We must commit ourselves to protecting our environment and preserving our natural resources for generations to come. Environmental conservation is a fundamental part of Minnesota’s heritage—and it is part of my own family’s heritage, too. Like most Minnesotans, I grew up in a family that values the outdoors. My grandpa from northern Minnesota was an avid hunter. My dad was a bicyclist, mountain climber, and all-around outdoorsman, and my mom always liked to fish and hike. When I was growing up, we never took a family vacation that didn’t involve a tent, camper, or cabin!
As your senator, I believe a major part of my job includes ensuring that we have the right policies to protect the natural resources we enjoy in Minnesota—our lakes, rivers, and wetlands, our forests and prairies, our wildlife habitats, and abundant farmland. It is our responsibility to pass on our Minnesota way of life to future generations with responsible conservation and smart policies that allow outdoor recreation, fishing, and hunting traditions to thrive. I am dedicated to promoting policies that address the urgent climate crisis, preserve our farmlands, reduce flooding dangers, and keep our air and water clean.
The climate crisis is happening right now and we need to confront it with a sense of urgency. Reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment make clear that action is needed immediately. In Minnesota and across the country, we have seen stronger and more frequent storms lead to flooding and other climate-related natural disasters that cause displacement and destruction. We cannot wait fifty years to address the climate impacts that threaten the livelihoods of our children, our farmers, our businesses, our infrastructure, and our national security.
We must chart a new energy future that puts us on a path to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will require reductions in greenhouse gases from our energy sector, but also must include homegrown energy sources, new energy technologies, and energy efficiency measures. There’s no single solution for our nation’s energy future, so we must take an all-of-the-above strategy to power our economy and make sure consumers have access to affordable and reliable energy. In Minnesota, we have the talent and know-how to innovate and the natural resources to propel our economy forward. By transitioning to a renewable energy future, I believe we can meet our nation’s energy demands, better protect our environment, and promote economic development across America.
By harnessing our homegrown energy potential and preserving the natural resources that make Minnesota such a unique place to live, our state can continue to be a shining example for the rest of the country, showing that strong energy and environmental policies can go hand-in-hand with a strong economy.
As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities:
- Taking immediate action to combat climate change. We have received warning after warning about the devastating consequences of climate change that are coming much sooner than expected. There is scientific consensus that climate change is having a negative impact on our world and it is clear that inaction is not an option for our economy, for our environment, for our country, and for our world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a report confirming 25 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the United States in 2023, breaking the previous record of 22 events in 2020. These 25 disaster events took the lives of 482 people and cost our nation a combined $81 billion in damages.
I supported historic legislation signed into law in 2022 that will allow us to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent by the year 2030. Now we must work toward achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. This will require reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting the development of energy-efficient technologies, and utilizing homegrown energy resources. As a member of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, I am fighting to ensure that efforts to address the threat of climate change are a part of our nation’s energy and environmental policy. I strongly support the Paris Climate Agreement. I pushed to rejoin the Agreement after the previous administration withdrew our membership. I also believe that we must set emissions standards for power plants and fuel economy standards which reduce emissions from cars and light trucks. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and the administration on a bold agenda to address the climate crisis.
- Promoting the development of homegrown renewable energy. Minnesota is at the forefront of ethanol, biodiesel, and wind energy production. Our state has led the nation in adopting renewable energy standards which have helped stimulate renewable development throughout Minnesota and brought new investment and opportunities to both rural and urban areas. Our nation now needs to adopt national standards for renewable energy and provide consumers with more choices at the gas pump.
I support the use of tax credits to promote wind and solar energy, including the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit. I voted in 2022 to expand and extend these credits, which help homeowners make investments in solar panels and support continued production of and investment in clean sources of energy. I have also advocated for programs that support geothermal energy, which is an important option as we look to diversify energy sources.
I have also been a strong supporter of the biodiesel tax credit, and I supported important legislation in 2022 that included several of my bills that make significant investments in programs that will support increased access to homegrown renewable fuels. These investments will support the wider adoption of biofuels all while continuing to provide rural jobs and market opportunities for farmers.
