Governor Dayton on Water Quality: “Failure is not an option”

Governor Dayton on Water Quality: “Failure is not an option”

My father, Bruce Dayton, taught me that good stewardship is one of our most important responsibilities: to take what we have been given, or have acquired, and leave it in better condition for those who will inherit it from us.

As Minnesotans, who have inherited this incredible state, we have no greater shared responsibility than our stewardship: to protect and improve the priceless natural resources, which we will pass on to our children and grandchildren. That wise stewardship is everyone’s challenge and everyone’s opportunity.

Tragically, in recent years, the quality of our water has deteriorated in many parts of our state. Too many lakes, rivers, streams, and ditches have become contaminated with potentially dangerous chemicals. In some communities, the surface and underground waters our citizens use for drinking, washing, work, and recreation are no longer safe.

There are a couple of contradictory trends here. The first is that as a state we are doing more and more to protect and improve our water quality. We are spending more public and private resources to achieve this important goal. The second, however, is that our water has become more polluted and less safe in many areas.

Those contradictions tell me two things. One, we’re not doing enough to correct the problems. And two, we’re doing too much to cause the problems.

They are simple conclusions. But in our complex environment, there are often no simple solutions.  And there is often disagreement about how best to achieve them.

But ignoring our water quality problem is not the solution. Doing nothing will only make matters worse, by allowing problems to turn into crises. That is what happened in Flint, Michigan. We cannot let it happen here.

Which is why I have declared this week to be “Water Action Week” in Minnesota.

I challenge everyone to take actions that will lead to a new era of clean water in Minnesota.

1. Learn about your water quality. Visit our Water Action Week web page at http://mn.gov/governor, to learn more about the water quality challenges in your community. Test the water in your well. Ask your local officials what they are doing to protect or improve the quality of the water you and your family rely upon.

2. Teach your children about clean water, and let them teach you. Talk with your children or grandchildren about the importance of water in our lives. A great place to start is www.h2oforlifeschools.org, where you can find simple lesson plans, watch short videos, and find new ways to improve water quality.

3. Set a water conservation goal. Fixing leaky pipes in your home, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, or using less fertilizer on your lawn are just some of the small changes that will add up to big improvements in our state’s water quality.

4. Call your legislators. This session, I have a proposed a $220 million down-payment on some of the clean water upgrades urgently needed to provide safe drinking water in communities throughout Minnesota. I encourage you to review my proposal at http://mn.gov/governor. If you agree that it deserves top priority, please call your legislators and encourage them to support those important investments to improve our state’s aging water infrastructure. You can find out how to contact your legislator by using the “Who Represents Me?” tool at www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts.

We can preserve the best of what we have in Minnesota by behaving responsibly. By being wise stewards, we can bequeath clean water to future generations. My water quality initiatives are not intended to take anything away from anyone. I’m not trying to take away anyone’s property, or livelihood, or happiness.

But I do want to preserve all of that for everyone else. It is my responsibility as the chief executive of this state, and it’s your responsibility as a citizen of this state. It will require all of us working together to achieve our goal.

Failure is not an option.

Mark Dayton

Governor of Minnesota

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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

Energy Bill Clears Senate, Includes Sportsmen, Conservation Priorities

First comprehensive energy bill passed by Senate in nine years permanently reauthorizes
Land and Water Conservation Fund, includes key components of bipartisan sportsmen’s bill 

In a vote earlier this morning, the U.S. Senate advanced a comprehensive energy bill that includes measures critical to public lands, fish and wildlife management and public access for hunters, anglers and other recreationists, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers announced.

In addition to making vital advancements in America’s energy future, The Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular and successful conservation program long advocated for by BHA, and allocates a percentage of LWCF funds to opening access to public lands currently unreachable by the public.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended today’s Senate vote.

“Public lands sportsmen and women have spoken up, loudly, clearly and consistently, in advocating for a responsive energy bill that will sustain our sporting heritage by conserving lands with high wildlife habitat value and healthy fisheries -  as well as securing access for economically important activities like hunting and fishing,” Tawney said. “The Senate’s foresighted actions deserve to be loudly praised, not just by sportsmen but by all Americans with a stake in outdoor recreation and who appreciate the importance of our nation’s public lands and waters.”

The legislative package includes two amendments of special importance to sportsmen.

One amendment, introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell, comprises significant components of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, which BHA and a host of other sportsmen’s groups have been committed to for the last three congresses. It includes the following measures:

  • Reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2019
  • Reauthorization of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through 2019  
  • Permanent reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA)
  • Establishment of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act
  • Establishment of the HUNT Act to identify opportunities for recreation, hunting and fishing on federal land

The Murkowski-Cantwell amendment also designates Cerro del Yuta and Rio San Antonio as wilderness within New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Another amendment, a bipartisan measure introduced by Sens. Dean Heller and Martin Heinrich, improves how wind, solar and geothermal energy are developed on public lands. Language in the amendment focuses on appropriate siting, avoiding impacts to water resources and fish and wildlife habitat, and prioritizing important natural resources investments.

Sportsmen, including BHA members, successfully united to block passage of an amendment that would have significantly altered the LWCF and limit the ability of states, local officials, federal partners and groups like BHA to enhance public access, create new recreational opportunities and conserve important fish and wildlife habitat. Introduced by Sen. James Lankford, this damaging amendment would have unraveled more than 50 years of bipartisan conservation success enabled by the LWCF.

“Our community has been steadfast in our support of permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as passage of comprehensive sportsmen’s legislation,” Tawney concluded. “In its willingness to consider and advance this measure, Senate lawmakers have showed us that they’re listening. We now urge congressional leaders to expeditiously advance this important legislative package to the president’s desk.”

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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Great Lakes oil transport is a sinking ship: report

Media Release

April 19, 2016

 

Great Lakes oil transport is a sinking ship: report

Both Canada and the U.S. are ill-equipped to respond to spills from oil shipments on the Great Lakes, according to the new report Sinking Ship: A Summary of Legislation Governing Oil Shipping Around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin by the Council of Canadians and the Blue Planet Project.

“Tar sands oil has been transported in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin without environmental assessments from the federal or provincial governments, under a regulatory system with gaping holes,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “With low oil prices reducing the volume of shipments, now is the time to tighten safety regulations. Governments also need to develop a long-term plan to transition away from fossil fuels and keep oil shipments out of the Great Lakes.”

The report, which found a patchwork of inadequate legislation, outlines federal, state and provincial laws on a range of safety issues including environmental assessments, spill prevention and preparedness, notification, inspection and spill response. It identified gaps in inspection, risk assessment, coordination and spill response capacity.

“The waters of the Great Lakes are a public trust, meaning all states and provinces must protect them. The high risk posed by oil shipments to the waters, the quality of life of local residents, and the economy must be eliminated,” says Jim Olson, Founder and President of Michigan-based FLOW for Water. “Crude oil cannot be transported over, in or on the Great Lakes – whether by ship or pipeline. There is ample capacity in existing on-land pipelines, which also carry great risk that must be prevented. States and provinces should not authorize any new or improved facilities for crude oil shipments, and should strictly scrutinize refined oil shipments.”

As the International Joint Commission began its semi-annual meeting yesterday, the Council of Canadians calls on the Commission to require governments to fill in regulatory gaps and coordinate community consultations on oil shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin.

 

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For more information:

 

Elizabeth Berman

Director of Communications, The Council of Canadians

613-410-2853, eberman@canadians.org

 

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