Major Issues

2020 Resolutions

On February 25th, 2020, DFLers will gather around the state, and one of the things they will do is decide what issues are most important for our elected leaders to work on.

Every two Years the DFL modifies its platform and action agenda, starting by gathering resolutions from people who attend their precinct caucus. Organizations and individuals often share resolutions with like minded fellow citizens around the state before caucuses are held. The DFL Environmental Caucus in the hopes that members, and others, will bring some of them to their precinct caucus, has generated a list of resolutions that meet our environmentally-oriented goals. This process involved input from our members, and a lot of fine tuning and policy research by the Platform, Communications, and Education committees, and the Board of Directors.

 

We ask that you consider taking some or all of these resolutions to your precinct caucuses on February 25th. Normally, you would read the resolution and submit a form with the resolution on it. The precinct caucus participants will then vote on the resolution, and if it is approved, it may end up as part of the state platform or action agenda.

 

For a resolution to advance to the State for consideration, it must be passed in five or more organizing units (such as Senate Districts) in two or more different Congressional districts.

We have provided mostly filled out forms in PDF format for each resolution, which you may download, print, then compete, to bring to your caucus. If you think the wording on a resolution should change, or if you have an idea for an entirely different resolution, then feel free to do so. This is your party!

 

(Download a PDF file of the DFL Environmental Caucus Resolutions - 2020 here)

(Download a PDF file of the DFL resolution forms already filled out here)

 

The following resolutions are listed by category. Each resolution begins with a title, then the resolution itself. Following this are several bullet points supporting the resolution, and in some cases, links to further information.

 

Energy

 

Climate Emergency: Declare a climate emergency. Mandate 100% carbon free electricity throughout Minnesota by 2030. Decarbonize, reduce waste, and increase energy efficiency across all sectors, promote a racially and economically just transition to clean energy, and promote practices that sequester carbon in the soil.

 

[download resolution]

  • Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have not matched the critical nature of the problem.

  • Urgent action is needed if we are to hold the warming to 1.5 degrees C. Each year we delay, our future becomes less certain.

  • The cost to mitigate and adapt to rising seas, poor air quality, ecosystem collapse, extreme weather, floods, droughts, extreme heat and humidity, loss of biodiversity, forest fires, spread of infectious diseases, and invasive species dwarfs the cost of changing course and will increase dramatically.

  • Climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities that are often living close to environmental hazards and have the fewest resources to mitigate those impacts.

  • Example from California of a climate emergency bill.

  • Scientists declare a climate emergency

 

Tax and Budget Policy

 

Carbon Dividend Act: Support federal legislation such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act that puts a steadily rising fee on carbon dioxide and returns the revenue generated to households through monthly dividends to offset the increased cost of energy while dramatically reducing emissions, and preserving a livable climate.

 

[download resolution]

  • Putting a price on carbon will make the polluters pay and drive the economy to cleaner, renewable sources. Economists agree this is the most effective way to dramatically reduce emissions while protecting low and middle income families.

  • The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act or similar legislation will reduce emissions 90% below 2016 levels by 2050, create good paying jobs, cleaner air, and stimulate the economy.

  • To protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, imported goods will be assessed a border carbon adjustment, and goods exported from the United States will receive a refund.

  • A recent study by Columbia University Economists found that the EICDA will reduce emissions 36-38% by 2030, improve air quality, and be good for working families as average low and middle income families will receive a larger dividend than they pay in increased energy-related fees.

  • Energy Innovation Act.

  • Columbia University policy statement.

  • Citizens Climate Lobby on carbon pricing.

 

Divestment: Support divestment from fossil fuels funds by the Minnesota State Board of Investment.

 

[download resolution]

  • Besides the obvious moral argument for divestment, the financial risk of continued investment in fossil fuel funds makes this a poor investment. These assets will become stranded assets and of little value as we move away from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.

  • Litigation risks increase as the cost of climate related disasters soar. Local governments are holding energy companies responsible for infrastructure and property damage.

  • Governments are also using cap and trade or carbon taxes to reduce greenhouse gas emission. This makes high carbon energy sources more expensive and less profitable, and sends a clear market signal to switch to renewable energy sources. Solar and wind are often less expensive than any other energy option.

  • As the divestment movement grows, companies like Peabody Coal have seen their stock value plummet and have filed for bankruptcy.

  • Climate change will soon reshape markets.

