Gov. Dayton vetoes wild rice bill

by Trevor Russell

Gov. Dayton has vetoed the wild rice bill!

The bill, HF 3422, proposed limiting and even eliminating protections for wild rice, Minnesota's state grain.

Four fatal flaws

There were 4 major flaws with the proposed bill – each of which was worthy of a veto. Together, these flaws represented a nearly unprecedented threat to the long-term health and viability of Minnesota’s state grain

  1. The bill explicitly allowed new industries (PolyMet, Twin Metals, etc.) to discharge sulfate pollution without investing in any control technologies.
  2. The bill limited protection to only those waters officially listed as a “Wild Rice Water”. While at least 1300-1600 such waters have been identified in Minnesota, only 24 are currently officially listed.
  3. The bill requires agencies gather an exhaustive list of scientific information before listing any new Wild Rice Water, but provides $0 for the work.
  4. The bill prohibits protection of our existing Wild Rice Waters until “cost-effective” treatment technology is available, but provides no funding for research into promising new sulfate controls.

The veto

FMR, along with 26 other conservation, tribal and outdoor recreation organizations, wrote a letter to Gov. Dayton asking him to veto this controversial bill.

On Thursday May 30th, Gov. Dayton officially vetoed the legislation. You can read his veto letter to legislators here.

The Governor also committed to establishing a task force to pursue next steps in the state’s ongoing efforts to protect wild rice from impacts of mine pollution.

This veto is a major victory for Minnesota’s natural resources. The veto prevents state legislation from blocking wild rice protections, while helping to create an ongoing conversation about the best long term strategies for protecting and restoring our wild rice waters.

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Let's celebrate

Learn more about how Minnesota's environment and the Mississippi River fared this legislative session at our River Guardians happy hour, June 5. 

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