ST. PAUL  (AP) -- Environmentalists fear a St. Cloud lawmaker's proposals would weaken protection of Minnesota's natural resources.

Republican Sen. John Pederson has proposed halting creation of new state water rules for two years. Pederson also is proposing closing two state tree nurseries in northern Minnesota and guiding state agencies in drafting clean-water standards for Lake Pepin in southeast Minnesota.

Those provisions were included in an omnibus environmental bill that passed the state Senate last month.

Pederson says his proposals will help the state save money without a cost to the environment.

But environmental groups worry it's part of a Republican effort to roll back protections for Minnesota's lakes, rivers and forests.

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