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Paul Austin

Exec. Director, Conservation Minnesota

Paul Austin: Why is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at my daughter's Kindergarten?

When I arrived to drop off my daughter yesterday, I found more than excited children in the building that serves as a preschool during the week and a church on the weekends. I was also met by staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health. They told me that tetrachloroethylene, a toxic chemical that can cause neurological issues and cancer, had been found in the area and traced back to an adjacent building that previously held a dry-cleaning business. 

The state agency staff were incredibly professional, helping to calm parents’ fears and letting us know about all of the tests they were conducting and steps they were taking to make sure my daughter and her classmates were safe. It was a perfect example of government at its best. Agencies that most of us don’t even think about regularly, identifying and solving a problem for the community.  

As I drove to work afterward, I couldn’t help but think about how different my experience with the MPCA was from the political rhetoric that pollutes this year’s session at the state capitol. Special interests who find it inconvenient to take the necessary steps to prevent future pollution problems, like the one being cleaned up at my daughter’s school, have ginned up lots of false criticism of this small agency. They claim it is stifling our economy. But Minnesota’s economy ranks among the healthiest in the nation.  

Instead of trying to cut the MPCA budget, strip their citizen board of its authority, and blocking it from enforcing health and clean water rules, the legislature should send the MPCA a thank-you note for protecting our families and preventing future risks to our air, water and health. 

I personally want to thank the MPCA for helping keep my daughter healthy as I watch her grow up. And I would appreciate it if the politicians would act a little more like grown-ups, too.

Is it true that #BeerSavesLakes?

What would you be willing to do to help protect Minnesota’s lakes from encroaching threats like invasive aquatic species and rising levels of mercury and other pollutants?

Would you be willing to do something as simple as incorporate a new hashtag into your social media posts?

If so, Conservation Minnesota could use your help.

Due to a new partnership with Coors Light, every social media post between now and the end of the year that includes #BeerSavesLakes will earn a dollar for Conservation Minnesota’s efforts to protect the lakes we all love.  Coors Light is also donating a part of the proceeds from every case of beer sold in Minnesota for the rest of the year to us as well. 

So, simply by using the #BeerSavesLakes hashtag or buying some Coors Light beer, you can play an important role in helping support Conservation Minnesota’s ongoing efforts to:

  • Engage Minnesotans in support of legislative and other initiatives related to water quality.
  • Gather support of the Clean Water Promise that sets clear, realistic goals for our waters in the coming decades.
  • Work to support and protect funding for aquatic invasive species research and local government initiatives to combat them. 
  • Provide opportunities for those interested to combat the increasing amount of mercury in our lakes.
  • Fight aquatic invasive species like Zebra Mussles, through community detection efforts.
  • Continuing the State of Water Conference that is held every other year – next will be spring 2016.

This partnership will kick off this weekend with an event at Lord Fletchers on Lake Minnetonka between 4 and 6 on Saturday afternoon.  In addition to representatives from the two groups, Laura Schara from Minnesota Bound will be on hand to talk about AIS, and Chris Hawkey, lead singer of local favorite band Rocket Club will be there to perform for the assembled crowd. 

So, if you love Minnesota’s lakes, please tell your friends that #BeerSavesLakes.  

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