The top 4 environmental rollbacks in this year's Chamber of Commerce bill

It wouldn’t be a legislative session without a bill from our friends at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to roll back basic environmental protections.

This year’s edition of the Chamber Bill (HF 3120 & SF 2705) includes a number of changes to how the state develops water quality standards, creates environmental rules and handles permits.

Here are the top 4 rollbacks in this year’s version:

Water transfers without a permit 

Today, if you want to pump water from one water body to another you must get a permit, as pollutants or invasive species could easily go along for the ride. This provision (Section 2) would remove that requirement, and allow waters to be more easily polluted by careless water transfers.

Scientific “re-do” of water quality standards 

State water quality standards undergo extensive peer review, but section 5 of the bill aims to create an additional layer of review after agency work is already completed. It's redundant, unnecessary and expensive for taxpayers.

16-year wastewater & industrial treatment holiday

It’s the second attempt in as many years to provide a lengthy “holiday” exemption for wastewater facilities. Section 6 of the bill aims to give wastewater treatment facilities a 16-year holiday before having to update its permits to address new water quality standards (like sulfate or nitrate).

While this same concept was struck down by the courts after the last session, it has returned this year with a very troubling twist. The bill was revised to exempt industrial pollution sources as well!

This would mean that even private, for-profit manufacturing or industrial facilities would be given a free 16 years before being asked to reduce pollution to help meet any new water quality standards.

Asked to give a rationale for why this was necessary or an example of a polluter that might benefit from such a drastic change to the law, the Chamber of Commerce staff advocating for the bill were unable to provide an answer.

Legislative approval of MPCA permit fees

Today, the cost of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permits are limited to the cost of administering the permit. Section 7 of the Chamber bill would make agency permit fees subject to legislative review, potentially undermining the agency's ability to collect enough fees to cover their costs.

You can help!

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Sign up to become a River Guardian, and we'll email you when an important river issue arises and make it quick and easy to contact decision makers. River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, about important legislative and metro river corridor issues.

Join us for Water Action Day, May 2!

Help stop these bad environmental bills this session by joining us for Water Action Day!

Water Action Day is a day of public action and advocacy to let lawmakers know we care about our water. This all-day event will include free breakfast and morning briefings on Minnesota's water issues and how to actively engage with our legislators about them.

More legislative updates