Staff Directory 10645336

Josephine Marcotty

Reporter | Environment
phone: 612-673-7394
Josephine Marcotty writes about the environment and the relationship between people and nature for the Star Tribune, with a focus on agricultural pollution, mining, wolves and other critters, and climate change. Since arriving in Minnesota in 1979 from the Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, she's covered labor and economics, the food industry, airlines, and worked as the health and science editor. Her longest stint, ten years, was as a medical and science reporter. She's won a number of national journalism awards, including the 2009 National Headliner Award on the series "Your Choice: Health Care's New Era," the 2016 national Society of Environmental Journalists award for beat reporting, and the 2015 Online News Association first place award in explanatory reporting for the four-part series "Bees on the Brink."
Recent content from Josephine Marcotty
Brad Kelvington

Rocori schools pick new superintendent

Brad Kelvington previously oversaw public schools in the Aitkin district.
Emma Daniels, Abby MacFarlane and Marie Preston, front to back, crossed the headwaters.

After 80 years of love, Mississippi headwaters needs a makeover

Millions of visitors have unintentionally left their mark.
David Martinez.

St. Paul City Council candidate posts about restraining order, marital conflict on campaign blog

Restraining order describes his struggle with depression.

Twin Metals asks to join lawsuits over its mineral leases

Firm says it has right to defend Interior decision.
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2011, file photo, a core sample drilled from underground rock near Ely, Minn., shows a band of shiny minerals containing copper

Lawsuits against Twin Metals' mining leases pile up

In all, three have been filed in federal court claiming harm to the BWCA.
Will Bjorndal, a naturalist intern at he Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin, made notes after he and fellow intern Andie Harveaux took a water samp

Citizen scientists fight pollution in beloved S. Minn. creek

They found the infectious bacteria, often in dangerously high concentrations, almost everywhere they looked.
A pumphouse in a manmade lake in the tailings basin of PolyMet mine. The tailings basin is at the heart of three environmental groups' concerns about

Prospect of larger PolyMet mine sparks call for more review

A larger mine raises environmental risks of old tailings basin, say three environmental groups asking the state to reopen its review.
The National Park Service has decided to transport 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale over the next three to five years in an unprecedented effort to rest

National Park Service to add 20 to 30 wolves to Isle Royale

The wolves will be transported to the island over the next three to five years to replace the population that has declined from a peak of about 50 to the single pair that are left today.

Minnesota hog farm's neighbors keep pushing state to take action

Pork producer disputes state's authority in matter.

Twin Metals wants to build mine processor closer to BWCA

Pending approval, 100-acre facility would rise on edge of Birch Lake.
Melissa Hanson, left, shows Meghan Darley, a resource conservation technician with Scott Soil & Water Conservation District, the part of her lakeshore

Minnesota's big water ambitions yield benefits, no easy answers

For two environmental targets — land conservation and parks and trails — Minnesota appears to be on track to meet Legacy Amendment's goals. The outlook for water is still cloudy.
Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaks at a meeting in the White House in Washington, Feb. 12, 2018.

Top Minnesota environment, health officials blast EPA rule

Proposed limits on research would threaten lives, they say in a blistering letter to the federal agency.
Wild rice grows exclusively in some parts of the Great Lakes states, primarily Minnesota.

Dayton vetoes bill that would kill wild rice protections

He called it an extreme overreach by state lawmakers and a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
The fishing pier at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve, shown in 2011.

Don't eat Lake Elmo fish, state health officials warn

New restrictions cite unsafe levels of PFCs from old 3M dump.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency hits dead end on effort to protect wild rice

The agency will turn to the Legislature for guidance.
Todd Thompson and his father Leonard harvest wild rice on Hole In The Day Lake south of Nisswa in 2015.

Minn. Pollution Control Agency gives up on effort to protect wild rice

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will turn to the Legislature for guidance.

Overuse of farm fertilizer drives state's first effort to regulate it

Republicans object, but some farm groups say the proposal is reasonable.
In 2010, hog manure is spread over grain fields near Redwood Falls, Minn., for fertilizer. One of two contentious bills looming at the Legislature wou

Minnesota Legislature on collision course with Gov. Dayton on water bills

Proposed laws would give legislators more control of fertilizer and wild rice rules.
FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo Volkswagen ornaments sit in a box in a scrap yard in Berlin, Germany. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

MPCA tweaks, finalizes plan for $47 million in VW money

New buses, more charging stations are key features.
Commercial traffic on the Ford Dam has come to a halt, but it still generates hydroelectricity.

