Local leaders urge lawmakers to halt incinerator plan
Local elected officials on Wednesday took their fight to stop proposed changes at the 3M Cottage Grove hazardous waste incinerator to the State Capitol, telling a Senate environmental committee that the company's plan bears no benefit for Cottage Grove residents and would place the burden of additional pollution on a city already weary of chemical waste.
The officials -- including Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey, council member Jen Peterson, Washington County Commissioner Myra Peterson, and past 3M executive and former Cottage Grove City Council member Fred Luden -- were in St. Paul to support a bill introduced by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, that would prohibit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from permitting an incinerator to accept waste not produced by the facility's owner.
Wednesday evening's hearing before the Senate's Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee was the latest step in a yearlong battle between city and company over the 3M proposal to burn outside hazardous chemical waste at its corporate incinerator in Cottage Grove.
Officials testified that importing waste from an out-of-state provider holds no benefit to the city of Cottage Grove or the state of Minnesota. And it would introduce more pollution into a community still dealing with water tainted by 3M-manufactured chemicals.
"I understand (3M officials) have to answer to their shareholders," Bailey testified before the committee. "I have to answer to my residents."
3M Cottage Grove site director Vickie Batroot told the committee 3M was dismayed that lawmakers were considering intervening in an active re-permitting process. Further delays, she warned, could mean job losses.
The bill was introduced too late in the Legislative session to go to the floor for a vote on its own, Sieben said in an interview.
She said the hope is that the bill's language defining and prohibiting commercial incinerators in Minnesota will find its way into another, larger environmental bill.
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