fbpx MCEA August Newsletter | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Aug 31, 2023

MCEA August Newsletter

environmental monitor banner with the words august 2023 and a person biking in a sunset

In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:

  • Learn more about the recent Supreme Court win rejecting another PolyMet permit
  • Tell the federal government not to invest in a new fossil fuel plant
  • Get your tickets to Legally Green on the River
  • See how much fun we had at Open Streets
  • Read about the John Helland Memorial supporting environmental law
  • Have your say on environmental justice rules
  • Watch our latest climate focused Green Beagle webinar
  • Trivia! Do you know where the latest fish advisories are? 

    The top five things to know about the Minnesota Supreme Court’s rejection of another PolyMet Permit 

    A recent series of court decisions rejecting permits issued to PolyMet are painting a painfully clear picture of what MCEA has known from the start: this proposed sulfide mine would pollute clean water, and is a threat to downstream communities.

    One of these key permits was a water pollution permit issued under the Clean Water Act - a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES permit. This permit is meant to enforce limits on pollution and provide for clear avenues to enforce violations if pollution were to occur. But PolyMet’s permit wasn’t strong - it didn’t include enforceable limits on the pollution that PolyMet would be allowed to discharge. And after five years of litigation, the Minnesota Supreme Court validated what MCEA, the Fond du Lac Band, citizen groups, government transparency groups, law professors, and a public sector union have been saying for years.

    Here are the top five things you need to know about this momentous case.

    a banner of fall foliage with the words join us at legally green on the river, October first

    Get your tickets to Legally Green on the River!

    MCEA will again gather along the shores of the Mississippi River for our big fall event: Legally Green on the River and you’re invited! Click here to purchase EARLY BIRD tickets, saving $20 off the regular price.

    We’re building on the momentum from last year’s amazing event, kicking off the evening with refreshments and live music on the banks of the Mississippi. Our staff would love to connect with you as we look to the highly consequential year ahead!

    Get your tickets to celebrate with our staff and supporters at beautiful Leopold's Mississippi Gardens and learn more about MCEA’s crucial work defending Minnesota’s people and environment.

    the words take action over smoke stacks

    Take action for clean tech not NTEC

    This summer in Minnesota we’ve all experienced dramatic effects of the climate crisis. As smoke poured down from climate-fueled wildfires across Canada and air quality alerts kept many of us inside day after day, we were reminded yet again that the impacts of burning fossil fuels aren’t part of some distant future. They’re here now. And we don’t have any more time to stem the tide. Take action today.

    Shockingly, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still considering granting a subsidized loan to build a new fossil fuel plant just outside Duluth in Superior, Wisconsin. The proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center’s (NTEC)’s output would flow to three corners of Minnesota - northeastern Minnesota through Minnesota Power, southeastern Minnesota through Dairyland Power, and southwestern Minnesota areas served by Basin Electric. If built, NTEC would operate until 2067. 

    Such an investment flies in the face of everything we know about how to prevent worsening impacts of the climate crisis. 

    It also runs completely counter to Minnesota’s newly adopted standard to provide 100 percent of our energy from carbon-free sources by 2040, an essential climate law MCEA is committed to helping enforce. 

    Tell the USDA Minnesotans want clean energy that costs less and won’t throw fuel on the flames of climate change. 

    a group of people with the words frontline community protection coalition

    A photo of a group of coalition and community partners at an event to raise awareness about Cumulative Impacts legislation

    The work begins to ensure the new Cumulative Impacts law benefits communities 

    MCEA is proud to continue our work with the Frontline Communities Protection Coalition as the ground breaking Cumulative Impacts law moves into rulemaking. 

    One goal of the coalition is to ensure that the law is strong and creates tangible reductions in pollution. Another is to help people in affected areas, who are often excluded from the conversation, participate in shaping these rules. MCEA's expertise at the Legislature and in regulatory agencies makes us a good partner in this coalition. We benefit as well, with deeper connections to communities and a better understanding of how pollution affects people's everyday lives. 

    The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will be holding community meetings in St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, and Brooklyn Center in September. These meetings provide an opportunity for people who are overburdened by pollution to have their say in the rules that are being written to implement the Cumulative Impacts law.  

    Read more about the Cumulative Impacts law, the rulemaking process, and get details about those meetings here

    a photo of a split screen featuring MCEA staff from the green beagle webinar

    Learn about MN Climate Laws with the Green Beagle Series

    MCEA’s climate work is deeply entwined with advocating for clean energy infrastructure. We were excited for the opportunity to share our legal expertise on Minnesota’s new state laws and new federal rules that will accelerate the implementation of clean, renewable energy. If you missed the live Green Beagle on how Minnesota’s new clean energy laws will shape the future of the state, you can watch a recording of the webinar here

    We’re in it for the long haul, and will be on the case to make sure we meet our goal of a 100% fossil fuel free grid by 2040.  

    This is the second installment of the Green Beagle continuing legal education (CLE) series, be sure to join us for our final Green Beagle CLE of 2023, a half-day in-person symposium on one of our state’s bedrock environmental laws, the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) on Tuesday, October 24 from 1:00 PM -  5:00 PM Learn more and RSVP here to our upcoming free half-day symposium.

    a collage of photos of John helland, a white man standing in a sweater, kayaking, and sitting in a chair on a deck

    A collage of photos of John Helland courtesy of his family. 

John Helland Memorial Honors MCEA leader, advances environmental law education at U of M

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two years since John Helland passed away. John was a former MCEA board chair, MCEA legislative committee chair, and long-time Minnesota leader on environmental policy. He was instrumental in shaping Minnesota’s environmental laws through his work at the legislature for over four decades. We were privileged to know John and benefit from his wisdom and experience and we miss him greatly. In his honor, the Helland family has generously established a memorial fund supporting the future of environmental law, and invites those who knew John to contribute in his memory.

This generous memorial fund will support the critical partnership that MCEA has with the University of Minnesota Law School, providing adjunct educators with expertise in environmental law to the University. This investment in students who will become future leaders honors John’s lifelong love of learning, his support of the University of MN, and deep reverence for the confluence of education, environment, and law.

John’s wife Linda recently sent us this note: While it’s a well-known and beloved quote, John truly believed this, “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

MCEA is honored to make a three-year allocation to this fund in John’s memory. To join us in supporting the environmental leaders of the future,  please visit this link to learn more. 

a collage of photos from open streets with m c e a staff and supporters playing climate pinko

Photo of a supporter playing Climate Plinko and MCEA staff Mair Allen and Dr. Jen Fuller speaking with supporters.

Did you know that MCEA was at Open Streets this month?

MCEA staff had a fantastic time connecting to new people who are passionate about protecting Minnesota’s environment. Did we see you there? Keep reading to answer one of the trivia questions we asked people that took a turn playing Climate Plinko with us. If they got the answer right, they got a sticker. If they got the answer wrong, they got a sticker! If we missed you, keep an eye out for us at the Sunday, October 8th event on Lyndale in Minneapolis!

MCEA Trivia

The MN Health Department recently advised people who are pregnant and kids under 15 avoid eating fish from which two bodies of water in the Twin Cities metro because of contamination of PFAS forever-chemicals? 

A) Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis

B) Minnehaha Creek and Lake Maria

C) The Mississippi River and Lake Rebecca 

D) The Minnesota River and Lake Johanna 

Click here for the answer!


MCEA is Minnesota’s leading nonprofit environmental law and public policy organization working to protect our environment and the health of our people.