Watch CBS News

Minnesota Legislature passes environment and energy package that includes ban on "forever chemicals" PFAS

The Minnesota House is taking up a big bill with money to tackle climate change
The Minnesota House is taking up a big bill with money to tackle climate change 02:20

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Both chambers of the state legislature on Thursday approved a ban on so-called "forever chemicals" PFAS in consumer products, sending the bill to Gov. Tim Walz's desk for signature. 

The legislation prohibits non-essential use of the substances in cookware, cosmetics, cleaning products and more starting in 2025. The bill also includes funding to help clean up water contaminated with the chemicals, and will phase out PFAS in firefighting foam.

Lawmakers credited the family of Amara Strande with helping to get the proposal over the finish line. Amara died last month of a rare liver cancer possibly linked to the chemicals, which contaminated drinking water in the East metro where she grew up.

This session, she showed up again and again at committee meetings at the Capitol to speak out and demand lawmakers pass the bill banning PFAS with the hope she'd spare others the suffering she experienced over the last few years. WCCO spoke to her about her journey in January.

"This piece of legislation, when it passes and is signed by the governor, will be a big new day in Minnesota, it will be a legacy for clean water in the state of Minnesota but also for public health," Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, said recently at a news conference praising its inclusion in the broader bill.

Supporters say the move will make Minnesota laws on PFAS the strongest in the nation. Five states have passed similar measures and others will follow suit this summer, according to one analysis.

PFAS ban in larger budget bill

The PFAS provision was part of the environment and climate spending package, which includes funding for up keep and protection of Minnesota's natural resources and recreation. There's also regulations and money to curb the impact of climate change.

Earlier this year, there was discussion about increasing fees to get a fishing license or state park permit. Those were left out of this deal between the DFL-led House and Senate approved Thursday. But Minnesotans with a boat will see a boost—license fees are going up for all of them, from a 40-foot watercraft to a sailboat.

In some cases, those fees will double. The revenues support the Department of Natural Resources.

It's estimated that 2.5 million Minnesotans will get a direct rebate check in a separate tax deal. But the environment omnibus bill also includes additional ways to get money back.

Minnesotans would be eligible for up to a $2,5000 rebate if they purchase an electric vehicle and up to $4,000 to help with the costs of installing a heat pump, which uses outdoor air to heat and cool your home.

The proposal also has grants for schools and public buildings to install and use solar energy. And it leverages federal funding in the Inflation Reduction Act approved by Congress, said Rep. Patty Acomb, DFL-Minnetonka.

"This is a bill that really works at partnerships—working both at the local level, the state level and the federal level to work to work together to really solve our problems. And I think that's how we get the best work done," she said. "It's taking a proactive approach to address the climate crisis that we're in and try and prevent the worst impacts of climate from happening to Minnesota."

Republicans during floor debate Thursday criticized the bill as full of "job-crushing" climate regulations and mandates that will drive up energy costs.

They also likened EV rebates to "subsidies" for the wealthiest Minnesotans.

"Every decision the state makes related to energy policy should be through the lens of providing greater affordability, reliability and safety," Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said when the House passed the bill the first time before conference committee updates. "This bill does the opposite."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.