FMR signs coalition letter supporting House environment bill

by Trevor Russell

The House bill calls for smart salt reduction, restoration of the MPCA Citizens' Board and pollinator protection and other important environmental programs and efforts. (Above: A wild bee on a lead plant prairie flower.)

The Minnesota House is poised to act on the House Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill. In sharp contrast to the Senate's version, the House's omnibus environment bill makes a strong commitment to investing in our natural resources. In addition, the bill (which includes language from HF 2209 and is now titled SF 2314) includes several policy priorities that have strong support among the conservation community, including:

Here’s the letter we distributed on the Senate floor prior to the debate. 

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RE: Please Vote Yes on the House version of SF 2314, the House Omnibus Environment bill

To: Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives

April 30, 2019

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and their thousands of Minnesota members, we would like to thank you for the language in HF 2209, the House Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill, now titled SF 2314.

Provisions throughout the bill show a commitment to investing in our natural resources — our air, land and water, and to responding to emerging challenges, like Chronic Wasting Disease, aquatic invasive species, and climate change. While not a comprehensive review of the bill, this letter highlights several priorities for the environment and conservation community that are acknowledged and moved forward in the bill.

We strongly support the following provisions in the House version of SF 2314:

Article 1 – Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations

Establishing a “Lawns to Legumes” cost-share program that helps increase backyard forage for pollinators.
Article 1 Section 4 (n): Provides $387,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year to provide grants for up to 75% of the cost of a project planting residential lawns with native vegetation and pollinator-friendly forbs and legumes. Residential areas that have a high potential for serving as habitat for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee may receive a grant for up to 90% of the cost of the project.

Article 2 – Environment and Natural Resources

Prohibiting the use of neonicotinoid insecticides – harmful to pollinators, birds, and aquatic invertebrates – in Minnesota’s Wildlife Management Areas.
Article 2, Section 41: A person may not use a product containing an insecticide in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) if the insecticide is from the neonicotinoid class of insecticides. This provision gives pollinators a safe haven by prohibiting through state law the use of a class of insecticides that is not only highly lethal to pollinators but is widely used in much of the state.

Reinstating public participation in decisions before the Pollution Control Agency.
Article 2, Section 77: The MPCA’s Citizens’ Board was established with the agency, existed for 48 years and eliminated in the late night hours of the final day of the legislative session in 2015. The Citizens’ Board allowed for democratic public engagement in the decisions that had the potential to impact the health of our communities and environment. Its elimination has meant that no voice of the people systematically weighs in on important matters before the PCA.

Establishing a voluntary certification program for salt applicators to become trained on best practices and limiting liability.
Article 2, Section 83 Minnesota’s waters are increasingly becoming permanently contaminated with salt residue from deicing road and walkways. This provision establishes a voluntary training program on best practices for deicing. A certified applicator would not be liable when best management practices for snow and ice removal and deicing were used.

We ask you to keep the bill’s commitments to our shared future strong and vote yes on the House version of SF 2314.

Sincerely,
Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Alliance for Sustainability
A.C.E.S. (Austin Coalition for Environmental Sustainability)
Clean Water Action – MN
CURE (Clean Up River Environment)
Environment Minnesota
Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest
Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County
Friends of the Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas
Friends of the Mississippi River
Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division
Land Stewardship Project
Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota
Mankato Area Environmentalists
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Native Plant Society
Minnesota Ornithologists Union
MN350 Action
Pesticide Action Network
Renewing the Countryside
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Sierra Club – North Star Chapter
St. Croix River Association
Wilderness in the City
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