Minnesota’s Biggest Polluters Spending over $10 Million to Pollute Politics

Media Releases

Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Minneapolis, Minnesota – The owner of Minnesota’s Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend Refinery spent $13.8 million dollars on lobbying in a single year, according to a new report by Environment Minnesota. The enormous spending came after Flint Hills dumped 739,982 pounds of toxic chemicals into Minnesota’s waterways in 2012.  

Environment Minnesota released its “Polluting Politics” report shortly after the introduction of a House bill to block the EPA’s clean water rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Minnesota and across the country.

“As it turns out, the same companies that are polluting our rivers with toxic chemicals are also polluting our politics with their spending,” observed Cora Ellenson-Myers, Campaign Organizer for Environment Minnesota.  

Environment Minnesota’s report links discharges of toxic chemicals as reported in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012 with federally reported campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

Major findings of the report include:


In Rosemount, MN, the Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend Refinery dumped 739,982 lbs. of toxic chemicals into the watershed of the Rush and Vermillion Rivers. Flint Hills Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, the Koch brothers’ mega-company, which spent $13.8 million on lobbying in 2014 and a whopping $7,703,335 in campaign contributions in the 2014 election.


Right now, polluters are lobbying their allies on Capitol Hill to derail EPA’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to 47,000 miles of streams in Minnesota. Loopholes in the law currently leave the waterways that feed the drinking water for 970,000 at risk.

“When powerful special interests spend millions to influence our elections and lobby decisionmakers, they drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” said Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon. “To make sure we’re able to protect our environment and our health, we need reforms to stop the flow of big money into politics.”

 “It’s clear that Minnesota’s polluters have deep pockets, but thousands of Minnesotans have raised their voices in support of doing more to protect the Mississippi River and our 10,000 lakes,” Ellenson-Myers said. “It’s time for Congress to listen to citizens, not the polluters, and let the EPA finish the job to protect our waterways.”



Environment Minnesota brings citizens together to advocate for clean water, the places we love, and the environmental values we share.   www.EnvironmentMinnesota.org