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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
White Bear Lake court ruling could ripple across all of Minnesota

White Bear Lake court ruling could ripple across all of Minnesota

White Bear Lake decision could alter state water management
Radio host and producer Tammy Raasch dies at 40

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.
Air quality alert issued for Twin Cities, central Minnesota Thursday

Air quality alert issued for Twin Cities, central Minnesota Thursday

Wildfires, hot air and sun to create unhealthy air.
U researchers help food companies track sustainability of corn

U researchers help food companies track sustainability of corn

Breakthrough will help processors, farmers gauge true cost of raising crop.
Judge orders halt to $2.1 billion Red River flood project

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.
Minnesota lakes holding their own against pollution

Minnesota lakes holding their own against pollution

Billions in spending aiding the fight against threats like runoff, warming climate.
Explosion of larch beetles in warming climate is transforming Minn. forests

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

Climate change means more native burrowing bugs survive to reproduce and harm tamaracks.
Wolf advocates attack Wisconsin tradition: Hunting bears with dogs

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

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

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 chief Pruitt backs federal funding for Great Lakes cleanup

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

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.
Sculpture near stadium tells story of birds, climate change

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.
U scientists say Trump is overhauling EPA advisory panel

U scientists say Trump is overhauling EPA advisory panel

Members of key science advisory panel told to reapply for posts when their term ends.
St. Anthony Falls, birthplace of city, now a turning point for urban river

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.
Dayton signs Minnesota to pact that honors Paris accord

Dayton signs Minnesota to pact that honors Paris accord

A dozen other governors have pledged to uphold their own version of the Paris accord.
Mike Cullen, vocational education advocate, dies at 98

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 will proceed with own climate change strategy

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

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

Proposed cut to Great Lakes fund comes at delicate time for St. Louis River.
State drastically tightens limits on 3M chemicals in groundwater

State drastically tightens limits on 3M chemicals in groundwater

New limits, half the level set last year by the E.P.A., mainly affect east metro and Bemidji drinking water.
Scientists planting 400 acres of Minnesota pines to survive climate change

Scientists planting 400 acres of Minnesota pines to survive climate change

Scientists are identifying planting spots that will be strongholds against climate change.
PolyMet cleanup fund is millions short, state report says

PolyMet cleanup fund is millions short, state report says

Mining firm doesn't have the cash to handle long-term cleanup, report says.
Minnesota beekeepers win a round against EPA on insecticide approval

Minnesota beekeepers win a round against EPA on insecticide approval

Federal judge rules agency should consider impact of new pesticides on endangered species.
Trump overhaul of EPA science panel worries U prof. who leads it

Trump overhaul of EPA science panel worries U prof. who leads it

The sudden overhaul of a key advisory panel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sends a worrisome signal that science will take a back seat to industry under the Trump administration, according to a respected University of Minnesota scientist who chairs the panel.
Irrigation law changes risking prairie wetlands get tucked into Minn. environmental bill

Irrigation law changes risking prairie wetlands get tucked into Minn. environmental bill

State GOP adds tweaks to bill that could hurt wetland.

Corroded underground fuel tank draws $80,000 fine for Minnesota trucking firm

Goodhue trucking firm tried to hide its "blatant" actions, state says.
As hog feedlots grow, neighbors ask: What about our rights?

As hog feedlots grow, neighbors ask: What about our rights?

A struggle over feedlots has spilled over into the state Legislature, where pork producers are trying to limit so-called nuisance suits brought by feedlot neighbors.
Salt levels mean Twin Cities lakes won't support fish by 2050

Salt levels mean Twin Cities lakes won't support fish by 2050

Twin Cities is a hot spot in a national study of lakes and road-salt runoff. It showed that salt concentrations in the Mississippi, mostly from road salt, have increased 81 percent since 1985.
Minnesota state parks, trails face major budget squeeze

Minnesota state parks, trails face major budget squeeze

Budget proposals moving through the Republican-controlled Legislature would continue what park officials say is a decadelong dilemma: Operating funds for the state's 75 parks have declined, after accounting for inflation, while the number of Minnesotans who use them continues to increase every year.
What pollutes urban Mississippi? Lawns, dogs and lots of pavement

What pollutes urban Mississippi? Lawns, dogs and lots of pavement

The U of M study takes a close look at precisely where phosphorus and nitrogen come from and where they go in Twin Cities' neighborhoods. It's the first to track how households contribute to water pollution.

