Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Minnesota PCA, transportation commissioners send letter to EPA defending Obama-era vehicle emission standards

Plus: Supreme Court case may affect Minnesota online sales tax revenues; climate change will eventually convey BWCA to grassland; U scientist may have PFC cleanup solution; and more.


Well, worth a try. MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar reports: “Minnesota and other states are weighing their options as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to weaken vehicle emission standards. … The efficiency rules, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE, were created during the Obama administration. President Trump’s EPA says they’re a burden on American automakers and would make cars and trucks more expensive.  But they could also put a significant dent in future greenhouse gas emissions. … ‘These vehicle emission standards are a broad tool that help reduce air pollution from vehicles. Vehicles are the No. 1 source of air pollution in Minnesota,’ Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine said. … Stine and MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week urging the agency to reconsider.

Special tax-day themed Supreme Court hearing. The Star Tribune’s Jim Spencer writes: “Minnesotans who’ve avoided paying state sales taxes on online and other kinds of remote purchases could soon see those taxes added to their bills, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a widely watched case that will be argued this week. … On Tuesday, the justices will hear South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., a dispute over a law that expands states’ ability to compel sellers without a physical presence to collect and forward taxes on purchases made by state residents. … Hundreds of millions of dollars in Minnesota sales tax payments hang in the balance as the nation’s highest court wades into the digital economy and state tax collections for the first time in 26 years.”

Then again, we might not be around to see it. MPR’s Cody Nelson reports: “The Boundary Waters may seem unchangeable and stoic. But humankind’s actions over time are far too much for nature. … If you know where to look, you can already see the Boundary Waters transforming from a lush forest into a desolate grassland. … Warmer temperatures caused by human greenhouse gas emissions are letting maple and oak to start invading the region. … ‘Later on when the summers get really hot, because it’s shallow rocky soil, most of the trees will die and it will end up being savannah,’ said University of Minnesota forest ecologist Lee Frelich. ‘So grassland with scattered oak trees.’ ”

Cleaning up a big mess. The Pioneer Press’s Bob Shaw writes: “Matt Simcik has invented a sponge that might be able to clean up one of the state’s worst water-pollution problems, the PFCs in Washington County groundwater. … His technique involves putting absorbent material underground. … ‘This stuff is sticky. It sticks to the soil, and then the (chemicals) stick to it,’ said Simcik, who lives in Stillwater and is an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. … The method is still unproven, but he hopes to get funding to launch the first tests. He says the swath of underground pollution in Washington County would be a fine place to start.”

In other news…

A big issue:Gov. Dayton, Knoblach proposals target special education cross-subsidy” [St. Cloud Times]

Article continues after advertisement

Local brewers weigh in on the East Coast IPA:To Haze, Or Not to Haze?” [Growler]

New sheriff in town:Former local FBI head taking law enforcement role at Minneapolis Fed” [Star Tribune]

Ouch:Charles Barkley calls the Timberwolves ‘the dumbest team’ in the NBA …” [KFAN]