Our letter to Gov. Dayton: Please veto the Wild Rice bill

by Trevor Russell

The "Wild Rice” bill, HF 3422, proposes limiting and even eliminating protections for wild rice, Minnesota's state grain. Although Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed an earlier version of the bill, a revised version was passed and is awaiting gubernatorial action. This revised language does not represent a consensus and is opposed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, environmental groups, and several tribal nations.

On May 21, FMR joined with 26 other conservation, tribal and outdoor recreation organizations in a letter asking Gov. Mark Dayton to veto the controversial wild rice bill. Here is our letter:

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RE: The Wild Rice Conference Committee Report is no Compromise Please Veto

May 21, 2018

Dear Governor Dayton:

We, the undersigned organizations and the citizens we represent, respectfully ask you to veto HF 3422 the conference committee report on wild rice. The bill does not protect wild rice now or set-up a system that reasonably takes steps to protect wild rice in the future.

In fact, enactment of this statute would take us backwards by explicitly
allowing new polluters, including sulfide ore mine industries, to discharge sulfates without using technologies to mitigate them.

  1. The bill prohibits protection of wild rice growing in most waters in Minnesota until they can be officially listed as a Wild Rice Water. Only 24 waters are currently named as Wild Rice Waters in rule, though the MPCA, tribes and DNR between them have identified at least 1300-1600 wild rice waters that need protection from sulfate pollution. Blocking the listing and protection of wild rice waters violates the Clean Water Act.

  2. The bill requires an exhaustive list of scientific information to be gathered and analyzed for each water body before it can be listed as a Wild Rice Water (and thus earn protection under the law.) But the bill provides $0 for this work, effectively blocking any progress in identifying and limiting sulfate pollution in additional wild rice waters.

  3. The bill prohibits protection of our existing Wild Rice Waters until “cost-effective treatment technology is available.But the bill only creates barriers to using existing and new technologies to make progress in cleaning up sulfate pollution in wild rice waters. The bill requires evaluation of new technologies for sulfate control, but provides no funding for NRRI research in promising new sulfate controls or to assist dischargers in funding treatment to reduce sulfate discharge.

  4. The bill explicitly allows new industries such as PolyMet, Twin Metals or other sulfide ore mines to add sulfate pollution to our waters without implementing any technologies that require investment to control sulfides. This is a big step backward and a violation of the Clean Water Act. Under current law, new dischargers upstream of wild rice waters would have to control their sulfates.

For these reasons this bill is no compromise and should be opposed.

Please veto HF 3422. Thank you for your consideration.

Steve Morse
Minnesota
EnvironmentalPartnershipand the 26 organizations on the reverse of this page

Alliance for Sustainability
Audubon Minnesota
Clean Water Action
Minnesota
CURE (Clean Up our River Environment)
Environment Minnesota
Eureka Recycling
Freshwater Society
Friends of Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Friends of the Mississippi River
Honor the Earth
Izaak Walton League
Minnesota Division
Land Stewardship Project
League of Women Voters Duluth
Lower Phalen Creek Project
MN Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Council of Parks and Trails
Minnesota Native Plant Society
Minnesota Ornithologists Union
Pollinator Friendly Alliance
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Sierra Club
North Star Chapter
St. Croix River Association
WaterLegacy
Wilderness in the City

Women’s Congress for Future Generations

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How can I help?

You can help by calling or emailing Gov. Dayton's office and asking that he veto the Wild Rice bill.

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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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