[UPDATE] Minnesota Legislature Just Voted to Take the People Out of Pollution Control

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Justin Meissen

UPDATE: This morning Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the omnibus ag, environment, and natural resources finance bill, writing in his veto letter that the bill "undermines decades of environmental protections." The fate of the Citizens' Board will be decided in a special session of the legislature.

While the rest of the Twin Cities slept Monday night, the Minnesota legislature quietly snuffed out local control over pollution from factory farms, industrial waste facilities, and mining.

See also:
Governor Dayton, Democrats Wuss Out to Mining Interests Over Clean Water


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There Are No Swimmable Lakes Left in Southwestern Minnesota

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USDA photo by Scott Bauer
Cows and farm runoff have ruined southwestern Minnesota's water quality

There's an 1,800-square-mile area covering the far southwestern corner of Minnesota where no lakes and only a few streams are clean enough to go swimming or fishing.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says polluted runoff from farms coupled with cows trampling shorelines caused the problem, and it will be a difficult one to fix because farmers aren't required to follow most clean water regulations.

See also:
More Farming Across Southeast MN Will Lead to Huge Increase in Polluted Water, Study Says


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Duluth Residents Recall Life Next to a Waste Dump

Categories: Environment

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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Before everything died.

When Bill Majewski moved to Morgan Park in Duluth in 1965, he was 30 years old and starting a job as a city planner. People told him not to buy a house next to the St. Louis River. U.S. Steel had been dumping all kinds of toxic sludge in it since World War I.

But he couldn't say no to that big beautiful house.

See also:
Republicans, Iron Range DFLers Want to Give Mines Free Reign to Pollute

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Jay Nygard's Neighbors Frustrated with Judge's Decision to Save Hated Wind Turbine

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This turbine in Jay and Kendall Nygard's front yard has launched a thousand lawsuits.

Jay and Kendall Nygard, creators of the most hated non-working wind turbine in Orono, went to court Thursday expecting jail time for refusing to dismantle their front yard decor. Instead, Judge Susan Robiner took pity and told them to just lock up the turbine and turn over the key.

Orono had previously ordered the Nygards to take down their DIY wind turbine because it violated the city's zoning codes. The Nygards turned to state law in defense, which in turn slapped Orono on the wrist for trying to enact a blanket ban on all turbines within the city.

See also:
Judge: Orono's Ban on Jay Nygard's Wind Turbines Conflicts with State Law


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DNR to Ice Fishers: Please Pick Up Your Bags of Poop and Garbage Before Spring

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Courtesy of Minnesota DNR
Get it together, ice fishers
The state DNR is sick of picking up all of the disgusting garbage ice fishing shacks leave behind.

Greg Salo, an operations manager with DNR enforcement, said you wouldn't believe all the crap they find: assorted garbage, empty propane tanks, scrap wood, beer cans, liquor bottles, bags filled with human poop...wait, what?

See also:
Poop Epidemic at Minnesota State Parks


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Republicans, Iron Range DFLers Want to Give Mines Free Reign to Pollute

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Photo from Wikimedia
When the prophets of the Ojibwe warned the tribe to migrate west or get overrun by colonists, they fought their way past the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy to settle in a land where "the food grows on water."

That was northern Minnesota, the sacred food wild rice.

See also:
Will Mining Save or Destroy Northern Minnesota?


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Bemidji State Might Ban Bottled Water; Go Green With New Filling Stations

Categories: Environment

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Steven Depolo via Creative Commons
Another victory for Big Nalgene
Bemidji State University is considering outlawing the sale of overpriced, thin plastic bottles of water found in most vending machines and convenience stores. Instead, its Student Senate is pushing for an expanded network of free water bottle filling stations.

Free metal water bottles are already given out to new students, and a proposed policy the Student Senate unanimously passed earlier this week would force students and faculty to use them instead of relying on wasteful impulse purchases to stay hydrated.

See also:
College Republicans Fight Bottled Water Ban at College of St. Benedict

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Jay Nygard May Still Go to Jail Over Homemade Wind Turbines

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File photo
The offending wind turbine, before Nygard covered it in anti-reflective paint.

Jay Nygard thought he was in the clear after a Hennepin County judge ruled last October that state law upheld his right to keep his four DIY wind turbines, which his home city of Orono vowed to take down.

Now Judge Susan Robiner says Orono cops can drag him off to jail if he doesn't disassemble the turbine in his front yard by February 19. She's wanted him to do that since June 2014, saying the turbine produces an "intense flashing light and sound" that "no person should be expected to endure."

Nygard denies the accusation because the turbine in question doesn't have lights and has been turned off since last winter. He won't take it down, risking a contempt of court order to jail him and his wife for six months.

See also:
Judge: Orono's Ban on Jay Nygard's Wind Turbines Conflicts with State Law


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Minnesota's Do-It-Yourself Solar Movement Explodes

Categories: Environment

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By Matt Grimley

A zebra pelt stretches along the wood panel walls of Ed Eichten's man cave. Kudu and warthog skulls stare over framed photos of safaris past. Louis L'Amour and American history fill a bookcase. In some small way, it's still the frontier on this Center City farm.

Joe and Mary, Ed's parents, are from a frontier of sorts. They learned to make gouda cheese in Holland in the 1970s. Just inside their sprawling metal shed of a cheese factory is a world map darted with pins that run from Russia to South Africa, representing the homelands of those who've visited the Eichtens' farm, hoping to learn how they make their cheese.

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Minnesota Energy Policymaker Rep. Pat Garofalo's Complicated Vision for the Future

Categories: Environment

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Photo by brian kusler
Locally sourced usually comes with a price, but it's not one Garofalo's willing to pay.

Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is anti-solar subsidy, pro-oil pipeline, and pro-fracking, but he also drives a Tesla and backs wind power.

The longtime lawmaker is heading up Minnesota's energy and jobs committee in a new Republican-controlled legislature House, and he's starting the year with big ideas on how to strike maximum power for minimum costs at the risk of pissing a lot of people off.

See also:
Letting Your Car Engine Warm Up Is a Huge Waste of Time and Money


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