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Minnesota House approves compromise Environment and Natural Resources budget

Friday, June 25, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Environment and Natural Resources budget with a vote of 99-34. The compromise legislation, which funds the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), and more, will help preserve Minnesota’s air, water, land, and wildlife for future generations. 

“Minnesotans are proud of our state’s abundant natural resources, and we want our families and our neighbors to be able to enjoy the outdoors for many years to come,” said Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL - South St. Paul), chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. “This is a problem-solving budget that will help protect people from pollution and harmful chemicals, address growing threats to our environment, conserve wildlife, and create more opportunities for Minnesotans to get outdoors.” 

While it’s not part of the legislation, the bipartisan agreement House DFLers reached with Senate Republicans allows Minnesota to continue moving forward on clean car standards. Senate Republicans threatened to shut down state parks and cut funding for the environment and natural resources unless plans to enact clean car standards were halted, but House DFLers fought to maintain our progress, recognizing that the standards will reduce pollution and protect the environment. 

“All Minnesotans deserve clean air, clean water, and protected natural spaces for recreation and enjoyment. Our bipartisan budget agreement with the Senate protects and enhances our environment and natural resources so they can be enjoyed by current and future generations of Minnesotans,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “There is more work ahead, and House DFLers are committed to taking further action to address significant threats to our environment and climate.”

The budget appropriates nearly $132.27 million from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a constitutionally dedicated fund supported by state lottery proceeds. Securing these investments, which Senate Republicans refused to approve last year, was a priority for House DFLers. The investments will support 165 critical projects across the state, with funding for land acquisition, habitat, and recreation; data collection and research; methods to restore land, water, and habitat; and aquatic and terrestrial invasive species management.

“State government can and should play an active role in safeguarding our planet over corporate profits. Republican politicians and powerful corporations can kick and scream all they want, but Minnesota is moving forward with clean auto emissions standards,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “The great outdoors are our most precious resource. That’s why Democrats are committed to ensuring future generations can depend on clean air, water, and land.”

Minnesotans shouldn’t be exposed to pollution or harmful chemicals that may increase their risk of developing health problems. To protect public health, the Environment budget increases funding for the MPCA, prohibits using PFAs in food packaging, funds efforts to identify and reduce sources of PFAS, and supports evaluating the reduction of TCE and identifying its potential health effects. The budget also invests in assessing and maintaining air, water, and soil quality. To help mitigate the impacts of climate change, the budget invests in carbon sequestration, including tree planting incentives, and a water quality and storage program. 

Minnesota’s animals, insects, and wildlife play a critical role in our ecosystems and food supply. To better protect these species, the budget increases funding for the DNR. Several provisions will help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) by expanding the DNR’s authority to regulate farmed deer and prohibiting the importation of all cervidae carcasses. The budget also provides funds to help communities prevent and manage emerald ash borer (EAB) infestations. 

To ensure Minnesotans can access and enjoy the outdoors for years to come, the Environment budget invests in state and regional parks, trails, and recreation areas. It supports programs like No Child Left Inside that create more opportunities for children and young adults to get outdoors and participate in recreational activities. Funding for the operations of the Minnesota Zoo, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and Explore MN Tourism is included as well. 

The bill language can be found here, and a spreadsheet of the included investments is available here. Video of today’s floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel