Minnesota Environmentalists Criticize Voluntary Cleanup

Earlier this week, a coalition of city and environmental advocacy groups lobbied the Minnesota Congress to toughen environmental regulations and require farmers to bear more responsibility for cleaning up polluted rivers and streams.

Pollution and contamination of major waterways has been a major national issue for the past few years. In Virginia and Maryland, the Environmental Protection Agency is enforcing tough new regulations restricting the amount of sediment and farm chemicals that can be discharged in Chesapeake Bay waterways. In the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered incentives to farmers to limit sediment discharge and restore endangered ecosystems.

This concern for environmental protection extends beyond the federal level. In Minnesota, a coalition of municipal organizations and environmentalists have banded together to demand that farmers take a more active role in preventing and undoing pollution.

According to the mayor of Alexandria, Minnesota, state taxpayers and businesses will pay more than $1 billion in water cleanup costs over the next several years. Current regulations encourage voluntary conservation practices, but many city leaders believe these need to be toughened and made mandatory.

Farmers, on the other hand, argue that they are already helping to limit sediment runoff through voluntary practices. In addition, they say that tougher regulations will hurt the agricultural industry in the state.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer