Five things MCEA is working on at the Minnesota Legislature in 2024
The Minnesota Legislature returns on February 12, 2024 for the second year of their two-year legislative session. Traditionally, this second year has been called the “bonding year,” and a capital investment bill is part of the mix this year, but lots of environmental policy is also on tap.
MCEA is working hard to make continued progress on water pollution, climate action and environmental justice in 2024. Here’s a brief rundown of MCEA’s legislative priorities. Be sure to register for MCEA’s free legislative webinar (Wednesday, February 28 at noon) to hear how you can help make these priorities become law this year.
- Clean drinking water for southeastern Minnesota: MCEA’s petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address nearly 10,000 private wells in SE Minnesota that have dangerous levels of nitrates is making an impact. How to pay for clean drinking water (either through treatment systems or new wells) will be a topic at the Legislature, as will policy changes to prevent more pollution. MCEA will be working to ensure that well owners aren’t stuck with the bill, that polluters pay for the solutions, and that Minnesota uses clean water Legacy funds in accordance with the Minnesota Constitution.
- Ending Smith Foundry’s legacy of pollution: MCEA is working alongside residents of the East Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis to end nearly 100 years of pollution from the Smith Foundry. The news that Smith Foundry was failing to live up to their 30 year old permit was not news to the community, who’ve experienced the pollution first hand. Our Coalition’s goal is to work with the community to shut the foundry and to find funds to support worker transitions.
- Protecting public waters statewide: MCEA won our Minnesota Supreme Court case to protect Limbo Creek last year, but the decision didn’t definitively answer the question of how other waterways should be treated. Minnesota’s inventory of public waters conducted in the early 1980’s is incomplete and inaccurate. It’s time to clearly establish that all waters that meet the definition in our statutes are protected, even if omitted from the inventory conducted over 40 years ago.
- Implementing clean energy to get to 100% carbon-free electricity: Now that Minnesota has committed to getting our electrical system to 100% carbon-free by 2040, we have work to do in building out the clean power and transmission needed to achieve it. MCEA has been part of a working group to streamline approval of solar, wind, and transmission proposals, and will be supporting a bill to implement these changes in 2024 - learn more here.
- Defending Minnesota’s bedrock environmental laws: As MCEA celebrates 50 years of defending Minnesota’s environment and the health of its people, we are committed to ensuring that our bedrock environmental laws (like the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act) remain strong. Minnesotans expect transparency and public input into decisions that affect the environment, and we’ll be working to ensure that these laws continue to protect Minnesotans for another 50 years.