Conservation Minnesota

Everything I needed to know about tetrachloroethylene I learned at a Kindergarten

When I arrived to drop off my daughter yesterday, I found more than excited children in the building that serves as a preschool during the week and a church on the weekends.  I was also met by staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health.  They told me that tetrachloroethylene, a toxic chemical that can cause neurological issues and cancer, had been found in the area and traced back to an adjacent building that previously held a dry cleaning business.

The state agency staff were incredibly professional, helping to calm parents’ fears and letting us know about all of the tests they were conducting and steps they were taking to make sure my daughter and her classmates were safe.  It was a perfect example of government at its best.  Agencies that most of us don’t even think about regularly, identifying and solving a problem for the community.

As I drove to work afterward, I couldn’t help but think about how different my experience with the MPCA was from the political rhetoric that pollutes this year’s session at the state capitol.  Special interests who find it inconvenient to take the necessary steps to prevent future pollution problems, like the one being cleaned up at my daughter’s school, have ginned up lots of false criticism of this small agency.  They claim it is stifling our economy.  But Minnesota’s economy ranks among the healthiest in the nation.

Instead of trying to cut the MPCA budget, strip their citizen board of its authority, and blocking it from enforcing health and clean water rules, the legislature should send the MPCA a thank you note for protecting our families and preventing future risks to our air, water and health.

I personally want to thank the MPCA for helping keep my daughter healthy as I watch her grow up.  And I would appreciate it if the politicians would act a little more like grown ups too.

About Paul Austin

Paul Austin

Paul Austin has 23 years of public service as an elected leader, advocate and political strategist, Paul Austin brings a rare combination of skills and experience to his position as Executive Director. At age 25, Paul was elected Mayor of Clinton, Connecticut – the youngest in state history. Paul has served as Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota since 2004.

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