Staff Directory 6370514

Jennifer Bjorhus

Reporter | Environment
Phone: 612-673-4683

Jennifer Bjorhus  is a reporter covering the environment for the Star Tribune. 

Bjorhus previously covered a range of topics for major metro newspapers, including the Seattle Times and San Jose Mercury News. She lives in St. Paul with her husband, Ranjit, and has two sons and a cat.
Recent content from Jennifer Bjorhus
Jenny Hoops just switched out the old gas water heater in her St. Paul Midway home for a new electric heat pump water heater by Rheem. She’s plannin

Replacing water heaters with heat pumps can help the environment, and get you a tax credit

Tax credits and subsidies are available for this lesser known appliance.
Utica, Minn., a farm town of about 200 people surrounded by fields in Winona County, is preparing to dig a new, deeper well to find clean water becaus

Minnesota nitrate contamination shows little sign of going away, despite years of effort

Minnesota has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce nitrate contamination of drinking water and rivers. The progress so far is negligible.
Katie Wheeler held a photograph of her late husband, Steve, and their daughters Meskele, 16, left, and Shibere, 18, right. Wheeler’s husband died in

Twin Cities man's dying wish: Compost me for the benefit of the planet

He died in September, but Steve Wheeler's journey could change Minnesota.
The state received 10 Signal crayfish not native to Minnesota from Lake Winona near Alexandria in Douglas County this fall. Hopefully there are no mor

Minnesota DNR reports first discovery of non-native signal crayfish in state

The large crayfish could become invasive, displacing native species.
The population of muskrats may be in decline in part because of the loss and erosion of wetland habitats they need to survive.

Record-low trapping numbers may point to trouble for Minnesota muskrats

Long-term decline of the small semiaquatic mammal flitting through waters in Minnesota raising flags.
Officials start to take down infrastructure for the 10-mile race in Minneapolis on Oct. 1, 2023. The Twin Cities Marathon and 10-mile race were cancel

Climate change spiked heat that canceled Twin Cities Marathon, climatologist says

The muggy 92-degree weather was more than 40 degrees hotter than ideal for running, race officials said.
Scott Glarner doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that he and a dozen others on the country road near West Concord, Minn., got cancer and thinks link

On a stretch of gravel road, Dodge County families ravaged by cancer question nitrate

The chemical from farm fertilizers and manure spread on fields has been found in drinking water wells.
Sonja Trom Eayrs is a member of Dodge County Concerned Citizens, one of the groups suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try to get it to

Environmental groups sue EPA over water pollution from large livestock farms

They claim waste from the megafarms is contributing to a national clean water crisis.
Students from two St. Paul schools — Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet and Benjamin E. Mays IB World School — planted trees on their campuse

Group gets $10M to plant thousands of trees to cool urban heat islands in Minnesota

Federal grant to Great River Greening will finance planting nearly 14,000 trees over the next five years.
A drainage ditch project in Lyon County near Marshall, shown here in May, violated wetland and public water laws, draining part of Roggeman Marsh. Rep

Unauthorized drainage ditch still scars fields in southwest Minnesota

Lyon County farmers have until the end of the year to plug the ditch and install a dam-like structure on marsh.
Hastings has a water treatment plant to filter nitrate from farm fertilizers out of its contaminated drinking water. A state plan to change farm pract

Little action so far on plan to enlist farmers to clean up polluted groundwater in Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Agriculture has issued three of 20 action plans needed for farmers where nitrate has contaminated public water supplies.

Consumers have yet to develop a taste for Kernza, the environmental wonder grain

Minnesota has the most acres devoted to Kernza — but needs much more to reduce farm pollution.

Consumers have yet to develop a taste for Kernza, the environmental wonder grain

A smoky, foggy sunrise along the Gunflint Trail. Capturing and storing carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming, is a key par

Inject carbon under U.S. forest land? Federal government is considering allowing it.

