Range Lawmakers: Frustration Bill Over EPA Decision

Updated: 03/18/2014 10:33 PM
Created: 03/18/2014 3:13 PM
By: Renee Passal

A decision last week from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, about a variance for Mesabi Nugget, has prompted new legislation at the state capitol.

House File 3094 asks for the regulation authority of the EPA to be declared invalid in the state, and the legislature shall adopt measures to prevent the enforcement of regulations.

Representative David Dill acknowledged this is mostly symbolic. "This is a bill of frustration. We've had an on-going problem with permitting, over things that have been done for over 100 years. It's just frustration and I don't expect the bill to pass."

He, along with Tom Anzelc and Jason Metsa, have signed on to the bill, which was introduced on Monday. Three Republicans have also signed on, from other parts of Minnesota.

Local Sierra Club member John Doberstein said it's disappointing to see the bill introduced, even if it's not going to go anywhere.

"It seems to me to be a gesture to the mining industry and the corporate polluters. I just don't know why they'd think they can pick and choose the federal laws that we can accept?" he said.

The decision from the EPA last week says they are going to reverse their approval of a variance for Mesabi Nugget. The variance allows the plant in Hoyt Lakes to discharge four pollutants higher than Minnesota standards allow for.

The agency was sued by environmental groups and two Chippewa Bands, for granting the variance. Now the agency is reversing course, although Mesabi Nugget plans on asking for a delay in the decision. A hearing is coming up next month in Duluth.

Dill said that the bill isn't making any of the committee deadlines, and is essentially dead in the water.

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