Three reasons Dayton should veto the environmental bill

wild and scenic Crow RiverThe Republican-deformed agriculture and environment budget bill attacks Minnesota waters, bees, and the MPCA citizen board. And that’s just the beginning of a long list of problems with the bill.

Bees

The bill provides that neo-nic treated plants and seeds can be deceptively and inaccurately labeled as pollinator friendly. Scientific research showing that neo-nicotinoid pesticides harm bees and other pollinators continues to pile up. Much of Europe has banned them. Not here. Instead, we have a wimpy little labeling protection that lets me choose whether to buy seeds or plants treated with neo-nics for my farm or garden.

But no. Even truth in labeling is too much protection for the Republicans in the legislature. They voted to allow neo-nic treated seeds and plants to be labeled as “pollinator-friendly,” as long as the plants don’t kill bees on first contact. Never mind that a bee may go back to one plant repeatedly. Never mind that damage can be cumulative. Never mind that even a non-lethal dose can weaken a bee, making it more susceptible to diseases and pests. The Republicans believe that a little poison is just fine.

Water

Yes, the bill contains a gradual phase-in of limited buffer strips to decrease pollution along Minnesota waterways. Which will help reduce, but not solve, the problem of agricultural run-off polluting streams and rivers. But the bill’s less-publicized water provisions weaken or eliminate other protections. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership analysis points to three attacks on Minnesota water quality:

• Expensive Re-dos: The bill requires expensive cost analyses of existing and anticipated water quality standards that establish a false baseline for estimated capital and operating costs of complying with water quality standards without including economic and social costs associated with declines in water quality.

• Surprise Sulfide Mining Amendment: the bill exempts sulfide mining waste from solid waste rules. This amendment was never introduced as a bill or heard in any committee, and its future effect is unknown. Exempting as-of-yet unknown waste streams from potential sulfide mines is an unnecessary risk to water quality and public health. Nobody has been able to explain how or whether this would apply to PolyMet and other proposed mines. [See my blog post for details on sulfide issue.]

• Red River Rules Suspension: Delays enforcement of updated nutrient pollution permits for wastewater treatment facilities in the Red River watershed until 2025, unless approved by the U.S. EPA, North Dakota Department Health, and EPA Regions 5 & 8.

MPCA Citizen Board

Republicans got all up in arms because for the very first time the MPCA Citizen Board required a full environmental impact statement from a proposed mega-farm in Stevens County, at the request of the neighbors who would be affected by that farm. House Republicans voted to limit the Citizen Board’s authority. The conference committee went even farther, completely abolishing the Citizen Board.

Demonstrators will gather at the governor’s mansion under the #KeepMinnesotaClean banner today (May 21) at 10:30 a.m. You can also email Governor Dayton to ask him to veto HF846. We can do better than this. We must do better, for the sake of the people, animals, land and water of this state we love.

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Filed under agriculture, environment

One response to “Three reasons Dayton should veto the environmental bill

  1. Pingback: Brendan Behan, Dublin and the Minnesota legislature | News Day

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