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Our View: Thank the public for incinerator decision

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opinion Cottage Grove, 55016

Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

At a time when a lot of the ills in American society are blamed on the apathy of the public -- on its penchant to care more about who wins American Idol than who wins elections -- we're encouraged that south Washington County residents are bucking the trend by caring enough about their environment to fight for it on the issue of burning outside waste in the 3M Cottage Grove plant's incinerator.

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We're also encouraged that the Cottage Grove City Council listened to them last Wednesday, by passing an ordinance that will prohibit commercial incinerators within the city limits -- a move aimed at preventing 3M from ever accepting money for burning waste from outside companies in its incinerator.

That said, the city council has exercised the extent of its power on the issue, and we encourage the citizens who feel that no outside waste should be burned in the incinerator -- paid or not -- to continue to push the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and 3M for tighter control.

3M's incinerator might not have had many neighbors when it was built in the 1970s, but it does now, and those neighbors have rights, too.

So when a scientific survey shows that 57 percent of Cottage Grove residents oppose 3M's push to burn waste from other companies in its incinerator, with only 30 percent of people supporting it, that should count for something.

The unfortunate reality is that it won't count for anything unless people keep talking about the issue, and pressuring the regulators and the company.

From the time the public was first made aware of the issue last spring, residents showed up at meetings to voice their opinions, wrote columns and letters to the editor, and when the opportunity came, joined a citizen's task force to study the issue.

There wouldn't have been a citizen's task force, and there likely wouldn't have been an ordinance banning commercial incinerators if not for the involvement of the public.

Feel proud of what you've accomplished and keep fighting for what you believe in.

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