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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)

Letter from David Gardiner to Peder Larson


August 29, 1996

Mr. Peder Larson
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Rd. N.
St. Paul, MN 55155-4194

Dear Commissioner Larson,

I am writing to respond to your letter of August 27, and to Dr. David Sonstegard's August 13 letter, to Administrator Browner regarding 3M's Project XL proposal for its Hutchinson, Minnesota, facility. As you know, we have worked closely with both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and with 3M to achieve a final agreement for this project that will fulfill the goals we all share for Project XL: to provide regulatory flexibility, and maintain accountability, while achieving more environmental protection at less cost.

We are pleased with the commitment you have shown in working with us to achieve these important goals, and we are strongly committed to resolving remaining issues with you so that this project can move forward. From its inception, Project XL has always linked regulatory flexibility with superior environmental performance. The issue before us is that of superior environmental performance.

We are pleased that we have reached substantive agreement on several common-sense, flexible approaches to achieving better environmental protection, proposed by 3M in its original project outline. All of these common-sense elements will help to streamline the regulatory process, achieve better environmental protection, and create jobs for the people of Hutchinson, advancing Minnesota's economic and environmental progress. To briefly review our progress, we have agreed to streamline the regulatory review process, allowing 3M to move faster to bring new and modified manufacturing processes and products into Hutchinson. We have agreed to provide the facility with the flexibility to achieve facility-wide air pollution standards, using the best means available, without specifying the technology or control requirements to achieve those environmental protections. We have agreed to extend 3M the flexibility to verify its compliance with environmental and public health protections through the company's existing environmental management system, thus reducing the recordkeeping and reporting requirements that would cost more in time and paperwork.

Dr. Sonstegard's August 13 letter requested that EPA implement this agreement through a site-specific rule under the authority of the Clean Air Act. This would, in effect, replace the rulebook with our Project XL agreement. We stand ready to do this, as long as our agreement will provide the people of Minnesota with the same level of environmental and public health protection that they are now guaranteed by the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws. As I mentioned to you in our telephone conversation earlier this month, we feel that additional implementation language is needed to ensure that this vital goal is met.

As you requested, we have worked with MPCA to develop these modifications to achieve this important requirement to protect public health and the environment. We have proposed language that would ensure a guarantee that protections from all pollutants under the Clean Air Act would be met. The proposed language also would ensure that this guarantee applies to the entire facility, rather than simply to new units, and that the overall level of protection offered at the facility will keep pace with future applicable Clean Air Act requirements. The proposed language also confirms that the facility will meet the protection requirements during the term of this XL project, rather than by trading future performance against voluntary controls taken prior to the start of Project XL at this facility. Finally, the new language clarifies that this guarantee, as a condition of the XL permit, is backed by the authority of both the national Clean Air Act, as well as by the laws of Minnesota, to ensure these protections for the people of your state.

We believe that this newly proposed language accomplishes our mutual goal of using flexible, common-sense approaches to environmental regulation without sacrificing environmental and public health protection for the people of Minnesota and the nation. We hope that you will closely examine the proposed language and the merits of this guarantee, and that you will continue to work with us to achieve the agreement that will let this important project move forward. The dedication that you and the MPCA staff have brought to this effort are much appreciated, and we look forward to assisting you in any way as we near an agreement.

Again, we appreciate your continued input and attention to this proposal. I look forward to continuing these discussions with you and remain optimistic that we can achieve an agreeement that meets the important goals of Project XL. Please call me, as well as Deputy Assistant Administrator Lisa Lund and Deputy Regional Administrator David Ullrich, with any questions you may have.


David Gardiner
Assistant Administrator

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