Five for Friday: Water You Doing on Wednesday?
No need to ponder it any further. Submit to pier pressure and come to Water Action Day, next Wednesday, April 19 at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul.
Join hundreds of other Minnesotans from across the state to advocate for protecting Minnesota's water and other outdoor heritage. The event will include issue trainings, meetings with legislators, and a rally featuring speeches by Winona LaDuke, Walter Mondale, Ann Bancroft, and other environmental champions.
And, to get you nice and aggravated (and prepared), here's the quick and dirty about some of the bad water policies at the legislature this session:
1. Bad Policies, Bad Process, Bad Faith. Just like every episode of the Bachelor is "the most shocking we've ever seen," every bill and committee hearing at the state legislature is the unprecedented worst. Except that, in this case, it's actually true and no one is entertained. Veteran environmental policy advocates uniformly talk about this being one of, if not the, worst legislative sessions for the environment. Not only does the mile-long list of bad environmental provisions demonstrate a disrespect for members of the public, so too does the process by which these provisions are being heard, negotiated, and passed. Read more about it in this great piece from MinnPost.
2. Legacy Fund Raid. In 2008, majority of Minnesotans voted for a constitutional amendment to raise the state's sale tax to provide additional dedicated funding to protect our land, air, and water. Both the House and Senate Omnibus Legacy Bills and the House Tax bill raid these funds by diverting them away from water quality monitoring and protections and, instead, using them to pay for administrative costs. Learn more in this op-ed from the Star Tribune.
3. Free Pass for Pipelines. Last week, the House voted to approve a provision in the Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill that allows Canadian energy company Enbridge to bypass regulations in place to assess alternative routes for and to provide public input into construction of a replacement oil pipeline that would pass near the headwaters of the Mississippi River and cut through Native American treaty land. If you weren't aware of this provision, you're in good company. It was snuck in at the last minute without ever getting a hearing in committee. Learn more in this article from the Associated Press.
4. Assault on Science & Water Quality Standards. ♫ Hush little lobbyist, don't be blue, the legislature will sandbag environmental review. And if the science you can't fudge, the legislature will hand it to a judge. ♫♫♫ Catchy tune, isn't it? The House and Senate Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Bills are about as bad as it gets. Among (many, many) other things, they suspend all water quality standards adopted since 2014 until 2019. Then, they allow municipal polluters to bypass agency rules and decisions based on sound science and, instead, ask an administrative law judge to decide what the science should be based on the opinion of three "experts," two of whom must be okayed by the polluter. You read that right. Read it again and with more detail in this article from the Star Tribune.
5. ICYMI. Yesterday, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership hosted a press conference on the slew of bad environmental provisions included in several of the budget bills recently passed by the MN House and Senate. A video recording of the press conference can be found here.
We hope to see many of you on Wednesday in St. Paul!