fbpx FY22 Online Annual Report | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy


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.




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 Change: MCEA's climate team strives to achieve equitable, economy-wide GHG reductions that will exceed both the amount and timelines in Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act, while encouraging equitable community and institutional resilience to adapt to unavoidable climate change. 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 to reduce carbon pollution. To support this goal, MCEA serves as legal counsel for several Minnesota clean energy organizations.


Northeast Minnesota: 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.


Healthy Communities: 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 building and protecting healthy communities for all. The healthy communities program leverages MCEA's legal skills, organizational resources, and access to decision-makers to build power for communities and fight for environmental justice alongside our partners. 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.




MCEA continued its litigation questioning the safety of the proposed PolyMet mine. In the past year MCEA appealed four permits: the permit to mine and dam safety permit against the Minnesota DNR, and the air pollution control permit and water discharge permit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. MCEA has stopped PolyMet from moving forward with unsafe plans to public health and the environment. MCEA also launched the Move On from PolyMet campaign, delivering 5,000 signatures to Governor Walz' desk to move on from PolyMet and support a clean energy future. 

Additionally, MCEA began a new communications initiative to reframe the narrative claiming the necessity of mining for green infrastructure. Our experts are shaping conversations through Mining the Climate Crisis, a web based media strategy that uses webinars, videos, articles, op-eds, fact sheets, and media outreach to change perceptions around mining. 

MCEA partnered again with community organization, Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) to deepen relationships already built in their successful organizing against Northern Metals in North Minneapolis. CMEJ and MCEA organized residents and filed a lawsuit appealing the approval of a development plan for an industrial zone, Upper Harbor Terminal, citing the City’s failure to address the impact of the proposal on climate change and the inadequacy of the analysis of cumulative impacts to nearby communities. 


The entire state and population of Minnesota



Financial data for FY 2022 annual report

TOTAL REVENUE: $3,527,564


Contributions: $1,852,593

Foundation, earned, investment and other: $1,674,971


TOTAL EXPENSES: $3,804,243 organizational growth completely funded by MCEA's undesignated net assets



Program expenses: $2,897,899

Management and Administration: $446,033

Fundraising: $460,311



Clean Energy and Climate Change program expenses: $1,262,205

Northeast Minnesota program: $679,070

Water Quality: $558,344

Healthy Communities: $398,280