- Increasing energy efficiency. As former Obama Administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu once noted, improving efficiency in vehicles, buildings, and appliances isn’t just the “low-hanging fruit”—it’s the fruit that’s rolling on the ground. Promoting energy efficiency is good for business, good for consumers, and good for our economy. I have strongly supported programs that promote energy efficiency at the Department of Energy like the Weatherization Assistance Program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, which helps consumers and businesses make energy-efficient purchases. Another example is my Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, legislation I led with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021. The bill empowers the nonprofit community to make energy-efficiency improvements and help both our environment and our local communities by promoting greater energy savings and efficiency. I also led my colleagues in introducing a bill to create a tax credit to incentivize the production of heat pumps, which are used in geothermal heating systems. Heat pumps are highly efficient and have a key role to play in our energy future.
- Keeping our air and water clean. Minnesota has some of the strongest pollution control standards in the country. Residents across our state are concerned about the negative impacts of water and air pollutants that affect our public health and natural resources. Because pollution does not stop at state lines, we need strong federal standards to match Minnesota’s leadership. I have voted in support of strong standards for methane pollution, fuel economy, and energy efficiency for appliances and light bulbs. I have also worked with the current administration to strengthen environmental standards and opposed efforts to repeal the policies that keep our air and water clean.
- Strengthening and protecting our waterways. Minnesota is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and to Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world. These critical waterways are vital to Minnesota’s environment and economy. Our state’s lakes and rivers provide drinking water and recreational opportunities and we must commit to keeping aquatic invasive species out of them. Protecting our waterways also means providing communities with clean drinking water infrastructure and flood protection. Many rural communities across Minnesota are unable to shoulder the financial burden of upgrading or reconstructing key infrastructure projects. Without investment in water and wastewater infrastructure, overflows of stormwater and other pollution will threaten our waterways, beaches, and public health. That’s why I strongly supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invests in the proper infrastructure to maintain, upgrade, and improve drinking water, wastewater, and water navigation infrastructure, including measures to make these systems more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
- Protecting the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. As one of the Vice Chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I have consistently worked to protect the Great Lakes by fighting for funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which helps accelerate projects that protect and restore the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $1 billion in the clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites. These projects are already providing cleaner water and a healthier environment. I also led the effort to pass the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law in 2022 and provides the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the resources it needs to perform research, restoration, and conservation activities in the Great Lakes basin.
In addition to my work on the Great Lakes, I also serve as the Senate co-Chair of the Mississippi River Caucus. I have worked on efforts to develop and release the full potential of the Mississippi River and strongly support programs like the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) program, which is accelerating efforts to reverse degradation of the Mississippi River ecosystem and provide additional habitat for fish and wildlife.
- Keeping invasive species out of our waters. I have worked on bipartisan bills to prohibit the importation and transportation of invasive carp. I spearheaded and passed legislation to prevent the spread of invasive carp in Minnesota’s waterways by authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam. I have supported funding critical research and educational efforts to develop new methods and techniques to prevent the rapid spread of invasive species in our lakes and rivers. I also joined senators in introducing legislation to help the Army Corps of Engineers evaluate a hydrologic barrier to block the spread of invasive carp in the waterways connecting the Great Lakes and alternatives for boating traffic.
- Protecting clean water. In January 2021, I introduced the bipartisan Local Water Protection Act with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to provide local and state governments with resources to help improve water conservation efforts and ensure that water is clean and free of harmful pollutants such as runoff. Language based on this bill was included in the 2022 Water Resources Development Act.
- Improving our water infrastructure. Every two years since 2014, I have worked to pass a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that included provisions vital to Minnesota. This legislation has made crucial investments in our water infrastructure, including the Port of Duluth, upgrades to locks and dams on the inland waterway system, and infrastructure for critical flood protection, including for Fargo-Moorhead and Roseau. In 2022, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota and I secured $437 million for the construction of permanent flood protection for more than 200,000 people in the Red River Valley. I strongly support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which provide communities with low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects including water and wastewater plant improvements. I have also worked to ensure that the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development is funding these critical projects through the Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant program.
