House Bill Threatens Boundary Waters Wilderness

Thursday, November 30, 2017
Contact: Virginia Cramer, virginia.cramer@sierraclub.org, 804-519-8449

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill undermining bedrock environmental safeguards protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, as well as the Superior and Chippewa National Forests. The bill, HR 3905, would automatically grant mineral leases near the Wilderness boundary in perpetuity, while undermining guarantees for public process and water quality among others.

In response Lena Moffitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign issued the following statement.

“The Boundary Waters is one of our country’s most beloved, and visited, wildernesses. This unprecedented legislation would overturn sound science, and remove citizen input on the future of public lands, clean water and the communities that depend on them. To risk the future of the Boundary Waters by allowing sulfide mining to move forward in its watershed is foolhardy, shortsighted, and an affront to Minnesota values.”

Advertisements

House Bill Threatens Lake Superior

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Contact: Virginia Cramer, virginia.cramer@sierraclub.org, 804-519-8449

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives tonight passed a bill ordering public forest lands turned over to a private mining company. The bill, HR 3115, would expedite the exchange of National Forest land with PolyMet Mining Corporation for an open pit copper-nickel sulfide ore mine — bypassing issues with the environmental analysis, value of the land appraisal, and ongoing public challenges.

In response Lena Moffitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign  issued the following statement.

“Carving up America’s National Forest lands at the behest of a foreign mining company is an insult to American values and an attack on our bedrock environmental laws.. Opening these lands, waters and downstream communities to mining pollution in perpetuity, waiving safeguards for public input, endangered species and water quality is beyond the pale. The fate of Lake Superior – the world’s largest freshwater lake – and Minnesota’s iconic northern forests must not be left at the mercy of a foreign mining conglomerate.”

Twin Cities Environmental Advocates, Labor Leaders, and State Officials Decry Trump Administration Attacks on Public Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2017

CONTACT: Brian O’Shea – (952) 393-2986, briano@synergeticendeavors.com

(St. Paul, MN) – Today, Twin Cities labor leaders, state officials and environmental advocates joined together to call on the Trump administration to maintain federal fuel efficiency standards.

In a press conference hosted by the Sierra Club, speakers urged the administration to maintain the standards and thanked Senator Klobuchar for her work to protect public health and consumers.

A video of the press conference can be found here.

“These standards represent America’s largest-ever effort to reduce air pollution,” said Joshua Houdek, Land Use & Transportation Program Manager for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “We need to strengthen clean car standards, not roll them back. We want to thank Senator Klobuchar for her work to ensure clean air and a healthy climate for our families and call on the Trump administration to do the same.”

America’s clean car standards help ensure that cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs are more fuel-efficient, saving drivers money every trip to the gas station. The standards have also benefited taxpayers by helping save the state and local governments money when refueling government vehicles. save money through its fleet-greening programs.

“We are constantly working to reduce operating costs within our state vehicle fleet,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman. “The CAFÉ standards make a wider variety of fuel efficient vehicles available. They cut fuel consumption, which saves taxpayers money.”

Speakers noted that cleaner, more efficient vehicles also reduce air pollution and combat climate change – helping prevent harmful health impacts like asthma attacks and heart attacks triggered by dirty air.

“For more than a decade the State of Minnesota and the U.S. have been moving in the right direction on air pollution and climate change,” said Assistant Commissioner David Thornton of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “There’s just no rationale reason why we want to halt that progress by rescinding these achievable CAFÉ standards.”

Consumers are reaping the benefits of greater fuel efficiency. America’s drivers have already saved more than $48 billion at the pump thanks to these standards, and by 2030, the average household in Minnesota will save $2,850 at the gas pump if they are left in place.

###

Minnesota Voters Turn Out in Record Numbers, Reject Trumpism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2017
Contact: Margaret Levin, 612-659-9124, Margaret.levin@sierraclub.org

Minnesota Voters Turn Out in Record Numbers, Reject Trumpism

Minneapolis, MINN. (November 8, 2017) – Yesterday, Minnesotans turned out in communities across our state to elect a historically diverse slate of new local leaders for a variety of critical offices.  Sierra Club North Star Chapter State Director Margaret Levin issued the following statement in response:

“Yesterday, Minnesota voters joined Americans from around the country in sending a clear message that the divisive politics of the Trump Administration will continue to be challenged at every turn.
The incoming Mayors, City Council members, School and Park Board members elected yesterday have tremendous opportunities ahead – to help Minnesotans move forward together as we pursue a just transition away from fossil fuels and toward the economy and communities of the future: clean, sustainable and inclusive.
We congratulate all of the winners in yesterday’s municipal election and look forward to close collaboration in the work ahead.”’

