal to quantify the amount of nitrogen fertilizer the state uses and to reduce that usage by 25 percent from the initial reported total.

Regulation and Planning

  • Authorizes the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) commissioner to issue an emergency order for the immediate discontinuation or reduction of pollution when that pollution presents an imminent and substantial danger to the health and welfare of people.
  • Establishes a regulatory framework that ensures gas extraction projects in Minnesota are conducted safely. This rulemaking is an important step to protect human and environmental health in light of the massive helium deposit recently found in St. Louis County.
  • Comprehensive Plan Clarity Fix clarifies that metro area comprehensive plans approved by the Metropolitan Council do not require environmental review on plan provisions. This is an important step towards increasing housing density on already-developed land and stopping metropolitan sprawl.

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