fbpx April Newsletter | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
May 03, 2024

April Newsletter

In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:

  • Must read: breaking news on PolyMet
  • Register for our next webinar and get the inside scoop on PolyMet
  • Take Action to ensure clean drinking water for all Minnesotans
  • Find out what it means to be an MCEA Amici
  • Learn the latest news on federal drinking water standards for PFAS
  • Consider what makes MCEA special
  • Meet our newest attorney, Abigail Hencheck
  • Check out an exciting opportunity to join our team
  • Trivia: A staff special interest you’re statistically likely to share
  • Wrap up Earth Month with a free MCEA 50th anniversary sticker delivered to your mailbox

Last week, the Duluth News Tribune reported that PolyMet is considering changing its proposal. This is big news. The company said in filings to the  decision-maker over its suspended Permit to Mine that it plans to undergo a “technical review” to examine how its proposal stacks up to new global mining standards, a review that PolyMet itself says could take up to a year. 

In other words, for the first time ever, PolyMet is acknowledging potential shortcomings with its proposal, in particular its tailings basin design. Concern about these shortcomings is exactly what MCEA, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, local partners, and downstream residents have been expressing for years and successfully articulating in court

MCEA and our partners argued to the designated agency decision-maker that the permit should be denied based on the development. DNR expressed concern about continuing to expend public resources reviewing a proposal that the company has now said may change. The agency asked for a pause in the pending proceedings. We await a decision.

As MCEA’s CEO Kathryn Hoffman said in the Duluth News article, “The viability of the whole project depends on this part of the plan, and at this late stage, like 20 years in, PolyMet says it might want to change it? As our filing in this case states: No permit can be granted because there is no longer a complete application.”

Don’t miss our upcoming webinar below to make sure you’re in on the latest. Register here.

In light of an imminent decision that could put the PolyMet mine proposal on ice, MCEA is hosting a special webinar featuring Senator Jen McEwen and our CEO Kathryn Hoffman. 

Moderated by our Northeastern Program Director JT Haines, this discussion is an opportunity for supporters to get an insider perspective from these long-time advocates. Join us on Thursday, May 30th at noon for this exciting conversation.

Register today to get expert opinions on what’s happening with the proposed PolyMet mine and why it matters to all Minnesotans. PolyMet would be the first sulfide mine in Minnesota, and poses significant risks of water pollution in the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. In this webinar we’ll cover what’s happening in the courts and legislature and how, together, we are on the verge of a historic clean water win. 

Register today!


Everyone deserves clean drinking water - that's why we petitioned the EPA to declare a drinking water emergency in MN's karst region.

More than a thousand supporters signed on to demand action to protect well-owners from nitrate contamination. Were you one of them? Today you can help make this call to action a reality. Ask your state legislators to fund the response needed to address this drinking water crisis. 

Over 9,200 private well owners in the region have drinking water with nitrate levels above the human health limit. To protect people from exposure to nitrate and agricultural chemicals, they need to have their wells tested. When nitrate contamination above the federal limit is found, safe alternatives must be provided. These can include water treatment systems, well repairs, or drilling a new well. 

Recognizing the urgent need, Governor Tim Walz committed $4 million in his supplemental budget to cover the costs of treating and repairing polluted wells. Now the Legislature should do the same. 

Ask your legislators to ensure that we live up to this promise and fully fund the Minnesota Department of Health’s response plan to provide clean drinking water.

Take action!

Amici Social 2024

On April 25th, MCEA staff and board gathered with our Amici donors to celebrate our 50 years or environmental work, and the prospect of another big win right on the horizon. Chief Strategy Officer Aaron Klemz spoke about his personal interest in closing down the speculative PolyMet mine proposal, and CEO Kathryn Hoffman shared about a likely win just around the corner, and the big projects on the horizon for MCEA.

If you weren’t able to be there, we missed you! These types of gatherings are part of the way we build community among our donors who have made significant gifts to MCEA - either by giving $84+ monthly or $1,000+ per year. We also invite our members of the White Pine Legacy Circle, which includes individuals who have included MCEA in their estate plans. Want to join either group? We’d love to help! Contact Development Director Debra deNoyelles at (651) 758-9769.


Photo: Jay Eidsness speaks at a press conference on PFAS at the state capitol. 


New Federal Standards for PFAS in Drinking Water —

And What Comes Next

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new standards for PFAS contamination in drinking water

Staff Attorney Jay Eidsness spoke at a press conference about this major milestone in the journey to eradicate PFAS. Standing with legislators, partner organizations, and the family of Amara Strande, Eidsness acknowledged the importance of these new national standards — but didn’t shy away from the work ahead. On the forefront of his mind since he first testified about PFAS in 2021 is who will pay for the clean up. 

Read more about his take on the new standards and the work ahead


The Fundraising Effectiveness Project, a report drawn from thousands of nonprofits across the country, recently said the U.S. is in “a near-universal decline in fundraising metrics, including dollars raised, donor counts, and retention when compared to 2022.”

We’re thrilled to report that MCEA is defying the trend. In the past seven years, our contributions and grant totals have more than doubled, and we’ve already surpassed last year’s number of new donors. 

How does MCEA succeed in the face of such daunting odds? It’s the same way we battle would-be polluters: with a relentless belief in collective action. This combined with our winning track record makes a contribution to MCEA a wise investment in a better future. 

Thanks to the many individuals who support MCEA - we couldn’t do this without you!

Donate here!


For 50 years some of the brightest and most innovative environmental lawyers in the state have worked at MCEA. We’re proud to say that legacy continues with the addition of our newest staff attorney, Abigail Hencheck. She brings a powerful perspective to our work. She says: “I’ve dedicated my career to environmental protection because time is running out to save our planet. And we cannot have a just world if we don’t have a world.”

Click here to learn 5 things about her background, including some of her top board game picks.  


MCEA is hiring for a Grants Manager position. The ideal candidate enjoys project management, is a strong writer with the ability to learn and communicate complex ideas persuasively, and has strong organizational skills with an attention to detail. 

Learn more about the position here



Spring is here and the birds are chirping. A few of our staff members have been talking about checking out the migratory birds lately, and we wondered how many people share our interest. Check out the question below, and click on the link for the answer, plus a special BONUS - a tip from an MCEA staffer about a good local spot to see Blue Herons in the Twin Cities. 

The interest in birding has been “soaring.” What percentage of people 16 and older in the United States now say they enjoy it as an activity?

A) 12 percent

B) 23 percent 

C) 35 percent

D) 75 percent 

Click here for the answer!

Wrap up your Earth Month celebrations and celebrate 50 years of protecting Minnesota with MCEA - Get a free sticker delivered straight to your mailbox!

Together, we're Defending True North.

True North isn't a location, it's a set of values that guide MCEA in our work to defend Minnesota's environment and the health of its people. If you agree with these values, you are invited to join our team of True North defenders.

We believe:

🚰Every Minnesotan deserves clean, safe drinking water, whether they live in a city or rely on a well

🍃Every current and future Minnesotan deserves a liveable future world where climate change is addressed

🌳Every Minnesotan deserves a safe and clean environment, regardless of their zip code, income, race, or gender

🌎Every decision that affects natural resources should be made with free prior informed consent of affected Tribes

Thank you for Defending True North with us.