The proposed change has some conservation groups calling foul, claiming it's wrong to dump permanent waste under precious natural areas, even to fight climate change.
A snake plant, sansevieria trifasciata, is available at Heidi’s GrowHaus & Lifestyle Gardens in Corcoran, Minn. on Thursday, July 27, 2023. The new

Minneapolis says planting a snake plant will clean your home's air. It won't.

Houseplants have clear benefits, but scrubbing indoor air is not one of them, many scientists say.
Ryan Capelle, left, a project manager with Stantec and lead engineer on construction of the plant, and Jon Stueve, public works director for Cold Spri

With no other options to clean up its drinking water, small Minnesota town turns to bugs

$6.5 million biological nitrate reduction plant in Cold Spring, Minn., is state's first.
While working near Clearbrook, Minn., in early 2021, Enbridge Energy crews pierced an artesian aquifer, endangering nearby wetlands. It was the first

Fourth aquifer rupture discovered along Line 3 in northern Minnesota

Environmental activists first revealed the breach caused by construction of Enbridge's pipeline.
The top choice for eliminating PFAS from tap water was the Travel Berkey Water Filter, which is more expensive than others but has a filter that lasts

There's new hope for eliminating PFAS from tap water: pitcher filters

It's one bright spot in the still-unfolding global environmental tragedy of "forever chemical" pollution — and a surprise.

Small plane crashes into Lino Lakes pond, pilot uninjured

Police and fire staff responded to an unnamed pond in a neighborhood north of Main Street near Interstate 35E.
Screenshot from a video of the plane landing on a Blaine road, captured from inside a vehicle.

Pilot lands Cessna on Blaine road

The pilot, who landed smoothly and was uninjured, was dealing with a sudden drop in oil pressure.

Hopkins death under investigation

A man in the apartment was arrested and is receiving medical treatment for injuries.

Controversy brews over environmental credit program to restore wetlands near Lake Mille Lacs

Dispute turns on when "conifer bogs and swamps" in Aitkin County were drained away.

Scientists think a fungus could conquer invasive buckthorn

Chain saws, shears, chemicals and goats are losing the battle against the noxious plant.

Scientists think a fungus could conquer invasive buckthorn

The spilled beer mash shown here at the Denco II ethanol plant in Morris in 2021 was among multiple violations that led to a $250,000 pollution fine.

Beer mash spill, other pollution violations lead to $250K fine for western Minnesota ethanol plant

The company called the settlement voluntary but said it's making leadership changes to improve environmental controls.

Corridors of native pollinator plants to sprout along Minnesota's state highways

Minnesota's new Highways for Habitat program aims to build native vegetation along roadsides.
FILE - A road bisects a wetland on June 20, 2019, near Kulm, N.D. The Supreme Court has made it harder for the federal government to police water poll

Supreme Court ruling eliminates protections from vast areas of wetlands

Environmentalist groups denounce "devastating" ruling; state regulators say Minnesota's expansive wetlands protections will blunt the impact.
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, center in black, cuts the ribbon at the opening of Accelera by Cummins' first hydrogen electrol

Energy secretary announces electric vehicle grants, spotlights clean energy in Minnesota

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced grants to two nonprofits to make electric vehicles more accessible to underserved communities.

Energy secretary announces electric vehicle grants, spotlights clean energy in Minnesota

Sens. Kari Dziedzic and Foung Hawj talk on the Senate floor.

Lawmakers reach historic deal on environment, climate, energy

The bill features a broad ban on PFAS and $1 billion in new spending for environment and energy projects.
A view of a U.S. Steel’s taconite plant in Keewatin, Minn., last October.

New EPA rule targets taconite industry, the biggest mercury polluter in Minnesota

Mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, is a major pollutant in the state's waters.
An aerial view of a soybean plantation that uses burning to expand its area near Porto Velho, Brazil, in September 2019.

