Sierra Club Urges “Do-Over” on State Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 24, 2017

Media Contact:
Justin Fay – Justin.fay@sierraclub.org, 612-251-1457

Saint Paul, MINN. (May 24, 2017) – Late Monday, the 2017 regular session of the Minnesota Legislature concluded without a formal budget agreement in place. Since then, state leaders have been unable to agree on final bills for a number of critical budget areas, while previously passed bills addressing energy, environment and more have been met with heavy criticism.

Today, leaders and members of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter added their voices to those asking Governor Mark Dayton to reject the Legislature’s budget package .

Justin Fay, Senior Chapter Representative for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement in response:

“It is deeply unfortunate that leadership in the Minnesota Legislature has chosen the path of midnight hearings and poison pill provisions rather than delivering a budget that Minnesotans can be proud of.

Minnesotans value their clean air, clean water and healthy communities. However, you would never know that from reading the budget bills rushed through by legislative leaders during the dark of night. The omnibus bills for environment and energy/jobs, passed in the closing hours of regular session, include a variety of policy rollbacks that jeopardize the rights of citizens, clean energy jobs and healthy communities.

Less than 24 hours into special session legislators have advanced new attacks on working families and released a transportation bill that shortchanges our critical transit infrastructure.

The time for accepting flawed bills in the name of political expediency has passed. With their political deadlines blown, Speaker Daudt and Majority Leader Gazelka have no reason to avoid starting fresh with a clean budget that respects Minnesota’s environment, clean energy economy and communities.”

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Sierra Club Delivers 2,100 Petitions to MN Chamber Board Members

North Star Chapter
2327 East Franklin Avenue, Suite 1
Minneapolis, MN 55406-4420

For Immediate Release

May 15, 2017

Petition Challenges Policies That Would Dismantle Environmental Protections

(Minneapolis, MN (May 15, 2017) – Members of the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club today delivered a petition signed by 2,100 Minnesotans, calling upon members of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to re-examine their support of Chamber-backed policies that would dismantle Minnesota’s environmental safeguards protecting clean water, land and air. Specifically, these polices, recently vetoed by Governor Dayton, include:

  • Gutting Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Board that provides a forum for agencies and citizens to tackle complex resource challenges;
  • Allowing polluters to write their own environmental impact reviews;
  • Severely limiting downstream residents’ and local governments’ rights to challenge mining permits;
  • Allowing large industries to buy their way to expedited permit reviews; and
  • Adding significant barriers for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources to protect public resources while cutting agency enforcement budgets.

In addition, HF605, also recently vetoed by Governor Dayton, includes more than 30 hurdles that agencies must follow before making environmental decisions and allows any legislative committee to block these agency actions. The Sierra Club petitions calling for change were delivered to some of Minnesota’s most prominent businesses today including Target, General Mills, 3M, Medtronic, Polaris, and Hormel.

“Minnesota Chamber member businesses – through board participation and membership dues – give support to the Chamber’s legislative agenda,” said Margaret Levin, state director of the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Even if Chamber members aren’t vocally supportive of the legislation, they are guilty of allowing the business community’s political weight to be used to weaken protections for clean air and water.”

The petitions ask corporate leaders from Minnesota’s business community to speak “against rollbacks designed to protect our environment” and that these legislative provisions will “harm our environment and hurt Minnesota businesses and employees, hindering our important way of life.”

A copy of the petition is available here.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Justin Fay, 612-259-2453, justin.fay@sierraclub.org
Cathryn Kennedy, 612-309-3951, cathryn@cathrynkennedy.com
Pam McCarthy-Kern, 612-360-0647, pam@cathrynkennedy.com

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Minnesota Legislature Cuts Funding for Air and Water; Empowers Polluters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 9, 2017

Media Contact:
Margaret Levin – Margaret.levin@sierraclub.org, 612-659-9124

Saint Paul, MINN. (May 9, 2017) – Today, the Minnesota House and Senate passed a conference report for the Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Finance bill (HF888). Despite a surplus of $1.5 billion, HF888 would cut funding for state agencies charged with protecting Minnesota’s air, water and the health of our communities. The bill also contains a significant number of unrelated and controversial policy provisions, many of which would weaken existing environmental laws and undermine public oversight of our natural resources.

Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement in response:

“Minnesotans are incredibly fortunate to live in a state with vibrant natural resources. It is surprising and disappointing that Republican leadership in the Minnesota Legislature continues to jeopardize these resources by underfunding and undermining their protection.

Not only does the conference report for HF888 unnecessarily cut funding for protecting our air and water, it also includes dozens of pages of controversial and unrelated policy changes, many of which are designed to weaken public oversight of our lakes, rivers, air and natural resources.

We recognize that this conversation is likely far from over. We are grateful for Governor Dayton’s commitment to veto this and other budget bills, and urge legislative leaders to start over with a clean slate and a renewed commitment to Minnesota’s natural legacy.”

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Minnesota Legislature’s Budget Packed with Attacks on Clean Air, Water and Public Transit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 1, 2017

Media Contact:
Justin Fay, Justin.fay@sierraclub.org, 612-251-1457

Saint Paul, MINN. (May 1, 2017) – Today, conference committees in the Minnesota Legislature adopted “delete everything” amendments that reflect the outcomes of a budget agreement reached between House and Senate leadership late last week. Despite a budget surplus of more than $1.5 billion, the Legislature’s budget imposes cuts on funding for clean air and clean water, underfunds public transit, and includes hundreds of pages of damaging policy initiatives.

Leaders of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter responded to the Legislature’s budget bills:

Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement in response to the Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill (HF888): “Minnesotans have repeatedly made it clear that they expect their state leaders to provide adequate funding for work to protect Minnesota’s air, water and the health of our communities. Not only does this bill fail to keep the faith with Minnesota voters, it also includes a laundry list of sweetheart policy provisions for special interests, including new and damaging barriers to the implementation and enforcement of standards for clean air and clean water. We strongly urge legislative leaders to reconsider this misguided direction for Minnesota.”

Erin Daly, Chair of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Land Use and Transportation Committee issued the following statement in response to the Transportation Omnibus Bill (HF861): “Our transportation system is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy. Unfortunately, despite a significant budget surplus, the Legislature has failed to provide adequate funding for public transit. These shortfalls will lead directly to worsening congestion and dirtier air, and create unnecessary new barriers for Minnesotans who simply need to get to work. This bill represents a clear failure by the Legislature to consider the needs of all Minnesotans, including and especially low income Minnesotans and those who are unable to drive. Minnesotans deserve a transportation system that works, and this bill doesn’t come close.”

SJ Spitzer, Co-Chair of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Clean Air and Renewable Energy Committee issued the following statement in response to the Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill (SF1937): “The future is clear: Minnesota is on the path to cleaner energy thanks to affordable wind, solar and efficiency. The Legislature is sadly on a different path – succumbing to the whims of the oil and gas industries at the expense of Minnesota consumers. If allowed to become law, this bill will result in slower and more expensive decision-making for energy consumers along with costly new pipeline projects that threaten our waters, the integrity of private land and indigenous treaty rights. We ask legislators to reconsider including these damaging policy proposals and fully fund Governor Dayton’s budget request for the critical work of building and maintaining the energy system of the future.”

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