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Minnesota House passes legislation to preserve the environment and natural resources

Thursday, April 28, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, with a vote of 70 to 59, the Minnesota House passed legislation to invest more than $275 million in preserving our environment and natural resources for current and future generations of Minnesotans. 

“As Minnesotans, we’re proud of our environment and natural resources,” said Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL - South St. Paul), the chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “To preserve them for the next generation of Minnesotans, we need to address climate change and other serious threats to our environment. This is a problem-solving bill that will right past wrongs and protect our air, water, land, and wildlife for many years to come.” 

House DFLers are committed to protecting Minnesotans and our environment from hazardous chemicals, including PFAS, known as forever chemicals. This bill contains funding to prevent contamination and bans the use of PFAS in children’s products, cookware, cosmetics, home and commercial furnishings, ski wax, and firefighting foam. Additional funding is provided to replace lead service lines that can contaminate drinking water. The bill also returns funds that were taken from the Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Action Trust during the Pawlenty Administration, with interest, so the state can clean up aging landfills. A total of $16.5 million is included for waste prevention, recycling, and composting initiatives that will reduce the number of items that end up in landfills. 

“All Minnesotans deserve clean air, clean water, and equitable access to natural spaces,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “House DFLers are addressing serious threats to our environment, including climate change. We are committed to protecting our environment and natural resources for current and future generations of Minnesotans to enjoy.” 

The bill addresses racial inequities that often place communities of color and Indigenous communities at the highest risk of exposure to pollution and hazardous chemicals. Under this legislation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will be required to establish environmental justice areas, analyze cumulative impacts of pollution, and develop stronger regulations to protect Minnesotans from toxic emissions.

“Minnesota is the proud home of giants like Walter Mondale who taught us the importance of preserving and protecting our natural resources and the great outdoors,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “The House DFL’s latest environment bill will build on our values and proud traditions, and keep Minnesotans engaged in the outdoors and in their communities.” 

House DFLers are putting forth innovative solutions to address the climate crisis and other threats to our environment. The bill contains more than $40 million to support conservation programs and $25 million to improve facilities and infrastructure managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources so they can better mitigate and adapt to climate change. $10 million is included to replace trees impacted by emerald ash borer, with an additional $1 million to plant trees at schools. All of these investments will help reduce Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation also provides funding to enhance soil health, prevent flooding, improve water management and storage, and test for microplastics. 

The bill includes measures to protect Minnesota’s animals, plants, and wildlife. To protect our wild deer, for example, the bill takes several steps to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease. It establishes additional requirements for deer farms, requires live-testing farmed deer for CWD, prohibits importing farmed deer from other states with CWD, and bans new registrations for the possession of farmed white-tailed deer. The bill also transfers oversight of farmed deer from the Board of Animal Health to the DNR. Other measures will protect pollinators and the critical role they play in our ecosystems and food supply. The bill provides $7.5 million to expand the popular Lawns to Legumes program, bans the use of certain pesticides on state lands, and allows cities to ban pesticides that are lethal to pollinators.  

In addition to providing funding for parks and trails throughout the state, the bill reinstates the percentage of the lottery in lieu tax that was originally dedicated to the environment. This percentage was previously cut to 72 percent; the bill restores it to 97 percent. The bill contains $10 million to help the tourism industry recover and $1.2 million for No Child Left Inside, a grant program that helps get children and teenagers outdoors. It establishes a Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Office to provide inclusive and safe outdoor experiences for all Minnesotans, including people from historically underrepresented communities. These investments will help provide equitable access to the outdoors. 

Video of the floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel

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