Rochester supporting lawsuit against MPCA

Rochester is the largest member of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.  We voted to support this lawsuit.  The issue for cities is that we are being asked to reduce pollution in waters that did not come from cities, rather more commonly they come farm fields.  The cost to Rochester to meet this standard which is NOT supported by scientists is estimated to be $50 million.  The issue here is that the types of pollution addressed are not coming from cities so the rule is pointless.  This is one of the first times I have ever supported a lawsuit against the MPCA which hints at how silly this rule is.

I have to confess I was a little scared when I saw the soybean growers were with us because Minnesota has an egregious pollution problem from farm fields that is killing our rivers.

Dear CGMC Members,

Today, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities along with the Minnesota Environmental Science and Economic Review Board (MESERB), the League of Minnesota Cities and the Soybean Growers are filing a challenge with the Minnesota Court of Appeals of the new water quality standards that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently adopted.  These organizations are filing this appeal as a last resort to prevent application of these standards that are not based in good science and that will cost city wastewater treatment facilities millions of dollars in additional cost with no measurable environmental benefit.

Here’s a few things to know about this appeal:

  • The CGMC Board authorized the appeal because this issue impacts numerous CGMC cities throughout the state.
  • The CGMC and other organizations involved in this appeal all want clean water.  The CGMC and its partners recognize their front line role in protecting Minnesota’s water from pollution. Our member cities are also stewards of their communities’ resources. These standards adopted by the MPCA are overreaching and will identify rivers and streams as impaired, even when they are not.  The MPCA has acknowledged this. Moreover, the approaches adopted by the MPCA have not been adopted by other states and in some cases run counter to the recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.   The CGMC and its partners simply want the MPCA to base its standards on good science so that communities can use their scarce resources on water protection that will actually benefit the environment.
  • This appeal is a last resort.  The CGMC and other organizations have participated in a lengthy rulemaking process by submitting comments, testifying before the MPCA and its Citzens’ Board and joining with twenty organizations to request an independent scientific review.  Despite these efforts, the MPCA has pushed forward with these rules leaving the CGMC and its partners no choice but to file this appeal.
  • The CGMC is not acting alone.  As mentioned, the League, the MESERB and the Soybean Growers are also participating in this appeal.

The attached memo from MESERB was released to the press yesterday and provides some of the background for the appeal.   If you have any further questions, please contact me or Elizabeth Wefel at or 651-259-1924.

Best regards,

Tim Flaherty


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