Mission: Our mission is to strengthen the effectiveness and build the power of our members to achieve teh highest quality natural environment for Minnesotans.
Results: Phosphorus-Free Fertilizer
Citizen Water Quality Monitoring
Great Lakes Protection
Renewable Electricity Standard to Reduce Effects of Global Warming
Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment
Fudning for Increased Transportation Choices, including Transit
Direct beneficiaries per year: all Minnesotans
Geographic areas served: Minnesota
Programs: See schedule omep's work is funded through individual investments, member group dues, and foundations. Three of mep's current foundation partners support mep through strategic two-year grants, which were each renewed in fy15. Mep's accounting procedures call for grants to be reported as revenue in the fiscal year in which they are received, or awarded, and released monthly as the terms of the grant are fulfilled, throughout the grant period. Because of this industry accepted accounting procedure, foundation grants intended for and kept for fy16 and beyond appear as revenue in this year's statement of activities and form 990. Core convening, coordination and capacity-building - as a coalition, mep's role is to bring organizations together to network, collaborate, and advocate to build their individual effectiveness, as well as for the coalition-identified priority initiatives. Mep coordinates member efforts so our community-wide resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible. To this end, mep provides the environmental community the following services and strategic expertise:1. Leadership and expertise on collaborative issue initiatives: mep rallies the environmental and conservation community around priority issues, providing the leadership, expertise, communications and outreach, convening, and technical assistance needed to achieve results. We lead annual legislative initiatives as well as multi-year, multi-strategy campaigns. 2. Communications research, messaging and training: mep conducts annual public opinion research to track concerns and perceptions of our priority issues. Mep uses this data to develop compelling messages that are incorporated into online and printed materials, earned media, and electronic, social media and oral communications. We also provide communications training to our member group leaders and spokespeople. 3. Citizen engagement: mep works to build strong constituencies of environmentally-aware citizens across the state through grassroots organizing, partnering on environmentally-focused events, and efforts that encourage community leaders to act as spokespeople on key environmental issues. We use our minnesota environmental action network (mean) e-mail network and our rapid response phone system to activate citizens at key decision points. The mean is a shared system of mep's and many of our members' list resources that can reach tens of thousands of minnesotans on key environmental issues. Our use of the catalist, an enhanced database of more than four million minnesotans, furthers our ability to reach and engage and educate citizens in strategically targeted areas. We also provide forums for citizens to talk to decision makers in their home districts and at the state capitol. 4. Public education and outreach: we maintain a current media list of more than 300 reporters and publications of interest, and strong relationships with key environmental reporters to tell the story of minnesota's environmental policies. Mep also regularly reaches a broad and active online audience, with over 3,000 visitors to our website and loon commons blog each month, over 2,000 subscribers to our weekly update e-newsletters, and over 2,000 followers on both facebook and twitter. Each medium allows us to customize messages and provide our audience with targeted information. 5. Member services: mep convenes meetings of our members around timely issues and opportunities. We also build the capacity of our member groups by sponsoring trainings and provide targeted technical assistance to the clusters of groups working on priority issues. We help the conservation community "speak with one voice" on key emerging issues. Mep organizes and convenes the environmental and conservation organizations in the state in "clusters," or working groups, including: the clean water, great lakes, mining, and transportation now clusters, the clean energy & jobs campaign and the dedicated fund working group that focuses on safeguarding the state's clean water, land and legacy constitutional amendments. Through these groups, mep gathers members and other partners together to work together, share information and resources, and create shared positions and strategies. This model has proven to be effective at growing a strong, effective environmental advocacy sector, and able to accomplish things that individual organizations cannot. Current programs and accomplishments:simultaneously, this year was uncommonly encouraging and challenging for protecting minnesota's clean air and water. Throughout the 2015 legislative session, and special session, environmental issues were front and center. In the face of multiple proposals that would turn back minnesota's water protections and clean energy advancements, mep's clusters capitalized on the mep collaborative model, bringing together dozens of groups for a coordinated, multifaceted and effective effort that ultimately turned back the worst of the worst. Mep's position and clout as a leader of the environmental and conservation sector, helped influence governor dayton to accept mep's invitation to speak at the coalition's annual members meeting this past august 2015. It was at that meeting, before more than 100 people representing mep's member groups, that governor dayton chose to make a major announcement stating he would be using his executive order to create a new citizens' committee to advise the minnesota pollution control agency (mpca), replicating a board recently abolished by legislative action. Mep built on an already strong relationship with key reporters and editors across the state. Mep was visible in many articles written about key issues, including buffers, the mpca citizens' board, and "dirty water" provisions, and garnered publicity for public events such as a gathering on the governor's lawn, a press conference at the last meeting of the citizens' board, and announcing the reestablishment of the citizens board at the mep annual meeting. Mep also produced the environmental briefing book, making the case for the coalition's legislative priorities, and distributed it to legislators, agency staff, media, and mep supporters. Mep led the production and distribution of 29 sign on letters addressed to the governor, legislators, and other key officials on topics including supporting buffers, urging removal of the "dirty water" provisions, and urging the governor to veto the bill containing the "dirty water" provisions. Mep used its minnesota environmental action network to send 15 action alerts in 2015, eight of which were on clean water issues, including supporting buffers and comprehensive transit funding and opposing "dirty water" provisions, clean energy roll backs. Mep also convened critical meetings with key legislators and constituents in environmental forums, with excellent participation from constituents. Mep also played a major role in convening a celebration of the clean water, land and legacy amendment in january, with nearly 300 attendees, and a public forum on mercury in the st. Louis river in september, with about 75 attendees.
