An estimated 70 percent of Minnesotans enjoy some form of outdoor recreation. But you don’t need to be a tree-hugger to respect Mother Nature’s import to our state.
The Great Outdoors produce $16.7 billion in annual spending in Minnesota, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, an umbrella group for businesses that trade in the natural wonders. That accounts for $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenues.
The industry also produces 140,000 jobs, many of which are congregated in the north, where work is needed most. Though mining gets more press, jobs related to fishing alone (13,400) more than double mining and logging combined (6,500).
So one might think Minnesota’s congressional delegation would be steadfast in protecting this huge portion of the state’s economy. Alas, one might be wrong. While half sport near-perfect voting records, four members are doing their best to see Mrs. Nature ravished, beaten, and left by the side of the freeway.
Since 1971, the League of Conservation Voters has been issuing a scorecard on every member of Congress. The group tracks dozens of votes on such things as wildlife protection, fisheries management, clean energy, the use of toxic chemicals, and the fight against climate change, then tabulates a score.
The good news is that Minnesota has some very standup defenders of the environment. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum all received a perfect 100 percent score. Congressman Tim Walz wasn’t far behind at 97 percent.
From there, the ratings get dark and scary, as if we’re represented by congressmen from Exxon-Mobil.
Over 35 House votes, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis managed to score a dastardly 0. Erik Paulsen, Minnesota’s favorite corporate yes-man, bottomed out at 14 percent, as did outstate Democrat Colin Peterson.