Environmental firm files formal complaint against Cargill over soy production in Brazil

ClientEarth says the Minnetonka-based ag giant has failed to monitor its suppliers and thus contributed to deforestation.
The ditch was dug and trees uprooted through Terry Lange’s property and wetland, where he hunted as a kid.

Farmers' trench digging raises concerns about wetlands protection in Minnesota

Local wetlands authorities say the damage was unintentional and will be repaired.
The high level of nitrate in its drinking water is forcing Utica, a small town in Winona County, to drill a much deeper new well. It’s a $2 million

Nitrate levels in 8 southeast Minnesota counties near crisis point

A petition to EPA describes an "imminent and substantial endangerment" to the health of southeast Minnesota residents.
Ivan Fontanez (Banjo), at left, plays guitar while practicing with band members of Lightening and Thunder in a basement studio in Minneapolis.

'Climate migrant' fled Puerto Rico for the safety of Minnesota

Ivan "Banjo" Fontánez calls himself a "weather trekker," potentially the leading edge of a worldwide shift.
Winona LaDuke spoke to students on the topic of activism at the 2022 National Unity Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center on July 11, 2022.

Environmental advocate Winona LaDuke steps down from her organization

The decision came a week after a court ruling in a sexual harassment case involving Honor the Earth.
In 2021, Gov. Tim Walz toured a factory that makes components for electric vehicles as part of an event announcing Minnesota’s new clean car rules.

Farmers, gas stations sue Gov. Tim Walz over Minnesota 'clean car' rule

Cutting demand for gasoline and liquid fuels will hurt Minnesota businesses, plaintiffs argue.

How recyclers defuse the climate bomb inside your old refrigerator

As the U.S. phases down a climate super-pollutant in refrigerants, the EPA is developing new regulations to catch more of the gases before they escape into the atmosphere.
Lena, a 14-year-old Canada lynx, gazed out from her enclosure at the Minnesota Zoo last year in Apple Valley.

Minnesota will restrict snare and leghold traps to protect rare Canada lynx in Arrowhead

The decision settles a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity but was opposed by trapper groups.
Wait! Don’t salt that sidewalk if you don’t need to.

Here's how you can reduce salt use on your icy sidewalk

Sanding, scraping and sweeping will all help reduce salt runoff into lakes.
Power brooms and brushes, such as this one at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus in 2017, clear snow before it melts and are one tool to r

'Low Salt, No Salt Minnesota' targets private contractors

New initiative is aimed at those who weren't getting the message about reducing salt use on icy pavements to fight water pollution: private property owners.
Minnesota Power’s wind farm in the southwestern part of the state.

Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions show steep drop

The disruption of the pandemic contributed to that decline, but officials said factors go beyond that.
A 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle, as it charges at a Ford dealership in Pennsylvania.

Minnesota auto dealers lose court fight with state pollution regulators over 'clean car' rule

Industry group likely to ask state Supreme Court to hear the case.
About 120 landowners met Monday in Lamberton, in southwest Minnesota, for a community meeting to learn more about carbon pipelines proposed for the st

'Carbon Express' pipeline runs into skepticism in Minnesota farm country

A massive project to store climate-harming emissions from ethanol plants hinges on landowners.
Bluefin Bay resort on Minnesota's North Shore; clean, attractive condos in a well-managed resort atmosphere.

Maverick Minnesota lawyers looking for wastewater polluters target cities, businesses

A law firm that has targeted hundreds of businesses over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act has a new focus: water pollution.
Dustin Vanasse, owner of Minneapolis-based Bare Honey, showed the honey made by the bees he keeps at the Connexus Energy solar array in Ramsey in Octo

New honeybee vaccine gets little buzz from Minnesota bee community

The USDA has approved the first-ever vaccine for honeybees. But Minnesota's beekeepers say their troubles are bigger.
Lynx scat that researchers and developers collect in Minnesota is being used to develop a species recovery plan. There are only 100 to 300 lynx in the

How to save the lynx from extinction? It starts with poop

Two decades after they were declared a threatened species, Canada lynx still need a recovery plan. Their poop, which researchers and volunteers collect in Minnesota, could be crucial in preservation efforts.
Purrington Prairie outside Windom, Minn., is a 40- acre remnant of native prairie that has never been plowed. Shown here in bloom, the former cow past

Family's unplowed prairie to become one of state's newest refuges

Scientific and Natural Areas are a key tool in the state's fight to save species from extinction.
In this photo made on Thursday, May 6, 2021, a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E is seen as it is charging at a Ford dealer in Wexford, Pa.

