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Protecting Public Health–HF 167

by Nels Paulsen,
Policy Director

There is nothing more important to a community than the health of its members, and HF 167 enables community members to get more information about their health outcomes related to permit violations and hazardous spills. Conservation Minnesota recently testified in support of HF167. We believe that any tool that can help try and make these tenuous situations move in a more productive and holistic direction—is a step in the right direction.

Below is our letter of support.       

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

RE:  To the members of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee

In support of HF 167 (Lee) – Public Health Supplemental Environmental Projects

Dear Representatives,

Conservation Minnesota is a statewide nonprofit with members in all 87 counties.  The mission of Conservation Minnesota is to, “protect the Minnesota you love.” 

We hear from our members, and we know from traveling all across the state, that Minnesotans cherish their clean water, clean air and beautiful outdoors. In general, Minnesotans believe that state government is doing a reasonable job protecting that clean water, clean air and beautiful outdoors.

Unfortunately, there are times when that clean water or clean air becomes polluted, like when a regulated facility violates an environmental permit, or when there is a spill or release of a hazardous substance.  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) generally handles enforcement cases with prudent proposals and robust long-term plans, but even then, there are times when affected communities feel left out of the enforcement process.

HF 167 elevates one of the many tools the MPCA has in their enforcement toolbox.  Supplemental Environmental Projects, and more specifically, Public Health Supplemental Environmental Projects can enhance the concerns of populations potentially impacted and incorporate those concerns into a project to specifically address environmental concerns in the community.  There is nothing more important to a community than the health of its members, and HF 167 has the ability to allow community members more information about their health outcomes related to permit violations and hazardous spills.

One of the strengths of HF 167 is that it recognizes that community trust is vital for not only the MPCA, but that trust is vital towards how all Minnesotans think of state government. Trust is key. Often enforcement situations can test the trust that public citizens have in the effectiveness of government.  Any tool that can help build that trust—to try and make tenuous situations like permit violations or hazardous spills move in a more productive and holistic direction—is a step in the right direction.

Thank you for your time and I am happy to answer any questions you have.

Sincerely,

Nels Paulsen
Policy Director