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Trevor Russell

Perennial biofuels incentive program bills introduced

The legislature has introduced bills in both chambers to advance one of FMR's 2016 policy priorities: a perennial biofuels incentive program. Dubbed the "Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program," the bills ask for $479,000 in fiscal year 2017 for the state's Board of Water and Soil Resources to prepare a plan for creating a state-funded biofuels incentive program.

March 16

Surprise buffer law rollbacks a major disappointment

Water running off farm fields carries pollution into the nearest waterways.

Without a buffer strip of grass or other perennial vegetation, water runs straight off a farm field, carrying phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment into nearby streams, lakes and rivers.

Bowing to pressure from agribusiness groups and select lawmakers, Gov. Mark Dayton made statewide news with a surprise announcement in late-January: a major portion of the 2015 buffer bill is being rolled back. As a result, hundreds of miles of private ditches will be exempt from buffer requirements and will continue to carry polluted farm runoff into Minnesota's waters. 

February 8

The real costs of pumping up White Bear Lake

High-profile decline of water levels in White Bear Lake has been big new for the northeast metro area in recent years

Declining water levels in White Bear Lake have been big news for the northeast metro area for some time.
Source: Minnesota Public Radio

Recently the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released a much-anticipated report detailing cost estimates for pumping water from the Mississippi River to refill or "augment" shrinking White Bear Lake. The potential price tag?: $107 million, plus up to $4.1 million in annual operating costs. Given this, along with previous analyses casting doubt on such a system's potential effectiveness, FMR opposes any further state investment in such direct augmentation efforts.

February 4

Dayton's water quality summit a go. Help set the agenda!

Mid-January, Governor Dayton announced that his administration will host the Governor's Water Summit in St. Paul on Saturday, Feb. 27th. FMR and our conservation partners are working with the administration to help shape the summit and provide a much-needed focus on ideas that can help address agricultural water pollution, the largest source of pollution to the Mississippi River. Summit registration has closed, but you can still play a role and help set its agenda by taking the Governor's Clean Water Summit Survey.

January 17

New report highlights major flaws in state's agricultural water quality certification program

The MAWQCP may declare farm fields to be meeting water quality goals when limited data suggests that farm pollution levels may greatly exceed state standards.

In January 2012, the state announced plans to launch the newly created Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). While the concept of a farm certification program has promise, FMR has serious concerns the state implementation of the program.

These concerns are validated in a new report from our friends at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA).

December 14

World's largest cellulosic ethanol plant opens in Iowa

DuPont's 30-million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa

DuPont's 30-million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. Source: http://www.biofuelsdigest.com

DuPont recently announced the opening of the world's largest cellulosic biofuel facility in Nevada, Iowa. The plant, which uses corn stover (the stems, stalks, leaves and husks of the corn plant) to produce ethanol, aims to produce approximately 30 million gallons of fuel per year. And it might not be good news.

November 10

FMR to file amicus brief in favor of pollution lawsuit

The "Big Five" Wastewater Treatment Plants included in proposed pollution permit

The "Big Five" Wastewater Treatment Plants in the metro area are included in a single "umbrella" pollution permit currently being challenged in court for failing to properly protect the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.

FMR, along with our friends at Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) and the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, will soon file an amicus brief in support of a recent lawsuit charging the state with failing to adequately control pollution to the Mississippi River. The lawsuit, filed by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), faults the state for doing too little to protect the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin, and calls into question the state's plan to allow the "big five" metro-area wastewater treatment plants to increase their phosphorus pollution into the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin by 35%.

November 10

How will Minnesota implement the new buffer law?

Buffers of perennial vegetation help protect Minnesota's land, water, and wildlife

One of FMR's top priorities during this year's legislative session was passage of Governor Dayton's much-discussed Buffer Initiative. While a substantially revised (and watered-down) version of Governor Dayton's proposal did become law, implementation of the law will be critical to its success.

October 12

Governor Dayton establishes new MPCA advisory committee

Earlier this month, Governor Mark Dayton signed an executive order creating a Governor's Committee to Advise the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). While the new group, which will consist of eight members plus the MPCA Commissioner, won't have the same authority as the recently abolished MPCA Citizens Board, the committee creates an important a forum for public input on environmental decision-making by the agency.

August 17

The good, the bad and the dirty: The environment and the 2015 special session

Following the chaotic end of the 2015 regular legislative session, the conservation community rallied to build public support for a veto of a highly controversial environmental bill: the Omnibus Environment and Agriculture Bill.

While Governor Dayton is to be commended for his veto of the original bill, a renegotiated bill surfaced during the recent legislative special session and was passed with many of the same dirty water provisions that were in the original bill.

Overall, the Omnibus Environment and Agriculture Bill remains one of the most anti-clean-water measures to come out of the state legislature in recent memory, and includes an especially egregious repeal of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens' Board.

June 15

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