  • More on divestment

 

Transportation

 

Public Transit: Provide accessible, affordable public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure across the state to improve air quality, spread economic opportunity, improve health, and reduce vehicle miles traveled and their associated carbon emissions.

 

[download resolution]

  • The transportation sector has taken over as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Expanding transportation options leads to greater equity for all Minnesotans.

  • The United States generally, and Minnesota, are decades behind other developed nations in transportation infrastructure.

  • Expanding Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure will create jobs.

  • Improved and expanded transportation options will reduce the cost of living for many individuals.

 

Electric Fleets and Charging: Encourage renewable electrification of fleets and development of bi-directional charging infrastructure.

 

[download resolution]

  • If electric vehicles (EVs) have bi-directional charging capabilities, then Evs would provide significant storage capacity for utilities to better manage electric loads, making wind-turbines/solar more viable, and would significantly reduce citizen energy costs.

  • Electrifying our transportation is the fastest way to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and would do it two significant ways; removing gasoline from the transportation sector, and significantly incentivizing utilities to adopt wind-turbines and solar.

  • EV energy costs are 1-2 cents per mile, and maintenance costs are almost zero. Lower income people would most benefit from being able to adopt this technology

  • EVs would reduce demand for gas, and thus gas car owners would benefit from the rapid adoption of Evs.

  • Minnesotan citizens would spend about $1-2 Billion per year for electricity instead of $9 Billion per year for gasoline. This would be an outstanding benefit to the economy of Minnesota, especially lower income people.

  • One of the greatest outcomes would be clean water and clean air.

 

Agriculture and Food

 

Forever Green: Provide long-term funding to the University of Minnesota to expand the Forever Green research initiative, embrace regenerative agriculture policies, support farmers building soil, protect clean water, and sequester carbon.

 

[download resolution]

  • Minnesota farmers are great, natural conservationists. The latest science and technology offers them new and better ways to control soil erosion and capture or hold carbon in the ground. One way farmers can make a big difference is by growing crops for a greater part of the year, taking advantage of the time that water and sunlight are available in the fields.

  • Forever green agriculture uses newly developed, non GMO, cover crops to hold soil, trap carbon, maintain or increase soil nitrogen, and produce edible or otherwise usable products.

  • This important agricultural technology was developed at the UMN Forever Green project, unique in the nation.

  • Forever Green Program, University of Minnestoa

 

Sustainable Farming: Eliminate corporate farm subsidies and support sustainable farming by promoting local sourcing of food, funding education, and providing added incentives for pesticide-free and GMO-free crops.

 

[download resolution]

  • With the fifth-largest agricultural economy in the nation, Minnesota is ideally positioned to lead the nation in agricultural policies that benefit local communities and the natural systems that keep Minnesotans safe and healthy.

  • Corporate domination of agriculture - enabled by government subsidies - has led to the collapse of family farms, the degradation of vital soil and water resources, and the hollowing out of rural communities.

  • Supporting family farms and forward-thinking farming practices can reverse this decline and keep Minnesota farms thriving in spite of long-term threats of trade shocks and climate change.

  • Farmers are caught between monopolized sellers and buyers. They must pay ever higher prices to the giants who dominate the market for the supplies they need, like seed and fertilizer. Corn and soybean seed prices are about 3.5 times more than they were 20 years ago. All together, the average farmer spends three times more on inputs per acre today than in the 1990s.

  • At the same time, they must accept ever lower prices from the giant agribusinesses that buy the stuff they sell, like crops and livestock. Corporate concentration affects the prices farmers pay. In 1994, the top four seed companies controlled only 21 percent of the global seed market. By 2013, just the top three controlled 55 percent, with Monsanto alone controlling more than a quarter.

  • In the 1980s, when American consumers spent a dollar on food, 37 cents went back to the farmer. Today, it’s less than 15 cents. The difference is increasingly flowing to concentrated agribusinesses, middlemen, and retailers.

  • Supporting sustainable farming includes big policy levers such as busting up ag monopolies and reforming giant food co-ops.

  • How farm subsidies affect you.

 

Pesticides: Adopt policies to reduce or eliminate the use of unsafe pesticides (such as glyphosate, neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos).

 

[download resolution]

  • Pesticide use has caused widespread environmental damage and increased health risks.

  • Pesticides such as neonicotinoids should be banned in order to preserve and protect pollinator and other insect populations.

  • All pesticides that are used should be used in the safest way possible.