###

Sierra Club North Star Chapter announces endorsements for Minneapolis City Council and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

For Immediate Release

Contact: Peter Teigland, Political Committee Chair, sierrapoliticalmn@gmail.com

[October 25, 2017] — The Sierra Club North Star Chapter announces the following endorsements for Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. The Chapter’s endorsement process included a written questionnaire and interviews with 43 candidates.

“Cities are on the front lines of protecting our environment and providing essential leadership on renewable energy, transit, and green jobs. The Chapter’s extensive process and deliberations to put forward this slate reflects how important we believe this election is,” said Peter Teigland, Chair of the Political Committee.

“Our endorsements for several challengers to multi-term incumbents reflect strong and viable candidacies and our belief that this year’s elections hold tremendous potential to elect a Council that will ensure that Minneapolis lives up to its potential to be a national leader on environmental policy.”

The City Council and Parks and Recreation Board endorsements join the Sierra Club’s previous endorsement of Mayor Betsy Hodges for re-election as Mayor of Minneapolis.

The full list of new and previous Chapter endorsements in 2017 Minneapolis and St. Paul municipal races is posted on our website at http://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/minneapolis-and-st-paul-2017-endorsements

Minneapolis City Council

Ward 1: Jillia Pessenda

Ward 2: Cam Gordon

Ward 3: Ranked endorsement:

Samantha Pree-Stinson (1st)

Steve Fletcher (2nd)

Ginger Jentzen (3rd)

Ward 4: Phillipe Cunningham

Ward 5: Jeremiah Ellison

Ward 7: Janne Flisrand

Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins

Ward 10: Lisa Bender

Ward 11: Dual endorsement: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter did not make endorsements in Wards 6 or 9.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

District 1: Billy Menz

District 2: Kale Severson

District 4: Jono Cowgill

District 6: Brad Bourn

At-Large Ranked endorsement: LaTrisha Vetaw (1st) and Russ Henry (2nd)

The Sierra Club did not make endorsements in Districts 3 or 5.

City Council Endorsements:

Ward 1: Jillia Pessenda

We believe that Ms. Pessenda will be a strong, reliable champion for the environment. She has clear, actionable ideas for needed local action on climate change, environmental justice, active transportation and more. And we believe that she has the commitment to follow through for the environment, even when it is challenging. Her background in urban agriculture, on the Minneapolis Food Council, and working for the Land Stewardship Project shows a deep knowledge of how to make local environmental policy.

Ward 2: Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon has long been a key champion of environmental policy on the local level. In the last four years, he has led or helped lead multiple environmental policies, including: creation of the Clean Energy Partnership, City participation in community solar gardens, adoption of an aggressive goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, passage of the Complete Streets policy and protected bikeway plan, the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance to reduce waste from single-use bags, limitations on crumb rubber, a Pollinator-Friendly City resolution and much more. He is a true leader on the environment, and a close and valued ally to the Sierra Club.

Ward 3: Ranked endorsement: Samantha Pree-Stinson, Steve Fletcher, and Ginger Jentzen

All three of these candidates are outstanding on Sierra Club issues and wholly earned the Sierra North Star Chapter’s endorsement. We make a ranked endorsement for three candidates for the open Ward 3 City Council seat: Samantha Pree-Stinson (1st), Steve Fletcher (2nd), and Ginger Jentzen (3rd).

As the Green Party endorsed candidate, Samantha Pree-Stinson has made environmental issues a key part of her platform. She articulates the Sierra Club’s priorities and provides a systematic, programmatic, and goal-oriented approach. We believe that she will govern in a hands-on, grounded manner.

As the DFL-endorsed candidate and co-founder of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Steve Fletcher has a deep understanding of and commitment to environmental justice. We believe that his approach to governance will be thoughtful and empathetic.

As the Socialist Alternative candidate, Ginger Jentzen has garnered impressive enthusiasm. We were proud to work alongside Ginger on the 15 Now! campaign for a $15 minimum wage. We support her priorities of affordable transit for all and environmental justice.

Ward 4: Phillipe Cunningham

Phillipe Cunningham is a profoundly engaging candidate, and has a deep and intuitive understanding of environmental justice, clean energy access, and good governance. He will make an excellent partner to the Sierra Club and other advocates for the environment and environmental justice in City Hall. His historic candidacy will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the City Council.

