The 2014 Legislative session was a busy one. Conservation Minnesota worked with partner organizations and many lawmakers to make forward progress on the issues Minnesotans told us were important. This progress was possible through the work of our network that contacted legislators and other officials. This support helped achieve the following:
Protect Lakes & Rivers
- Aquatic Invasive Species– Made significant new investments in the fight to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species including funding innovative technologies and pilot projects
- Surface Water – Worked with Friends of the Mississippi River to ban triclosan in soaps and cleaning products that end up in our lakes and rivers.
- Irrigation Permits – The Legislature gave the DNR more authority to penalize those who pump groundwater without a permit.
- Water Quality – The bonding bill passed by the legislature included $6 million for conservation easements that reduce run-off into lakes and rivers, and over $40 million for wastewater treatment and storm water reduction projects
- Sulfide Mining – Worked to uphold current laws to maintain environmental regulations on sulfide mining in Minnesota. As a member of the Mining Truth coalition, we helped provide over 10,000 comments to the MN DNR in response to PolyMet’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement report explaining how its proposed sulfide mine would impact Minnesota’s clean land and pristine water.
- Jumpstart stagnate recycling rates – Actively worked to promote policies and legislation that will reduce waste going to landfills and jumpstart MN recycling rate that have stagnated in recent years.
- Commercial Building Recycling – Supported new legislation requiring commercial buildings in metropolitan counties to begin recycling by 2016.
- Organics Recycling – Increased funding for local recycling programs and directs a portion of the new funding be used to support organics recycling.
- Increase metro area recycling – Increased the metro area recycling goal to a 75% recycling rate by 2030.
Increase Renewable Energy
- On-bill repayment for clean energy projects – Provision enables utilities to allow customers to repay a loan for clean energy projects in installments on their monthly bills.
- Long range emission reduction planning by Utilities – Utilities will now share their long term plans beyond the 15 years currently required in statute, enabling them to more realistically plan for ways to achieve the state’s carbon emissions reduction goals.
- Residential charging for electric vehicles – The state’s three largest utilities will offer their residential customers the option to charge electric vehicles using renewable energy at a reduced “off-peak” (e.g. overnight) rate beginning in Spring 2015.
- Encouraging wind power – The Legislature removed an unnecessary hurdle for wind projects to be built in Minnesota that will serve customers in another state.
Remove Toxic Chemicals From Children’s Products
- Toxic Free Kids Act – Passed the Toxic Free Kids Act in the Minnesota House requiring manufacturers to disclose if the products they sell in Minnesota contain the most toxic chemicals known to affect the health of children. Conservation Minnesota will work diligently to fully pass the bill next year.
Invest in Minnesota’s Great Outdoors
- Increasing investments in parks and trails – Worked with advocates to secure over $53 million through this year’s bonding bill, including $17.7 million for trail projects across the state, many of which have been delayed for years, over $20 million for metropolitan regional parks, $14 million for Lake Vermillion State Park, and $700,000 for other projects across the state and in Greater Minnesota.
- Prairie conservation, wetland restoration, forest habitat enhancement, and aquatic invasive species prevention – Work began July 1 on 38 projects recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and funded by the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
- Protection of Critical Wildlife Habitat – The 2014 bonding bill included $6 million for two important programs that protect wildlife habitat: RIM Reserve conservation easements and $2 million for the DNR’s Critical Habitat Match program.
- Specialty parks and trails license plate – Funding will benefit state parks and trails and boost the operating and maintenance budget for state parks.
All of this happened because of the support of Minnesotans like you. Your support today will allow us to build upon this foundation and create a healthy Minnesota for generations to come.