The Potluck

House passes bill cracking down on chemicals invented by Minnesota’s 3M

By: - April 17, 2023 8:45 pm

Assistant Majority Leader Sydney Jordan, DFL-Minneapolis, thanked supporters of the bill who outside the House chamber for showing up to shout “PFA has got to go!” as House members entered the chambers Monday. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Late Monday night, after hours of debate, the Minnesota House passed what lawmaker said was the state’s biggest investment ever in the environment and natural resources.

The Environment, Natural Resources, Climate, and Energy budget bill, HF2310, passed by a vote of 69-59. The budget bill includes a ban on products that contain common but toxic chemicals that 3M invented in Minnesota in the 1940s.

The chemicals, used in a broad array of retail, industrial and technology products from microprocessors to non-stick pans, have since spread all over the planet, and can be found in the blood of nearly all people. They’ve been linked to low fertility, birth defects, suppression of the immune system, thyroid disease and various cancers.

Several east metro communities have been beset with the effects of chemical contamination in their water. In 2018, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson settled with 3M for $850 million to provide clean drinking water to east metro residents.

The bill, which still requires Senate passage, would:

  • Ban products that contain the toxic chemicals from being sold or distributed unless deemed essential by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
  • Ban the chemicals in firefighting foam, except as allowed by federal law. 
  • Require manufacturers of products that contain intentionally added PFAS to disclose that to the state Pollution Control Agency. 

Before the House went into session Monday, Rep. Sydney Jordan, DFL-Minneapolis, thanked supporters of the bill outside the House chamber for showing up to shout “PFAS have got to go!” as House members entered the chambers.

“We are going to pass this bill. We are going to have the strongest laws on PFAS in the country after we pass this bill and sign it into law,” Jordan said. “We know that we have to do this. Minnesota invented PFAS and it’s our job to invent the solution for it.”

Many of the bill’s supporters were friends and family of Amara Strande, a young east metro woman stricken with cancer, which was a common occurrence at her high school in Oakdale. Strande — who testified at several committee hearings on the bills — died Friday morning.

Cancer at Tartan High School has been so prominent that the usual high school cliques like “jocks” and “nerds” also included “cancer kids,” graduates say.

The bill, authored by Representative Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, invests over $670 million in new funding for the environment and natural resources.

“This is a problem-solving bill that rights past wrongs and lays a foundation for protecting Minnesota’s land, air, water, and wildlife into the future,” said Hansen, chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. “By passing this bill, we are making the largest investment into protecting our environment in our state’s history. Whether it’s addressing chronic wasting disease, PFAS chemicals, or emerald ash borer, this legislation makes meaningful progress on issues that previously stalled under divided government.”

Updated at 8:06 a.m. Tuesday

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.