Climate & the Environment

We must address the threat of climate change.

I’ve cared about environmental issues for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I watched news stories about our Great Lakes being so polluted that they started on fire, and about Love Canal, a New York neighborhood polluted by toxic dumping that caused cancer and other negative health impacts in local children and residents. My horror about these stories and the harm being done to our environment and our people made me want to become an environmental engineer. I majored in environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, and hoped to use my skills to mitigate existing pollution and prevent further damage to the environment. My engineering expertise informs my knowledge that climate change is real, and not something we can choose whether to believe in.

We all know that government policy can have a huge positive impact on the environment, and as your Senator, I will fight to use this power to address the threat of climate change and to improve the health of the environment. This goal is inspired by government initiatives like the 1972 Clean Water Act, which made major improvements to local water quality, in part by requiring the separation of sanitary sewers and storm sewers, and had a big impression on my life. My grandparents farmed on land adjacent to Lake Pepin, and as a child, I remember not swimming in the lake in the summertime because pollutants from an overflowing sanitary sewage treatment plant upstream made swimming unsafe. The Clean Water Act changed the quality of water in lakes across the country, including Lake Pepin, and my family now swims in that lake with no concern for water quality.

I will work to pass all legislative efforts related to every Resolution that is currently supported by the DFL Environmental Caucus. The full list of Resolutions can be found here.

We need to help homeowners who want to move towards clean energy, because it is in our state’s interest to move away from fossil fuels and towards reliable and proven renewable energy sources. Specifically, I believe in providing incentives for homeowners to install solar panels on their homes; my husband and I recently installed a 36-panel solar array on our home which will pay for itself in just nine years. Incentives and financing options should be made available to all whose homes present conditions favorable to installing solar panels, and who are interested in doing so.

We need to pass legislation that directs the state Board of Investments to divest its portfolio from all investments in fossil fuel companies and fossil fuel infrastructure of any kind. These investments come with a moral cost and, increasingly, significant financial risk.

Copper, nickel, and sulfide mining should be heavily restricted and regulated in Minnesota. In the short term, we need to place a moratorium on this kind of mining in our state, including a complete halt to the permit process, such that we can commission an independent study on why the current permit and regulatory processes have not worked as designed. Many argue that the legislation necessary to protect Minnesota’s environment and natural heritage, as well as to honor treaty rights, already exists – but the extensive damage caused by many current and former mining projects indicates otherwise. We need to learn exactly where our current system has failed, and use that information to design a much stronger permit and regulatory process that prevents as much damage as possible and holds companies financially accountable for any damage they do cause.

Prepared and paid for by Campaign of Ann Johnson Stewart, PO Box 46505, Plymouth, MN 55446