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Environmental Bills on Governor's Desk

A coalition of environmental groups is asking the governor to reject legislation they say will hurt Minnesota's great outdoors. (
A coalition of environmental groups is asking the governor to reject legislation they say will hurt Minnesota's great outdoors. (
May 30, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Environmental groups in Minnesota say this legislative session was full of cutbacks and rollbacks that will have a detrimental effect on the great outdoors. They've sent letters to Gov. Mark Dayton asking him to veto some bills, including the Jobs Growth and Energy Affordability bill.

Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, says it stops local governments from being able to ban plastic bags, takes away safeguards that keep utilities from setting high fees for people who want to use solar and wind power, gets rid of a popular solar rooftop rebate program, and exempts small utilities from participating in energy savings and efficiency programs.

He says lawmakers put forth several bills during this session that put corporate interest ahead of the people's desire for clean air and water.

"Maybe it's their master strategy: Just throw a lot of spaghetti on the wall and see what can stick," he says. "But in the end those things that got through are still a mess, and it takes Minnesota backwards instead of forward."

The bill's author, Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), says the original legislation was tweaked to include protections for the environment and he expects the governor to sign it.

Morse says another bad bill in front of the governor is SF 844, the Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill. He calls it a raid on the Clean Water Fund because it cuts $22 million in operational funding to local Soil and Water Conservation districts. He says Minnesotans have made it clear they want clean air and water.

"What Minneostans really want to see, as we have proved in three different constitutional amendments over the last 30 years, is that Minnesotans want the state to step up and do more to protect our lakes, rivers, streams, our air and our habitat for future generations," he explains.

Some of the groups signing the letter include: Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Lutheran Advocacy, Minnesota Native Plant Society, League of Women Voters, MN 350 and the Pesticide Action Network.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN