Sierra Club responds to House passage of Omnibus Environment Policy Bill

 For Immediate Release:  Wednesday April 4, 2012 

SIERRA CLUB RESPONDS TO HOUSE PASSAGE OF OMNIBUS ENVIRONMENT POLICY BILL

April 4, 2012 – Today the Legislature took a step backwards for our environment in Minnesota, choosing to pass a bill which will remove critical wetlands protections, public oversight mechanisms and safeguards for public health. The passage of HF2164, the omnibus environment policy bill, was met with disappointment by members of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “It’s unfortunate that actually protecting the environment seems to be an afterthought when this Legislature passes ‘environment’ bills,” said State Director Margaret Levin, “House File 2164 does a lot to help out corporate lobbyists, but doesn’t do nearly enough for our lakes, rivers and public lands.”

Some of the damaging provisions included in HF2164 include:

  • Eliminating Minnesota Executive Council oversight of nonferrous mineral leasing, a key provision that helps protect citizens and property owners from industry and government overreach
  • Granting enormous new exemptions to allow for easier destruction of Minnesota’s critical wetlands, which are important for a range of ecosystem services, such as protecting water quality, mitigating flood risk, and providing habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife
  • Preventing state agencies from adopting ANY water quality standard that is more protective than minimum Federal standards.  In many cases there are no equivalent Federal standards
  • Gutting the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board, a key resource for citizens and other parties affected by agency decisions

“There are so many simple things we could be doing to improve the health of our environment,” said Levin.  “We hope that future Legislatures will take more seriously the charge of protecting water quality, wildlife habitat and public health.”

The Sierra Club calls on legislators and Governor Dayton to oppose this bill, which would reverse decades of progress on water quality and habitat protection.

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