With the introduction of HF 1000, Rep. Carly Melin, a DFLer from Hibbing, surfaced the long simmering tension between mining groups and waste water treatment plant operators on one side and environmental groups and tribal communities on the other side. Basically HF 1000 says that the Pollution Control Agency cannot apply its sulfate standard designed to protect wild rice until it adopts rules that establish criteria for designating waters subject to a wild rice water quality standard. Adopting these rules would be a lengthy process, two years would be a minimum.
The buzz in the halls after the hearing was all about the powerful testimony of Winona LaDuke. The buzz was about the respect or lack of respect shown to LaDuke. For those open to thinking in new ways, she offered a lot. You can hear her testimony here. It is about 7 minutes.
The bill has been temporarily set aside. PCA will release a study on wild rice and a list of waters in late March. Expect a lot more public conversation then and know that much more will likely be going on out of public view up until the March release. Marshall Helmberger, publisher of the Timberjay newspapers in Tower, Minnesota, offers a perspective in a StarTribune commentary: “Iron Range: Why profits over people? Northern Minnesota legislators are doing the bidding of Mining companies now.”