What a Minnesota State Government Shutdown Might Mean to Safety and Environmental Concerns

Last week Governor Dayton submitted a recommendation of essential services to continue in the event of a government shutdown. Our understanding is that this is a recommendation only, and that an appointed judge or Special Master would make the final recommendation.

Here is the summary by department with comments on how we are interpreting the recommendation:

  1. Department of Labor & Industry activities recommended to continue:
    • W/C claims and benefits activities, approval of medical treatment
    • OSHA compliance for high risk activities.
    • Construction industry inspection services & support staff
    • Incident command, technology security, support for critical services

    Total FTE (Full time equivalent employees): 32

    Our interpretation:

    • W/C claims will still get processed.
    • OSHA will not do programmed inspections, but will, we believe, still respond to imminent danger (and probably fatality) reports.
    • We do not know if the shutdown would mean a grace period for compliance deadlines. (That is, if you were supposed to pay a penalty by July 5, you might have until the end of the shutdown). Other media is reporting that taxes must still be paid, so a fine might fill into that category.
    • OSHA grants won’t be processed.
  2. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) activities recommended to continue:
    • petroleum remediation at four sites
    • air quality index monitoring
    • Biowatch monitoring services
    • four closed landfill sites
    • seven superfund sites
    • emergency response
    • incident command & support for critical services

    Total FTE: 13

    Our interpretation:
    In normal times , Emergency Response alone has about 8-10 people. With only 13 total people at the MPCA in shutdown mode they will be hard pressed to handle the above list. We believe the permitting process will grind to a halt.

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