fbpx March 2022 MCEA Newsletter | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Mar 29, 2022

March 2022 MCEA Newsletter

Newsletter header

In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor: 

- Win: Creative tactics force climate analysis of NTEC fossil fuel plant

- Become a member of the Amici Giving Society

- Article: Get up to speed on the famous Milepost 7 near Lake Superior

- Take action: Get toxic PFAS out of Minnesota

- Northern Metal facility out of North Minneapolis

- Upcoming webinar: Join climate experts on Earth Week 

- Take action: Tell Gov. Walz that we need a bold climate plan

Creative tactics force climate analysis of NTEC fossil fuel plant

A new fossil fuel power plant is not what ratepayers in Northeast Minnesota, or the climate, need. MCEA has been working for clean energy instead of a new fossil fuel gas power plant in Superior, Wisconsin since 2017, taking a case all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. When we found out that the proposers of the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC) gas plant were applying for a massive government subsidized loan to fund its construction, our team jumped into action. 

In a petition filed last year, citing, among other reasons, executive orders from President Biden, we asked the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service loan office to require a study of the project’s climate impact before issuing a loan – it worked.

We have less than eight years to hit 2030 pollution emission reduction targets; building new fossil fuel infrastructure is an obvious step in the wrong direction. We hope this study will influence decision makers to deny the federally-subsidized construction loan for the fossil fuel gas plant. 

Click here to learn more about why it matters.


MCEA Amici Logo

Become a member of the Amici Giving Society

Amici, the Latin word for friends, are a special group of donors who make annual gifts to MCEA at a level of $1,000 or more. Amicus curiae is a legal term meaning Friend of the Court. We are borrowing the term as it is apropos: MCEA’s Amici Giving Society makes our environmental wins possible.

To show our appreciation for Amici donors, as well as those who include MCEA in their estate planning, we offer quarterly events to deepen donors' connection to the work they support as well as the people behind it, including AMA (Ask Me Anything) virtual meetings with our CEO Kathryn Hoffman and in-person events in the metro and Duluth. Become a part of our Amici Giving Society today by giving $84 each month. If you would like to talk to a team member about deepening your support, please contact Carrie at cslaterduffy@mncenter.org

Donate today


Milepost 7 in the 1970's

Pictured: At left, Reserve Mining tailings dumped straight into Lake Superior in the 70’s (photo Twin Citian Magazine). At right, present day Milepost 7 tailings pond near Beaver Bay (photo Duluth News).

Get up to speed on the famous Milepost 7

In the not too distant past, Reserve Mining was dumping mine waste directly into Lake Superior. The pollution from this waste – which contained asbestos-like particles – led to a harrowing period in the 1970s where folks in Duluth had to get drinking water from the local fire station. Because of the work of local residents and advocates (including MCEA’s first lawyer, Chuck Dayton!) a now-famous environmental case, United States v. Reserve Mining Company, forced the company to move its contaminated mining waste three miles up the hill into a tailings basin (a sort of lake for pollution) called Milepost 7.

Decades later, with the tailings basin’s new owner proposing a significant expansion of the facility, Milepost 7 is back in the news – but it seems past lessons were forgotten and the public is being kept in the dark. In the below-linked piece by MCEA’s Northeastern Minnesota Director, JT Haines, you can find an update about the latest developments at Milepost 7, as well as what they say about our state’s regulatory approach to mining issues. 

Click here to read “No Review at Milepost 7: Why Minnesota Needs Greater Transparency from DNR on Mining Decisions."


PFAS Take Action

Take action on toxic PFAS

We need to get toxic PFAS out of Minnesota. These chemicals, which are used in everything from ski wax to children’s clothing, are dangerous for humans and don’t easily degrade in the environment. Dubbed “forever chemicals,” Minnesota’s PFAS problem requires immediate action. 

Here’s what you can do to help:

Watch the recording of our PFAS webinar – part of MCEA’s 2022 Legislative webinar series – to learn about these chemicals and how proposed legislation is working to get PFAS out of products in our state.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your legislators to support the bills being considered this session that would help address the problem. It only takes a minute or two to send the pre-filled (but customizable) email to your state representatives.

We need to act. The only way to make progress against these forever chemicals is to stop adding to the problem. Minnesota’s PFAS problem is like a clogged sink with the faucet on – we need to turn off that faucet.


Empty Northern Metal Recycling in North Minneapolis

Pictured: The front gate of the Northern Metal facility on March 28th, 2022. When MCEA joined CMEJ at a community protest at this site in May of 2021, this yard was full of piles of scrap metal and heavy machinery

Northern Metal facility out of North Minneapolis

Northside community members have been on the front lines for nearly a decade fighting to end the pollution nightmare caused by Northern Metal’s toxic operations along the shore of the Mississippi River. Recently there have been murmurings about a potential bidding war underway between developers and the Park Board to purchase the site. This week, we learned that the rumors were true during an environmental justice tour led by Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) that took MCEA staff to the site. The Northern Metal yard is cleared and the building is empty – it appears folks in North Minneapolis are finally free from this company’s repeated fires, dishonesty, and air pollution. 

What happens next with the site is just as important though, as CMEJ Organizer Roxxanne O'Brien points out in a recent op-ed published by Sahan Journal:

“The fact is, if and when Northern Metal leaves, the public is going to foot the bill for the clean up after we already paid the cost with our health…With all that burden we carried comes the responsibility of our public officials to engage and be accountable to the community.”

MCEA began partnering with CMEJ after a whistleblower exposed Northern Metal’s manipulation of pollution control equipment readings that were meant to monitor the levels of air pollution escaping the facility’s metal shredder. A long legal battle that followed led to Northern Metal being forced to remove its shredder from the site in North Minneapolis. The company built a new shredder in Becker, Minnesota, where a large fire broke out at that facility in February 2020. 

Getting Northern Metal out of North Minneapolis is a huge victory. It would not have been possible without dedicated community members and groups like CMEJ. The same community voices should have a seat at the table to determine what comes next. 

Join climate experts during Earth Week for MCEA’s next Legislative webinar

The science is clear: we need to take bold action on climate. How do we meet the scale of the climate crisis with innovative, measurable, and equitable solutions? Join MCEA’s experts and a special guest at our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, April 19th at 12:00 pm

We’ve received a great response to our legislative webinar series so far, and we are excited to bring you our next installment: Data-driven climate solutions for MinnesotaClick here to RSVP as well as watch recordings of past installments of this series, including our PFAS and Stop Over Salting webinars. 

Take Action: Tell Gov. Walz what's needed in a climate action plan

Raise your voice for climate.

Tell Gov. Walz we need a bold climate plan.

Minnesota needs a bold climate action plan. Our state is currently taking public feedback on a new Minnesota climate framework, and we need you to take action to tell Gov. Walz that a good climate plan is one grounded in equity and data-driven solutions.

We have a pre-filled message ready for you to send, but we invite you to customize the message to best represent what matters most to you. It only takes a minute to complete the action, and it is important that our state government hears from Minnesotans calling for meaningful climate action. It’s essential to get us on track for a thriving future. 

Take action