Senate passes controversial environment budget bill loaded with problematic policy

The Senate passed this year’s Environment Omnibus Bill this week, after an extensive discussion on the floor and multiple DFL attempts to make the bill better. DFLers offered close to a dozen amendments to make the bill more bipartisan and to remove some of the more controversial provisions contained in the bill, but nearly every amendment was rejected along party lines. Senate Republicans may claim their bill saves taxpayer dollars through cuts to government spending, but they’ve chosen to shift spending to funds outside of the general fund, raising concerns from advocates and agencies over whether they are using funds appropriately.

One DFL amendment would have removed language that would rollback the Pollution Control Agency’s (PCA) authority to regulate vehicle emissions, including an unfunded mandate that would require the PCA to purchase electric vehicles from auto-dealers who are unable to sell them within 90 days. Another DFL amendment would have appropriated funds for environmental justice initiatives that otherwise will be used to weaken water standards across the state.

DFLers worked earnestly to create a bill that protects our air, water, and critical ecosystems across the state, but the bill passed off the floor does nothing of the sort. The bill passed yesterday would establish an open season on wolves in the state, circumventing ongoing wolf management planning by the DNR and other experts. Additionally, the bill largely ignores the ongoing issue of PFAS contamination in landfills around the state, which poses a significant risk to drinking water for all our communities and is considered hazardous for human health, and it cuts funding to the agencies and programs that are responsible for ensuring all Minnesotans have access to our pristine parks, trails, and lakes.

Minnesotans across the state value protecting and enhancing our environment and ensuring no Minnesotan – regardless of race, income, or zip code – must endure the health risks associated with increased pollution, and this year’s Senate Environment Omnibus Bill simply does not reflect these shared values. The bill will head next to a conference committee with the House, where differences between the two versions will be worked out. We will work with our DFL counterparts in the House to ensure the final product is a clean bill that Minnesotans will be proud of. (SF 959)