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Minnesota agencies consider adding climate impacts to environmental review process

Plus: rampant catalytic converter thefts spur national shortage of replacement converters; Minnesota DPS vows crackdown on speeding; Mississippi River reopens for navigation; and more.

road repair
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Expanding environmental review. MPR’s Kirsti Marohn reports: “Large projects in Minnesota — from new highways to industrial plants to big housing developments — are required to go through an environmental review that examines the project’s potential risks to the land, air, water and wildlife. … But despite widespread concern over rising global temperatures, proposers haven’t typically been required to examine a project’s contributions — and resiliency — to climate change: How many greenhouse gases will a proposed asphalt plant or hog feedlot release into the atmosphere? How might a new highway or wastewater treatment plant withstand the effects of heavier rainfalls and higher temperatures? … Now, several state agencies are recommending significant changes to Minnesota’s environmental review program that would require proposers to add up their project’s carbon footprint — and consider ways to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change.”

Catalytic converter theft still a problem. The Pioneer Press’ Nick Ferraro reports: “Tommy Jenkins is the Wonderful Muffler Man, a one-man shop along Rice Street in Roseville. … With over 25 years in business, Jenkins has gained a loyal following with classic car owners wanting his custom welding work. Over the past few months, though, he’s been busy installing catalytic converters for other customers who’ve had the car part swiped by thieves looking to cash in on the precious metals in them. … “I’ve seen a massive uptick in business,” Jenkins said. “I’ve had weeks where I’ve done five, six. But this has been creeping up over the last three years, and now these thieves are going crazy with it.” … Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed recently in the Twin Cities metro area and across the United States as the price of platinum, palladium and rhodium increased, while the black market for the car parts — and the quick cash they bring thieves — grew. And that has set off a new series of headaches for theft victims: a nationwide shortage of replacement catalytic converters, which in turn has led to higher costs and longer repair wait times.

Need for (less) speed. The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow reports: “There is a problem on Minnesota roads and it’s not potholes, as plentiful as they are. … Speeders are the biggest menace on the roads, and law enforcement is trying to rein them in before the busy summer travel season begins, said Mike Hanson, director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety. … An all-out blitz that started in February has state troopers teaming with county sheriffs and local police to crack down on lead-footed driving. … ‘If you speed, you can expect to get stopped,’ Hanson said.

River’s open. KARE reports:The first Mississippi River towboat has marked the unofficial start of the 2021 navigation season. … U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say the Motor Vehicle R. Clayton McWhorter passed through Lock and Dam 3 near Welch on Friday afternoon. … The Pioneer Press reports that the tow originated in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois and was pushing 12 barges en route to St. Paul. It had earlier passed through Lake Pepin, which borders Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

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In other news…

Not a great idea:Walz, local doctor raise concern about spring break travel during pandemic” [KSTP]

Playing it safe:Kenny Chesney’s tour postponed again, will visit US Bank Stadium in 2022” [KSTP]

Frost returning in April:St. Paul’s W.A. Frost to reopen in April with new chef, new menu” [BringMeTheNews]

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