December 21, 2010

A Twin Cities environmental group that commissioned a study of reports of water quality violations and subsequent enforcement actions taken by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) over a five year period concluded that violations occur frequently, violations are reported directly to the MPCA in discharge monitoring reports and that, in many cases, no action is taken in response to the violations. In cases where enforcement actions are taken by the MPCA and civil penalties are collected, the environmental group contended that alleged violations often recur.

The MPCA responded to the study by stating that it uses a variety of tools including Letters of Warning and Notices of Violation to address water quality violations. A copy of the study can be found at: The group’s study has been turned over to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for further review. According to a story in the December 20, 2010 edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the EPA characterized the MPCA’s enforcement efforts as better than those in many other states. The EPA has the study under review. A copy of the Pioneer Press article can be found at:

The timing of the report raises a number of questions. Environmental groups oppose the expansion of mining projects in northern Minnesota. Concerns have been raised about discharges of wastewaters from new operations that may affect surface and underground waters. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has filed suit against the MPCA alleging that application of a regulation related to the discharge of sulfates that may affect wild rice is unfair to their members, including mining companies. MPCA Commissioner Paul Eger, an appointee of Governor Tim Pawlenty has announced that he is leaving his position. Governor–elect Mark Dayton, who himself has in the past been critical of MPCA enforcement efforts, is poised to name a new Commissioner to head the MPCA. The Dayton appointee will need to address these contentious issues as well as looming budget concerns that must be dealt with in the coming months.

At the Hessian & McKasy Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group we provide a range of compliance assistance services to our clients. Our environmental law attorneys help clients conduct confidential audits of their operations. We identify ways to minimize and correct violations. We are experienced with federal, state and local regulations including rules relating to water quality, air quality, solid waste and hazardous waste. When our clients need permits to conduct their operations, our environmental lawyers work closely with the technical staff of our clients and outside consultants to ensure that a project can move forward. We help successfully negotiate and resolve enforcement actions. As a law firm industry leader and innovator, we offer innovative legal service packages to our clients. If you are interested in learning more about these packages, please see: If you have an environmental issue, please contact us. We provide consultations to new and prospective clients.

The views contained within this entry and on this website are my own and do not constitute those of Hessian & McKasy, a Professional Association.


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