I hope the holiday season has been treating you well and that you’re able to enjoy quality time with your loved ones. In addition to other celebrations, I especially enjoy reflecting on the ending year and planning ahead for a fresh start with the new year. No matter how you celebrate, I want to wish you happy holidays and all the best in 2020!
Cold Weather Rules and Heating Assistance
Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule is now in effect. This rule helps protect residential utility customers from having their heat shut off during the winter months. Additional resources are available for Minnesotans at certain income levels. The Energy Assistance Program can help renters and homeowners pay for heating costs and furnace repairs, and the Weatherization Assistance Program provides free home upgrades that save energy and help permanently reduce energy bills.
More information about the Cold Weather Rule is available here. You can read more about the Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program here and here. Please share this information with family, friends, and neighbors, and remember to watch out for one another this winter.
Water Gremlin in the News
In late October, state officials found evidence that unsafe working conditions at the Water Gremlin facility caused lead poisoning in workers’ children. After further investigation and lead testing, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) determined that as many as 24 kids were exposed to “take-home lead” that can cause brain damage and neurological problems. In order to remain open, Water Gremlin must implement safety measures and decontaminate the plant and workers’ homes and vehicles. You can read more about the court-ordered clean-up process here.
Shortly after the lead exposure was discovered, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) found that Water Gremlin wasn’t complying with hazardous waste regulations. In an administrative order, the MPCA stated that the company had neglected state laws for years, putting workers and community members at risk. The agency ordered Water Gremlin to immediately clean up leaks of hazardous waste and file for required permits within a month. If you’d like more information, the administrative order is available here.
Last week, the MPCA, MDH, and DLI held an open house in Vadnais Heights. Staff members shared information about the latest problems at the Water Gremlin facility, the company’s response, and what they’re doing to ensure the safety of workers, workers’ families, and other community members. They also shared the results of air, soil, and water monitoring near the plant. If you weren’t able to attend, the presentation is available here. Please don’t hesitate to contact the MPCA at 651-757-2998 or email@example.com or the MDH at 651-201-4897 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or concerns.
Community Conversation on Drinking Water
On Thursday, MDH, the Citizens League, and the Environmental Initiative are hosting a community conversation about drinking water for the Hmong community. This event is part of a series of conversations that will guide the creation of a statewide collaborative to protect Minnesota’s drinking water.
When: Thursday, December 19 from 6 – 7 p.m.
Where: Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice Street, St. Paul, MN 55117
If you’re interested, you can learn more and RSVP here. Citizens League is offering $25 Target gift cards to all participants and can provide stipends to help with transportation or childcare needs.
Save the Date: Town Hall Meeting
Your input is very important to the work that I do at the Legislature! Before the 2020 legislative session begins, Rep. Kelly Moller, Sen. Jason Isaacson, and I are holding a town hall meeting to hear from community members and discuss issues that are important to them. This event is free and open to all. I hope you can join us!
We’re fortunate to have so many great options for winter recreation in our area! Neighborhood ice rinks are now open in Little Canada, and the warming houses in Roseville will be opening this weekend. You can also visit the Roseville Oval or indoor Skating Center during open skate hours. Some indoor Ramsey County rinks, including the Vadnais Sports Center, offer free indoor skating. The schedule and more details are available here.
Best wishes for a safe and joyful holiday season!