Staff Directory 10645336

Josephine Marcotty

Reporter | Environment
Phone: 612-673-7394
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Josephine Marcotty has covered the environment in Minnesota for eight years, with expertise in water quality, agriculture, critters and mining. Prior to that she was a medical reporter, with an emphasis on mental illness, transplant medicine and reproductive health care.


Marcotty has been working as a journalist since she attended college at the University Michigan, but has spent most of her career at the Star Tribune. She lives in south Minneapolis — within biking distance of the newsroom — with her husband and her dog. She spends a lot of time on the water, either on the lakes in her neighborhood, or on Lake Superior where she is learning to sail.
Recent content from Josephine Marcotty
A bald eagle takes flight from a tree near Lake Bde Maka Ska. The bald eagle is protected by federal laws that date to 1900.

Shooting deaths of four bald eagles in Minnesota prompt federal probe

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information as the investigation is stepped up.
State regulators gave PolyMet the green light to move ahead with its copper-nickel mine last month.

Environmental groups file Appeals Court challenge to PolyMet permits

A handful of environmental groups have asked the state Court of Appeals to reject permits granted for Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine, a proposal by PolyMet…
A common bumblebee hovers over a wildflower in Lone Lake Park in Minnetonka.

Dayton task force finds many ways to give bees a chance, but splits on insecticide use

The members, appointed by the governor, found common ground over better habitat, education, but split over how to reduce pollinators' exposure to neonicotinoids.
Martin Larsen showed the cover crop of rye grass that remains after he harvested the corn from the land he farms near Byron.

Farms and forests could be key to curbing greenhouse gas emissions

Managing landscapes can hold more carbon in soil, grass and trees, cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Hibbing's First Avenue was decorated with American flags for Flag Day and July 4th.

'Sigh of relief' can turn into turbulence quickly on the Iron Range, like after this PolyMet ruling

Permit approvals for PolyMet open a new chapter in an old struggle.
The PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Advocates ask state to put a hold on PolyMet permits

Legal case questioning mine's size should be resolved first, they say.
PolyMet Mining Corp. proposes to use the old LTV taconite facility to process copper-nickel ore.

PolyMet copper-nickel mine gets green light from DNR

A long, contentious regulatory review ends with permits for the huge copper-nickel mine.
Minnesota farmland

Ramsey County judge allows public review of dairy megafarm to continue

Agricultural groups lose court bid to end public comment period.
Dairy cows on a Minnesota farm.

Ag industry sues state over public review of Winona County megafarm

Ag groups say MPCA can't extend feedback period.
St. Paul human rights activist, fundraiser Marlene Kayser dies at 79

St. Paul human rights activist, fundraiser Marlene Kayser dies at 79

In 1956 Marlene Kayser was a senior in high school when she joined her first Democratic political campaign — the second presidential run of Adlai…
Though many oats’ products contained traces of Roundup, the levels were far below the concentrations deemed unsafe.

Herbicide found in Cheerios reignites debate on food safety

Most government regulators and food industry leaders say the pesticide poses no health risk in the amounts that people get in their food.
A white-tailed deer doe crosses a meadow in the fall

Virus found on Minn. deer farm inflicting quick, suspicious deaths

There are no known health risks to humans from the finding in a captive herd, the state Board of Animal Health said.
The first phase of the Isle Royale wolf relocation project has ended earlier than anticipated thanks to bad weather, the National Park Service said.

Isle Royale wolf relocation project done for the year

Bad weather shuts down trapping and transfer to the island.
Minnesota’s beloved loon population — the largest in the U.S. — is stable at about 12,000 breeding adults. But wildlife officials say vital nest

Plan to help Minnesota's loons is a finalist for BP oil spill money

Minnesota's proposal would provide $7.5 million to improve and expand loon nesting habitat and create a public campaign to reduce the use of lead fishing tackle in northern lakes, the leading cause of loon deaths.
Maplewood-based 3M Co. earlier this year settled a lawsuit brought by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for $850 million, but it still faces doz

Lawsuit demands 3M pay for PFC medical studies nationwide

Ohio class action says taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for health impact research.
The logo of the Minnesota State Lottery

Conservation groups sue state over use of environmental fund

Conservation groups say money is being used for infrastructure projects.
Two adult wolves from Minnesota were captured and transferred Wednesday to Isle Royale National Park, shown in 2009.

Two new wolves from Minnesota arrive on Isle Royale

National Park Service officials hope to capture and transfer up to eight this fall in an effort to rebuild their population.
Becca Hanson and members of the Conservation Corps planted around 100 tamarack trees near Hwy. 61 and Warner Road on Wednesday in St. Paul.

As ash trees succumb, conservationists rebuild forest along Mississippi

The rebuilding of the canopy comes with an eye toward climate change.
This 2017 photo provided by biologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University shows the last two surviving wolves at Isle Royale National P

More wolves will arrive on Isle Royale this fall

National Park Service lays out a plan for new chapter in long story of island's wolves and moose.
A two-year ban on mineral exploration was lifted last week, and companies are expected to resume drilling soon as they hunt for copper, nickel, platin

Business of mining set to return near the Boundary Waters area

The federal government's sudden decision to reopen mineral exploration just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was a resounding defeat for wilderness advocates. But for the mining industry, it means back to business as usual.
A gravel pit near several mining sites near the Kawishiwi River near Ely, Minn., in 2011.

Sept. 7: Feds reopen mining exploration near BWCA

The mining industry won a major victory in Minnesota when the federal government lifted a controversial stay on minerals exploration in the area just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Minn. officials say new Fargo flood plan is more equitable

A new proposal to manage floods on the Red River would reduce the highest levels that could flow through Fargo-Moorhead, but not eliminate them altogether, according to state officials.
Hazy horizons are seen in all four directions from the observation deck of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis due to smoke from recent fires. Th

Behind uneventful Minn. summer weather lurks signs of climate change

Lake Superior algae bloom, hazy skies might become the norm, scientists say.
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

Minnesota think tank joins debate on economics of mining

Will mining industry eclipse outdoor and recreation business in northern Minnesota? "If voters understand the huge benefit of mining, they will want to see it happen," Center of the American Experiment says.
Jeri Rasmussen

Jeri Rasmussen, a founder of Minnesota's modern feminist movement, dies at 84

An outspoken, devout Methodist homemaker from Shoreview, she was fired from her job at Northwest Orient Airlines in the 1960s because she was pregnant.
Potato producer R.D. Offutt is is backing away from a controversial expansion just south of the Mississippi River headwaters after regulators insisted

Grower drops pine-to-potato expansion near Lake Itasca

R.D. Offutt, a major supplier for McDonald's French fries, said the state's decision to seek an environmental study seems to be targeted regulation that will force it to take its business out of state.
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.
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