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Environment committee updates on metro landfills, replenishment of funds – Session daily
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Environment committee updates on metro landfills, replenishment of funds – Session daily

During an informational hearing on Tuesday, the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee received updates on work being done in order to maintain several landfills within the Twin Cities metropolitan region and the status and funding of the trust that makes these projects possible.

Members learned that efforts by members to repay an account that works at these landfills but has been depleted over the years may be successful this year, given the state’s financial health, and additional federal assistance.

The Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Action Trust was created in 1984. It is used to pay for long-term maintenance at certain metropolitan landfills that accept mixed municipal waste. The trust is funded from 25% of the Metropolitan Solid Waste Landfill fee, which raises an average of $996,000 annually, and revenues from State Board of Investment.

The account currently holds $20.6million. Sites eligible for MLCAT funding can be found in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. They include four demolition and closed landfills (Begin & Herbst & Sons Rosemount and Vadnais Heights), one unpermitted dump, Pigs Eye Dump, and two open landfills (Burnsville, Pine Bend).

Millions of dollars have been taken out of the trust over the years to pay for various things. This money has not been repaid. However, a law was passed in 2021 to transfer $100,000 annually from the General Fund into MLCAT. However, it would take 140 year to repay the money owed.

Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, told members that the law is far from the bill she sponsors (HF836). This bill would require a repayment for the $13.9 million taken out of the fund.

She stated that it was important to make the fund whole again to ensure public health, environmental justice and the ability to pay for any emergency that may arise, as well as the long-term care for the landfills.

Richardson stated that it is a matter for safety, health, and protection that affected communities and families deserve.

Officials from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency described some of the ongoing investigations and monitoring activities at the MLCAT-eligible landfills.

Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul), stated that while the committee has a lot work ahead of it, the unique aspect of the 2022 legislative session which begins Jan. 31 is that there may still be an opportunity to solve ongoing problems with additional federal and state funds.

Hansen stated that there is a great opportunity for past debts to be paid with the surplus.

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