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Jul 01, 2024

June 2024 Newsletter

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In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:

  • Get inspired by all you’ve helped us accomplish in the first half of 2024 

  • Find out how you made it possible to protect the health of Minnesota’s environment and people

  • Get the inside scoop on MCEA’s next steps to curb nitrate pollution in drinking water 
  • Register for our annual Duluth Get Together on July 31st
  • Learn five reasons why an industrial facility is changing operations in a residential neighborhood 
  • Take action: Tell Smith Foundry no more pollution
  • Trivia: Where does Minnesota’s nitrate pollution end up? 
  • Save the date for our fall event
  • What we’re listening to: What could “carbon free” electricity look like in Minnesota?



At MCEA we often have supporters ask what gives us hope amidst torrents of difficult news. For many of the staff members, the answer is that we get to see the difference this work makes in people’s lives and the environmental future of our state. Halfway through the year, we wanted to share some of these updates in the hopes they offer the same inspiration to you.

MCEA has a 50-year history of environmental action, but as one of our Board members recently said, “This is GO time for our planet.” We couldn’t agree more. Together, with you, we’re building momentum towards a better future.


As we prepare to close our books on June 30, we wanted to express gratitude for the many individuals who support MCEA. Funding from individuals has been essential, especially in the past four years. 

As our Board Chair Rebecca Otto said recently, “Almost half of our budget comes from people who care about the environment enough to invest in the better future that MCEA attorneys, advocates, and partners are building. We’re so grateful for this mission-critical support.”

Whether you haven’t yet made a gift or you’d like to increase to Amici-level support of $84 monthly, or just donate a little extra so we keep the momentum building, there’s still time. Thank you!

Donate now



The conversation about the impact of meat production on the climate has become more common as every available option to cut down greenhouse gas emissions is considered. But there’s another way concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, harm our environment - nitrate pollution caused by manure that’s spread as fertilizer and runs into surface and groundwater

Since 1991, the number of CAFOs in Minnesota has tripled. While they make up only six percent of the state’s 24,000 feedlots - CAFOs produce nearly a third of the manure. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing revisions to the General Feedlot Permit that CAFOs need to operate, opening up an opportunity for MCEA and the public to influence the ways Minnesota’s largest feedlots do business. 

The permit review is a direct response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s intervention in the nitrate-contaminated drinking water crisis endangering communities in Southeastern Minnesota and some areas of the Central Sands region. We urged EPA to step in because our state agencies weren’t doing enough. 

Read more about what’s coming in MCEA’s efforts to curb nitrate pollution, and why one staff member called part of it a “political hot potato.” 


“A settlement like this, where a company agrees to phase down a portion of its operations, is pretty rare,” says MCEA Healthy Communities Program Director Evan Mulholland. “More typically, EPA resolves Clean Air Act violations with a monetary penalty and additional requirements for the facility to report its emissions.” He added that it’s a step in the right direction for the people living near Smith Foundry.

In the above photo, Mulholland and other MCEA staff stand with East Phillips community members in response to the announcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s settlement with Smith Foundry.

Here are 5 things you need to know about the settlement and how we got here



a person doing metal work in metal dust and the words "take action"

You can help MCEA fight for clean air by taking action today. Hundreds of supporters have reached out to the MPCA to demand swifter action to better protect the health of East Phillips residents. Today, we’re asking you to contact representatives from the Canadian holding company that now owns the foundry -  Zynik Capital. Tell them to act faster to shut down the most polluting parts of its operation and create a just transition for workers. Take action with us and tell polluters they can’t operate with disregard for the health of Minnesotans. 

I stand with East Phillips




Get ready for our Annual Duluth Get-Together. Last year we had a wonderful time connecting with supporters who share our passion for northeastern Minnesota. 

We’re celebrating 50 years of protecting Minnesota’s environment and people. Lake Superior has been central to our work across the decades and we want to raise a glass to our collective efforts protecting the great lake from speculative sulfide-mining. 

Join us at Zeitgeist theater on July 31st at 7pm for a free event featuring a conversation between MCEA CEO Kathryn Hoffman and our Northeastern Program Director JT Haines, followed by a social hour. They’ll discuss the long fight against PolyMet’s dangerous proposal and the community work that made it possible to get to where we are now

Register today




The impacts of the overuse of manure and commercial fertilizer go far beyond our own state. They’re also creating a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite concerted efforts since 1997 to shrink this area, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates it will be 5% larger this year than the long-term average. 

How many square miles is the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to be this year? 

  1. 47 square miles
  2. 198 square miles
  3. 1,325 square miles
  4. 5,827 square miles

Get the answer!



What we’re listening to

The Public Utilities Commission is currently taking comments on what should be considered “carbon free” electricity in Minnesota. 

Get caught up on the latest in five minutes with B. Rosas from Climate Generation on Climate Cast. MCEA is a member of the 100% Carbon-Free Alliance working to make sure carbon free really means carbon free.