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Friday, December 17, 2010

Dairy Dozen Converts to Chapter 7; MPCA Nixes Dairy Permit Appeal

The Bernie Madoff of dairy feedlots, serial polluter Rick Millner, is having a very bad week. Millner's Veblen, South Dakota-based dairy management company the Dairy Dozen has been going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Charles L. Nail, Jr., granted a trustee's motion to convert that bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7.

Chapter 11 is where you get a shot at reorganizing. Chapter 7 is where you throw in the towel and liquidate to pay off your creditors. As I read it, that means the Dairy Dozen is toast.

Then on Thursday, across the border in Minnesota, our friends at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officially said no flippin' way (o.k., I'm paraphrasing) to Millner's attempt to reopen his Excel Dairy in Thief River Falls. MPCA shut down that Millner monstrosity in 2009 and denied it a permit in April of this year for hundreds—hundreds—of air quality violations. Millner and fellow Dairy Dozen owners of Excel appealed. MPCA documented Millner's trail of environmental destruction at every dairy he's been involved with, took public comment, and yesterday said no more.

Grand Forks Herald reporter Kevin Bonham says no one answered his calls to the Dairy Dozen's Veblen office Thursday. Maybe they've already sold the phones.

It's a shame that the Dairy Dozen has done so much economic and environmental harm to so many communities. But perhaps South Dakotans and Minnesotans can breathe a little easier with these two big steps toward putting the dirty Dairy Dozen out of business for good.

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