Raid on Landfill Emergency Response Fund infuriates legislators, mayors, County Board

A proposed taking of the entire $8.1 million balance in the emergency response fund for the State’s two largest landfills—the Pine Bend Landfill in Inver Grove Heights and the Burnsville Landfill—has Dakota County lawmakers, mayors and county commissioners apoplectic. The proposed Environment and Agriculture Omnibus Finance Bill set for a vote in the upcoming special session contains a provision transferring the entirety of the dedicated MLCAT emergency trust fund into the State’s General Fund, where it could be spent on anything.

“Taking these emergency response funds creates a huge safety issue here in Inver Grove Heights and Burnsville, where the landfills have a checkered history of leaking toxins and pollutants,” said State Rep. Joe Atkins (Inver Grove Heights). “It is also a concern to residents of every neighboring community who utilize the same aquifer for their water or who breathe the air downwind.
Inver Grove Heights Mayor George Tourville added, “The trust accounts are in place to protect all Dakota County citizens against potential issues at and or after closure of existing county landfills. This is like canceling your life insurance because you are going to live forever. This is bad policy and politics.”
In a letter written to legislators, Dakota County Board Chair Tom Egan stated, “We strenuously object to all proposals to divert CLIF and MLCAT funds. CLIF and MLCAT funds were created to address a significant, far-reaching, long-term problem that these bills disregard. If CLIF and MLCAT are not adequately funded, there is a danger of the State not being able to fulfill its obligations to landfill maintenance, placing undue and unexpected burden on public and private entities. These entities may not have the resources to step in for the State, creating the danger that unmaintained landfills could pollute our environment and groundwater in the future.”

Here is a link to a report about the MLCAT trust account, which spells out where the funds come from, and what they are to be used for: The report notes in the conclusion on page 6 that landfill operators are only responsible for the first 30 years of post-closure care and emergency response costs, and then the MLCAT trust fund bears responsibility for perpetual care and emergency response costs.

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