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Jul 31, 2023

MCEA July Newsletter

transmission lines in front of a blue sky with the words m c e a July newsletter

In this edition of MCEA’s Environmental Monitor:

  • MCEA was featured in a front page story in the Washington Post
  • Find out more about current PFAS work at MCEA
  • RSVP for our next CLE webinar
  • Catch up on the fun we had in Duluth
  • Discover the power we have when we work together
  • Learn the latest on the drinking water crisis in SE MN
  • Find out the flaws in mining industry stories about copper demand
  • Trivia! Test your knowledge on clean energy infrastructure

Get your tickets to Legally Green on the River

MN PFAS legislation gets national attention


Last week, the Washington Post highlighted some of MCEA's work in its powerful article on the successful passage of "Amara's Law," Minnesota's nation-leading legislation to address PFAS contamination." It detailed the struggle of Amara Strande and her family, and how her community in the East Metro has been deeply impacted by 3M's history with PFAS. Amara died shortly before Minnesota’s new law passed from a rare cancer she was diagnosed with after her exposure to PFAS. She was 20-years-old. 

The story was highly visual, including a large slate of photographs of Amara's family and friends, artifacts from her life, and quotes from advocates of Amara's Law, including MCEA’s Legislative Director Andrea Lovoll. Being included in a prominent story on the front page of one of the nation's largest and oldest newspapers highlights the impressive work of our legislative and communications team, as well as the strong partnerships we've been building. Less than a week after it was published, we learned the story had reached 55 million readers, and was also commented on and shared by the famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich. MCEA's legislative work aims to ensure a safe, healthy and equitable future for all Minnesotans. Its ripple effects are reaching millions across the United States. 

You can read the Washington Post article here. And read on to learn about what we’re doing to help clean-up the PFAS already in our environment.  

a white woman in a boat wears a life jacket and holds a jug with a water sample in it

Photo: MCEA’s Water Program Director Carly Griffin takes samples to check for PFAS in wastewater streams in the Mississippi River early this month.


More needs to be done


The passage of Amara’s Law - one of the strongest bans against PFAS in the nation - was historic on many levels, but it was just one step in our ongoing fight against these toxic forever chemicals. 

Now we begin the long road of implementing the law, both through administrative rule-making and enforcement. This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, and it’s also where MCEA’s experience and expertise are essential. The chemical industry spent hundreds of thousands to fight the passage of this law. Now, MCEA will use our legal expertise to ensure the rules the agency develops to implement it are accountable to public health, not to industry demands for an endless list of exemptions for PFAS-products they want to keep selling. 

Simultaneously, MCEA is looking to the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act to find ways to clean up the PFAS already ubiquitous in our environment, since Amara’s law can only feasibly prevent more from coming in. You can read about the comment we submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency here

Our staff have been working with Dr. Matt Simick, UMN Public Health, to measure PFAS levels in different watersheds and help determine where it comes from. This kind of hands-on work helps us understand where remediation is necessary so MCEA can urge state agencies to focus cleanup in the right places. We’re also pushing for a strong regulatory framework to surround this work to ensure the high costs to remediate PFAS are paid by the industrial dischargers responsible for the contamination, not the general public. 

There’s so much more ahead, including working to set new PFAS standards for safe drinking water in our state. MCEA will be closely involved in it all. Stay tuned for more updates in future communications.

drawing of a green dog and the globe with the words the green beagle

Join us for our second webinar installment of our 2023 CLE series – “New laws in clean energy: What it means for how Minnesota powers the future,” at noon August 22nd. 

Coming off a historic Minnesota legislative session, new laws will bolster our state's efforts to build a clean energy future. During the webinar, we’ll discuss what these new state laws require, as well as how new rules proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also impact Minnesota's energy future.

Although this event is geared towards lawyers, it’s a great chance for anyone to learn more about what Minnesota’s clean energy future could look like. 

For lawyers, one standard CLE credit will be applied for.


a white woman smiles and gestures behind a table talking to two other people

Photo: Leigh Curry, MCEA’s Director of Strategic Litigation, speaks with supporters. 