Mpls. offers incentives for EV chargers in new garages after state code blocks requirement

Estimates are as high as $5,000 in prewiring costs to make a garage stall ready for electric vehicle charging, officials say
Fisheries specialist Andrew Scholten netted minnows at the DNR fish hatchery in Waterville, Minn. The hatchery dates to the 1950s. It’s small, outmo

Eyeing surplus, DNR to try again for huge outdoors investment

In the last session, the department asked lawmakers for more than $300 million for one-time projects around the state, but left largely empty-handed after major spending bills collapsed under partisan spending disagreements.
Margaret “Peggy” Douglass with her niece’s dog Lucy

Peggy Douglass, who died at age 61, touched lives over three decades at Hennepin County human services

Her motto: "Thanks for coming to work!"
Aaron Parker and Jason Dow showed a testing facility Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022 Plymouth, Minn. Daikin Applied Systems, a leading commercial HVAC manufac

Local companies retool to remove climate villain from your fridge and AC

This year, the United States started phasing down a lesser-known but powerful greenhouse gas: hydrofluorocarbons.
In September 2021, heavy machinery was brought in after Enbridge pipeline construction breached an aquifer near Clearbrook, Minn.

Enbridge to pay $7M, faces criminal charge after Line 3 pipeline breached aquifer

Pipeline construction linked to three aquifer breaches. Company faces misdemeanor charge in one instance.
The imperiled goblin fern emerges from the forest floor in northern Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest. Invasive earthworms are a major threat to th

Ravenous earthworms are destroying a ghostly fern and endangering Minnesota forests

Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest is home to most of the world's population of goblin ferns. But time may be running out for the ancient ferns as surrounding forest floors are destroyed by a voracious invader: Earthworms.
Lena, a 14-year-old Canada lynx, at her enclosure Feb. 15 at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. As the northern boreal forest goes, so goes the lynx.

How you can help Minnesota's most endangered animals and plants

Across the state, people are taking measures to save vulnerable species at risk of extinction. Here's what you can do.
A Poweshiek skipperling butterfly sits on a black-eyed Susan after being released in a central Michigan wetland. The once common prairie butterflies a

This butterfly disappeared from Minnesota. Biologists now fight to save the last few in the world

Beginning in the early 2000s, the Poweshiek skipperling population suddenly cratered in Minnesota, for reasons that aren't yet fully clear. Researchers at the Minnesota Zoo are part of a last-ditch effort to stop the species from dying out.
Metro Transit electrician Dan Aasen demonstrates how the electric buses are charged at the Metro Transit Heywood ] Elizabeth Flores • liz.flores@sta

Minnesota's transition to electric vehicles is long, bumpy

Changes are underway, but the gap between climate goals and reality is wide.
Prairie chickens used to roam widely across Minnesota but were decimated by development and farming. Here, prairie chickens perform their spring matin

Its habitat decimated, this charismatic Minnesota bird is dancing on the edge of oblivion

Minnesota's prairie chickens were once so abundant their flocks cast shadows on the ground. But like so many other species, they're dying out.
Governor Tim Walz joined state officials, legislators, business leaders and activists to release Minnesota’s new climate action plan on Friday, Sept

Minnesota set to clamp down on greenhouse gases: 'It's a big, heavy lift'

State's new climate plan calls for faster, deeper cuts in global warming gases.
Researchers and volunteers dig up and move rare bristle-berries sitting in the path of a highway expansion in Blaine.