I will continue pursuing responsible policies that keep our waters clean and clear of invasive species like invasive carp and zebra mussels, while also supporting our shipping, boating, fishing, and outdoor recreational traditions.
- Preserving open spaces and native wildlife. We need policies that preserve our open spaces, farmlands, and hunting lands while protecting vital wetlands so that we can maintain important wildlife habitats and reduce flooding dangers. I have worked to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, which permanently authorized and funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and dedicated funding to address the maintenance backlog in our national parks. This law will help to conserve and improve access to thousands of acres of land for public use across the United States.
- Conserving natural resources. Federal conservation programs through the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior provide tools for farmers, ranchers, and landowners in Minnesota to conserve sensitive lands, provide for wildlife habitat, and promote farming practices that reduce soil erosion and improve air and water quality. Minnesota consistently ranks as one of the top states in the country for conservation program enrollment. The Farm Bill protects the important programs Minnesota producers use to keep our soil healthy and our water clean, and I supported legislation that provides $19.5 billion for agricultural conservation efforts, including over $18 billion in additional funding for existing Farm Bill working lands conservation programs. As a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, I am committed to strengthening our conservation programs and have worked to provide significant new investments in the conservation of working and retired lands.
- Supporting Minnesota tourism and outdoor recreation. Tourism, including outdoor recreation, has always been important to Minnesota’s economy, generating $22.8 billion in total economic impact and supporting over 170,000 Minnesota jobs in 2022. As co-chair of the Senate Tourism Caucus and the former chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. tourism sector, I’ve long fought to promote tourism.
- Protecting consumers from unsafe and toxic materials. Americans should be able to trust that the products and materials they buy and use each day are safe. Consumers deserve products that have been tested and meet strong health and safety standards. On the Senate Commerce Committee, I am fighting to make sure that the federal agencies charged with keeping Americans safe are vigilant in doing their job to protect all American consumers from hazardous products.
As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I’ve been fighting for new energy policies and strong measures to protect our environment and natural resources:
- Immediately combating climate change. I supported legislation in 2022 that makes a historic investment in protecting our environment, devoting over $390 billion to programs and tax credits that will reduce greenhouse gases by roughly 40 percent by 2030 and pave the way to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. This new law will make generational investments in climate and the environment, including funding clean energy tax credits; climate resilience; clean energy technologies, manufacturing, and supply chains; forest management; and conservation practices that promote soil health and carbon sequestration. As a member of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, I am fighting to ensure that efforts to address the threat of climate change are at the forefront of our nation’s energy and environmental policy. I have introduced and supported several bills that would reduce greenhouse gases, and I am leading legislation to identify and incentivize American manufacturers using sustainable practices to help mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout global supply chains while supporting good jobs. I have also led legislation to increase the deployment of clean energy technologies like energy storage and microgrids. The first bill I ever introduced required businesses to record and make public their carbon emissions. That’s because I wanted to make one important point: climate change legislation must be a major priority. The cause has grown even more urgent.
- Promoting research on green technologies. To fully address the scope and scale of the climate crisis, I have worked to invest resources into federal research for the development and deployment of new renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. I have advocated for fully funding federal research at the Department of Energy and our National Laboratories, as well as for grant funding for extramural research at university and non-profit research partners.
- Incentives for homegrown, farm-based energy. It is clear that biofuels can lower gas prices, drive economic growth, and create jobs. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have supported increasing incentives for homegrown, farm-based energy. This includes ensuring a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, boosting biofuel innovation and deployment, as well as funding programs that allow farmers to invest in renewable energy that can create jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
- Expanding the market for homegrown biofuels. As a member of the Senate Commerce and Agriculture Committees, I worked on the bipartisan bill to ensure that the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 included provisions requiring a significant increase in biofuel production by 2022. I am also pushing to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard that will help drive innovation and boost Minnesota’s economy while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. In recent years and under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to the RFS that would lower the biofuels targets, discouraging investment and hurting jobs in rural communities across the country. I have consistently led bipartisan efforts with Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to call for a strong RFS.
