MISSION STATEMENT The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is a nonprofit organization that uses law, science and research to protect Minnesota's environment, its natural resources and the health of its people.
MAJOR PROGRAM AREAS Clean Energy and Climate: Focuses on long-term development of modern and sustainable energy sources for Minnesota and retirement of fossil fuel plants in order to reduce carbon pollution. MCEA advocates for agencies to consider the full cost of air emissions when evaluating potential projects. To support this goal, MCEA serves as legal counsel for several Minnesota Energy Partners including Clean Grid Alliance, Fresh Energy and Sierra Club
Wildlife, Natural Resources and Mining: Mining addresses the potential environmental impacts of proposed nonferrous sulfide mining projects in northeastern Minnesota, including water and air pollution, wetland loss and tailings basin stability. MCEA's focus is to ensure that the proposed mines prove they can meet applicable environmental standards, that agencies use the best available science to evaluate these proposals, and the long-term interest of taxpayers and the environment are protected.
Water Quality: Focuses on protecting Minnesota's greatest natural resource and economic asset, its water. MCEA advocates for the adoption and effective implementation of protective nitrogen and phosphorous standards for lakes and streams, and to safeguard drinking water supplies from nitrate pollution. MCEA also works to reduce pollution from agricultural sources through oversight, planning, collaboration and incentive programs at federal, state and local levels. MCEA's work in the Lake Superior Basin focuses on strengthening the great Lake Compact to protect against inter-basin withdrawals and obtaining funding for cleanup of the St. Louis River.
MAJOR PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS In the last year, unrestricted operating funds allowed us to protect the environment by adding an additional senior attorney with significant, needed expertise in working with state agencies. In addition, we were able to provide leadership on unanticipated work. A concrete example is a gas plant proposed for Superior, Wisconsin. This is a precedent-setting case. To achieve our carbon-reduction goals, we need utilities to replace coal with renewables, not natural gas. The decision on this gas plant could influence decades of decisions on electricity sources. We pulled together experts from around the country to provide the evidence that the Public Utilities Commission needs to support a decision that Minnesotans would be better served by investing $350 million in clean energy alternatives rather than fossil fuels. And our experts pointed out that investing in wind and solar and other carbon-free options between now and 2034 is actually less expensive than building the plant. This evidence is in the record before the Commission, who will make a decision soon. Without general operating support, none of this would have been possible. In addition to this major success, MCEA also lead on recently securing other science-driven victories in Minnesota that include:
Putting a price tag on climate change. Using evidence drawn from public health research and other data, MCEA won a 4-year battle to ensure that regulators put a price tag on climate change when making decisions about new and retiring fossil fuel-based power plants in Minnesota.
Retiring coal and expanding renewables. MCEA represented clean energy allies and won a decision to retire the two largest coal-burning units in Minnesota. MCEA worked with partners to double the amount of wind added to another utility’s system.
Securing environmental reviews for all new pipeline proposals. MCEA’s legal challenge to the Sandpiper pipeline proposal resulted in the requirement that all new pipeline proposals in Minnesota undergo environmental review.
Expanding protections for our waters. MCEA won improvements to the Minnesota “impaired waters” list, which puts strategies in place to address contaminants in polluted lakes and rivers.
Defending existing laws. MCEA is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective environmental organizations at the Minnesota legislature, stopping attacks on protective water quality standards, and preventing exemptions for polluting industries from otherwise strict environmental standards.
GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION AND POPULATION SERVED The entire state and population of Minnesota