Environmental Initiative - Home

Archive for December, 2014

Pollinator Policy Forum: What’s the Buzz?

December 18th, 2014

If you have been paying attention to news channels for the past decade, you may have heard about the severe decline in honeybeesbee populations. Recently, these trends have gained the attention of many bee fans to collaborate for a solution. Governmental departments, academics at the University of Minnesota, and environmental organizations chose to focus on discussing creating habitats for Minnesota’s pollinators at Environmental Initiative’s recent policy forum. But what you might not see (as I didn’t) before attending the meeting was, “What do bees have to do with me individually?”

When I was a kid, honeybees were the source for sweet condiments on my chicken tenders after a hard day’s work at soccer practice. As it turns out, bees serve my zesty taste buds and nutrition more than I imagined. According to Marla Spivak, a leading bee researcher at the University of Minnesota, bees directly or indirectly provide for the bounties of our fruits and vegetables. Not only that, the ‘lil buggers pollinate about $15 billion worth of agricultural crops that sustain our nation’s appetite and economy.


Tess Ergen


Student, University of Minnesota

Environmental Initiative Staff Tour the ‘HERC’

December 10th, 2014

When Pete Swenson at Tennant Company invited us to join members of their operations team on a tour of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, I could barely type “YES!” fast enough. After working on the Waste Reduction Collaborative project for the past 10 months, an opportunity to see first hand where our community’s waste goes was definitely on the top of my list.

The HERC – Hennepin Energy Recovery Center – is a refuse-fired electric generating facility. Meaning, this is Group photo of staff in hard hatswhere 35% percent of Hennepin County’s waste – both residential and commercial – is burned as fuel to generate electricity. You’ve probably seen it without realizing as it’s located adjacent to Target Field.

As Pete mentioned in his initial email, the experience was definitely “eye-opening.” As I stood above the pit, the location where trash haulers dump their day’s collection, I tried to grasp the magnitude of waste that our society generates. But after watching truck after truck unload, and scoop after scoop of waste being added to the boilers, it wasn’t hard to understand.

Besides being saddened and overwhelmed by the extreme volume of waste, I stood there and reflected on what I could do to help the problem. I decided to pledge to think more critically, and encourage others to as well, about what we are throwing away. Instead of mindlessly tossing our trash into the bin (I’m guilty too), let’s actually pay attention.

For example, did you know that the HERC still receives tires, appliances, electronics, and aluminum cans on a daily basis? All of these items cause tremendous problems at HERC. At the same time, they all have reputable, mainstream recycling options available. Let’s be mindful and use them!

We also learned that wet, organic material doesn’t mix well with the boiler. What if we helped out the HERC and got our organics out of the waste stream? I encourage you to talk with your local county to explore options for organics collection in your area.

And finally, if you have a group that could use an “eye-opener” sign-up to take a tour of HERC. I promise it will be worth your time.

Dani Schurter


Project Manager

Member of the Month: Dorsey & Whitney LLP

December 2nd, 2014

As former Director and Board Chair of Environmental Initiative, I am pleased to support Environmental Initiative and its mission. Dorsey & Whitney is thrilled to be highlighted as the organization’s member of the month.

The Dorsey firm is a proud member of Environmental Initiative’s Sustainer Partnership Circle. For the past few years, Dorsey has also been a sponsor of the Policy Forum Series, which has allowed us to support our community’s discussion of important environmental issues like fuel transport, community recycling, groundwater and materials management, and clean air.

Dorsey’s mission statement pledges loyalty and support to our clients, our communities, and our colleagues. Our clients benefit from the knowledge we gain through Environmental Initiative’s programming, knowledge that allows us to provide insightful and relevant legal and business advice on environmental issues. Our community benefits from the organization’s collaborative and open dialogue regarding sustainability and our colleagues benefit from the opportunities Environmental Initiative offers to participate in an important policy conversation.

We thank Environmental Initiative for its tireless dedication to a stronger Minnesota.


A note from Environmental Initiative:
Each month, we feature information about one of our members on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Seymour-Anderson anytime at 612-334-3388 ext. 101 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Andy Brown


Partner, Co-Chair of the Energy Group and Chair of the Regulatory Affairs Group, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Environmental Initiative - Home