Cumulative Impacts Rulemaking
What is rulemaking? Rulemaking is the process when a state agency (like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) creates rules to clarify implementation of a law that has been passed. These rules cannot go beyond what the law dictates, they can only provide more details about how parts of the law will be implemented.
The rulemaking part of the cumulative impacts law is going to be a crucial part of the process. The rules written under this process have the potential to create a strong law that empowers communities and workers, or a weak law that just slightly inconveniences major polluters.
What rules is the MPCA writing?
There are 7 rules that the MPCA will write to clarify how the cumulative impacts law will function:
What will this rulemaking process look like?
This rulemaking process began with an open comment period, which started on July 24th and runs until October 6th. This is an opportunity for members of the public, organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders to leave comments with their initial thoughts about the proposed rules.
After that comes the process of drafting the proposed rules. We are advocating for this to be an inclusive, collaborative process that truly centers community voices from frontline communities. We need to urge the MPCA to create rules that will truly protect and empower overburdened communities.
Be sure to check back on this page for regular updates!
The concept of addressing cumulative impacts through the regulatory process is not new to Minnesota.
The momentum for addressing the problem of the role state permits play in generating toxic cumulative pollution in overburdened communities, has been growing for decades. In 2008, South Minneapolis environmental justice activists passed a state bill requiring a cumulative impacts analysis for any facility seeking an air permit in the Phillips Community, an environmental justice neighborhood. This law, though limited in geography, was formative in that it laid the groundwork for the state’s regulatory bodies to establish a framework for addressing cumulative impacts.
In 2017, the Northside-based grassroots organization Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) worked closely with their state representative, Fue Lee, to draft and introduce the first statewide cumulative impacts bill to protect all communities overburdened by polluting industry and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s permitting process. CMEJ and North Side Minneapolis residents worked tirelessly to keep this bill alive until its moment for passage was possible. In 2019, COPAL and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table began collaborating with mainstream environmental organizations to build the momentum for addressing cumulative impacts at a statewide level.
Over the last five years, under the leadership of CMEJ as well as COPAL and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table, numerous groups have continued to organize, testify, and show up to drive this bill forward. Through grassroots organizing and advocacy, our state’s broad and diverse environmental justice community has shown that Minnesota must address the systemic issue of environmental racism. The cumulative impacts law is a powerful step forward.
Sharing personal stories is a powerful way to create change, and make our elected officials understand the importance of these issues.