6th mass extinction is underway in Minn. — but squads of defenders are fighting back

The list of species at risk of statewide extinction grows ever longer. But these vulnerable plants and animals have defenders: In Blaine, scientists and volunteers mobilized to rescue a patch of rare bristle-berries from road construction.
These 50 animals and plants have disappeared from Minnesota

These 50 animals and plants have disappeared from Minnesota

Scientists know the actual number of extirpated species is much larger, but we don't have a full picture of what species have lived here.
In June 2021, Indigenous protesters and their allies occupied an Enbridge pump station in Clearwater County, some chaining themselves to equipment. La

Dozens of Line 3 protesters in Minnesota still face prosecution

Enbridge-funded public safety account paid $8.6 million for policing Line 3 construction.
Sheep grazed on native prairie and flowers planted at a solar farm run by Enel Green Power in Shafer, Minn., that supplies Xcel Energy.

5 changes Minnesotans will likely see from the historic climate bill

The Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to transform the way we drive, heat our homes and grow our food.
Line 3 under construction in 2017.

Water spills again from aquifer breached by northern Minnesota pipeline

Groundwater was discovered bubbling from a breach that Enbridge Energy said it had sealed last year.
Researcher Carrie Jennings paddled by farm tile drains emptying into the South Fork Crow River, a major source of Mississippi River pollution. 

How the little, polluted Crow River clouds the Mississippi

The Crow is the first major agricultural river emptying into the mighty waterway, and it doubles the Mississippi's nutrient pollution, state officials say, adding phosphorous, nitrogen and sediment.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service senior fish biologist Michael Schwimm climbs down into Devil’s Hole Friday, April 29, 2022, in Ash Meadows National W

Extinction threat may be greater than known, study finds

Nearly one in three species of all kinds — 30% — face global extinction or have been driven to extinction since the year 1500, according to research led by the University of Minnesota.
Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Wetland delineation? There's an app for that

St. Paul startup creates BioApp to cut time surveying wetlands.

Mendota Heights nixes homeowner's bluff-top landscaping without permit

The property lies in the protected Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area.
This shot shows Birch Lake near the site of the planned Twin Metals copper mine. A federal study released Thursday found hardrock mining in the Superi

Long-awaited federal study finds threat to Boundary Waters from hardrock mining

The study was hailed by environmentalists seeking a ban on mining in the Superior National Forest.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, left, spoke during a briefing at the White House in Washington on May 16.

EPA tightens the health standard for 'forever chemicals' in drinking water

Even as they widen testing for PFAS in water supplies, Minnesota officials criticized the change as impossible to measure.
Gov. Tim Walz announced the final adoption of Minnesota’s new clean cars rule in July 21 at a manufaturer of electric vehicle battery heating techno

Minnesota car dealers file new legal action in fight against 'clean car' rules

The rules will require auto makers to send Minnesota more electric vehicles.
Drone photography of endangered typical landscape with lagoon, rainforest and palm trees

Human rights, conservation groups oppose Cargill's bid to open new port in Brazil

Locals dispute land deal as forests and native vegetation continued to be razed for soy and cattle.
3M’s Cottage Grove manufacturing facility.

3M will pay $2.8 million fine for hazardous waste violations in Cottage Grove

The penalty stemmed from the handling of toxic waste at the company's incinerator.
A cover crop of oats, peas and daikon radishes grew in a field last year after the vegetables were harvested at a farm in Shafer, Minn.

Farmers in Minnesota get more cover crop funding to keep soil from washing away

"There just aren't the federal resources to meet the need," said Todd Hogrefe with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Thomas Howes, natural resources program manager for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, discussed the band’s reintroduction of sturgeon

Fond du Lac Band says it will be downstream victim of PolyMet mine pollution

Tribe finds ally in EPA, but the mining company disputes the threat.