Early Saturday morning, the Minnesota House and Senate passed the Agriculture & Environment Omnibus budget bill and concluded the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Special Session. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement from State Director Margaret Levin in response:
“The Sierra Club is deeply disappointed at the passage of the Agriculture and Environment Omnibus bill in the Special Session. The final bill contains an alarming number of provisions which undermine the safeguards that have helped to make our state an environmental leader.
“The 2015 legislative session will be remembered for its unprecedented rollbacks of protections for clean water – at a time when our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water face historic threats; for clean air, and for Minnesota’s irreplaceable outdoors legacy.
“Unfortunately, it will be also remembered for the missed opportunity to grow clean energy jobs and address the urgent threat of climate disruption, by failing to consider a responsible clean energy plan. Instead, this legislature chose to roll back smart policies like Minnesota’s net metering law; and instituted decreased electricity rates for large corporations, such as mines and paper mills, which will transfer those costs onto the backs of small business and residential customers.
“And, we will remember the legislature’s failure to address Minnesota’s need for a comprehensive transportation bill that would dedicate funding for a modern, statewide transportation system, including real options for transit, bicycling, and walking, and fixes for our crumbling roads and bridges.
“Some of the worst rollbacks were passed literally in the middle of the night, with no opportunity for public response. The backroom deals and lack of transparency are both troubling and insulting to the people of Minnesota.
“The Sierra Club’s members and supporters across the state will be carefully evaluating the results of this Special Session, and the votes taken by their legislators in 2015. For those environmental champions who stood up against proposals to gut our state’s protections, we thank you for your courageous leadership and look forward to continued work together.
“Minnesotans deserve and expect better from their elected officials, and will hold accountable those legislators who are responsible for endangering our clean water, communities and climate. We will make our voices heard.”