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Environment, energy proposals

Published (4/25/2008)
By Nick Busse
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A joint House and Senate working group met to discuss differences in the omnibus supplemental budget bill’s environment and energy provisions April 22, but took no action.

After comparing the House and Senate language of HF1812, members of the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Environment and Natural Resources and Energy Working Group identified several discrepancies.

Much of the discussion centered on a House proposal that would forbid the Pollution Control Agency from issuing a permit for a new solid waste landfill unless certain conditions are met. Under the provision, a special test would be required to determine whether contaminants could leach from the landfill into groundwater supplies. This comes from HF3997/SF3703, sponsored by Rep. Julie Bunn (DFL-Lake Elmo) and Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury).

Jim Lungstrom, an engineer with the PCA’s Solid Waste Permitting Unit, testified that while the test in question might prove useful when combined with other screening methods, the agency would rather find a more comprehensive approach to the issue. He added that the PCA plans on completing an internal review of its solid waste landfill policies this fall.

Another point of contention is a Senate proposal to cut $3 million from the E85 Everywhere ethanol pump grant program. Working group co-chair Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul) said that she and her Senate colleagues feel it would be “pretty safe” to reduce the program’s funding because it has unspent money from previous years. Mike Bull, deputy director of the Office of Energy Security, disagreed.

“We’re at a point now where consumers are facing $4-a-gallon gasoline prices and we want to make sure consumers have every opportunity to make choices that benefit them,” Bull said.

In regard to the bill’s environment and energy fiscal provisions, Anderson said the House and Senate bills were overall quite similar, despite numerous individual differences.

“We were amazed at how close we really are,” Anderson said.

The working group did not announce when or if it would meet again.

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