You are on page 1of 3

www.MEPartnership.

org
Suite 100
546 Rice Street
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone 651.290.0154
Fax 651.290.0167

May 17, 2015


Minnesota Legislators:
We are writing to express our disappointment in the provisions of the Ag and Environment
Omnibus budget bill conference committee report (H.F. 846).
When we ask Minnesotans what they value most about our state, they talk about our lakes,
rivers and streams, forests, prairies and wildlife. Minnesotans care deeply about our Great
Outdoors.
In stark contrast, the conference committee report for H.F. 846 undermines key policies
that protect and restore our air, land, and water and allow for strong public engagement.
We write to ask you to oppose the Conference Committee report when it reaches the
floor, and vote to send it back to Conference Committee to be cleaned up. The vote on
this report is of the utmost importance for the states environmental and conservation
community.
Problematic provisions include:
Buffer policy that falls short: Governor Dayton proposed meaningful policy
to expand protective vegetative buffers along waterways to reduce agriculture
runoff. We know that runoff from agricultural land is a leading cause of water
pollution and why so many of lakes and rivers are not safe to swim or fish in
and water not safe to drink. The buffer provisions in this bill actually delay
enforcement of laws on the books, and do not represent a serious attempt to
address this issue. Many waterways will continue to have no buffer
requirements.
Abolishing the Citizens Board of the Pollution Control Agency: The
Citizens Board was established in 1967 to ensure the PCA serves the public
interest and to establish an open and transparent decision-making
process. The Citizens Board has worked well and is a model we can be
proud of. The House bill significantly weakened the Boards authority. The
Senate did not hear the issue. The Conferees adopted language to eliminate
the Citizens Board altogether, which was never introduced as a bill.
Raids of Dedicated Environmental Funds to Fund Other Areas: Even with
the state budget still holding $1 billion on the bottom line, this bill raids funds
that are currently dedicated to the protection and cleanup of our surface and
groundwater. This budget gimmick shift results in a more than 24% cut in
total general fund spending for the environmental area. Even if some of the
funds are eventually paid back as scheduled in the bill, the overall amount of
clean up funds will be drastically reduced and fall far short of the amount

estimated to be needed for cleaning up leaks from our more than 100 landfills
for which the state is responsible.
Unravels Biofuel Agreement: The agreement between energy, agriculture,
and environment stakeholders would establish the next-generation biofuel
industry in Minnesota. This bill removes of the Working Lands Watershed
Restoration program and undercuts this consensus agreement to strategically
target establishment of perennial crops for ethanol facilities to protect and
restore our lakes, rivers and streams in some our most contaminated
watersheds in the heart of ag country.
This bill allocates funding to promote false labelling: Recently, the
legislature voted to allow deceptive advertising that "pollinator-friendly
plants" need only not kill bees on first contact. Plants contaminated short of
that threshold can be labeled "pollinator-friendly." This is deceptive
advertising.
Expensive Re-dos: The Conference Report requires expensive cost analyses
of existing and anticipated water quality standards that establish a false
baseline for estimated capital and operating costs of complying with water
quality standards without including economic and social costs associated with
declines in water quality.
Surprise Sulfide Mining Amendment: the report exempts sulfide mining
waste from solid waste rules. Ferrous mining waste streams are a known
quantity, but sulfide mining waste is not. There are as-yet-unknown waste
streams for sulfide mines, as well as potentially exempt disposal options
onsite for those waste streams. Nobody has been able to explain how or
whether this would apply to PolyMet and other proposed mines. This
amendment was never introduced as a bill or heard in any committee, and its
future effect is unknown.
Lastly, although some previously adopted provisions that suspended current water quality
standards were removed, the repetitive water quality studies that have been kept in the bill
will have huge fiscal impacts, but are only minimally funded.
For these and other concerns that have been raised, we ask you to protect our water
and our future resources by voting to reject the Conference Committee report for HF
846.
Thank you for defending the Legacy of our Great State.

Sincerely,

Steve Morse, Executive Director


Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Alliance for Sustainability

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Audubon Society of St. Paul

Minnesota Conservation Federation

Clean Water Action

Minnesota Food Association

Climate Generation

Minnesota Land Trust

Conservation Minnesota

Minnesota Ornithologists' Union

CURE (Clean Up the River Environment)

Minnesota Project

Environment Minnesota

Minnesota Renewable Energy Society

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

MN350

Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest

Renewing the Countryside

Friends of the Mississippi River

Sierra Club - North Star Chapter

Friends of the Parks & Trails of St. Paul &


Ramsey County

St. Croix River Association

Izaak Walton League - Minnesota Division


Izaak Walton League of America - Midwest Office
Land Stewardship Project
League of Women Voters Minnesota
Lower Phalen Creek Project
Mankato Area Environmentalists

Transit for Livable Communities


Urban Roots
Voyageurs National Park Association
WaterLegacy