in addition to working on defensive strategies, mep's work focused on: forever green -in 2015, the legislature passed an additional $1 million for the forever green initiative for fy 2016. The minnesota senate had passed $1 million per year for the biennium. Biofuels -an agreement between mep, the water cluster and the bioeconomy coalition of minnesota was forged this spring to create production-based incentives for advanced biofuels that included a requirement for ramping up of perennial biomass use to 50% of the feedstock over five years. Another provision provided incentives for farmers to establish perennial crops in areas with high concentrations of agricultural water pollution. There was broad support for the package deal. The star tribune ran an editorial "adding jobs without hurting water quality" (4/8/2015), praising the solution. Unfortunately, the package fell victim to politics and the working crop lands incentive segment was dropped in final private negotiations. Buffers -in january, governor dayton made a bold proposal that all waterways in the state be buffered with 50 feet of vegetative cover. Mep recruited 30 groups to sign onto a letter thanking the governor for his proposal. Over the following weeks and months, mep activated its network and utilized the infrastructure that allowed good collaboration and work-sharing to support the governor's proposal. Mep produced two blog posts, an action alert that was sent to tens of thousands of minnesotans, and a press release. The star tribune ran two editorials praising the buffer proposal (buffer bill offers flexibility to farmers, 4/15/15; and don't backpedal on buffer strips bill, 5/5/15). In addition, mep joined with hunting, fishing, and 34 other conservation groups to form the buffersnow coalition. Mep was an integral part of creating and distributing 17 "buffer blitz" informational fact sheets to every legislator promoting topics such as the economic value to recreation; flexibility of the proposal, and the science of why buffers work. Buffer requirements were included in the final bill adopted and signed by governor dayton. Though much less sweeping than the original proposal, the new law will accelerate implementation of and compliance with existing laws. Mpca citizens' board -during the final hours of the legislative session, language was inserted repealing the minnesota pollution control agency (mpca) citizens' board, which was established to provide an open and transparent citizen-based decision-making process. After public urging from mep and members, including a meeting on the front lawn of the governor's residence, governor dayton vetoed the ag & environment budget bill citing this provision as a major reason. Unfortunately, the bill he ultimately signed still contained many bad provisions, including the elimination of the citizens' board. Mep and the water cluster continued to shine a light on the unfortunate loss of the board and urged the mpca and the governor to retain the positive qualities of the board. On august 4, 2015, governor dayton chose the mep annual meeting to announce the creation of a new citizens committee to advise the mpca. While the committee won't have the full authority of the previous board it does provide a level of open and transparent discussion. Clean energy -since 2013, mep worked closely with the clean energy & jobs campaign, a broader coalition of environment and labor, to push for an increase in the existing renewable energy standard (res) to 40% by 2030 and improve the yearly energy savings goal for utilities from 1. 5%-2%. We conducted public opinion polling on clean energy issues, in february and july of 2014, which showed overwhelming public support for both an increased res and energy efficiency. However, during the session provisions were added to the house energy bill that would have rolled back, rather than increased the standards. Through the work of the clean energy & jobs campaign, we were successfully able to hold any rollbacks off, but were not able to achieve our goal of a 40% res and an efficiency standard of 2%. Mep and our member groups are regrouping to determine the best possible next steps. In addition, mep is working to support the full implementation of the national environmental protection agency's clean power plan in minnesota. Transportation -transportation generates 24% of the carbon pollution in minnesota, second only to the power sector. Air quality is often worst near areas with bad traffic congestion. These means those living close to major roads and highways confront the highest health risks due to poor air quality. For the past few years, mep worked with the movemn campaign to support a 10-year transportation plan that invests not only in roads and bridges, but also transit and safe walking and biking infrastructure throughout the state. While a comprehensive transportation package did not become a reality this year, mep and our members are now strategizing our next steps to passing a comprehensive and balanced transportation package in minnesota. Sulfide mining -proposed sulfide mines in northeast minnesota, such as the polymet northmet project, threaten our lakes and rivers with significant ongoing pollution. It is now clear that the polymet mine will undoubtedly have long-lasting negative effects; polymet's own data show that ongoing water treatment would be required for 500 years or more after the mine has stopped. Mep has leveraged our position to convene the mining cluster, which was a major catalyst in generating more than 50,000 public comments (98% of which oppose the mine). In addition, we've been publicly highlighting the danger to the st. Louis river. Earlier this year the river was named one of american rivers 10 most endangered rivers because of the polymet project, which we worked to publicize in the media and through our own and members' communications and action alerts.