Since 1974, combining legal, legislative and scientific expertise to protect Minnesota’s environment.
MCEA has been a consistent leader since it was founded in 1974 as the Project Environment Foundation. From drafting many of Minnesota’s key environmental laws in the 1970s to helping persuade the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to revise its funding guidelines to consider the needs of community residents through which new transit lines run, MCEA has been at the forefront of every major environmental success story in Minnesota. It remains the only Minnesota nonprofit organization that combines on-staff legal, legislative, and scientific expertise in the effort to protect the environment.
MCEA works with many of the 90 environmental nonprofit organizations based in Minnesota. Additionally, MCEA regularly collaborates with business and governmental agencies, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and several health organizations. The organization has close relationships with many other nonprofits such as Fresh Energy, Access Transportation Coalition, Transit for Livable Communities, ISAIAH, and Envision Minnesota.
MCEA is led by a staff of 15 professional and administrative staff with diverse backgrounds and skills. This includes individuals with legal, scientific, legislative, fundraising, program and executive experience. MCEA is supported by an 18 member Board of Directors that includes community, business, education, civic and environmental leaders.
MCEA’s mission is carried out through five program areas:
Water Quality: focuses on protecting Minnesota’s greatest natural resource and economic asset, its water. MCEA supports and advocates for the adoption of protective nitrogen and phosphorous standards for flowing waters, defending the state's numeric nitrogen and phosphorous standards for lakes and reservoirs and full participation in large-scale implementation plans for turbidity reductions in the Minnesota River and phosphorus reductions in Lake Pepin.
Land Use and Transportation: advocates for public policy platforms and funding mechanisms that support a broad set of choices for how we live and get around, both to protect the environment and improve public health. MCEA played a major role in the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) and is a leader in the formative stages of the proposed Southwest LRT line and Bottineau Corridor, a future line that could bring enormous benefits to the citizens of north Minneapolis.
Wildlife & Natural Resources: works to conserve, protect, and advocate for policies and practices that will sustain lakes, rivers, forest and streams, as well as the communities that depend upon them to prevent long-term damage and destruction.
For example, MCEA has been a key leader in the Red River basin since 1998 when mediation agreement was signed that proposed a new approach to achieve both flood damage reduction and natural resource enhancement goals.
Clean Energy: focuses on long-term development of modern and sustainable energy sources for Minnesota and the replacement of out-dated, environmentally harmful energy sources like coal-fired electrical power plants. To support this goal, MCEA serves as legal counsel for several Minnesota energy partners including the Izaak Walton League, Wind on the Wires, Fresh Energy, Center for Energy and the Environment, and the Sierra Club’s Retire Old Coal program.
MCEA and its energy partners continue to focus on making sure no new coal-burning power plants are built and phasing out the aging coal-fired power plants.
Mining: advocates to ensure that proposed copper nickel mining projects in northeastern Minnesota comply with modern environmental standards. Sulfide mining poses significant and often perpetual environmental threats to water quality and protected wetlands and will be a major new contributor to Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions. MCEA works to ensure that the mines are approved only if all appropriate environmental safeguards are required and if adequate and secure financial assurance is put in place so Minnesota taxpayers won’t get stuck with the bill when the mines close.