January 2023 Newsletter
In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:
- MCEA Legislative update, resources, and webinar recording
- Read: MCEA staff highlight continued problems with PolyMet in new op-eds
- Read: MCEA statement on police killing of environmental activist in Georgia
- Mining the Climate Crisis recap – webinar series a wrap!
- East Phillips neighbors and allies remain committed to community vision for Roof Depot
- Biden administration protects Boundary Waters Wilderness from sulfide mine pollution
- Factsheet: 10 ways to improve mining law
- Inspired Speaker series brings together a wide array of environmental voices – moderated by MCEA!
- 100% carbon free electricity bill nearly Minnesota law – take action!
Pictured: (left) MCEA Climate Program Director Ellen Anderson speaks at a press conference prior to the House vote on 100% bill. (right) Rep. Jamie Long takes a selfie with clean energy supporters outside the House chambers (1/26/23)
An exciting start to Minnesota’s 2023 Legislative session
Things are moving fast this year at the Minnesota Capitol. New legislative leadership and a mandate from voters to act on climate and protect Minnesota’s environment are already yielding exciting results. Last week, the House passed the 100% Clean Energy Standard. In the words of MCEA's Climate Director Ellen Anderson, who spoke at a press conference before the House vote: "This bill is the most powerful step we can take right now on climate."
Now, the bill heads to the Senate. If you haven’t already, take our online action to tell your Senator to vote YES on the 100% bill.
It’s not just clean energy policy that’s in motion. Bills like HF552, which aims to get toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” out of consumer products in Minnesota, and HF 820/SF 755, which would help reduce pollution from salt application, are also under consideration this session, + much more! If you are interested in learning about other bills that MCEA is watching, click here to view our 2023 bill tracker.
Looking for a quick digest? MCEA hosted our first Legislative webinar of the year this afternoon. MCEA staff, including our Legislative Director Andrea Lovoll and Climate Program Director Ellen Anderson, discussed the latest from Minnesota’s Capitol and answered questions from the audience. Click here to watch the recording.
We expect a busy and fruitful session. As always, MCEA will keep our supporters in the loop and provide opportunities to get involved and take action. Stay tuned!
MCEA’s environmental policy team is one of the largest in the state – that’s only possible because of support from folks like you! Make a contribution to MCEA to support our legal and scientific voice at the Capitol.
Have you read MCEA’s recent op-eds?
MCEA authored two widely read op-eds this month about PolyMet. The first, by MCEA's Chief Equity and Partnership Officer Eric Ini, tells a compelling story about Eric's personal experience with PolyMet's owner Glencore, and how that corporation has committed fraud and bribery around the world at significant cost to local communities. Eric asks the question, why would Minnesota do business with such a notorious bad actor? The second, by MCEA's Northeastern Program Director JT Haines, responds to a recent Duluth News Tribune editorial that referred to the PolyMet lawsuits as "frivolous." JT poses the question – what if the problem isn't with the process, but with the proposal itself?
Please share these impactful commentaries with your networks.
Read: Take it from me, Minnesota: Steer clear of Glencore, by Eric Ini
Read: In Response: The Problem with PolyMet is Actually PolyMet, by JT Haines and Pete Marshall
MCEA statement on police killing of environmental activist in Georgia
“MCEA stands with water protectors and forest protectors worldwide who defend our earth and its people from unjust and unsustainable extraction and destruction. The right to protest is among the most important rights we have, as fundamental as clean air and clean water.”
—MCEA Chief Executive Officer, Kathryn Hoffman
On January 18th, police shot and killed environmental activist Tortuguita who was protesting the construction of a police training facility in Atlanta, Ga. If built, the training center, known as Cop City, would destroy more than 300 acres of forested land. MCEA joins the call for justice for Tortuguita and supports U.S. Representative Cori Bush in her demand for an independent investigation into Tortuguita’s killing.
Mining the Climate Crisis webinar series is a wrap! Check out recordings and more resources about this important conversation
Last week, we wrapped up our Mining the Climate Crisis webinar series with a thought-provoking roundtable that revealed some of the gaps and greenwashing present in mainstream climate conversations.
Three visionary panelists – Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth; Libby Bent of Duluth for Clean Water and the College of St. Scholastica; and Dr. Jennifer Dunn of Northwestern University – discussed the often overlooked steps we could take to promote community well-being and ecosystem resiliency in our transition to clean energy.
