Less Shelter from the Storm

Budget proposal risks Minnesotan communities’ safety
For Immediate Release

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled our coasts, Environment Minnesota warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Minnesota also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.

“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Minnesota deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Isabela Alesna with Environment Minnesota. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” she added.

Environment Minnesota’s analysis found:

  • Wetlands are nature’s flood control, and here in Minnesota we have 10.1 million acres of wetlands. The House budget and Trump administration block the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation.
  • The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $24.6 million in 2016 for Minnesota to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
  • One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. Minnesota has 46 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third.

“Budgets are moral documents, and reflect priorities that we place on everything from what we fund to what we do not fund, said Dr. Matt Simcik, professor at the University of Minnesota. “The health of every Minnesotan and American is inextricably linked to our surrounding environment. Therefore, funding the protection of our environment is of the utmost importance to the health and well-being of every American.”

State Senator Patricia Torres Ray agreed, saying, “Water is a vital resource we need to protect. Minnesota is pioneering green energy growth and development. Our water is one of our most precious resources. We can lead the nation promoting what is good for our state economically, and good for the nation and world in reducing global warming.”

“Before the EPA and the Clean Water Act, rivers caught on fire and lakes were dying,” said State Representative Frank Hornstein. “The environmental protections that are in place are important because we cannot go back to those times. Instead, we should move forward to a cleaner, safer future.”

“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken to protect Minnesotans and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first; one that will give Minnesotans more shelter from the storms ahead,”  Isabela concluded. 

Isabela Alesna can be contacted at (612) 331-3315 or ialesna@environmentminnesota.org.