PFCs found in another 200 east metro wells

Tighter standards for chemical once used by 3M prompt more drinking water tests.
Trump rescinds Clean Power Plan; state won't see much change

Trump rescinds Clean Power Plan; state won't see much change

State law and industry forces have already set course toward renewable energy.
Cycling in Minn. creates jobs, cuts health spending, state finds

Cycling in Minn. creates jobs, cuts health spending, state finds

The Minnesota Department of Transportation's first economic impact analysis of the state's cycling industry also found that 13.6 percent of Twin Cities residents commute by bike, at least once in a while.
U researchers invent nano-sponge to soak up pollution

U researchers invent nano-sponge to soak up pollution

Breakthrough done so far only in a lab could solve one of most widespread pollution problems.
General Mills' push to sow wildflowers to help bees reaps criticism

General Mills' push to sow wildflowers to help bees reaps criticism

Its pollinator seed giveaway was a huge hit, but some advocates challenge the flower mix.
Auditor asks: Did $761 million produce cleaner lakes and streams for Minnesota?

Auditor asks: Did $761 million produce cleaner lakes and streams for Minnesota?

Auditor says state is just starting to track water quality improvements.
Passions run high at Duluth meeting about mining's future

Passions run high at Duluth meeting about mining's future

About 1,000 people showed up to hear views on a potential 20-year ban on copper-nickel mining.
Tim Rooney founded Bar La Grassa, Butcher & the Boar and other Minneapolis eateries

Tim Rooney founded Bar La Grassa, Butcher & the Boar and other Minneapolis eateries

The Butcher & the Boar restaurant in downtown Minneapolis had 1,200 Facebook friends even before it opened in 2012. Like its sister property, Bar La…
As grasslands shrink, a rural war rages over mowing ditches

As grasslands shrink, a rural war rages over mowing ditches

But cutting the grass could deplete much-needed wildlife habitat, state says.
Proposed EPA cuts would hit Minnesota hard

Proposed EPA cuts would hit Minnesota hard

Proposed Trump budget would slash Great Lakes cleanup, other programs.
Minnesota seeks ideas on spending $47 million of VW's money

Minnesota seeks ideas on spending $47 million of VW's money

In Minnesota, 11,500 vehicles must be repowered or replaced.
Toxic vapors contaminate hundreds of locations across MN

Toxic vapors contaminate hundreds of locations across MN

Pollution officials this month began rolling out a new set of rules requiring property owners to test for and address vapors before transferring property.

Appeals Court to decide Dodge County hog farm lawsuit pitting pollution vs. water

Minnesota's pork industry roiled by environmental worries over feedlot runoff.
Suit claims swap with PolyMet grossly undervalued public land

Suit claims swap with PolyMet grossly undervalued public land

Environmental group says 6,650 National Forest acres were grossly undervalued.

EPA gives all-clear to pollution grants for Minnesota

Millions in environmental funds had been frozen by Trump administration.
For first time since 1976, Minnesota has vision for Mississippi River corridor

For first time since 1976, Minnesota has vision for Mississippi River corridor

For the first time since 1976, Minnesota has adopted a uniform framework for how the 21 cities and five counties along the river's banks will manage the river to protect the water.
Citing wolves and lynx, environmentalists sue to stop PolyMet land swap

Citing wolves and lynx, environmentalists sue to stop PolyMet land swap

They say U.S. agencies gave away land critical to both endangered predators.
PolyMet clears 2nd major hurdle with federal land exchange

PolyMet clears 2nd major hurdle with federal land exchange

The U.S. Forest Service approved a deal to trade land with PolyMet Mining Corp., a critical step that will allow PolyMet to dig a major open pit mine in northern Minnesota.
Fluke snowmobile crash kills man in Grand Marais

Fluke snowmobile crash kills man in Grand Marais

Two friends were out for a ride on New Year's Eve.
Minn. DNR goes to federal court to try to stop Red River flood control project

Minn. DNR goes to federal court to try to stop Red River flood control project

The dispute centers on the question of whether Minnesota has a say on dam construction.
Obituary: Joan Mainzer Kishkis, harpist with the Minnesota Orchestra

Obituary: Joan Mainzer Kishkis, harpist with the Minnesota Orchestra

Kishkis died Dec. 15, just six days shy of her 89th birthday.
On Isle Royale, Park Service intervenes to save nature

On Isle Royale, Park Service intervenes to save nature

The National Park Service has proposed transplanting up to 30 wolves to Isle Royale, a historic decision that concedes that extraordinary steps are needed to restore a healthy balance of predator and prey on the wilderness island in Lake Superior.
Rare, 2-year review will weigh copper mining's risks to BWCA

Rare, 2-year review will weigh copper mining's risks to BWCA

Regulators could block the industry in huge swath of the BWCA watershed.
Loved and loathed activist has drawn a line in BWCA

Loved and loathed activist has drawn a line in BWCA

With steely resolve, Becky Rom builds a campaign against mining. And once again, she has set many in her hometown of Ely against her.

