Amara Strande with her father (
by Steve Timmer
Apr 2, 2024, 12:00 PM

Shanking Amara

Here’s the first two graphs of my recent story about PFAS chemicals:

In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature enacted “Amara’s Law” to ban “nonessential” use of PFAS chemicals in Minnesota. It was named in honor of Amara Strande, a young PFAS cancer victim who spent the last months of her life lobbying the legislature to pass the law. PFAS are carcinogenic chemicals, which cause other serious health problems, too, and are found to be contaminating soil and water, in Minnesota and elsewhere, and especially in the east metro where Strande lived. These chemicals were first invented by 3M and have been manufactured by it in the east metro since the 1940s. One of the big problems with PFAS is that they don’t break down; they are called “forever” chemicals.

The law, Minn. Stat. § 116.943 (2023), prohibited many consumer products using PFAS right away, e.g., carpets, cleaning products, cosmetics, dental floss, juvenile products, textile treatment, etc. For everything else, the ban does not commence for about eight years. Even then, it creates an exception for “currently unavoidable uses” of PFAS chemicals. To figure out what those uses are, the legislature directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to make rules about “currently unavoidable uses.” To do that, the MPCA sent out a request for comments about how it should approach the matter. The comment period closed on March 1st.

Please read the rest of that story, and please read this story in the Minnesota Reformer, too: it’s an obituary of sorts for Amara Strande. I don’t know what Amara dreamed of doing with her life, but speaking for lawyers, I think she would have made a great lawyer: an advocate with a heart, the best kind.

It is obvious that the fate of PFAS chemical restriction in Minnesota lies now not with the Legislature before whom Amara spoke, but rather the often-industry-captured Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The first industry salvo against Amara’s law was launched in responses to a request for comments by the PCA about how it should approach “currently unavoidable [PFAS] uses.” Industry commenters came out of the woodwork claiming, naturally, that their PFAS uses were unavoidable. Flacks from literally all over the world chimed in. If they make batteries, or sunglasses, or whatever, the world will stop spinning if they can’t continue to use carcinogenic PFAS chemical to make their product.

One of the best examples of efforts to undermine the Minnesota Legislature’s intent to rid us of most PFAS uses comes from a company called Claigan Environmental Inc. I referred to it in the first story. Claigan is embarking on a “strategic project,” apparently to gut Amara’s law through the blanket use of the “currently unavoidable use” exception. Claigan’s corporate motto is:

At Claigan, our philosophy is simple: Less Journey, More Results.

That’s a transparent anti-environmental regulation message, and it seems to have attraction to many commenters responding to the request for comments by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. There is a PDF file of all the comments made in response to the request for comments. The commenters, from all over the world, mentioned Claigan some 234 times. There are multiple references to Claigan in some comment records, but there are still many unique records from different commenters in the PDF endorsing Claigan’s work.

Claigan made a submission that includes this bar graph.

Claigan’s bar graph of sources of PFAS chemicals (via

The thrust of Claigan’s submission seems to be that fire fighting foam is the source of most of the PFAS chemicals in drinking water (well, and cosmetics, too), so what’s the problem with everything else?

I think Claigan’s “Industry PFAS CUU Project” seeks to sidestep the question of whether a use is “unavoidable” or not.

Claigan Environmental Inc. is lobbying the Pollution Control Agency to adopt rules favoring blanket exemption of PFAS use for industry and has been busy lining up companies to endorse that. But it has never registered as a lobbyist in Minnesota, which it is required to do.

It’s why I filed a complaint with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.


The reason why removing “currently” and “unavoidable” from currently unavoidable use is bad is readily apparent. If industry gets a permanent pass for PFAS chemical use because of claimed de minimus environmental effects — a dubious proposition in spite of Claigan’s fancy graphics, anyway — there will be no incentive to advance the state of the art and reduce or eliminate their use.

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