Ward 5: Jeremiah Ellison

Jeremiah Ellison has made environmental justice a signature issue of his campaign, and raises the issue consistently on the stump and at voters’ doors. He has a strong understanding of a broad range of environmental issues, and makes creative connections between them. We believe that he will be an invaluable leader for the environment on the City Council.

Ward 7: Janne Flisrand

Janne’s professional background and civic leadership demonstrate that she will be a true environmental champion on the Council. A few of her impressive accomplishments: she helped create the Minnesota Green Communities standards that ensure that all new affordable housing subsidized in Minnesota is energy efficient; she is a co-founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (now Our Streets); and, she served on the Clean Energy Partnership’s Energy Vision Advisory Committee. We look forward to the wealth of experience and collaborative approach that she will bring to the City Council.

Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins will bring a world of relevant City Council experience to the office. She was a long-time Policy Aide serving Eighth Ward Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Robert Lilligren, both of whom the Sierra Club North Star Chapter has endorsed in previous elections. Her campaign’s focus on equity, including on environmental issues, makes her a natural ally of the Sierra Club. We look forward to a close working relationship with her as a Council Member.

Ward 10: Lisa Bender

Of the endorsements for City Council the Sierra Club made in 2013, none might have been better than endorsing Lisa Bender. She has proven to be a true environmental champion, taking the lead on passing and implementing transportation policies like the Complete Streets policy and protected bikeway plan, land use policies like Accessory Dwelling Units and much-needed reform of parking requirements, and public space improvements like parklets. We enthusiastically endorse her reelection and look forward to a much-expanded leadership role on the City Council in her next term.

Ward 11: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder, co-endorsed

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter co-endorses two candidates for City Council in Ward 11: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder. We urge voters to rank them first and second, in whichever order they choose. These candidates will each be champions for livability, climate change and environmental justice.

Erica Mauter brings impressive knowledge of city government structure and operations, and a deep commitment to centering racial equity in her campaign and approach to policy and politics. We believe Ward 11 and all Minneapolis residents would be well served by Erica’s expertise in the city’s budgeting process gained as a member of the Capital Long Range Improvement Committee (CLIC). We further believe that as a queer woman of color, Mauter brings experiences and perspectives not currently represented on the Council or heard in local government. We share her belief that representation of all perspectives in our local government matters.

Jeremy Schroeder is a skilled policy advocate, and we believe he would hit the ground running as an effective policymaker and coalition builder on the Council. His expertise on housing issues positions him well to lead dialogue and action on density and affordability in both Ward 11 and citywide. The city needs this sort of leadership from lower density and more affluent Wards. We were impressed with his ideas for accelerating progress within the Clean Energy Partnership and with his commitment to implementing the city’s Complete Streets policy.

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson has proven to be a strong voice for better transit, cleaner energy, and other progressive issues in his first term. Among his achievements to date: he authored a successful resolution to ban polystyrene containers in the city; he fought against HERC expansion; and, more locally, he helped a dry-cleaner in Ward 12 stop using and emitting toxic fumes into a daycare in the same building. He is able to participate difficult conversations and closely listen to community voices. Mr. Johnson bursts with good ideas on how to make Minneapolis an example of how cities can be more livable in the 21st century.

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano

Linea Palmisano is a previously-endorsed incumbent running for a second term on the Council. She has been a leader on Chapter priorities, including co-leading development of the Zero Waste Plan, and co-authoring a Pollinator-Friendly City resolution. We look forward to her continued growth as an environmental leader on a more progressive City Council.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

At-Large: LaTrisha Vetaw #1 and Russ Henry #2

LaTrisha Vetaw is the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s overwhelming first choice candidate for Park Board At-Large. The Chapter is impressed with her strong knowledge of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board structure and budgeting and her concrete and creative policy proposals. Ms. Vetaw’s extensive professional and volunteer experience as a policy leader and coalition builder will be a significant asset to the Park Board. LaTrisha’s presence on the MPRB will add a much-needed diversity of perspective.

Russ Henry is the Chapter’s second choice candidate for Park Board At-Large. Mr. Henry’s experience as an organic landscaper dovetails nicely into what we hope is a remarkably more progressive seat on the MPRB. He has a remarkable vision for what the parks can be, and has demonstrated passion and leadership during the campaign.

