Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stand Up for Environmental Review & Citizen Input on Jan. 29

On Friday, January 23, 2015 10:46 AM, Bobby King (LSP) <> wrote:

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LSP Action Alert

Stand Up for Environmental Review & Citizen Input on Jan. 29

Plan to Attend Senate Environment Policy Committee Hearing Thurs., Jan. 29, at Noon, on the Importance of Environmental Review & Citizen Input

A recent decision by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens' Board to order a much needed in-depth environmental review of an 8,850 cow mega-dairy has corporate ag interests out to gut environmental review and citizen input. (More details below.) Rather than let corporate interests set the agenda, Senator John Marty, Chair of the Senate Environment Policy Committee, is holding a hearing on the POSITIVE impacts of environmental review and citizen input in that process. The fact is that Minnesota is a better place to live because of policies that allow citizens to have a voice in decisions that will impact their community and that assess how potential environmental harm can be avoided BEFORE a project is permitted.
LSP dairy farmer-member James Kanne of Renville County will be testifying on why family farms and rural Minnesota are better off when we require large-scale factory farms to fully disclose the potential harm to the community through environmental review.   
Take Action to support strengthening environmental review in Minnesota and citizen input in the process.
1. Attend the Senate Environment Policy hearing Jan. 29, from noon to 1:30 p.m., in Room 107 of the State Capitol.
If you plan to attend, let Bobby King at LSP know at or 612-722-6377. If you need a ride, we have a car coming up from southeast Minnesota and are arranging for carpooling in other parts of the state. If you do plan to attend, remember that there is extensive construction going on at the State Capitol and give yourself extra time to find parking. Parking information is here.
Can’t attend but want to watch? You can watch the hearing online here.
2. Contact members of the Senate Environment Policy Committee and let them know you think environmental review and citizen input make Minnesota strong and a great place to live and do business.
Suggested message: “As a member of the Senate Environment Policy Committee, you will be hearing about environmental review and citizen participation in the process at your Jan. 29 meeting. Minnesotans know that economic development does not have to come at the expense of our environment and that citizen input into major developments that will impact their community for decades to come is a good thing. This is what environmental review does. It assesses what the potential harm is up-front before permitting begins. This makes sense and I strongly support policies like these. Corporate ag interests want environmental review weakened because the MPCA Citizens’ Board made the right decision to order an Environmental Impact Statement on a proposed 8,000 cow mega-dairy. It would be wrong to weaken this bedrock environmental protection for corporate special interests.”

• The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board ordered an Environmental Impact Statement on an 8,850 cow mega-dairy in Stevens County. Each year this operation would have used over 100 million gallons of water and generated over 75 million gallons of liquid manure. Neighbors wanted a complete assessment of the impacts to their community before it was permitted. This proposal was massive and would have been the largest dairy in Minnesota where 92 percent of all dairy farms are under 200 cows. The MPCA Citizens’ Board listened and made the appropriate decision to order an in-depth environmental review. The response from corporate ag interests has been to push for weakening environmental review, including the extreme proposal of eliminating the MPCA Citizens’ Board. More details are in the LSP blog: LSP Applauds MPCA Citizens’ Board Ordering of EIS on Massive Dairy Factory Farm.
• How many and how large are dairy farms in Minnesota? There are 3,422 dairy farms in Minnesota. The average dairy herd size is 105 cows. The median herd size is 60. Ninety-two percent of all dairy farmers are 200 cows or under. Only 30 dairy farms (less than 1 percent) are over 1,000 cows.
• Read the commentary from Rep. David Bly which is currently running throughout rural Minnesota: Family farmers are 'real ag' and key to rural Minnesota’s future

thedatabank, inc.

Here's what transpired at the House Mining & Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee meeting yesterday

Check out this website for an article about the frac sand proceedings in St. Paul yesterday.  See especially Lynn Schoen's three minutes of testimony:

Then read Katie Himanga's excellent summary below...Jeanne

"Here's what transpired at the House Mining & Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee meeting yesterday:

Industry representatives included CEOs, attorneys, Presidents and the like from Minnesota's largest companies. Several stated how pleased they were to be INVITED to testify at the hearing. Many, perhaps all, had prepared statements that they read into the record.

Several legislatures used time for questions to make effusive statements of support for the industries represented rather than ask a questionSome made statements (generally couched as questions) that reflect a lack of understanding of SE Minnesota geology, misinformation about the Silica Rule-Making Advisory Panel and, more than anything, bias in favor of industry.

Unimen paid Dr. John Richard, PhD, PE, QSTI Air Control Techniques of North Carolina to come to to the hearing (they had secured a slot on the agenda for him) and testify about air emissions. One legislator was informed enough to ask about the smallest particle sizes. Dr. Richard's had to shorten his presentation because other speakers had run long
Agency professionals from the EQB and PCA gave updates on the Rule-Making process. The DNR was asked to come back to another meeting due to time constraints

As a result of citizen complaints to the Committee, a few minutes were added to the meeting and citizens allowed to speak. Speakers from our area were Amy Nelson, Lynn Schoen and me. Amy and Lynn addressed the inappropriateness of a hearing on this subject with no time scheduled for citizen or local government input. I addressed reclamation.
The Chairperson made a point of mentioning that the Land Stewardship Project was invited to speak but had declined (they'd been told they could speak for 2 minutes during citizen input which is much different that equal-time-for-citizens that LSP requested)

My impression: the "informational meeting" was for the purpose of grooming legislators; preparing them to discredit the work of the Silica Rule-Making Advisory Panel, fight the adoption of Rules, continue with industry status quo and still be able to sleep at night.

Industry representatives have been respectful participants in the rule-making process, but I cannot imagine that they plan to do anything other than fight tooth-and-nail against adoption.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

hearing that shuts out the voices of these rural Minnesotans while giving time to industry lobbyists is undemocratic and unfair.

Hi folks,
Rochester Post-Bulletin reporter Heather Carlson wrote a good blog post on tomorrow's events. It's here:
If you're so inclined, please considering leaving your own thoughts in the comments on the post, and/or sharing the post on social media. Heather told me she also plans to be there to cover the hearing tomorrow.
Johanna Rupprecht
Policy Organizer
Land Stewardship Project
Representative Hackbarth, Chair
Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
January 23, 2015
Dear Representative Hackbarth:
The Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee has an informational hearing on the frac sand industry scheduled for Tuesday, January 27. It is clear from the meeting announcement that representatives of the frac sand industry will be given ample time to testify while no time at all is scheduled for citizens. Rural Minnesotans throughout southeast Minnesota and the Minnesota River Valley have made it clear that they are deeply concerned about this issue and want their voices heard.A hearing that shuts out the voices of these rural Minnesotans while giving time to industry lobbyists is undemocratic and unfair.
Therefore, we request that Tuesday’s hearing be re-scheduled for a future date, at which time the speaking time provided to citizens will be at least equal to that provided to corporate interests. If the January 27 hearing does take place, we request you hold a second hearing devoted to citizen testimony with sufficient advance notice for rural Minnesotans to participate.
Johanna Rupprecht
Policy Organizer
Land Stewardship Project
Lewiston, MN
Margaret Walsh
LSP Member
Winona, MN
Bonita Underbakke
LSP Member
Lanesboro, MN
Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer
LSP Member
Houston, MN
cc: Rep. Kurt Daudt, Speaker of the House; Members of the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee