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Clean Air & Water

Everyone deserves clean air and clean water. Pollution of these natural resources harms everyone, but especially our children whose growing bodies are more susceptible to damage that can inhibit normal development and lifelong health. Every year more research shows cumulative impacts of toxins, including on pregnant women and their babies, which can rob children of the opportunity to reach their full potential. These impacts can happen to anyone, but they fall more often on children of color and children from low-income families. Environmental racism is prevalent, including biases in decisions about where toxic industries are located, where new freeways are routed, and where housing is and is not available. Jean fights for clean air and clean water for everyone.

Coming Up in 2018 & 2019:

Over a million Minnesotans get their drinking water from the Mississippi River, including the residents of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Those two cities also supply drinking water to many suburban communities. But no state agency even routinely tests the Mississippi specifically for drinking water contamination. This is not acceptable. The Crow River, which is badly contaminated by agricultural chemicals, enters the Mississippi just 20 miles north of where Minneapolis and St. Paul take in their drinking water supply.

Minneapolis has an amazing system for filtering and treating the water it takes from the river to make it good to drink, but the more contaminated the source water becomes the harder and costlier it will be to treat. Furthermore, quality control is improved when we know what to treat and measure for. The over a million residents who drink water from the Mississippi should not bear the burden of treating polluted water which is untested for drinking water contamination.

Other states have developed and implemented source water protection plans for rivers used for drinking water. Jean has introduced two bills designed to protect the Mississippi as a drinking water source. Bowing to the agricultural chemical industry, Republicans have declined to hear her bills. If Republicans continue their obstruction in 2018, Jean will push DFLers to pass a source water protection plan in 2019 after the November election.

More About Jeanís Record:

  • In 2013 Jean chaired the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee. Her Omnibus Finance bill of 2013 made progress on many fronts especially on our waters. Under Jeanís leadership the legislature made huge progress in protecting our waters including groundwater which is the drinking water source for 75% of Minnesotans.
  • Jeanís Omnibus Finance Bill of 2014 took additional large steps to continue the progress in protecting our waters that was started in 2013. Among other provisions included in her 2014 finance bill was the creation and funding of a terrestrial plants and pests research center at the U to combat the ever-increasing problem of invasive species; nation-leading laws to protect honeybees and other pollinators; a substantial increase in resources for recycling and composting; and funding our state parks and trails at a level that stops closures.
  • Jean was chief author of the 2007 and 2009 Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Omnibus Finance Bills which put Minnesota on track to complete testing the Stateís waters every 10 years, develop cleanup plans and begin the cleanup process.
  • Jean was co-author of the legacy constitutional amendment that was approved by voters and is dedicated to clean water; parks and trails; habitat conservation; and arts and our cultural heritage.
  • Jean helped write both major laws designed to combat climate change.
  • In 2007 Jean organized a joint House-Senate hearing for 9 committees to hear from Arctic explorer Will Steger and experts at the University of Minnesota about global climate change, its causes, impactsóand the solutions. This hearing on the floor of the House was deemed historic by the media and set the stage for major legislation dealing with climate change.
  • Jean authored a law that requires the Minnesota Department of Health to replace its outdated, adult- based air and water standards with tougher child-based standards so toxins will not affect a childís development or contribute to diseases like cancer. If children are properly protected, adults will be protected. The Department of Health has been exceedingly slow to act and Jean is pressing them to get their work done.
  • Jean wrote and was House author of the law that requires schools to let parents know about the pesticides that they plan to use in their childrenís schools and further lets parents know that long term health effects from the use of pesticides is unknown. The law is named after Senator Janet Johnson who, before she died, asked Jean to write it.
  • Jean served as House chair of the Legislative Commission on Waste Management for several terms. During her tenure she took on the landfill operators by strengthening the stateís recycling, reduction and household hazardous waste laws.
  • Jean has authored numerous laws that require manufacturers to reduce or recycle the toxins that get into our air and water. Her battery legislation required manufacturers to quit selling mercury batteries in Minnesota, to eliminate mercury from the common alkaline battery and to reclaim rechargeable batteries with lead or cadmium. These laws were the first of their kind in the nation and other state legislatures have modeled their laws after the laws she wrote for Minnesota.
  • Manufacturers using mercury didnít want people to know their products contained toxic mercury, but Jean authored a law requiring manufacturers to label products with mercury so it can be removed and recycled. She authored another law requiring the reuse or recycling of major appliances and the removal of their PCBís, mercury and chlorofluorocarbons.
  • Jean authored an amendment to the wetlands law providing that wetlands drained or filled by roadwork in the metro area must be replaced in the same county instead of with wetlands outside of the metro area. Highway lobbyists wanted to do the cheap thing rather than do whatís right for our waters.
  • The Ford Foundation gave Minnesota it prestigious Innovations Award and a $100,000 grant in recognition of our land recycling program. Jean authored the law that is encouraging voluntary cleanup of polluted land or "brownfields." Developers, not taxpayers, foot the bill and the clean land adds to our tax base. Developers had wanted taxpayers to foot the bill.
  • Jean authored a law that is now cleaning up over 100 old landfills and saving our local governments and business community an estimated four hundred million dollars in legal fees and other costs. The legislation included a process for determining an insurerís obligation to pay their fair share of the cleanup. Insurers are fighting the process but it has collected $35 million from insurers for the clean up thus far.

Read more about Jeanís environmental work at Climate Change & Energy

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