Dams, mining put three regional rivers on group's endangered list

Two of Minnesota's most cherished rivers and one in western Wisconsin were listed among the 10 most endangered U.S. rivers by a conservation group.
A pumphouse in a manmade lake in the tailings basin of PolyMet mine.

Prospect of growth intensifies debate about PolyMet tailings dam

Environmental groups have now made it a primary focus of their request for a legal review of the project that is now awaiting a decision by state officials.

Climate change creates septic tank headaches for homeowners

Frozen septic systems are emerging as an unexpected consequence of climate change in Minnesota — one that is bedeviling homeowners across the state.
The geese still went swimming when White Bear Lake, at its lowest, was at 919 feet above sea level. It has since recovered to 923 feet.

Blasting Minnesota DNR, judge stands by her White Bear Lake ruling

Minnesota DNR request to stay an order restricting heavy water use is roundly rejected.
Dave Simpkins

David Simpkins, rural Minnesota editor and publisher, dies at 70

His love of Minnesota small towns and the people who lived in them provided his purpose in life, friends said.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday laid out a plan to balance farmers’ use of fertilizer with the protection of groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Dayton defends plan to protect drinking water from ag pollution

Measures affecting farmers and fertilizer are likely to trigger a fight at the Legislature.
For the foreseeable future, the indestructible chemicals that 3M made and dumped for years at four sites between Woodbury and Grey Cloud Island will c

Minnesota settlement with 3M may fix drinking water but not the environment

The $850 million might address drinking water, but damage to the environment "is forever."
The PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Environmental groups ask for independent court review of PolyMet permits

Safety of tailings basin and risk to taxpayers are major questions.
The forest north of Park Rapids, Minn., is a mix of aspen, birch and conifers.

Minnesota plans to increase annual forest harvest, but less than industry sought

DNR walks fine line between demand, forest health.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced Tuesday afternoon that 3M Co. has agreed to give the state $850 million to settle what has been a lo

Thanks to 3M settlement, water in east metro to get an $850 million boost

First spending priority will be fixing drinking water for city systems and private wells.
Attorney General Lori Swanson announced Tuesday that 3M Co. has agreed to give Minnesota $850 million to settle what has been a long and contentious l

3M settles contentious lawsuit with state for $850 million

The money will be used to clean up drinking water and groundwater contamination in east metro communities.
Bloody red shrimp

Bloody red shrimp found in Lake Superior raises worry of invasive species

A single bloody red shrimp found in Twin Ports Harbor.
Minnesota will spend $11.75 million on cleaner trucks and buses if the state’s proposal for the first funds from a legal settlement with Volkswagen

Minnesota's Volkswagen settlement may pay for cleaner vehicles

MPCA issues a plan for the state's share of a national legal settlement.
Though 3M has consistently denied wrongdoing — and has so far successfully thwarted liability claims in several courtrooms — the company is now a

Minnesota groundwater pollution case has national meaning for 3M

Case over Washington County groundwater is one of dozens that loom for the Maplewood-based firm.
The 3M World Headquarters complex in Maplewood, Minn.

Judge agrees to week's delay in 3M groundwater pollution trial

A startling Health Department report caused the company to seek a trial delay.
The 3M World Headquarters complex in Maplewood, Minn.

3M asks for delay in trial over pollution in Washington County

The company said a new state report casts doubt on health claims in the lawsuit.
The 3M World Headquarters complex in Maplewood, Minn.

State finds no clear health impact from 3M chemicals in east metro suburbs

The review contradicts that of an expert hired by the state attorney general's office in advance of a long-awaited trial next week between the state and 3M.
Heidi Riley dumped plastic into a recycling bin after a game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

NFL's super challenge: Recycling food wrappers and beer cups from 60,000 fans

From blinking cups to orphaned purses, league and stadium officials shoot for zero waste.
Wild rice grows exclusively in some parts of the Great Lakes States, primarily Minnesota.

Judge throws out Minn. proposal aiming to protect wild rice

Environmentalists and industry had opposed sulfate formula as unworkable, costly.
Drillers for Twin Metals, at a site near the Kiwishiwi River, pull a core sample from the drill pipe.