- Expanding Biofuel Infrastructure. In 2021, I introduced the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act with Senator Joni Ernst to create a permanent biofuel infrastructure program at the Department of Agriculture and expand the availability of low-carbon renewable fuels in the marketplace, resulting in cleaner air, lower fuel prices, and rural economic vitality. This bill was included in a larger legislative package passed in 2022 and is helping fueling stations upgrade their fuel pumps and storage tanks to deliver higher blends of biofuel.
As in the past, I am pushing to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that will help drive innovation and boost Minnesota’s economy while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. In recent years and under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the EPA has proposed changes to the RFS that would hurt the biofuels industry by lowering the biofuels targets, discouraging investment, and hurting jobs in rural communities across the country. I led meetings between senators of both parties and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to urge the Obama Administration to reverse the changes and maintain a strong RFS. I have consistently led bipartisan efforts with Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to call for a strong RFS.
- Increasing ethanol and biodiesel availability. I have long led efforts to allow for the year-round sale of E15, and in April 2022, I worked with the administration to provide an emergency waiver to permit the sale of E15 over the summer. Without this waiver, the sale of E15 would not have been allowed at 2,300 gas stations nationwide during the summer months. In addition, Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska and I introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act of 2022, which would enable the year-round, nationwide sale of ethanol blends higher than 10 percent, helping to lower fuel prices and provide certainty in fuel markets for farmers and consumers.
I am also leading the bipartisan Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation and Opportunity Act with Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas to enhance the ability of the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Products Assistance program to support the development of biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products. The bill would update the loan guarantee program and restore a grant program to support public-private partnership investment in facility development. I also voted to provide a clean fuels production tax credit modeled after the Low Carbon Biofuel Act I led with Senator John Thune of South Dakota.
- Working to end the misuse of refinery waivers. The previous administration consistently undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard by granting refinery waivers to multi-billion-dollar oil companies. In its first three years, the previous administration approved 85 waivers, which reduced demand for more than 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel and caused significant harm to our farmers and our homegrown biofuels market. I called on the previous administration to immediately reallocate the gallons of renewable biofuel lost to these waivers and have cosponsored legislation that would make changes to the small refinery waiver approval process so that the application and decision-making processes are made more transparent. I have called on the current Biden administration to take bold action to support farmers and combat climate change by rejecting pending small refinery waivers and restoring the gallons wrongfully waived by the previous administration in future renewable volume obligations (RVOs).
- Promoting Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Sustainable aviation fuel is an economic driver for our state and an important tool to help us reduce our carbon footprint and our dependence on foreign oil. Minnesota is leading the way in sustainable aviation fuel with a planned sustainable aviation fuel hub at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport that was announced in August 2023. I advocated for and passed a sustainable aviation fuel tax credit that is helping to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuel. I also joined bipartisan colleagues to introduce the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act, legislation that would identify the standards required to meet the definition of sustainable aviation fuel at the Federal Aviation Administration.
- Using the best research to boost biofuel use. One way to continue increasing the use of biofuels is to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency is accurately accounting for the emissions from ethanol and biodiesel. However, the EPA’s process for modeling emissions for the RFS has not been revised since 2010. That’s why I introduced the Adopt GREET Act with Senator John Thune of South Dakota to direct the EPA to update its modeling to reflect the latest science.
I also lead the Biomanufacturing and Jobs Act with Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa to improve the Biobased Markets Program, more commonly known as “Biopreferred,” which supports the development and expansion of markets for biobased products. This bill would make much-needed improvements allowing for increased participation, establishing minimum requirements for federal biobased contracts, including biobased terms in the definitions section of the energy title, and requiring a study of the effects of biobased products on greenhouse gas emissions.
