Minnesota House votes to create account for 3M pollution settlement

The Minnesota House Monday voted to create an account to handle an $850 million settlement after the state sued 3M for water pollution in the east metro.

In February, on the day the $5 billion lawsuit by the state attorney general was set to go to trial, the parties settled, with Maplewood-based 3M agreeing to pay $850 to improve water quality in the east metro.

Legislation was needed to create an account for that money, but does not appear to attempt to alter the terms of the settlement.

The pollutants in question were perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, previously made in 3M’s plant in Cottage Grove for use in nonstick cookware, fire extinguishers and stain repellent. The chemicals are now in the groundwater.

The bill approved by the House creates a Water Quality and Sustainability Account that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Resources can tap into. In March, some Republicans initially pushed for more control over how the money would be spent, but concerns over whether legislative meddling might put the settlement in jeopardy prompted them to back off.

The bill approved Monday night allows local governments to have a say in how the money is spent.

It passed by a vote of 108-16 and now heads to the Senate.


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