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Letter: Improve air, water quality

In a viewpoint article published Nov. 18 titled "Keep an eye on the MPCA," the writer made several good points. One, we need language permanently prohibiting commercial incineration at the 3M site, and an ordinance prohibiting commercial incineration inside our city limits. Two, perhaps we the citizens of Cottage Grove need to be protected from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Case in point: If the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is supposed to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of us citizens, how can they approve of 3M asking to bring in 20,000,000 pounds of outside waste from another state to be burned in our city? Three, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and 3M say this is clean waste. So why do we need to question the relationship between 3M and the agency and do everything we can to get back citizen control of what happens in our city and with our quality of life?

Are the citizens' concerns real or has the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency done a good job protecting our air and water quality in its dealing with 3M and the other industries. I went to the Internet to get information to evaluate Cottage Grove. On a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the best, the water quality rating is 20 and the air quality is 32 for Cottage Grove. It is significantly below the national average of 55 for water quality and 48 for air quality. These numbers are as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency for zip code 55016. A more pertinent question would be to ask why the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency would grant or open any permits that would allow emission increases of any kind in Cottage Grove until our air and water quality is at least up to the national average.

At one of the recent meetings after which a 3M spokesperson characterized it as just 48 people not representative of the whole community, a local Realtor stated, "You should see the line of 3M cars headed to Prescott, Wis., at the end of their shift." Being curious, I pulled up the data for Prescott. On a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the best, the water quality rating is 45 and air quality is 70 for Prescott. While their air and water quality is better than ours, we have many more physicians. We are above the U.S. average for the number of physicians per 100,000. The national average is 170, but in Cottage Grove we are at 209. In Prescott they are at only 77.1 per 100,000. I will not try to speculate why we have almost three times as many physicians per 100,000. I will leave that to your imagination.

Betty Kok

Cottage Grove