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
Across all of its programs, MCEA’s long-standing reputation for excellence and effectiveness and its strategic advantage of smart, strategic in-house lawyers, policy experts, and communications savvy drive combine to ensure the greatest possible impact. MCEA’s advocacy is driven by law and science, and its staff can deploy a variety of tactics to ensure the best possible outcome for Minnesota’s environment and the health of its people.
Clean Energy and Climate: MCEA'S Climate Team strives to achieve equitable, economy-wide reductions in greenhouse gases that will exceed both the amount and timelines in Minnesota's statutory goals. MCEA advocates for state-level strategies at the legislature, agencies, and courts that maximize reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from all sources, including transportation, electricity, residential, commercial, industrial, and agriculture. MCEA's strategy includes long-term development of modern and sustainable energy sources for Minnesota and shifting away fossil fuel use in order to reduce carbon pollution. To support this goal, MCEA serves as legal counsel for several Minnesota Energy Partners including Clean Grid Alliance, Fresh Energy, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Northeast Minnesota Program: This program works to protect the land, water, and people of Northeastern Minnesota, and to promote a safe and healthy future for all Northeastern Minnesotans. MCEA works to protect Northeastern Minnesota communities and waters from mining pollution, especially sulfide mining pollution, by holding state agencies accountable in permitting and enforcement processes. MCEA also works to protect and enhance Northeastern Minnesota lands, forests, and biodiversity, especially for climate resilience. This program is designed to partner with local communities most affected by historic pollution, and build bridges to new partners, including those with whom our views may not always align.
Water Quality: MCEA's Water Quality program focuses on protecting Minnesota's greatest natural resource and economic asset: its water. Minnesotans rely on our water for drinking, recreation, travel, a wide variety of economic activity, and well-being. MCEA works to protect surface and groundwater by securing more effective controls on agricultural runoff and pollution. MCEA also seeks to protect Lake Superior from the dual threats of pollution and invasive species. MCEA partners with communities to protect local drinking water sources from a wide range of threats that undermine public health. MCEA also acts as a watchdog to assure that clean water funds from the Legacy Amendment and Lottery funds are targeted effectively.
Environmental Justice: Environmental harms fall more heavily on some communities that are historically and disproportionately affected by environmental impacts and pollution. In these areas, environmental laws are ignored or enforced in such a way to protect polluters, not the community. MCEA's advocacy focuses on seeking environmental justice for all. MCEA partners with communities across the state where pollution is concentrated and where legal representation and expertise will have the greatest impact. MCEA is proud to have dedicated and general funding to support environmental justice work from its funders, and aims to integrate environmental justice principles into every aspect of its work.
MAJOR PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS
MCEA’s legal team challenged PolyMet’s most important permits, and the courts have either revoked or stayed all of them at this time. In April 2021, the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a significant victory, concluding that state law required the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish a “term” for the permit based on when reclamation would be complete. The Court also required the DNR to hold a contested case hearing on a central aspect of PolyMet’s plan to control pollution from its tailings basin, finding that this plan was utterly without support in the record. Now, the plan can’t go forward without a trial, which allows MCEA to cross-examine PolyMet and DNR experts in an administrative proceeding before a neutral judge.
MCEA participated in the planning process for the state’s three investor-owned utilities and a docket with national implications that will push gas utilities towards electrification. MCEA and our allies also successfully spearheaded the effort to push for a closure date on the last coal powered plant in Minnesota, and demonstrated there was no need for new gas powered plants.
GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION AND POPULATION SERVED
The entire state and population of Minnesota
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND NET ASSETS: $5,290,947
TOTAL REVENUE: $4,057,207
SOURCES OF REVENUE:
Foundation, earned, investment and other: $2,137,761
TOTAL EXPENSES: $3,250,838
FUNCTIONAL EXPENSE ALLOCATION:
Program expenses: $2,399,865
Management and Administration: $470,290
TOTAL COST FOR EACH MAJOR PROGRAM:
Clean Energy and Climate program expenses: $1,384,927
Northeast Minnesota program: $450,913
Water Quality: $378,513
Environmental Justice: $185,512