What’s happening in Washington

The president put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued that same agency 14 times to weaken clean air, clean water and other environmental protections.

He signed an executive order to put the Keystone XL pipeline on a fast track to construction, another order designed to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for nearly 2 million miles of America’s streams, including 46,891 miles in Minnesota, and a third order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, effectively allowing power plants to emit more pollution and adding more soot to the air we breathe and more climate-destabilizing carbon pollution to the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed legislation abolishing new stream water protections from coal mining in Appalachia, voted to make it easier to sell off public lands, and introduced bills to abolish the EPA.

After talking during the campaign about “abolishing” the EPA himself or “leaving just a little bit,” the president proposed a budget that would slash EPA funding by 31 percent. These cuts would virtually eliminate funding for proven programs needed to clean up the nation’s great waterways, from San Francisco Bay to Puget Sound; decimate environmental research and science programs, and effectively take the nation’s environmental cops off the polluter beat.

A “little bit” of environmental protection is not nearly enough—not when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people and places we love. 

Most Americans want more, not fewer, protections for the people and places we love

These moves to dismantle our environmental protections violate core values shared by millions of Americans.

The vast majority of us believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a company dumps pollution into our air or water. The future of our children and life on our planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies. The idea that we’ve found some places so special, some would even say sacred, that we’ve declared them off-limits to development is one of our proudest achievements.

But our environmental values are meaningless if we don’t act on them, and stand up and defend them when they’re under attack— especially given the power of old but entrenched industries that are wed to a status quo that no longer serves our needs, and a worldview that puts their short-term economic interests above the health of the American people and the environment we share.

Our path forward

Our best chance of stopping these attacks will come in the U.S. Senate, where 41 votes will be enough to block most legislation.

Environment Minnesota, together with our nationwide network of state affiliates, is urging our senators to stand up and protect our health and the places we love.

And if enough of us speak up, we can win.

Recently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah filed a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. Several days later he withdrew the bill in the face of overwhelming public opposition, including 1,000 people in Montana turning out to a pro-public lands rally and this comment from an National Rifle Association member on Chaffetz’s Facebook page: “Rescind H.R. 621 the sale of public lands! It’s not your land to sell. It’s the people’s land. Many people use it for many purposes.” Hear and respect our voice.”

We can win, but only if we bring together people from all walks of life, from both sides of the political divide, and unite in action to defend the places we love.

Reckless proposals to roll back clean air, clean water and other environmental protections keep coming every week. We need to build support now to protect our health and environment.

Now, it's up to us

The leaders and activists of the past saw the result of decades of unchecked pollution in our smog-covered skylines and our toxic rivers. They worked against all odds and, ultimately, their values won the day. Our environmental forbears organized the first Earth Day, supported and passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the torch passes to us.

The children we know and love today can live cleaner, healthier lives in a greener world, but only if we can keep our environmental protections in place and make them stronger. It’s up to us.

Issue updates

Report | Environment Minnesota

Hotter Fields, Lower Yields

With the report, Hotter Fields, Lower Yields, Environment Minnesota analyzed the expected future impacts of global warming on America’s corn growers. The analysis draws on a 2008 study by the United States Climate Change Science Program, a joint project of the United States Department of Agriculture and 12 other federal agencies.

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News Release | Environment Minnesota

New Report: Global Warming Will Cost $135 Million for Minnesota Corn

Global warming could cost corn growers in Minnesota $135 million a year, according to a new report by Environment Minnesota.  Minnesota ranks 4th highest in damage estimates.  Nationwide the damages to America’s #1 crop total more than $1.4 billion annually. Environment Minnesota expects these costs to go up unless Congress and the president take decisive action to repower America with clean energy and reduce global warming pollution.

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Report | Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Air: Curbing Air Pollution and Protecting Public Health in Minnesota with the Clean Cars Program

Air pollution from cars and light-duty trucks in Minnesota harms public health, contributing to cancer, asthma and respiratory disease. Moreover, pollution from cars and light-duty trucks contributes to global warming, which threatens much of what makes Minnesota special, from the Boundary Waters wilderness to our vast forests to the health of our 10,000 lakes.

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Report | Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Dollars & Sense: The Economic Impacts of Bringing Clean Cars, Light-Duty Trucks and SUVs to Minnesota

The Minnesota Clean Car Act (H.R. 690 and S.F. 674), a bill that would direct Minnesota to adopt a stricter set of tailpipe emission standards for air toxics and greenhouse gases from cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs in Minnesota, was introduced to the 2009 Legislature on February 12, 2009 by Representative Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park and Senator John Marty of Roseville.

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News Release | Environment Minnesota

New Report: Minnesota Clean Car Act Good for Minnesota's Economy

The Minnesota Clean Car Act (H.R. 690 and S.F. 674), a bill that would direct Minnesota to adopt a stricter set of tailpipe emission standards for air toxics and greenhouse gases from cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs in Minnesota, was introduced to the 2009 Legislature on February 12, 2009 by Representative Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park and Senator John Marty of Roseville.

> Keep Reading

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