During my time here at Conservation Minnesota, I have met with many legislators and have attended many Town Hall meetings and one thing that seems to be of unanimous consent is that this 2016 session is going to be short and fast. Despite the brief timeline, Conservation Minnesota will continue to support clean water, renewable energy, recycling, and much more. Here is a glimpse of some great initiatives that we are working on this year.
Local Water Infrastructure
The Governor has proposed $167 M in his bonding bill to pay for wastewater and drinking water system improvements. This is going to be really important for many communities throughout Greater MN. Without this money to help improve local water systems, many communities would not be able to pay for the improvements necessary to keep pollution out of our waterways.
Support for Local Recycling
The Solid Waste Tax was created to support local recycling efforts. Several years ago the legislature diverted 30% of this revenue to the general fund to solve a short-term budget crisis. Local Minnesota communities depend on this money for a variety of recycling programs and Conservation Minnesota is working to return the diverted revenue to help pay for local recycling programs.
Clean Energy Opt-Up
Xcel Energy is required to generate 30% of its total energy via renewable sources. Other utilities in Minnesota are required to generate 25% of their total energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Clean Energy Opt-Up allows local governments to choose to “opt-up” from 25% to 30% to receive more renewable energy in their community.
Louis River Area of Concern (AOC)
The Governor has incorporated $12.7 M in his bonding bill as the state contribution that would trigger $47.5 M in federal funds to clean up the Duluth Harbor. This bill improves the health of the St. Louis River’s aquatic habitats and the health of our beloved Lake Superior. After years of pollution this bill is a must for the health of our water.
These are just a few of the many conservation items we will be working on and supporting this legislative session. If you have any questions or would like to know more about these and other legislative initiatives, please feel free to send me an email.