Rep. Denny McNamara tonight plans to take an axe to a swath of proposed environmental projects that are paid for by Minnesota Lottery money.
McNamara, R-Hastings, is planning to initiate a challenge to about $8 million worth of projects that were previously recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The total bill recommends $52 million in projects that are paid over a two-year period out of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is built up by Lottery proceeds.
Since last November’s elections the LCCMR’s membership has changed significantly, as has the partisan control of both the House and Senate.
McNamara, an LCCMR member and chairman of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the previously crafted LCCMR recommendations focus too much on studies and research. He said there’s support for more “on the ground” types of habitat and conservation projects.
“I don’t think it’s reflective of the current Legislature. If we brought this to the floor today they would want to delete so many projects,” McNamara told PIM.
He also wants to see more of a focus on aquatic invasive species, chronic wasting disease in deer and the effects of sulfates in wild rice.
McNamara’s criticism has sparked controversy in the environmental community.
Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, who served on the LCCMR for several years until being removed this year, criticized McNamara’s move. She said scientific research is important because the framework for scientific understanding dates back to the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 and needs to be updated.
“Science has changed since 1972 and science will tell us a lot more about how to spend our money wisely,” Wagenius said.
The LCCMR is scheduled tonight to hold a four-hour meeting in the State Office Building.