There’s a rulemaking afoot, and rulemaking hearing.  Usually rulemakings are the not-so-blind leading the blind, because by the time there’s a rule to comment on, the fix is in.  It’s been decided how it will go, and the public comment period is just a box to check off.  All the action occurs before it is released, the wrangling about language, the focus, all that is done by the agency in consultation with “stakeholders” who are typically the corporate sort that agencies regard as their “constituents” and there’s little public or advocate participation.  That’s how it works.  If we’re (we the people) are lucky, or if we really push for it, there’s an Advisory Committee, as authorized by Minn. Stat. 14.10:

14.101 ADVICE ON POSSIBLE RULES.

Subd. 2.Advisory committees.

Each agency may also appoint committees to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.

I don’t see any evidence that it happened here.  So…  we have a proposed rule, and the comment period is now open, and hearings are being held in various spots in Minnesota.

There’s a hearing now scheduled for Red Wing (links to docs below), which was not in the original list:

Red Wing Nitrate Hearing
Tuesday, June 5

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota State College Southeast
308 Pioneer Road
Red Wing, MN 55066

Here’s the original schedule:

1:00-6:00 PM on Monday, July 16, 2018
Robert Boeckman Middle School
800 Denmark Ave
Farmington, MN 55024

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Stewartville Civic Center
105 1st St E
Stewartville, MN 55976

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Thursday, July 19, 2018
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
1450 College Way
Worthington, MN 56187

10:00 – 4:00 PM on Wednesday, July 25, 2018
River’s Edge Convention Center
10 Fourth Avenue South
St. Cloud, MN 56301

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Thursday, July 26, 2018
American Legion
900 1st St E
Park Rapids, MN 5670

The “draft” rule has been released for public comment, but there was a first draft rule from June 2017.  Below is the official draft, revised in April, 2018:

Draft Groundwater Protection Rule

Groundwater Protection Rule (PDF: 328 KB / 26 pages)
Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) (PDF: 3.18 MB / 164 pages)
Notice of Hearing (PDF: 85 KB / 3 pages)
SONAR Appendixes (PDF: 15.73 MB / 208 pages)

COMMENT PERIOD:

  • Initial Comment Period closes on July 31, 2018 at 4:30 p.m
  • Rebuttal Comment Period: August 1, 2018 through 4:30 p.m. on August 7, 2018

Here’s where to send comments (note SEND TO OAH, and not Dept. of Ag):

https://mi1111esotaoah.granicusideas.comldiscussio11s/

or

Administrative Law Judge Palmer-Denig

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

Saint Paul, Minnesota 55164-0620

There are more specific instructions for filing comments on the OAH site:

Instructions: To comment, scroll down to “Topic: Submit a Comment” and click “View Topic.”Please make sure that your comments:

  • Identify the specific part or subpart of the rule you are addressing;
  • Specify whether you support or oppose the proposed rule language;
  • Give reasons for your views; and
  • Be specific and offer language changes to solve the problems you identify.

Attachments: Commenters may attach up to three documents to a comment. Allowed attachments include PDFs, spreadsheets, and word documents. Please include your name and contact information on all attachments.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be specific, and to refer to parts of the rule that you’re commenting about.  Vague rah-rah OR blah, blah, comments will have no impact, nor will form letters or postcards.  Once more with feeling, be specific, and to refer to parts of the rule.  Have at it!

dirty water

Yesterday, Alan and I were in Hastings, and we were talking about the extreme pollution of 3M, and of DuPont in Delaware. In Flint, it appears that it’s being taken seriously, though these first three charged may just be the sacrificial offerings:

In Michigan, the dominos are starting to fall.  Susan Hedman, former head of EPA Region 5, did the right thing, resigned, and quickly, but since then?  Well, now the criminal charges have begun:

Flint water crisis: Criminal charges against three state and city workers

From the article:

Glasgow is accused of tampering with evidence when he allegedly changed testing results to show there was less lead in city water than there actually was. He is also charged with willful neglect of office.

Prysby and Busch are charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence, a treatment violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act and a monitoring violation of the Safe Drinking Water.

I would hope they’ll go deeper and that more will be charged.

It’s different in Minnesota.  3M knew enough to stop manufacturing PFOA, but it was dumped and made its way into our water, there’s a lawsuit initiated by our Minnesota Attorney General, but no criminal charges:

Study finds link between 3M-made chemical and cancer

Lawsuits Charge that 3M Knew About the Dangers of its Chemicals

A few snippets from the above article:

State Attorney General Lori Swanson first filed the lawsuit against 3M on behalf of the people of Minnesota in 2010, claiming that the company polluted more than 100 square miles of groundwater near its plant in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, as well as four aquifers serving as drinking water for some 125,000 people in the Twin Cities. The suit charges that the company piped PFC-polluted wastewater into a stream that flows into the Mississippi River and disposed of it on land near the river, which allowed it to leach into the river.

… and (the red links are to EPA testing):

After the initial discovery of PFCs in drinking water near the Cottage Grove plant, 3M installed filtration systems on the water supply for the nearby community of Oakdale, provided bottled water for residents with private wells, and remediated three of its former dump sites. However, the most recent water tests, released by the EPA in January, still showed 25 detections of PFCs in wells that provide drinking water to Woodbury, Oakdale, and Hastings — all of which are near 3M headquarters — as well as in the Cottage Grove water utility, which serves more than 33,000 people.

In two wells in Oakdale, PFOS contamination detected by EPA tests released in January exceeded the provisional health levels set by the agency. And several Oakdale wells had PFOA levels higher than those that qualified residents to participate in a class-action suit against DuPont in West Virginia and Ohio.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a page on this, where dangers are minimized, and where not much has been posted past 2009 (note landowners with wells have to pay over $300 for testing their water!):

The 3M Cottage Grove Facility and Perfluorochemicals

Why has no one been charged at 3M?  Why is this surface and ground water pollution not front and center?

What about the bad water in Pennsylvania from fracking, Dimock, PA comes to mind, and that was public knowledge over 7 years ago:

Gas in wells in Dimock Twp. PA

And remember that National Geographic article with astonishing photos way back in 2007 about the poisoned and dry wells in Wyoming?  That was a decade ago.  What’s been done?

Drilling in the West – in National Geographic this month