Mining supporters sue Gov. Dayton over Twin Metals land access

Suit challenges governor's decision to halt minerals exploration.
The closed LTV Steel taconite plant sits idle near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. The site, which closed in 2001, may return to life as part of Minnesota's first c

With Minnesota mining permit, PolyMet proposal reaches a turning point

Regulators give their tentative blessing to Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine.
Wally Parkins, owner of Royal Farms in Royalton, Minn., showed off a soil probe he is experimenting with to monitor nitrate usage on his corn crop in

Test our water for nitrates? Brown County says no thanks

A free well-testing program for Minnesotans has become the latest target in the state's increasingly fractious battle over water and agricultural pollution.
In this file photo, a drill rig digging for Twin Metals was working in the woods near Ely, Minn.

December: In unexpected move, feds OK mine leases on edge of BWCA

Department of the Interior reverses Obama-era denial of Twin Metals copper-nickel leases.
In the first faceoff in court between attorneys for 3M and the state of Minnesota, the company's lawyers said it is too late for the state to seek dam

3M says state is too late to seek damages for drinking water contamination

In hearing on request to dismiss suit, company argues that the state agreed not to sue years ago.
The closed LTV Steel taconite plant sits idle near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. The site, which closed in 2001, may return to life as part of Minnesota's first c

State predicts PolyMet would need $1B to cover risks from mining

Half would go for long-term water treatment after copper-nickel mine closes.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn. has been mired in a permitting battle for over eight years and the issue has become politicized in the state and par

PolyMet offers $544M to cover Hoyt Lakes mine's environmental risks

"Financial assurance" is a final step in the company's long application to start mining.
Crews began installing rooftop solar panels on the Minnesota Senate Building at the Capitol complex.

Can Minnesota's government go green, and save big like others?

Gov. Dayton ordered all state agencies to hit aggressive and specific environmental goals in the next decade and a half.
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump gives the pen he used to sign an executive order to Dow Chemical President, Chairman

Pesticide's reprieve met with relief from farmers, but fear on health front

Minnesota farmers depend on chlorpyrifos, but dozens of studies say it harms kids.
Gary Paulson has survived four bouts of cancer. His Lake Elmo home and well are near a landfill where 3M dumped PFC sludge.

In lawsuit, Minnesota is asking: What did 3M know about PFCs?

Court filing cracks open 3M's internal research on PFCs, raises new questions about risks for residents.
Sugar beets at the American Crystal Sugar facility in East Grand Forks, Minn.

American Crystal Sugar fined $135,000 for air pollution violations

MPCA cited repeat violations in Crookston, East Grand Forks locations.
The logo for 3M appears on a screen above the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Caterpillar and Post-it note maker

State alleges 3M chemicals caused cancer, infertility and seeks $5B

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed suit over groundwater contamination in Oakdale, other suburbs, alleging that the company caused $5 billion worth of health and environmental damages.
Prairie in Minnesota

Plowing Minnesota's prairie is increasing carbon in the atmosphere

University of Wisconsin analysis refuels the debate over renewables.
Deborah Swackhamer, a prominent Minnesota water chemist, was dumped as chair of a key science panel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Minn. scientist demoted as Scott Pruitt reshuffles EPA advisory boards

Retired U Prof. Deborah Swackhamer says Trump administration is downgrading science.
Livestock graze along the Chanarambie Creek in the city limits of Edgerton, Minn.

Clean water vs. farm profits at heart of fertilizer-rule debate

New strategy relies on farmers to minimize the impact on water, placing farmers' yields above groundwater protection.
Sam Bauer, who studies lawns and grasses checked a water meter while working in the experimental growing fields at the UMN St. Paul campus Monday Octo

Overwatering lawns — and pavement — is the norm in the Twin Cities

A survey of 1,000 homeowners shows thirsty turf is sucking down the metro's water. On average, residents watered 500 square feet of pavement.
Minnesota’s wolf population has surged, a state survey found.

DNR estimates surge in wolf population in Minnesota

The number of wolves in northeast Minnesota jumped 25 percent in the past year, most likely because deer, their favorite prey, saw a similar increase in population.
The Straight River meanders through a forested area south of Park Rapids, Minn. The Straight River is a tributary of the Mississippi threatened by an

White Bear Lake court ruling could ripple across the state

Judge Margaret Marrinan said the state has failed to protect the lake from excessive groundwater pumping and ordered the DNR to limit water use in the surrounding communities.
Tammy Lee Raasch

Radio host and producer Tammy Raasch dies at 40

Twin Cities talk show radio host and producer Tammy Raasch had that remarkable combination of effervescence and doggedness that made her one of the best…

Goodhue County feedlot opponents say owner violates air standards

Neighbors opposed to a pending 4,700-hog operation measured air quality at other sites.
Mt. Hood is visible beyond a raging wildfire in as seen from a flight between Minneapolis and Oregon on Monday, Sept. 12, 2017. Smoke from Western wil

Air quality alert issued for Twin Cities, central Minnesota Thursday

Wildfires, hot air and sun to create unhealthy air.
University of Minnesota scientists have identified which counties nationwide use the most — and least — water and fertilizer to grow corn.