 

Natural Resources & the Environment

 

Copper-sulfide mining: Support a ‘Prove it First’ moratorium on all copper-sulfide mining projects until unbiased scientific review proves that this type of mining can be done safely in a water-rich environment like Northeastern Minnesota.

 

[download resolution]

  • The laws of the land established to protect the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Lake Superior watershed and the entire State of Minnesota, are being weakened by legislation, ignored by governmental agencies, and bypassed through land exchanges.

  • The history of sulfide mining is one of toxic environmental degradation with no evidence that mining for copper, nickel, and other non-ferrous metals in the water-rich environment of northeast Minnesota can be done without harming our water resources, our health, and the ecology of our land.

  • Exploration and mining, and the separation of land and mineral rights, decreases property values and can result in condemnation or seizure through eminent domain, while mining displaces existing economic development and diminishes the use of the land for other purposes.

 

Eminent Domain: Amend MN laws to remove the power of eminent domain for crude oil pipelines.

 

[download resolution]

  • Eminent domain laws were established to protect the rights of property owners, by limiting the taking of private property for public use, benefiting the general public and not enriching private parties.

  • Crude oil refiners like the Koch brothers use their profits to distort our democracy and obstruct progress addressing global warming.

  • Petroleum oil contributes to global warming.

  • Pipelines spilled three times as much crude oil as trains between 2004 and 2012, with larger spills, some into rivers that are harder to clean up and unreported underground leaks that cause permanent aquifer contamination.

  • The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has rate control only over public services that provide electricity, natural gas, and telephone to ensure fair, reasonable rates.

  • The refined products produced from crude oil is not necessarily destined for consumers within Minnesota.

 

Clean Water: Protect Minnesota aquifers and fresh water sources from pollution, commercialization, and export; upgrade our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

 

[download resolution]

  • Clean water defines who we are as Minnesotans. Yet, too often, we accept water pollution as just another cost of doing business. Over 5,000 water bodies, up 1,000 from last year, have been labeled “impaired” under the Clean Water Act, mostly due to polluted runoff. Forty percent of the waters we test each year fail the quality test. This and outdated infrastructure put our drinking water at risk. We simply must improve on technologies designed a hundred years ago, which cannot keep up with the myriad of new chemicals we use and lose to our precious water resources.

  • The American Society of Civil Engineers rated our water and wastewater systems with a score of D and D+.

  • The importance of clean water.

 

Get the Lead Out: Ban the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle containing lead or other toxic materials.

 

[download resolution]

  • Federal law bans lead in waterfowl shot and in hunting generally on federal land. Voluntary compliance has been tried in Minnesota but according to the DNR it has failed.

  • There is strong evidence that loons and other waterfowl are threatened by lead tackle in Minnesota lakes. Eagles are particularly threatened because, like Condors in California (where lead is largely banned in order to protect Condors), they are often scavengers, and consume lead-shot containing deer entrails left by hunters (there is no evidence that Minnesota hunters avoid leaving lead behind).

  • Many states have chosen to ban the use of lead, all or in part, in fishing and/or hunting, based on studies showing the damage lead does to wildlife. The DNR rejects a wholesale ban on lead because many other states only ban some use of lead, and because about half of the hunters in the state prefer to keep using lead. It is not clear that the DNR has taken environmental impacts seriously in their consideration of this matter.

 

Civil, Constitutional, and Human Rights

 

Strong Environmental Laws: Oppose any effort to circumvent or weaken state or federal environmental laws, administrative procedures, and permitting.

 

[download resolution]

  • An example of this weakening is MN HF 1170 which attempted to take Clean Water Act permitting away from the Army Corps of Engineers and give it to State regulators, whose regulations may not be as stringent as federal regulations.

 

Rights of Nature: Enact a state “Rights of Nature” constitutional amendment that gives citizens the right to sue on behalf of ecosystems thereby protecting their right to exist and thrive.

 

[download resolution]

  • Environmental laws do not fully protect the communities and their environments in balance with business, especially big money. To set ecosystems on equal footing with corporations we may be better able to stave off the assault on our clean water, air and planet. After all corporations are now people establishing precedence., why not give mitigating power to that which sustains us all? There are some South American countries that have done this already .Ecosystems should have standing to sue and protect their right to exist and thrive.

 

Nature’s Benefits: Calculate the value of nature’s benefits in the issuance of any permits.

 

[download resolution]

Copyright © 2018 DFL Environmental Caucus  255 Plato Blvd, St Paul, MN 55107. Veda Kanitz, Chair.

Prepared and paid for by DFL Environmental Caucus.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.