- Helping our farmers move to the next generation of farm-based biofuels. I have taken the lead in promoting the next generation of biofuel crops through my work on the Senate Agriculture Committee. I successfully included legislation in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide incentives for U.S. farmers to produce cellulosic ethanol made from dedicated energy crops like prairie grass and alfalfa and from agricultural residues and wood chips. I also introduced the Farm-to-Fuel Investment Act, which was included in the energy title of the 2008 Farm Bill and I fought to include a strong energy title in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills to expand homegrown renewable energy production. These bills provide incentives to produce ethanol made from Minnesota-based biomass and spur innovation that will support the development of third-generation biofuels that will provide our country with an alternative motor fuel, protect our soil and water quality, and provide new wildlife habitats. Additionally,I led amendments to the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills to provide additional funding for the energy title, including for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
- Increasing energy efficiency. Promoting energy efficiency is good for business, good for consumers, and good for our economy. Here are some ways I’ve been working to save Minnesotans money while conserving valuable resources:
- Encouraging energy-efficient communities. I introduced the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota. This bipartisan bill, which was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021, empowers the nonprofit community – including religious institutions that advocated for the law – to make energy-efficiency improvements to their buildings and offices, which helps our nonprofits save money through greater energy efficiency and helps the community. I also worked with Senator Hoeven to pass water heater efficiency legislation that enables rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue to use energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs. This will allow cooperatives to optimize both their own energy management and the environmental benefits of these water heaters.
I have also advocated for programs that support geothermal energy, which is an important option as we look to diversify energy sources. I worked to pass into law legislation that includes funding to boost the development of deep earth projects that generate electricity from geothermal energy and provides a tax credit for residential geothermal heating and cooling systems. I also led my colleagues in introducing a bill to create a tax credit to incentivize the production of heat pumps, which are used in geothermal heating systems. Heat pumps are highly efficient and have a key role to play in our energy future.
- Fighting to strengthen automobile fuel-efficiency standards. I was part of a bipartisan group of senators that reached a compromise to pass the 2007 Energy Bill, which provided incentives to develop new, more efficient consumer technologies. From the next generation of hybrid and plug-in vehicles to higher efficiency standards for appliances, to incentives for the design and construction of high-performance energy-efficient buildings, these initiatives are designed to reduce energy bills and save consumers money. I strongly supported the Obama administration’s updates to the fuel-efficiency standards, which would have nearly doubled the efficiency of vehicles to an average of 54 miles per gallon by 2050, and opposed the previous administration’s proposal to freeze the fuel-efficiency standards at the current average of 37 miles per gallon.
- Extending home energy tax credits, weatherization, heating assistance, and energy-efficient products. The Weatherization Assistance Program is an important tool in reducing home energy costs. According to the National Association for State Community Services Programs, for every dollar spent, the Weatherization Program returns $2.72 in energy and non-energy benefits over the life of the weatherized home.
I supported the inclusion of tax credits for energy-efficient products in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and again in the Tax Relief Act of 2010. These credits reward homeowners who install energy-efficient products—such as new efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment—as well as credits for hybrid and electric vehicles. I supported the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the Energy Act of 2020, which extended the Investment Tax Credit for wind and other renewable resources, and the Production Tax Credit, which provides the renewable energy industry with the stability it needs to make long-term investments. Legislation I supported in 2022 extended and expanded these important tax credits to boost renewable energy production in Minnesota and across the country. I also supported the creation and extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives.
Families should not have to choose whether to put groceries in the refrigerator or heat their homes. That’s why I introduced the Energy Efficiency for Affordable Housing Act, which would increase the low-income housing tax credit for renovations that improve energy efficiency such as replacing old windows, HVAC, and appliances.
- Expanding rural access to sustainable energy. I introduced legislation with Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas to help rural communities and rural electricity cooperatives overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements by providing access to relevant resources and expertise. This bipartisan legislation was signed into law in December 2020 and will improve energy grid capacity and resiliency while ensuring that communities that want to develop new sustainable energy projects have the technical assistance to do so. In addition, legislation I supported in 2022 includes tax credits to help individuals and businesses switch to electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels. It also expands production tax credits to accelerate domestic manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines and includes loans to build new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities across the country. These investments will go a long way to accelerate the manufacturing of clean energy.
