The Minnesota House of Representatives re-passed HF 3911, the 2024 Environment and Natural Resources Budget and Policy bill, as amended by the conference committee report. The bill passed on a vote of 70-56. The legislation, authored by Representative Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul), includes significant investments in tree planting and addressing emerald ash borer, a public water inventory update, policies strengthening and enforcing Minnesota’s air quality statutes, a regulatory framework for helium gas production, and nation-leading extended producer responsibility legislation for packaging recycling.

The Environment and Natural Resources Budget and Policy bill invests over $46 million in protecting Minnesota’s water, air, soil, and wildlife. The bill includes over $12 million in trees and tree planting grants throughout Minnesota, with a focus on environmental justice areas. It includes additional funding for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for oversight and enforcement, funding for the Department of Natural Resources that includes improvements to ATV trails in greater Minnesota, and funding for the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), including $800,000 in funding for the Lawns to Legumes Program, and creates a dedicated pollinator account to increase pollinator habitat statewide.

“Our conference committee report reflects the DFL’s commitment to taking strong action to protect our environment and natural resources,” said Rep. Hansen, Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. “This year the legislature is investing over $12 million in trees, increasing oversight and penalties for repeat polluters, and passing nation-leading extended producer responsibility legislation to address our solid waste issue.”

The bill includes significant policy provisions aimed at environmental protection and pollution prevention. The bill increases the MPCA’s enforcement authority, increases civil penalties for repeat polluters, and sets goals to reduce the use of road salt and nitrogen fertilizer.

The legislation also includes a nation-leading Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) bill, Representative Sydney Jordan’s Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act. The EPR provisions are a major step forward in dealing with solid waste by ensuring that packaging producers are responsible for the waste they create and are incentivized to increase recycled content.

“Across Minnesota, we are inundated with packaging, from our doorsteps to store shelves. Packaging waste and printed paper now account for 40% of our garbage,” said Rep. Jordan, Vice Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. “The burden of managing this ever-growing deluge of packaging waste currently falls on local governments – and taxpayers. Today’s bill takes steps to ensure the producers of this waste are paying their fair share.”

This year’s Environment and Natural Resources bill builds on last year’s historic legislation that invested over $670 million in new environment and natural resources funding. That bill included a nation-leading PFAS prevention package, addressed issues like chronic wasting disease, emerald ash borer, and aquatic invasive species, and added stronger protections for Minnesotans in environmental justice areas. The bill now heads to the Senate for further action.

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