Proposed bill would kick EPA regulations to the curb in Minnesota

By KBJR News 1

March 18, 2014 Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 10:50 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A group of Minnesota lawmakers is proposing a bill that essentially nullifies the EPA's regulations. A significant number of lawmakers agree with this bill, but the reason behind their support is quite varied.

A brutally cold winter coupled with the propane shortage sent many Minnesotans scrambling to find alternate ways to stay warm.

One of those alternatives, wood burning stoves, became a hot commodity. But Republican Representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) says that could change under proposed Federal emissions standards targeting wood stove manufactures.

"Our constituents here on the local level get frustrated when Washington dictates what we do here," said Rep. Franson.

The new EPA standards would require wood stoves to burn cleaner emissions.

Representative Franson says that's what's fueling House File 3094.

The proposed measure declares the regulation authority of the EPA violates its own meaning and is invalid.

"It's a gesture to the public and to the EPA. Washington doesn't understand our way of life," Rep. Franson said.

But the bill isn't all about heat.

Representative Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia) says he signed onto the bill following the EPA's approval of a water quality variance last year for Mesabi Nugget.

The environmental group, WaterLegacy, filed a lawsuit alleging the EPA violated the Clean Water Act.

Just last week the Department of Justice filed a motion asking that the EPA reverse its approval.

"There's been a lot of confusion. I think the whole way it was handled deserves to have a flare get sent up. It would be great if you can communicate with our state agencies before the press and other agencies," said Rep. Metsa.

The very broad legislation concerns environmentalists who say the bill could leave doors open.

"This seems to have PolyMet written all over it. The mining proponents aggressively attack any regulations, state or federal, that are going to harm this project," said John Doberstein, a volunteer with the North Star chapter of Sierra club, a group that promotes environmental protection.

Representatives Metsa and David Dill both say PolyMet didn't motivate the creation of this bill. They stress the legislation is merely a message to the Environmental Protection Agency to step back.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the new wood stove regulations won't impact wood burners already in use.

Representative Dill, the chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy committee, says it's unlikely the bill will be heard this legislative session.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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