Previous webinars explored how recycling can meet demand for energy-relevant metals like copper, nickel, and lithium in a quicker, less harmful way than new mining. Bloomberg columnist and author Adam Minter shed light on the global dynamics of metal recycling and why the U.S. recycling economy is underdeveloped. In our second webinar, we brought the conversation closer to home, hearing from Minnesota Rep. Athena Hollins; Dr. Roopali Phadke of Macalester College; and Maria Jensen of Repowered about how we could build out our metal and e-waste recycling capacity in Minnesota.
Thanks to everyone who tuned in, and head over to the Mining the Climate Crisis homepage to learn more about our work on these issues!
Photo courtesy of: EPNI volunteer Delaney Russell
East Phillips neighbors and allies remain committed to community vision for Roof Depot
About 100 people gathered at the Minneapolis City Council meeting this past week to urge council members to vote against demolishing the Roof Depot building in East Phillips. For years, the community has advocated for converting the polluted site into an urban farm. In a disappointing but close 7-6 vote, the council approved the demolition so that the City’s controversial plans to expand its public works facility on the site can continue.
Led by the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), neighborhood organizers are not standing down. Supporters gathered for a healing circle and info rally about next steps in the fight this past Sunday. To learn more about the efforts, and how to support them, follow EPNI on Twitter at @epni_urbanfarm or check out their website.
The community-owned urban farm concept, which was conceived by EPNI members years ago, would bring affordable housing, local production of healthy food, and a job training facility to the neighborhood. East Phillips experiences among the worst air pollution and related health conditions in the state due to the concentration of polluting facilities in the neighborhood. EPNI and its supporters want a different future for East Phillips, which is predominantly low-income and one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in Minnesota.
MCEA stands in solidarity with EPNI and the East Phillips community in their efforts to fight for environmental justice and to end toxic air pollution.
Biden administration protects Boundary Waters Wilderness from sulfide mine pollution
After years of sustained advocacy by wilderness advocates and Minnesotans across the political spectrum, the Biden administration took action to protect the BWCA wilderness from sulfide mining pollution. The action, called a “federal mineral withdrawal,” means that federal mineral rights in the BWCA watershed will not be leased for the next 20 years.
Previously, two federal mineral leases held by Antofagasta and Twin Metals Minnesota were revoked by a separate action. Antofagasta has sued to try to get their leases back, but for now, these actions effectively end the Twin Metals mine proposal.
Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul) has also been pushing for a permanent withdrawal, which can only be done through an act of Congress.
MCEA actively participated in this process through comments on the scientific study that recommended this protective action. Organizations such as Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters have led this years-long effort. But this monumental victory is really owed to the thousands and thousands of Minnesotans who sent in comments, attended public meetings, and pushed for protection of the Boundary Waters. Thank you!
Check out our policy recommendations on mining regulation
Our team at MCEA recently published a new factsheet: "10 Ways to Improve Minnesota Mining Regulations.” Here’s why: Minnesota's mining laws are outdated in significant ways, and it's important for decision makers and members of the public to be aware of these shortcomings so we can take informed steps to address the problem.
Inspired Speaker series brings together a wide array of environmental voices – moderated by MCEA!
An exciting speaker series underway at All Saints Lutheran Church in Minnetonka features a wide array of environmental topics, moderated by MCEA experts. We hope you can join us!
In the first two installments, MCEA Chief Executive Officer, Kathryn Hoffman, and Chief Strategy Officer, Aaron Klemz, took turns moderating conversations with Katrina Kessler, Commissioner of the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Peter Gove, former MPCA Commissioner and a founding member of the Environmental Quality Board. Up next is a conversation on February 21st with Ann Pierce, Director of MN State Parks & Trails.
This speaker series, which runs through early June, is a great way to spend an evening with some of Minnesota’s environmental leaders. All events are in-person, free, and open to the public.
100% carbon free electricity bill nearly Minnesota law
After over eight hours of debate last Thursday, the Minnesota House adopted HF 7 (Chief Author Rep. Long), the 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 bill. This bill has been a top priority of MCEA. Both Climate Program Director Ellen Anderson and Senior Attorney Barb Freese testified in committee in favor of the bill.
Simply put, this bill is the single most important action we can take to reduce climate pollution.
Its passage will not only have a profound impact on the energy sector, but it also makes climate action in every other sector more effective because of their reliance on electrification. Whether we are talking about transportation, residential heating, or industrial processes, carbon-free electricity will allow us to remove greenhouse gas pollution from all of them.
TAKE ACTION: Click here to email your Senator and Governor Tim Walz to let them know you support 100% clean energy for Minnesota. We expect a vote later this week, so take action now!