The House passed a bill Monday which would manage the settlement money provided by 3M Company, following an eight-year lawsuit in which the state alleged 3M’s use and development of perfluorochemicals had been contaminating drinking water since the 1950s.
“It is about accountability and transparency and putting guardrails in place as related to the 3M settlement for the groundwater pollution of the PFCs in the east metro,” Fenton said.
Under terms of the agreement, an $850 million grant payment from 3M will be used to fund clean drinking water and natural resource projects. Grant trustees are the Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. Officials from both have told lawmakers that improving the quality and quantity of drinking water in the east metro area is the top investment priority.
A majority of the funds, $720 million, will immediately be available to provide long-term solutions to restore natural resources and provide the area’s 157,000 residents and businesses with clean drinking water. Measures to do so include treating contaminated wells, connecting homes with private wells to municipal sources and providing alternative sources of drinking water.
Expenditures could only go toward projects that are “technically feasible” and would require that no more than 10 percent of the money be spent on administrative expenses and no more than 10 percent on studies.
Fenton successfully offered an amendment on the House Floor that she said would require the agencies to issue biennial reports to the Legislature on expenditures of the account during the previous six months.
Rep. Tony Jurgens (R-Cottage Grove) successfully offered an amendment to Fenton’s amendment that would require the Pollution Control Agency to create a website where people in affected areas can see the test results for the water in their area.
“It also provides through that website, for the same landowner or homeowner, to request from the PCA to get their well tested,” Jurgens said.
Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) said provisions involving local input could be more of a hindrance than a solution.
“While I am a huge fan of local approval, in this case it may become an impediment to the solution you need,” Wagenius said. “… One or two communities could say ‘No, I don’t want that,’ and put a monkey wrench in the solution that everybody else wants. I don’t think this is an appropriate piece in this legislation; it’s certainly outside of the order. I hope as you go to conference committee this piece comes out, even though we all love local control.”
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