Statewide: March 24, 2011 Archive
Posted at 5:45 AM on March 24, 2011
by David Cazares
Filed under: Environment
By Stephanie Hemphill
The House Environment Committee is passing a slew of amendments to an omnibus spending bill.
They may sound minor and geeky, but they're part of a trend that's fairly clear: a push of the pendulum away from science and conservation, and toward boosting revenue from state lands and encouraging recreation.
The most controversial move happened when the committee voted strictly on party lines to change the state limit on sulfate in wild rice waters from 10 parts per million to 250 parts per million. State Rep. David Dill, DFL-Orr, sided with Republicans in a lopsided vote to prohibit the Pollution Control Agency from requiring businesses to invest in equipment to control sulfates until a study is completed on the issue. The study is expected to take at least two years, which could delay several mining projects.
Here's a roundup of other amendments:
Amendment A8 says land purchased with Environmental Trust Fund (otherwise known as lottery) money will be designated as recreation areas, instead of scientific and natural areas. Recreation areas have fewer protections and allow many more human activities.
The same amendment cuts in half the amount of money to be spent on acquiring these lands, and designates the money to a new account set up to manage state lands.
Amendment A7 requires the state Department of Natural Resources to harvest black walnut and other trees in Whitewater and Frontenac State Parks and put the proceeds in the state's general fund.
Amendment A11-0168 would take money from an account dedicated to repairing environmental damage from off-highway vehicles and put it in the ATV grants-in-aid program, helping clubs build more trails.
The committee also agreed to remove language requiring the DNR to manage school trust fund land "with sound natural resource conservation and management principles." Some legislators think this will result in bigger profits from logging on school trust land.
Meanwhile, Denny McNamara, chairman of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, continued making substitutions in the list of projects to be funded with lottery money. McNamara, R-Hastings, removed research on the pesticide used to control Emerald Ash Borer and the statewide count of breeding birds. But McNamara supports research projects on the golden eagle and the boreal forest.
State Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton, expressed frustration with these last-minute alterations, saying she worries that in the future Minnesota's best scientists might not want to deal with such a politicized process.
Reporter Stephanie Hemphill covers the environment for MPR News
Posted at 7:11 AM on March 24, 2011
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
The body of Michael J. Struck has been recovered from the Minnesota River. A tributary of the river swallowed Struck as he was working with a backhoe to clear an ice jam. The Star Tribune has more on that story.
The other big flood news this morning is a collapse of a section of Highway 22 near Mankato. Thankfully the highway was free of traffic at the time of the collapse. KARE reports, "MnDOT officials say a levee broke, causing water to spill out and erode the area. Dirt under the road eroded, causing the road to collapse. The highway is expected to be closed for several weeks and could take months to repair. Highway 22 is a popular route for motorists who travel from St. Peter to the western side of Mankato."
KARE also reported on preparations along the St. Croix River in Prescott, Wisc.
There's a bit of good news on the flooding front this morning. Emergency responders are equipped with that will allow them to communicate with eachother. KSTC reports on the marvelous SATCOW.
Marshall and New Ulm are cautiously optimistic with their flood preparedness at this point.
Also clicking on MN Today
Road salt turning Minnesota lakes into dead seas
Once it gets into our waters, most never leaves, creating toxic soup in which little may live (Star Tribune).
Three Duluth councilors jump off train project
A group of Duluth City Council members wants to ask for the city's money back from the organization trying to bring passenger rail service back to the Twin Ports (Duluth News Tribune).
10 teaching positions cut in Perham
At least 10 teaching contracts were terminated for next year at the March 13 Perham-Dent School Board meeting (EOT Focus).
Tim Pawlenty's Path to the Republican Nomination
1. "Place" or "Show" in the Invisible Primary
2. Don't Alienate Anybody
3. Manage Expectations in Iowa (Weekly Standard)
GOP budget estimates off by tens of millions of dollars
State Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul expressed his extreme distress with the budget being proposed by the Senate State Government Innovations and Veterans Committee. The chair's recommendations include several proposals that are purported to provide cost-savings (release)
Minnesota combined temperatures
Minnesota has 33 USHCN stations, from Ada to Zumbrota and has three GISS stations listed, at Rochester, Duluth, and International Falls. Check out the historic data and temperature trends (Bit Tooth Energy).
Common Cents Conversations - K-12 reform and budget realities. How do they fit together?
The Common Cents discussions move to education.
The Citizens League held forums around the state aimed at getting you talking about the budget.
Education came up time and again.
Now MPR News will expand the discussion online, right here.
The goal for our online standing roundtable is simple: To better define what your priorities and values are. We'll take the next week to look at k-12 education, both reform and funding.
The Common Cents report said you wanted reform of government services, and first on the list was K-12 education.
But this is a budget cycle that seeks to close a $5 billion shortfall. So the first question for you is this: How in the world do you enact reforms in K-12 education while dealing with a hole in the state budget?
We've got a two minute visual presentation that sets up this discussion. Have a look... then have your say.
Finding a dentist can be tough, especially if you're poor and live in a rural area. And the lack of proper dental care can lead to more serious health issues down the line.
To help address the need, Minnesota State University Mankato will use a recent grant from AgStar Financial Services to offer scholarships to low-income, rural Minnesotans who can't afford dental care.
MSU recently received a $5,000 grant from AgStar to support scholarships for rural community members to maintain and improve their dental health at the university's dental clinic.
Throughout the year, MSU students in the dental hygiene program staff the dental lab, where they do basic dental cleaning, fluoride treatment, dental x-rays and other oral hygiene inspections. The dental lab is open to the public for a $40 fee.
The AgStar grant will help fund $40 scholarships for people who can't afford the fee. Officials with the university say the clinic will offer the scholarships on a first-come, first served basis.
For more information on the dental hygiene program and the dental health clinic at MSU, visit www.ahn.mnsu.edu/dental.
If any of Minnesota's nuclear plants had a disaster today, people living in a 10 mile radius of the plant would be evacuated. That's according to current U.S. emergency-response plans. But when disaster struck at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended that American within 50 miles of the disaster evacuate. So far high levels of radiation have been detected 25 miles away from the plant. The Wall Street Journal has compared the two evacuation approaches. Here's what they look like in Minnesota.
Do you live near one of Minnesota's nuclear plants? What would you do if disaster struck the closest one to your home or office?