District 1: Billy Menz

Mr. Menz brings a bright-eyed enthusiasm to his candidacy, which is rooted in his experience as a teacher. More so than many candidates, it seems likely that Menz will be able to bridge the logistical and bureaucratic gap between the two city functions, which have so much potential to deepen the relationship of the city’s children to the natural environment.

District 2: Kale Severson

Mr. Severson’s passion for community engagement, equity, environmental justice, and education shone at every opportunity in his screening. We believe that his experience in leadership positions throughout the Northside community will serve him well as Commissioner. We believe Mr. Severson will be an energetic, progressive addition to the MPRB.

District 4: Jono Cowgill

Mr. Cowgill’s screening was among the best of the cycle. Personable, knowledgeable, and engaging, Jono answered our questions with ease, and drove the discussion to the next level. As an urban planner focused on climate change mitigation and resilience, it is clear that Mr. Cowgill’s professional life will inform his work as a public servant. His goals of more community gardens, partnerships with schools, and passing a climate action plan are both laudable and achievable.

District 6: Brad Bourn

Commissioner Bourn has for the last two cycles arguably been the most progressive and staunchest Sierra Club ally on the MPRB. It is the Committee’s hope that his leadership from a minority position will translate well into leading a progressive majority that will deliver a more equitable, more green, and more resilient parks system.

Paid for by the Sierra Club Minnesota Political Action Committee, 2327 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55406

Minnesota Department of Commerce Confirms Finding that Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline is Not Needed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 23, 2017

Contact: Gabby Brown, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

DoC’s analysis confirms that risks would outweigh limited benefits of Enbridge’s tar sands project

St. Paul, MN — Today, in surrebuttal testimony submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DoC) confirmed its original finding that Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline project is not needed and that the risks outweigh any limited benefits.

DoC is the expert agency charged with analyzing and advising the PUC on whether or not to grant this permit. In their testimony submitted last month, the DoC rejected Enbridge’s arguments that the pipeline project would benefit Minnesotans, noting that “it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”

In order to build the new, expanded Line 3 pipeline through the state, Enbridge needs both a route permit and a certificate of need from the PUC. DoC’s recommendation that the certificate of need is not warranted is a significant setback for the project. The PUC will be accepting public comments over the next few months and is expected to make a decision next spring.

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

“We are pleased to see the Department of Commerce confirm that Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion project would be all cost and no benefit for Minnesotans. If built, this pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s lands, water, wildlife, and Indigenous treaty-protected rights. At a time when there is no market demand for more tar sands, and Minnesota’s oil consumption rates are declining, there’s simply no good reason to allow Enbridge to build a dangerous new tar sands pipeline across our state.

“We urge the Public Utilities Commission to heed this recommendation, as well as the calls of thousands of Minnesotans who oppose this project, and reject the pipeline once and for all. Continued citizen participation in upcoming hearings and comments continue to be more important than ever. ”

###

Sierra Club North Star Chapter Supports Priorities for Lake Hiawatha and Surrounding Parklands

Contact: Joshua Houdek, Land Use and Transportation Program Manager
joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org, 612-259- 2447

Sierra Club North Star Chapter supports the following five principles for Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis:

1. The timely, comprehensive and effective mitigation of the “north pipe” storm sewer
system as defined in previous planning discussions by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as the “open channel” option. Lake Hiawatha receives tons of trash and myriad pollutants that dump directly into the Lake via the north pipe storm sewer. This pollution severely impacts the water quality and ecological health of the Lake and its habitat. Given the scale of this particular urban sub-watershed, it is essential that an effective mitigation system be installed at the end of the line without delay, and should be a given in any public use scenario going forward.

2. Protection of existing habitat. A rich and diverse community of wildlife calls Lake Hiawatha home. Any use of the Land should include protection and preservation of the areas where existing wildlife populations reside, including generous buffer zones to limit intrusion into vital habitat areas.

3. The creation of new wetland habitat. We support the increase of habitat zones by increasing the ecological diversity of the land surrounding Lake Hiawatha. We want to see more biodiversity, climate resilience and flood storage capacity.

4. Discontinuation of the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on the parkland
surrounding Lake Hiawatha. Given the park’s proximity to this important water resource and the porousness of the substrate, the use of these chemicals is unacceptable because of their impact on water quality, wildlife and ecological health.

5.  Equitable and accessible uses of the Park that invite all members of our community to
benefit from it as a resource, while focusing on sustainability and ecological health. We honor the Indigenous People of this land and believe they should be involved in the planning processes related to Lake Hiawatha and the surrounding parkland.

# # #