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State Representative Matt Bliss

529 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-5516

For more information contact: Chad Urdahl 651-296-5520

Posted: 2017-10-26
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Legislative Update

Public hearing re: sulfate standards


Dear Neighbor,

Public hearings seem to be the order of the fall up here in Bemidji. One took place a couple of weeks ago to discuss the proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement and yesterday another hearing was held to gather input on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s proposed changes to wild rice sulfate standards.

I spoke during the sulfate meeting and the main point of my testimony is that I remain committed to protecting our environment, including our wild rice beds, but we must do it based on sound science and in a reasonable manner.

The proposed new wild rice sulfate standard likely will lead to hundreds of municipalities and business being out of compliance, and therefore required to upgrade treatment equipment which is incredibly costly. I have heard estimates of over $1 billion.

Indianapolis complied with new wastewater treatment standards by installing a reverse osmosis system in their wastewater treatment system. Reports indicate this change resulted in a water bill increase of $160 per month, per home.

These devastating costs would bring hardships to small cities in Minnesota, cause unfordable utility bill increases for families and crush the mom-and-pop businesses that are the backbone of our local economy.

The timing of the roll-out of this standard also should raise some red flags. The MPCA received $180,000 from the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources to analyze wastewater treatment alternatives “to inform the development and implementation of wild rice, sulfate and other water quality standards.”

That analysis will be complete in May 2018 and, in order to make sure that report is part of the decision-making process, the Legislature moved back the deadline for completion of the new wild rice standard to January of 2019. Instead of awaiting the results of the study, the MPCA has gone ahead with its proposal.

Minnesotans are common-sense folks and we support common-sense solutions. To me, it simply makes no sense to rush ahead without that information. It appears the MPCA is pushing a potentially very expensive solution for a problem that doesn’t seem to exist. It remains unclear what problem are we trying to fix, and at what cost. The best thing we can do is restore common sense by sending this proposal back to the MPCA as we await results of the LCCMR analysis.

Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions during yesterday’s meeting. These hearings are important parts of the decision-making process and I look forward to continuing this discussion.

Sincerely,

Matt

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