U researchers help food companies track sustainability of corn

Breakthrough will help processors, farmers gauge true cost of raising crop.
Red River flooding in 2009 in the Oxbow area south of Fargo, N.D.

Judge orders halt to $2.1 billion Red River flood project

Attorneys described the ruling as a turning point in the long-running battle over the project, one that could force negotiations.
A runner jogged past a boat launch area near the main beach of Lake Nokomis on Friday afternoon. Dozens of metro-area lakes have shown an improvement

Minnesota lakes holding their own against pollution

Billions in spending aiding the fight against threats like runoff, warming climate.
Troy Holcombe, a forester with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, looked for tamarack trees damaged by larch beetles. The native bugs’ p

Explosion of larch beetles in warming climate is transforming Minn. forests

Climate change means more native burrowing bugs survive to reproduce and harm tamaracks.
While northern Minnesota’s wolf population has remained largely stable for several years, at around 2,300, the numbers have been growing in Wisconsi

Wolf advocates attack Wisconsin tradition: Hunting bears with dogs

A national watchdog group says Wisconsin bear hunters are harassing wolves with their dog packs — then claiming state compensation when their hounds are killed.
Skate ski enthusiasts on Burnside Lake near Ely, Minn.

Plan to log Ely forest pits hikers, skiers against timber industry

Conservationists see it as a test of how the state will manage Minnesota's northern forests now that Gov. Mark Dayton has directed the DNR to increase timber harvests from state lands.
Teddy Cuellar, 4, watched his father, Matt, pour water from the shower into a rain barrel at their Cottage Grove home last week. The city had shut dow

August: State says 3M is reneging on 10-year-old cleanup deal for polluted water

Drinking water for several hundred homeowners is at stake in recent standoff.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt visited Minnesota on Wednesday to discuss water quality, pollution and more.

EPA chief Pruitt backs federal funding for Great Lakes cleanup

Scott Pruitt, the nation's top environmental officer, said Wednesday that he stands firmly behind continued federal funding for a landmark cleanup of Great Lakes pollution — a sharp contrast to the Trump administration's proposed budget, which would essentially kill the program.
In a letter to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 3M blamed others, including the state, for some of the contamination.

3M pulls the plug on paying for clean water for 200 in east metro

It wants the state to prove latest costs are tied to company's operations.
The temporary art installation near U.S. Bank Stadium explores the effects of climate change on Minnesota's future bird populations.

Sculpture near stadium tells story of birds, climate change

The idea for "Orbacles" was in part inspired by the bird controversy at U.S. Bank Stadium, which looms over the sculptures on the east side the park.
In this June 1, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt after speaking about the U.S. role in the Par

U scientists say Trump is overhauling EPA advisory panel

Members of key science advisory panel told to reapply for posts when their term ends.
National Park Service Superintendent John Anfinson surveyed Lock & Dam No. 1. The agency is drawing up plans to provide more public access and restore

St. Anthony Falls, birthplace of city, now a turning point for urban river

St. Anthony Lock and Dam closed two years ago, and now the Army Corps of Engineers is considering what to do with it. Advocacy and government groups are lining up with their ideas.
Gov. Mark Dayton announced Monday that he has signed onto the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition launched last week when Trump announced that he plans

Dayton signs Minnesota to pact that honors Paris accord

A dozen other governors have pledged to uphold their own version of the Paris accord.
mug

Mike Cullen, vocational education advocate, dies at 98

It was a bus accident that changed the course of Mike Cullen's life. It nearly killed the little boy from northern Minnesota, but it set…
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was one of 12 governors who appealed to President Donald Trump in a letter to not pull out of the Paris accord.

Minnesota will proceed with own climate change strategy

With a plan adopted in 2007, the state has been a national leader in pursuing an aggressive plan to reduce emissions.
River rebounds: Long a dumping ground for pollutants, the St. Louis River, seen above at Jay Cooke State Park, is entering a key phase of its cleanup.

On St. Louis River, massive cleanup project now in doubt

Proposed cut to Great Lakes fund comes at delicate time for St. Louis River.
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