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Archive for October, 2011

Policy Forum Preview: Working Together to Achieve Healthy Waters

October 26th, 2011

Imagine if you will, a loon’s call over a cold, crisp lake in the north woods, the familiar sound of a canoe paddle hitting the water, the hum of a boat motor, the laughter of children playing on the beach, the sound of a fish breaking the water at dawn.  All the sounds we love about Minnesota’s water resources.

Everyone can agree that we want clean water in Minnesota.  But how do we get there in the most effective, economical way?  How do we make water quality improvements at scales large enough to impact water quality goals?  What is working well right now in Minnesota?

Minnesota.  Water.  Collaboration.


Mark Lundgren


Director of Environmental Projects

Supply Chain Standards Bring Clarity, Focus for Companies

October 13th, 2011

It’s safe to say that the majority of supply chain professionals did not enter the field to become environmental decision makers.  Yet more and more they are the lynchpin of sustainability strategies in leading companies.

Still, the question arises – why would a company want to add environment to the existing safety, quality, reliability, and cost issues they already manage in their supply chains?

Like with other business metrics, the numbers tell part of the story:


Holly Lahd


Graduate Research Fellow, University of Minnesota Northstar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise

Chemicals Policy 101: What You Need to Know

October 4th, 2011

“Chemistry is everywhere.” My college offered an undergraduate course with this title, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I fully understood how true this statement is. Each of us encounters hundreds of chemical compounds every day. Whether in the air we breathe, soaps we use, plastics we handle, or even the water we drink – chemistry is essential and inescapable.

In the United States, chemicals in commerce are regulated under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA – pronounced “TOSCA”), which was passed into law in 1976 and has not been updated since. TSCA gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to maintain an inventory of chemicals in commerce, regulate unreasonable risk from toxic chemicals, and disclose certain health and safety information. Of the approximately 85,000 chemical substances on the TSCA inventory, only five have been actively regulated by EPA in the 35 years since TSCA’s enactment. Of course, not all chemicals are harmful. Many chemicals have been extensively tested and are shown to be safe. Still, there is wide acknowledgment that TSCA is not as effective as it could be at protecting the public from dangerous chemicals. The need to reform TSCA appears on the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) High Risk List and the EPA has released a set of principles for TSCA reform and a suite of activities to strengthen its chemical management program activities in the meantime.


Ellen Gibson


Senior Director, Projects & Programs
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