February 7, 2013  Data on the rates of environmental compliance can be confusing.  State and federal regulators are now using new graphical tools – so-called “Dashboards” – to show compliance rates with environmental laws.  

So how are Minnesota’s businesses doing?  Well, it depends on whom you talk to.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (“MPCA’s”) Dashboard, which is featured prominently on the MPCA’s website, gives businesses a big thumbs up and a pat on the back noting compliance rates in air quality (92%), water quality (99%) and land (98%), respectively. http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/featured-stories/visualize-progress-mpcas-dashboard.html  According to the MPCA, which summarizes data on a single slide in its Dashboard, permit holders are making “good progress” on compliance measures.
By contrast, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) using the same MPCA data and much more detailed data of its own, shows decidedly mixed results and much lower rates of compliance than those claimed by the MPCA.  http://www.epa-echo.gov/echo/stateperformance/dashboard.php?state=Minnesota&media=waste   The EPA Dashboard feature tracks a wider range of metrics within separate categories of facilities, compliance evaluations, violations, high priority violations, enforcement actions and penalties.  The EPA data appears to indicate a higher level of violations or noncompliance than that noted by the MPCA. For example, according to the EPA 60.2% of Minnesota’s major facilities with water quality permits were in noncompliance in 2012.  Ninety nine of the one hundred and nine facilities that were inspected had violations.    
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