- Strengthening the Clean Air Act. Air pollutants like methane are potent greenhouse gases that have severe climate impacts. That’s why I opposed the previous administration’s attempts to delay and reverse oil and gas methane pollution standards. I supported the Energy Act of 2020, which included an agreement to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—a greenhouse gas more than 1,000 times as harmful than carbon dioxide—by 85 percent over 15 years. And in 2022, I voted to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will phase down the use of HFCs globally. I was an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 that would require power plants to cut air pollution—such as mercury and ozone emissions—by 50 percent to 90 percent over the next five years. I also voted against an amendment that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from moving forward with the Cross-State Air Pollution rule that helps protect Minnesotans from power plant pollution from other states. I also fought against attempts in the Senate to undermine the Clean Air Act and invalidate the standards that reduce pollution from mercury and other hazardous chemicals.
- Protecting the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River watershed. As one of the Vice Chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, enhancing the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes is one of my top priorities. I was an original cosponsor of the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008, which bolstered pollution clean-up efforts in the Great Lakes. I am also an original cosponsor of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act, which will build on and continue the successful clean-up efforts established by the Great Lakes Legacy Act. And I have authored the Upper Mississippi River Protection Act, which aims to help reduce pollution in the Upper Mississippi River. I introduced legislation to reauthorize and increase funding levels for an Environmental Protection Agency grant program that provides assistance to state and local governments to develop and implement their own programs to address nonpoint sources of water pollution, or pollution from runoff.
The 2016 WRDA reauthorization included my legislation to reauthorize and fund the Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Restoration Act which provides research, restoration, and conservation of fish and wildlife resources and their habitats in the Great Lakes basin. I successfully led the effort to reauthorize this program again in 2022. I have also consistently worked to restore funding cuts proposed by the previous Administration for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and have worked to increase authorized funding for this critical program, which helps accelerate projects that protect and restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.
- Keeping aquatic invasive species out of Minnesota’s rivers and lakes. I was an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation, signed into law in December of 2011, which prohibited the importation and transportation of invasive carp. In 2014, I introduced and passed the Upper Mississippi CARP Act that fought the spread of invasive carp in Minnesota’s waterways by authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to close the St. Anthony Falls Dam if invasive carp are found in certain areas. I have supported funding critical research and educational efforts to develop new methods and techniques to prevent the rapid spread of invasive species in our lakes and rivers. I also joined senators in introducing legislation to help the Army Corps of Engineers evaluate a hydrologic barrier to block the spread of invasive carp in the waterways connecting the Great Lakes and alternatives for boating traffic.
- Improving our water infrastructure. In 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022, I supported the reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that included provisions vital to Minnesota. This legislation makes crucial investments in our ports and harbors, such as the Port of Duluth, upgrades the locks and dams on the inland waterway system, and moves forward with critical flood protection, including for Fargo-Moorhead and Roseau. The 2014 Farm Bill also included an amendment I led with Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota to provide an additional $100 million to help address the backlog of water and wastewater projects for rural communities in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill provided increased resources for rural water and wastewater technical assistance and prioritized training to address contaminated drinking water and surface water supplies. I led efforts with Senator Hoeven to ensure that the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion project received the complete federal funding commitment of $750 million. In addition, I was a strong supporter of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which made a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure, including for water management and resiliency projects like this.
- Expanding our nation’s wilderness areas. I pushed for passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 which constituted the largest expansion of our nation’s wilderness in 15 years. Through this legislation, we protected two million more acres of national Wilderness Areas and more than 1,000 miles of National Wild and Scenic Rivers. I also cosponsored the Great American Outdoors Act, which became law in 2020 and permanently authorized and fully funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is used to safeguard our natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. I also have cosponsored the North American Grasslands Conservation Act with Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Michael Bennet of Colorado. This bill will bolster voluntary grassland restoration and wildlife conservation efforts. I have also worked to expand service-learning opportunities that help restore America’s natural, recreational, and scenic resources. I strongly opposed the previous administration’s proposed budget cuts to the LWCF and the Department of the Interior. I also strongly opposed efforts by the previous administration to roll back federal land protections, including reductions to the size of certain national monuments. These cuts hurt rural communities and the protection of our public parks and lands.
