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minnesota water quality

ottertaillakeriverinletDespite the reality of what’s happening to Minnesota’s waters, many people just will not face the crying need for things like buffers. And now the Minnesota Party of Trump wants to revert entirely, by whatever means.

– H.F. 167 (Green): Eliminates buffer rule.
– S.F. 465 (Draheim)/H.F. 1859 (Miller): Delays the buffer rule for two more years.
– H.F. 684 (Backer): Prevents enforcement of the buffer law until/unless local governments approve of buffer maps first.
– H.F. 776 (Backer): Formally exempts all public water wetlands and most smaller streams from buffer rule.
– S.F. 938 (Westrom)/H.F. 683 (Backer): Two-year buffer delay, and prevents enforcement unless taxpayers pay 100% of buffer installation.
– S.F. 835 (Draheim)/H.F. 1858 (Miller): Buffers are not required unless/until local seed is available for planting the buffers.
– S.F. 1693 (Westrom)/H.F. 1994 (Torkelson): Similar to H.F. 1466 DE2; bars local enforcement, redefines public waters needing a buffer, delays the deadline for remaining buffers by one year, prohibits any enforcement of the buffer law unless public funding covers 100% of the cost of establishing and maintaining all buffers.
(Friends of the Mississippi River) (Follow that and then click on an action link to see the list.)

And this is from an email I got from Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.

SF141: Creates barriers for solar by increasing the power of co-op utilities and stripping the Public Utilities Commission of regulatory authority.
SF214: Eliminates a pro-solar program that has been an important driver of jobs and innovation in renewable energy.
HF1291: Eliminates the state’s Environmental Quality Board — at a time when the board’s oversight should be strengthened.
HF1377: Restricts the options available to homeowners for financing energy improvement projects.

I’m sure there are plenty more, but you get the point. I suspect that a significant part of how many strokes Minnesota’s Republican legislators get from ALEC is based on the sheer number of bulls*it bills that they introduce.


Gov. Dayton goes on offense with initiatives

by Dan Burns on January 18, 2016 · 2 comments

dayton2I readily acknowledge that I am a little surprised and – not that anyone should care all that much what I think – more than a little pleased to see Gov. Mark Dayton charging from the gate like this. He clearly doesn’t intend for this year’s legislative session to end as the last one did. What I’ve noted includes:
– Student loan refinancing. It was actually authorized by the legislature in 2014, when DFLers still held both houses.

Minnesota state officials are trying to take some of the sting out of high student-loan debt, rolling out a new program that could allow thousands of residents to refinance student loans and drive down monthly payments.
“If a student is graduating with such a high debt load, it makes it just so much more difficult for them to do so much more in our economy, whether it is buy a house or start a small business or buy a car,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said Thursday…
The issue has strong bipartisan appeal.
(Star Tribune)

– A $220M plan for water quality, including treatment plant upgrades and the like. As this one has plenty for rural areas it jolted the wingnuts off balance, whether they’ll admit it or not.

$1.4B in bonding. (Note that thanks to the federal transportation bill the state can more confidently plan for the longer term.) Bluestem Prairie notes what some of the right-wing reaction to that has already been.
I noted that I’m a little surprised because I figured he’d at least wait on items like the water initiative until 2017, when there’s a pretty good chance that DFLers will have the whole legislature again. I appear to have underestimated the level of determination, here.
Comment below fold.


Grasslands-menggu(Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.)


Today it’s about energy and the environment. One doesn’t have to see much of farm country to realize how well solar could work, with panels not only on the roofs of the main house but also the barn and outbuildings. A family could even make a few extra bucks selling electricity to the utilities. But if you’re politically dependent on the Kochtopus and their ilk, who owe most of their fortune to Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, that sets your perspective. Period.

In summary, Rep. (Pat) Garofalo’s (R-Farmington) bill would dismantle most of Minnesota’s efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repealing the laws that support these efforts. He totally sabotages solar…
Six, the last thing to highlight is by no means the least. The bill comes down hard on all things solar. It would allow the solar energy standard to be met “through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable eligible energy technology” which, of course, is intended to gut the solar standard. The bill would also end the solar energy incentive program and change net metering.
The argument used by utilities and its fossil fuel friends against net metering is that it shifts costs to other rate payers. The anti-solar folks brought a witness from Boston to Rep. Garofalo’s committee who made that argument. However, he was very selective in the data he used and excluded the solar benefits of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases. Our Pollution Control Agency estimates that air pollution costs Minnesota $30 billion a year. The “b” is not a typo.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

It looks like Governor Mark Dayton’s buffer zone proposal won’t happen, this session, except maybe in a substantially weakened version, despite:


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EPA warns Minnesota on water quality

by Dan Burns on June 18, 2013 · 0 comments

imagesqtbnANd9GcRORdjmczW59x3XD3e1dhkl3qzVbdnJxhWhMjpubNJkTxQ0f-P3From last week:

Federal regulators have ordered Minnesota to impose more stringent limits on pollutants discharged into the state’s lakes and rivers, an unusual step that could threaten state authority to enforce the nation’s clean-water laws.
The order, the first of its kind for Minnesota, was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a petition from a nonprofit environmental law firm that for years has accused the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) of lax enforcement in protecting the state’s waters.
The petition focused primarily on municipal wastewater treatment and phosphorus, a damaging contaminant that causes noxious and sometimes toxic algal blooms in lakes and rivers. But some say it also could require the state to tighten up on a wide range of pollutants.
“The direction is pretty clear,” said Kris Sigford, an attorney for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, which asked the EPA to intervene. “Now we’ll have limits that are designed to protect water quality going into permits for all dischargers.”
(Star Tribune)

Rather interesting, two of the state’s prominent political figures have been ripping on the EPA, over a couple of issues up north (here and here). There’s no reason to posit that this move by the EPA is in the nature of a brushback pitch. But it will be telling, to see where everything goes from here.