Lawmakers discussed a bill Wednesday that aims to find a balance between increased landfill groundwater regulations and the costs they incur on permit holders.
Sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau), HF4070 would require the Pollution Control Agency to conduct a number of additional evaluations prior to issuing a demolition debris landfill permit to a facility.
The amended bill was held over by the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion. Its companion, SF3752, sponsored by Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks), awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee.
The proposal would require the PCA to consider environmental benefits and impacts, social and economic factors, the feasibility and practicability of the permit conditions, and whether the burden of any resulting tax or fee is reasonable before issuing a demolition landfill permit. There are now more than 60 demolition debris landfills in Minnesota.
The PCA would contract with an independent laboratory to develop sampling protocols and collect, analyze and evaluate groundwater quality data from demolition landfill facilities. The laboratory would consider whether any discovered contamination may have originated from non-landfill activities, and the agency would report any results to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2018.
Lyon County Environmental Administrator Roger Schroeder said support from landfill permit-holders stems from recent experiences with PCA requirements added to the permit renewal process.
“The PCA has not been accounting for social and economic factors for some of these additional requirements that can end up being quite costly for a smaller county,” Schroeder said. “We also feel the PCA has not been taking into consideration the feasibility and practicality when adding some of these new permit requirements.”
Schroeder cited several examples, such as adding groundwater monitoring wells to a facility that is already in compliance with agency guidance strategies.
Assistant PCA Commissioner Kirk Koudelka warned that the regulatory costs permit-holders are concerned with, if ignored, could return in the future, at a greater cost, if preventative measures are not put in place.
That said, Koudelka agreed with the idea of aggregating groundwater contamination data into a report, but not with the establishment an additional sampling protocols.
“We believe this is a duplication of materials out there already including lab techniques that are being used by consultants of the landfill,” Koudelka said. “Also, this is data that’s already been coming in for years, three times a year from landfill operators; we want to rely on that instead of having to go out and do additional sampling.”
The latest numbers are a $517 million swing from the November forecast
The state’s latest economic forecast projects a budget deficit of $188 million for the current two-year biennium, and a $586 million deficit for the 2020-21 biennium
The budget process explained — and why it matters