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September 18 2005 19:00

Three Minnesota Companies Recognized for Environmental Leadership

Contact: Al Innes, 651-296-7330

Walker Smith, 651-297-7018

Toll-free, 1-800-657-3864

St. Paul, Minn. - Three more Minnesota companies have been recognized for their environmental excellence by being named to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track partnership program, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today. The companies are Itron Inc. of Waseca, the Louisiana-Pacific facility in Two Harbors and the UPM-Blandin Mill in Grand Rapids.

The National Environmental Performance Track program is a voluntary partnership program that recognizes and rewards facilities that consistently exceed their regulatory requirements, work closely with their communities and excel in protecting the environment and public health. "These companies are being recognized for going beyond basic compliance, and using environmental improvements as a key driver for the health of their communities and the success of their businesses," said MPCA Commissioner Sheryl Corrigan. "I applaud their achievements and encourage other businesses to follow in the steps of these leaders."

In addition to qualifying through their solid histories of compliance with regulations, each of the new members has committed to future improvements to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations:
· Itron, a manufacturer of electronic meter-reading devices used by the utility industry, has committed to reductions in water use, lead solder use, and air emissions of chemicals which can form ozone.
· Louisiana-Pacific will reduce wood and other raw material use, paint waste, and energy used in production of wood siding products.
· UPM-Blandin produces lightweight coated paper for use in catalogs and magazines, and will work on reductions in water use, energy use, and pollutants in its wastewater.

Companies that qualify for Performance Track membership must use environmental management systems that make efforts to improve environmental performance and comply with environmental regulations a routine business practice. Some of the benefits companies receive in return for their commitment include fewer routine inspections and the ability to make some changes to their facilities without going through a sometimes lengthy permitting process. Performance Track members are also attracting capital from investors who want to support "green" companies.

"Our quality of life in Minnesota depends on protecting and improving our natural resources," Corrigan said. "Performance Track is a good way to balance environmental performance and the business demands of global competition. The bottom line is that it's good for the environment - and simply good business."

Existing Minnesota Performance Track members include the Andersen Corporation in Bayport, 3M facilities in Alexandria and New Ulm, and the Stora Enso pulp and paper mill in Duluth. More information about Performance Track and environmental management systems is available on the MPCA Web site at/programs/ems.html and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site at http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack/.

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