Take Action for Animals and Climate by March 31

Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Review Board is seeking public input on changes to how it measures the greenhouse gas impact of new and expanded feedlots (aka factory farms).

It’s critical that the board hear from the public the full weight of environmental impacts caused by factory farming. Your input could help to entirely prevent the introduction of new or expanded factory farming operations in our state, and assist in the transition to a more humane and climate-friendly economy.

Fill out this form to take action now. More information and further ways to take action are discussed below.

Photo credit Jo-Ann McArthur, from WeAnimals Media

What does the Minnesota Environmental Quality Review board do?

The Minnesota Environmental Quality Review board sets standards for legally mandated environmental reviews of proposed public and private projects that may significantly affect the environment.

What changes is the board considering and why?

The board did not include potential climate impacts in environmental assessments until the Land Stewardship Project and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy sued the state. In 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that climate change considerations must be included within the environmental review process.

In 2020, the board began public hearings on how to begin to include climate impacts in environmental assessments. Now the board is specifically seeking further input on how to consider climate impacts related to animal agriculture. 

How can I take action?

  1. Request an interview (read the talking points below). EQB will conduct one-on-one interviews with a limited number of people. Email them to be considered for an interview.
  2. Attend the virtual listening session on Saturday, March 27, 2021, from 10:00 am to 11:30 am (agenda and link to participate).
  3. Get updates and a survey. Sign up for the Climate Change and Environmental Review email list to be updated on the project and notified when a survey is available.

Where can I learn more?

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy published this blog which has more detail on Minnesota’s climate goals and the impact of animal agriculture on those goals.

Talking points

Include all climate- related emissions. Projects should be required to list emissions related to feed production (including fertilizer use), energy and fuel use on the farm and in feed production (if produced off the farm), and any land use change that occurs as a result of the project. This full assessment should be included for any project required to do an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW).

Provide a complete mitigation strategy and eliminate offsets. Each project developer should explain clearly how it will mitigate the emissions cited above. In proposed feedlot projects, plant-based systems that can help reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) should be considered as an alternative. The Minnesota-based company Puris and the University of Minnesota are leading the way in helping growers transition to climate-friendly operations (see https://puris.com/growers/overview and https://www.midwesthazelnuts.org/). While the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) proposes the purchase of renewable energy offsets, I believe the operation should be directly responsible for reducing the project’s direct emissions and shouldn’t escape that responsibility through offsets. The project developer should be required to list out all possible mitigation strategies that were considered and explain what was chosen and why. 

Keep Minnesota clean and healthy. Large-scale animal agriculture operations with giant manure storage facilities are vulnerable to extreme weather events and these events are rapidly increasing due to climate change. The EQB report requests that project developers assess predicted climate-related impacts for their region and lay out an adaptation strategy for the project. For feedlots, these adaptation strategies MUST pay special attention to the climate risks associated with manure storage and spread, and discuss the threats posed to the project, the surrounding community, and the environment.

Require a robust climate report and explain how the project will help meet Minnesota’s climate goals.  The EQB report should be changed to provide clarity on how Minnesota’s state climate goals spelled out in the Next Generation Energy Act should be considered within a project. More guidance is needed.  It is important that state agencies have the information they need to get the state back on track, including whether there is a threshold of emissions from proposed projects that should spur an Environmental Impact Statement.

Require full consideration of climate-friendly alternatives. Minnesota is off-track to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals set in the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act. The fact is that each new or expanding feedlot project will increase the state’s GHG emissions. It’s vital that we give full consideration to plant-based operations that could lower Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions, provide critical employment opportunities in greater Minnesota, and spare animals from the lives of suffering they endure on feedlots. As stated earlier, The Minnesota-based company Puris and the University of Minnesota are leading the way in helping growers transition to climate-friendly operations, and consideration of these alternatives should be considered in any review.

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