fbpx May 2024 Newsletter | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
May 31, 2024

May 2024 Newsletter


Sign up to get MCEA's monthly newsletter. 

In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:

  • Wrap up the legislative session with insights from Chief Strategy Office, Aaron Klemz
  • Dive into MCEA’s history protecting Lake Superior
  • Take action: help stop continued air pollution in East Phillips, Minneapolis
  • Catch up on a rare discussion between MCEA and mining industry representatives 
  • Get a little bit of optimism
  • Energize for our next 50 years with photos from our Alumni Gathering
  • Listen to Senator Jen McEwen talk about the future of the PolyMet proposal with CEO Kathryn Hoffman
  • Share our Summer Internship and Grants Manager positions!
  • Trivia: How do new PFAS drinking water standards impact you?
  • Save the date for our annual Duluth Get Together and annual fall event
  • What we’re reading: This PFAS exposé by Propublica made us irate


Before our Chief Strategy Officer Aaron Klemz takes a well deserved break after the legislative session, he jotted down his five biggest takeaways to update supporters on how MCEA’s priorities fared. We gained ground on some of our most important goals - protecting drinking water in SE Minnesota, bolstering investments to enforce air pollution permits, and creating a new avenue for limiting PFAS contamination. Thank you to supporters who sent messages to their legislators at critical moments to move this work forward. 

Find out what other wins for Minnesota’s environment MCEA helped lead during Minnesota’s 2024 legislative session


No one should have to live next to uncontrolled pollution from industrial manufacturing. But this is exactly what’s happening in the East Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis. Smith Foundry has been emitting unknown amounts of unfiltered toxic pollution from its roof vent above the metal melting furnace since at least 1995, and potentially much longer. 

On May 21, Governor Walz signed a bill granting the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency new, wide-ranging authority to shut down pollution sources that are harming people’s health. 

Tell the MCPA Commissioner to use it to suspend operations at the foundry until pollution levels can be tested and, at a minimum, new pollution reduction devices are installed to reduce emissions from the furnace. 

Take Action today to stop adding more pollution to a residential neighborhood that has been used as a sacrifice zone for industry for generations. 

Take action!


MCEA has a long and dedicated history protecting Minnesota’s water - from the drinking water that comes out of your kitchen sink, to the groundwater that feeds our aquifers, to the streams, rivers and 10,000 lakes we all love - including Minnesota’s Great Lake.

You know about MCEA’s dogged and ongoing defense of Lake Superior against the grave risks posed by PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine. But our stewardship of the big lake stretches back to our organization’s founding 50 years ago. In fact, the first legal case MCEA took on involved protecting Lake Superior from mining pollution. 

Click here to learn about that wild fight and how, 50 years later, it’s still not over. Neither is MCEA’s commitment to protecting Minnesota’s water.


“The question isn’t, do we mine in Minnesota or do we mine elsewhere. The right question is, how do we find the metals we need for the clean energy transition in the least damaging possible way? ” asked MCEA CEO Kathryn Hoffman last month at the Rosenmeier Forum in Brainerd.

This event, with Julie Lucas of Mining Minnesota, was a rare opportunity to speak publicly on the topic alongside industry representatives who are squarely on the other side of the issue. The climate crisis is urgent, and the energy transition is part of the solution. But industry narratives tend to squeeze out every option to address needs for metals other than more mining. 

So what are those better options? Learn more by watching a recording of the forum. MCEA Supervising Attorney Joy Anderson listened to it on her drive into work and says it makes a great podcast substitute.


When the news cycle is hard, and this weary world presses upon us, it’s good to be reminded about small moments of optimism and joy. We’ve had such powerful, joy-filled gatherings in the past two months. Getting together to celebrate felt so good - none of us are alone in this hard work.

MCEA’s work is certainly rooted in science and data and the law, but perhaps with a dab of hope. We’re in this work to make a better world, which is optimism. If we were just pretending to solve problems, would this be easier? Of course! But instead, we roll up our sleeves and get to work on the hard structural changes that cleaner air, water, and land will require. 

Make no mistake - we’re not wearing rose-colored glasses. We know that a better future will not come easily. But in the words of one of our bold Board members recently, “It’s GO time if we want to save our planet.” Indeed, it is. 

We’re grateful to have you among our supporters. If you’d like to make a gift before our books close at the end of June, you can do so below. Thanks for fighting the good fight with us.

Donate here!



It was great to see so many people who created the foundation for MCEA at our Alumni Gathering. We got together to celebrate MCEA's 50th Anniversary and raise a glass to the contributions of our incredible alumni. 

Founders Chuck Dayton and John Herman shared about the beginning days of MCEA in 1974, fighting to pass major legislation when “low bono” legal fees were around $18 an hour. Former Executive Director Peter Bachman talked about growing MCEA into its modern form at the turn of the century, expanding the staff from single to double digits. And former Legal Director Janette Brimmer reminded us of MCEA's productive time at the Exchange Street office.

It was an energizing gathering that has us looking forward to the next 50 years.


Yesterday, MCEA‘s Kathryn Hoffman and JT Haines hosted Senator Jen McEwen for an exciting webinar - “The End of PolyMet?” The conversation covered lots of ground, including legislative priorities for protecting our water, the ways we can use our collective power to help our environment, and how MCEA's work in the courts is helping hold the line against the dangerous PolyMet proposal in the face of the massive influence of the mining industry. 

As Senator McEwen says in the webinar, “It felt affirming to actually have the courts say 'you're right about this and you all were on the right track' when you were raising these concerns. ” 

We know we have to stay at the ready to make sure Minnesota and our treasure trove of fresh water remain protected. We won't stop “raising our concerns” in the courts and at the legislature. 

Watch a recording of the webinar to get this unique, insider perspective.  

Watch the recording here!


Don’t forget to apply or share these exciting opportunities with your networks!

Grants Manager: 

The ideal candidate enjoys project management, is a strong writer with the ability to learn and communicate complex ideas persuasively, and has strong organizational skills with an attention to detail. Learn more here

50th Anniversary Summer Internship: 

MCEA seeks a half-time summer intern who will, with support from MCEA staff, board, and volunteers, create, design, and assemble a “digital scrapbook” that archives MCEA’s 50-year history. Learn more here


The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new drinking water standards for six types of PFAS - limiting them to miniscule amounts in parts per trillion. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, how many public water systems in the Land of 10,000 Lakes currently have levels of PFAS above the new limits?

A) 22

B) 15

C) 7

D) 36

Get the answer and find out which water systems are impacted.



This explosive exposé by Propublica and the New Yorker tells the story of a 3M chemist who was repeatedly gaslighted for her research findings on PFAS early in her career at the MN corporate giant. But more than that, it's about the systematic steps 3M took to first uncover, and then hide, the scary truth about forever chemicals from the public. Reading it made our blood boil. It’s exactly why the work MCEA and many others are doing to eradicate PFAS from our environment and ensure corporate accountability is critical. 

Click here to read it.