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Archive for November, 2014

Join the Discussion: Safe and Economic Transportation of Bakken Crude Oil Through Minnesota

November 25th, 2014

Bakken shale oil production has reached 1 million barrels per day, up from 200,000 in 2009 and is forecasted to be 1.6 million by 2017. Today, approximately 70% of Bakken shale oil is transported via railcars and each week over 50 million gallons of oil travel through densely populated regions, including the Twin Cities. As the train derailment in Casselton, North Dakota last December demonstrates, the emergency response system needs additional resources to address rail accidents.  The proposed Sandpiper pipeline route will travel through vulnerable and largely inaccessible Minnesota wetlands. However, it will reduce the rail car transportation and result in billions of dollars in infrastructure investments.

Given these challenges, how do we safely transport Bakken shale oil through Minnesota to refineries on the East and Gulf coasts? Join the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce – Upper Midwest Chapter for an event that brings global, national, regional and local experts together to discuss risk management practices as well as the economic impacts of the Bakken oil boom to the State and the business community.

December 4, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (registration and refreshments begin at 8:00 a.m.)

Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium – University of Minnesota
301 19th Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Parking and Directions »

Registration is $35, or $15 for students. Pre-registration is encouraged, but you may also register the day of the event. Register here »


Ole Koppang


Vice President, National Banking Division - Bank of the West

Minnesota meets on the verge of EPA’s new air quality standards

November 18th, 2014

As you may have read in the news, or some of our more recent blog posts, the federal air quality standards for ozone are expected to become more stringent when they are released in December. Last week a group of more than 100 leaders came together to learn more about the standards and discuss ways Minnesota can continue National ambient air quality standards for ground level ozone at 60 ppbto innovate collaboratively to reduce air pollution.

We were fortunate to be joined by Doug Aburano from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who talked a bit about how the health-based air quality standards that are set by the agency. He also shared a series of maps depicting various scenarios for the state depending on where the standards are set. As you can see from the map, (the one here depicts a scenario where the standard is set at 60 parts per billion) some areas will be more impacted by the changing federal standards than others. The standards are expected to be released on December 1, but will not be finalized until next October. The agency will not designate non-attainment areas (areas that violate the standard) until 2017. (more…)

Emily Franklin


Director of Communications

Reflections from the Net Impact Conference

November 11th, 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Net Impact Conference – a forum for students and professionals to come together to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. As a board member of NetNet Impact Conference Logo Impact Minneapolis, I’ve been gearing up for the conference since March. Although it came and went by in the blink of an eye, here are the top three things I took away:

Community. As I prepared for the conference, I envisioned myself moving from breakout to breakout, networking at the expo, and being inspired by the keynotes. What I wasn’t expecting was the true sense of community that surrounded me. From the very first keynote all the way to the closing party, you could feel the rich community around you. I felt the community presence most when I volunteered to help 3M put on a service activity. Over 100 people came together over 2 days during lunch to assemble 250 solar-powered lamps to send to families in Africa without reliable access to electricity. All I can say is the experience was truly heartwarming.

Leadership. Let’s just say I was blown away by our future leaders. As 60% off the conference attendees are undergraduate or graduate students, I had the pleasure of rubbing elbows with these extremely passionate and well-educated (future) leaders. There is no doubt in my mind that the next generation of environmentalists is ready to tackle the challenges ahead of us face on.

Leading by example. After working on the Waste Reduction Collaborative for almost a year, you could say waste is always on my mind. I was so impressed to not only see the Minneapolis Convention Center collecting organics for compost but also seeing their extremely robust collection system. I never saw a lone garbage can the entire time! I know it may seem small, but I applaud our regions efforts to lead by example. Knowing the community that surrounded me, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed our efforts.

Did you attend the Net Impact conference? What did you take away from the event? Send me an email or leave a comment here. If you missed it, you can catch the keynote and some of the session presentations on Net Impact’s website.

I hope to see you at next year’s conference.

Dani Schurter


Project Manager

Businesses Reducing Air Pollution in Minneapolis

November 6th, 2014

The City of Minneapolis has been leading an effort to partner with local businesses to voluntarily reduce air pollution in the city through our Green Business Matching Grant Program. The program invests grant dollars in businesses who reduce pollution in Minneapolis creating a healthier place to live, work, and play. Matching grants are available for dry cleaners, vehicle repair, service, and maintenance, and other innovative green solutions. Here are a few common questions (and my answers) about the program, what we’ve accomplished, and what we hope to do next.

Minneapolis Green Business LogoWhat is the Minneapolis Green Business Matching Grant Program?
The Green Business Matching Grant Program is a win-win approach to air quality where the City invests alongside businesses for cleaner business practices. Like all of us, business owners want to make healthy decisions for themselves, their workers, and their communities. The goal is to incentivize business owners who are on the fence about making substantial investments in their business that will improve worker health, community air quality, as well as regional air quality. We work with dry cleaners, automotive shops, and any other business with a way to clean the air.

How does the program work? What are the benefits to businesses? To air quality? To the city?
The City of Minneapolis provides 1/3 of the financial investment for the business. The benefit to the business is that they can provide safer alternatives for their workers, customers, and neighborhoods at a reduced cost. Typically, this involves new and more efficient equipment for the business as well. The business can feel proud of its stewardship in the community and the City of Minneapolis can feel proud to have businesses making real and quantifiable changes in the city. A true win-win situation. (more…)

Patrick Hanlon


Environmental Initiatives Manager, City of Minneapolis

Member of the Month: Best Buy

November 5th, 2014

At Best Buy, we believe sustainability must be an essential element of everything we do. It’s good for our business, it’s good for our customers, and it’s good for the environment.

That’s why we are pleased to support Environmental Initiative, which brings together other like-minded Minnesota organizations and individuals. And we are honored to be featured as Environmental Initiative’s member of the month.

Best Buy has been involved with Environmental Initiative for more than 10 years. We greatly appreciate the invaluable feedback and network of environmental thought leaders that continue to help our company as we strive to do more.

We believe that engaging with diverse stakeholders is crucial for any forward-looking company that hopes to contribute to solving relevant, real-world problems. Environmental Initiative supports that by bringing together industry peers and hosting events where best practices are shared and common challenges are addressed.

Best Buy has made exciting progress in our sustainability efforts, recently celebrating a significant milestone in our e-waste recycling program. We have collected more than 1 billion pounds of consumer electronics and large appliances from customers at our 1,400 U.S. retail stores since the program launched five years ago, and we have committed to an ambitious new goal to collect an additional 2 billion pounds by 2020.

We are proud of those efforts and our support of Environmental Initiative. We look forward to continuing to collaborate on environmental issues that affect the communities in which we live and work.


Best Buy Co., Inc. is the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, offering advice, service and convenience – at competitive prices – to the consumers who visit its websites and stores more than 1.5 billion times each year. In the United States, more than 70 percent of Americans are within 15 minutes of a Best Buy store. Additionally, the company operates businesses in Canada, China, and Mexico. Altogether, Best Buy employs more than 140,000 people and earns annual revenues of more than $40 billion. Best Buy is proud of the work we do every day to create a thriving business while contributing to the common good.

For more information, visit www.Corporate.BestBuy.com/Sustainability or follow @BBYNews on Twitter.

Alexis Ludwig-Vogen


Director, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Best Buy
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