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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)

Letter from David Gardiner to Andrew Ronchack


August 9, 1996

Mr. Andrew Ronchak
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155
Sent by fax.

Dear Mr. Ronchak:

EPA welcomes your August 7, 1996, letter, as well as a letter of that same date from David Wefring of 3M Corporation, regarding the proposed MinnesotaXL permit and Project XL Final Project Agreement (FPA) for 3M's Hutchinson facility. EPA appreciates the efforts of MPCA and 3M to articulate the reasoning behind your objection to the permit and FPA modifications proposed by EPA at our July 30 meeting. Clarity on this point is critical as we work together to craft a mutually satisfactory agreement. EPA remains confident that this can be done in timely fashion.

At our July 30 meeting EPA proposed an agreement that would, with minor modifications, meet your objectives. EPA's proposal would permit 3M to bring new manufacturing processes and products into Hutchinson without time-consuming prior review by environmental regulators, helping 3M to create new jobs in Hutchinson. EPA's proposal would permit 3M to comply with simple plant-wide emissions limits for air pollutants by whatever means, in lieu of specific technology or other control requirements for individual units, thus allowing 3M to minimize the cost of pollution control. EPA's proposal would allow 3M to verify compliance with this agreement through the company's own environmental management system.

In return, EPA asked 3M to guarantee that it would not use the impressive voluntary environmental steps it has taken in the past to offset below-standard emission controls in future plant expansions. I feel that we need to agree on this principle and then return to the task of creating specific terms that implement it in the agreement. Everything about 3M, its people, its history and its corporate policies, tells us that the company and the facility believe in this principle. And incorporating a guarantee into the XL permit is important if EPA, MPCA and 3M are to keep the promise of XL - that projects will achieve, or in this case continue, superior environmental performance.

Your letter and that of Mr. Wefring have helped EPA to understand more clearly your objections to the specific means by which we propose to incorporate this principle into the agreement, our proposed "actuals-to-actuals" test. We both want an agreement that can accommodate and indeed encourage production growth at Hutchinson. We both want a system that protects the integrity of the permit and 3M's reputation from arbitrary future judgments about what constitutes superior environmental performance and from the variances inherent in the operation of pollution control equipment. Our proposal was not intended otherwise.

Perhaps in proposing and counter-proposing specific language to modify the MinnesotaXL permit and FPA, we have somehow obscured this principle. It is not a mistake I want to repeat here. If we agree on the principle and on the need to incorporate it somehow into the mechanics of the permit, then EPA stands ready to work with MPCA and 3M over the next few days to make that happen and to reach agreement before Monday on the remaining issues that divide us. All of us at EPA very much look forward to that.

Since time is short, I encourage you to contact me directly or to call Jon Kessler of my staff at (202) 260-3761 to discus this mater further.


David Gardiner
Assistant Administrator

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