We had a great time at our Duluth Get-Together


Thanks to everyone who came out for our annual Duluth Get-Together. We had a great time at Wild State Cider connecting with our supporters and sharing updates about our work in the Arrowhead region. Click here to see more fun photos from the event. We hope to see you next summer!

Creating the future together


This spring, a longtime donor said to our staff, “I don’t envy you, trying to get donations in this economy.”

Sure, economic uncertainty can make fundraising harder. We see proof of this in national data. Last month, Giving USA reported that total giving fell 3.4% in 2022. Donations by individuals declined more dramatically, down 6.4%, or 13.4% when adjusted for inflation.

We’re thrilled to report that MCEA is bucking the trend. We've seen an increase in monthly donors, and a marked increase in the number of individual donors. 

How does MCEA succeed in the face of such daunting odds? It’s the same way we battle would-be polluters: with a relentless belief in collective action. 

MCEA proves that even as individuals, we can positively influence the quality of life in Minnesota. When we work together to pass landmark legislation like the 100% Clean Energy Bill or the nation’s toughest regulation on PFAS, we tell the world that we’re not giving  up on a healthier future. When we partner to keep poorly-conceived, speculative, and polluting mines out of our state, we’re standing up for the world we all deserve.

So we said to our beloved supporter, “Sure, it’s challenging, but everyone wants to breathe easier and have clean water! It’s a joy to invite people into this work, where our collective efforts stake a claim for a better environmental future.”

Thanks for joining the thousands of individuals who support MCEA - we couldn’t do this without you.

Donate here

Pushing back against industry mining narratives


For years, MCEA has been challenging the narrative that we need new mining to build the infrastructure for a carbon-free energy future through our Mining the Climate Crisis work. People are responding, and we’re seeing these arguments pop up everywhere - even in the letters to the editor of the Star Tribune. 

A recent story in the Minnesota Reformer dug into projections of mineral demand for electric vehicles and batteries. While these demand projections are used as justification for pushing ahead with risky mining proposals such as PolyMet, the truth is that manufacturers are quickly shifting to new approaches that are reducing the need for metals. Read the article here (it includes perspective from MCEA), and be sure to check out our op-ed that explains the real impacts PolyMet would have on climate change. 

a white hand holds a glass of water under a kitchen sink spout with the words protecting clean water in the Minnesota karst region

The latest on the drinking water crisis in SE Minn. 


As some of you likely already know, MCEA and nine other organizations filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this past spring asking the federal agency to use its emergency authority to intervene in the drinking water crisis in the karst region of SE Minn. 

The proliferation of industrial agricultural practices - namely animal feedlots and row crops - in a region with porous bedrock and thin topsoil has created a perfect storm for drinking water, especially for private well owners who have less protection when their water supply is contaminated. Nearly 10 percent of wells tested in the region have unsafe levels of nitrate pollution, which is connected to a host of health impacts including some cancers and blue-baby syndrome in infants. In some townships, the level is higher than 50 percent. 

While we wait to hear from the EPA, our staff have been meeting with relevant state agencies to outline ways we’d like to see the state step up to address the crisis. Among our asks: force polluters to pay for alternative safe drinking water sources for affected residents. We’re also meeting with local advocacy groups – we just joined the Winona Clean Water Coalition! – to spread awareness of the crisis and build our coalition. 

That’s where you come in. If you haven’t already, please take literally one minute to sign our Call to Action and send a message to local and federal authorities that Minnesotans demand safe drinking water for all. If you’ve already signed - thank you! - and please share it with five friends. We create change when our message is clear, our reasons are just and grounded in science, and our numbers are many. Your participation matters.

Take action

It's trivia time!


How many renewable generation projects, like wind turbines and solar arrays, are dependent on the construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line? 

A) 5 

B) 115 

C) 51

D) 15

Click here to find out.


text legally green on the river over n image of the Mississippi River and turning fall foliage

Join MCEA for our annual fall event Legally Green – happening again this year along the banks of the Mississippi River. 

Come celebrate, interact with our team, and get an inside look at the breadth of work happening to protect our air, water, and the health of our communities. We hope to see you Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at the beautiful Leopold's Mississippi Gardens for Legally Green on the River.

Get your ticket here