Winona County is first county in Minnesota to pass frac sand ban

After debate over jobs and land, the ban passed 3-2.
Scathing review blasts states, EPA for failing to protect Mississippi River

Scathing review blasts states, EPA for failing to protect Mississippi River

Cry for help from 13 environmental groups says decades of voluntary measures and light touch by feds don't work.
Minnesota pollution regulators propose for first time deadlines for Minntac tailings basin to meet goals

Minnesota pollution regulators propose for first time deadlines for Minntac tailings basin to meet goals

Proposed permit for the first time sets deadlines to limit pollutants.
Lawsuit alleges lax regulation of major Minnesota taconite mine

Lawsuit alleges lax regulation of major Minnesota taconite mine

Three environmental groups charge that Minnesota has failed to protect northern waters.
PolyMet formally applies for permit to mine copper in NE Minnesota

PolyMet formally applies for permit to mine copper in NE Minnesota

For the first time the company specified how much money it would offer as financial insurance against future pollution and reclamation costs: $253 million in the first three years.
More trees would give Minneapolis a huge health boost, study finds

More trees would give Minneapolis a huge health boost, study finds

Minneapolis tied for second place in a study of cities that would benefit most from boosting urban forests.
Hundreds attend University of Minnesota bee lab's open house

Hundreds attend University of Minnesota bee lab's open house

Research there will delve into decline in population of pollinators.
October: Once-common rusty patched bumblebee likely to join endangered list

October: Once-common rusty patched bumblebee likely to join endangered list

The decline also illustrates the often unexpected consequences for insects from the way people grow their food.
Winona County Board moves closer to a frac sand mining ban

Winona County Board moves closer to a frac sand mining ban

Commissioners voted 3-2 for language that would make it first county in the state to prohibit the industry.
Minnesota, North Dakota at a standoff over $2 billion Red River project

Minnesota, North Dakota at a standoff over $2 billion Red River project

Minnesota's opposition limits North Dakota's options.
Minnesota denies flood diversion permit for Red River at Fargo

Minnesota denies flood diversion permit for Red River at Fargo

After years of work, state won't issue permit for massive plan to divert Red River.
Special report: Mighty Mississippi faces mounting environmental threats

Special report: Mighty Mississippi faces mounting environmental threats

The Star Tribune examines the health of Minnesota's rivers and whether we can save one of our greatest natural resources, the Mississippi, before it's too late.
Obituary: Janice Johnson pursued social justice. green gardening to the very end

Obituary: Janice Johnson pursued social justice. green gardening to the very end

At the end, when she decided it was time to forgo more cancer treatments, Janice Johnson stayed true to the upbeat, generous and inclusive values…

Hopkins outbreak is part of a rising tide of Legionnaires' cases in U.S.

Three more cases have been reported in the mysterious outbreak, which has sickened 17 since Sept. 9.
Tiny bits of plastics, fiber are building up in the Mississippi River

Tiny bits of plastics, fiber are building up in the Mississippi River

Levels of ag pollutants have fallen, but "microplastics,'' an environmental threat worldwide, are rising.
Twin Metals sues federal government over right to mine near BWCA

Twin Metals sues federal government over right to mine near BWCA

Twin Metals says new concerns don't give regulators the right to revoke long-standing leases.
80 homes in Washington County getting bottled water amid pollution review

80 homes in Washington County getting bottled water amid pollution review

State is reviewing new contamination standard for old 3M chemicals.
EPA presses Minnesota over laws exempting taconite firms from wild rice rules

EPA presses Minnesota over laws exempting taconite firms from wild rice rules

Taconite pollution rules under federal scrutiny.
U.S. Forest Service balks at copper-nickel mining plan near BWCA

U.S. Forest Service balks at copper-nickel mining plan near BWCA

Forest Service asks for public comment on Twin Metals plan.

Terrorism convictions will serve as a warning across the country

Verdict is likely to serve as a stark warning to others.
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