Live from the Legislature
I attended a hearing of the Minnesota House of Representative’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday morning. The subject was an effort to allow mining companies in northeastern Minnesota to discharge more harmful sulfates into wild rice waters. I tweeted from the hearing, which you can think of as both taking notes and passing notes. Here is a collection of that morning’s tweets:
At hearing on efforts to slash $ and protections for MN's outdoors. Steve Morse of @ says cuts not what MNs voted for.
MN Chamber: wild rice/sulfate rule based on old science. So is law of gravity. Research was extensive and peer-reviewed.
MN Chamber: throw out existing wild rice/sulfate standard while doing new study. Too expensive to meet current standards.
Rep Wagenius: Much research being cut in entire bill, but we should fund $2M sulfate research? (Despite exisiting study.)
MN Chamber: no opinion on other cuts to water/conservation research, but supports big new sulfate study.
MN Chamber: "Not aware of wild rice kills from sulfates." I personally know folks who have seen stands wiped out below polluted tributaries.
Rep Hansen: Is it appropriate for Legislature to set water quality standards, rather than let public agencies and scientists establish them?
Volunteer from @ says new wild rice/sulfate standard has been rushed through with no substantive debate.
Rep Rukavina says a "perfect storm" has developed re: sulfates. Of industry's own making. Wild rice doesn't pick fights.
Rukavina introduced own bill to raise standard to 50 mg, pulled number "out of thin air." Current proposal is for 250 mg.
Rep Dill says he supports 50 mg but thinks 250 mg goes too far. I wonder what number PolyMet can meet w/out expenditures?
Reps. keep referring to waters where natural sulfate levels are higher than standard. Those aren't wild rice waters!
Reference to higher levels (e.g. SW MN) is ploy to get local govts into the issue, despite limited range of wild rice waters.
Re: examples of sulfate/wild rice kills, MPCA says research showed > 10mg correlates with decline in growth.
Wild ricer from Finland, MN says what she harvests is important, healthy part of her diet and locavore ethics.
Wild rice harvesters' cut off after 2 minutes despite endless time given to anti-wild rice testifiers. Testy moment.
White Earth Band testifier: wild rice only treaty-protected grain in America.
Correction: The testifier was actually from the White Earth Land Recovery Project.
Disappointed that a Minnesotan who drove 5 hrs. to defend his livelihood at a MN House hearing on got cut off and yelled at.
(Re-tweeted from Rep. Kate Knuth.)
Noteworthy House Enviro Comm: Wild rice sulfate provision changed to 50mg/l (still terrible), reinsertion of climate change study
The last tweet above is from former Friends’ intern Aaron Klemz, who shared that the following day, the committee disregarded the extensive scientific and citizen testimony and proposed to raise the standard to 50 mg/liter.
Here’s a comprehensive story about the issue from Minnesota Public Radio’s Stephanie Hemphill.
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