Action Alert: Environment Bill – Support Conservation & the Environmental Trust Fund [CLOSED]
The 2021 Omnibus Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Bill (SF 959) is currently moving through the conference committee process. Over the next few days, lawmakers will decide the fate of environmental policy, funding, and the state's voter-approved Environmental Trust Fund in the Omnibus environment bill.
There are three key issues at stake:
1. SUPPORT: environmental agency funding. While the House position includes strong agency funding, the Senate position currently includes significant funding reductions of 33% (MPCA), 11% (DNR), and 27% (BWSR) from the Governor's recommendations for these frontline environmental agencies – despite a large state budget surplus and strong public support for environmental protections.
2. SUPPORT: Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The environment bill also includes funding for last year's (2020) and this year's (2021) ENRTF Bills. The ENRTF is a voter-approved, constitutionally dedicated funding program supported by state lottery proceeds (and has no effect on the state's overall budget).
While we'd prefer the trust fund be a stand-alone bill, these funds, and the statewide benefits they provide, must not fall prey to partisan politics.
- 2020 ENRTF bill (Article 3): More than $60 million in trust fund money is still available for projects already vetted and recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources – but never passed last session. This includes the funding for FMR's urban pollinator habitat projects at three metro sites: River Heights Park (Inver Grove Heights), Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park (Minneapolis) and Ole Olson Park (Minneapolis, pictured above).
- 2021 ENRTF bill (Article 4): We also need to pass this year's ENRTF funding package, which includes support for FMR's restoration project at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul, as well as Applewood Park and Carver Preserve in Maplewood.
3. NO ROLLBACKS. The Senate's position (Article 2) also includes multiple rollbacks to important environmental protections for water and air. These rollbacks touch everything from environmental permitting and environmental enforcement to restrictions on the state's existing clean cars rulemaking authority. These rollbacks should be removed from the final bill.
This Action Alert is no longer available. Sign up to be a River Guardian and we'll keep you updated when the river needs your support. Visit our Legislative Updates Blog to learn about similar issues.
Have feedback about the River Guardians program or advocating with FMR? Leave us a comment.