Dear Minnesota TU Leaders and members:
Last week committees in both the Minnesota House and Senate pushed through environment and natural resource funding bills. Both bills cut a disproportionate amount of funding from natural resource protection and management, and each contains a number of very bad policy provisions which were hurriedly inserted into these finance bills.
Both the House (H.F.1010) and Senate (S.F.1029) versions are up for floor votes tomorrow, Tuesday March 29. Contact your legislators in the morning and urge them to vote NO on the Omnibus Environmental Finance Bill.
H.F. 1010 – Omnibus Environmental Finance Bill (McNamara)
This bill dramatically reduces taxpayer support for natural resource protections by disproportionately cutting general fund dollars to environmental and conservation programs, well beyond the historic low of 1% of General Fund. Programs to protect water resources are particularly hard hit. This bill contains appropriations from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund which diverge substantially from the recommendations of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Some of the bad policy provisions in the House bill include:
- weakening existing water quality standards for sulfate discharges (to facilitate permitting of sulfide mining in Northern MN)
- removing natural resource conservation from permanent school trust fund goals, thus permitting greater (unsustainable) levels of timber harvest
- removing protections for new Scientific and Natural Areas
- mandating that the MNDNR harvested all marketable black walnut trees from Whitewater and Frontenac State Parks!
- appropriating funding to convert the North Shore State Trail (through the headwaters of North Shore trout streams) to ATV use in such a way as to avoid environmental review and MNDNR oversight or input
S.F. 1029 – Omnibus Environmental Finance Bill (Ingebrigtsen)
This Senate bill dramatically reduces taxpayer support for natural resource protections by disproportionately cutting general fund dollars to environmental and conservation programs, well beyond the historic low of 1%. The bill contains several troubling policy provisions, including ones which would:
- weaken existing water quality standards for phosphorus and sulfates
- prohibit new water rules to protect and restore our lakes, rivers and streams
- repeal protections for the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area
- exempt ethanol facilities from mandatory environmental review (although theoretically one could petition the relevant RGU to require a “discretionary” EAW be prepared)
- weaken permitting standards for large feedlot facilities
- directly appropriate funding to convert the North Shore State Trail to ATV use in such a way as to avoid environmental review and MNDNR oversight or input
- substantially alter the recommendations of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, including cutting research projects approved following technical reviews and competitive screening.
You can quickly locate and contact your legislators by using the State’s legislative website, http://www.leg.state.mn.us
Here is the direct link for looking up your legislators: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/?address=
While the budget bills are unlikely to passed and signed by the Governor in their present form, it is important that folks start letting their legislators and the Governor know now that such attacks on clean water and science-based resource management have no place in budget balancing efforts. To that end, make sure to copy the Governor on your correspondence with you legislators so he too can learn of your concerns.
Thanks for all you do to promote conservation and good government.