- Conserving our natural resources. I have worked to pass Farm Bills in 2008, 2014, and 2018 that made critical investments in conservation. I introduced legislation with Senator John Thune from South Dakota to protect native prairie by making changes to the crop insurance program to reduce the incentive to grow crops for the first time on native prairie. In the 2018 Farm Bill, I worked to increase the acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program to 27 million acres and included a mandated reporting requirement on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation data, which will allow farmers to better assess how conservation practices can sequester carbon, improve soil health, and reduce risk in an effective way to improve the environment and our climate. Legislation I supported in 2022 included several provisions that invest in conservation innovation, including voluntary, incentive-based programs, like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that promote soil health, sequester carbon, and provide farmers with new revenue streams for the climate-related work they are already doing on their farms.
I lead the annual appropriations request letter in support of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. This unique, public-private partnership program matches non-federal and federal funds to protect, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.
- Supporting Minnesota tourism and outdoor recreation. I pushed to pass the Travel Promotion Act of 2010 into law which created Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States. In 2018, Brand USA generated more than 1 million additional visitors who spent an estimated $4 billion, strengthening local businesses and boosting economic growth. I led the bipartisan effort to successfully reauthorize Brand USA in 2014 and again in 2019 so that it can continue to build on its progress through 2027. And following the steep decline in international visitors during the coronavirus pandemic, I worked to pass the Restoring Brand USA Act, my bill with Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri to help Brand USA promote the U.S. to international visitors by allowing the program to access $250 million in critical resources. The bill was signed into law in March 2022 as part of the omnibus government funding package.
The travel and tourism industry has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which is why I introduced the Protecting Tourism in the United States Act with Senator Blunt to help drive tourism growth across the country by studying the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel and tourism industry and identifying policy recommendations to assist the hard-hit industry. Our bill passed the Commerce Committee in November 2020. I will continue to work to ensure that the tourism industry and its workforce have the resources that they need to survive this health and economic crisis.
I also cosponsored the Great American Outdoors Act, which became law in 2020, which provides critical investments to create jobs and preserve natural resources for all Americans — from funding to maintain our national parks to investing in outdoor recreational opportunities, like our parks and trails, as well as permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This bill dedicates $9.5 billion over five years for our national parks, which includes funding for campsites and trails in Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota. I am proud of our bipartisan success in passing historic legislation that invests in our commitment to ensuring our nation’s trails, public lands, parks, and open spaces remain protected and accessible for generations.
In addition, I introduced the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Full Funding Act with Senator James Risch of Idaho to direct the Secretary of Transportation to administer a study to determine the federal taxes collected from non-highway recreation to determine if the federal taxes are appropriately returned to the program and the states to administer the RTP. A provision based on our bill was included in the final appropriations bill that passed in December 2019, and I will continue working to ensure the RTP program has the resources it needs.
- Protecting consumers from unsafe wood imports and supporting our timber producers. I authored the bipartisan Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act, signed into law in 2009, to protect consumers from potentially hazardous levels of formaldehyde in composite wood products and to ensure the U.S. timber industry is on a level playing field with foreign competitors. I continue to push the Environmental Protection Agency to fully implement this law and hold importers accountable to keep our families safe. I introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Steve Daines of Montana to improve the health of our nation’s forests and reduce the risk of wildfire on federal, state, county, tribal, and private lands in proximity to one another. This bill will improve water quality, protect wildlife habitat, and enhance opportunities for the production of wood products. I also supported a provision in the 2020 coronavirus relief package to provide $200 million to support timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Reforming our nation’s toxic chemicals policy. Our country’s primary law regulating the production and use of chemicals hadn’t been updated since its passage in 1976. I supported reforms that would keep our children and families safe from toxic substances while providing businesses clear standards for developing new products. I was a cosponsor of the Senate bill that updated the Toxic Substances Control Act, which was signed into law in June 2016.