IMA disappointed by Governor’s veto of compromise wild rice legislation

Posted May 30, 2018

IMA disappointed by Governor’s veto of compromise wild rice legislation

The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) thanks the 2018 Minnesota Legislature for its bipartisan work to pass legislation addressing the state’s obsolete wild rice sulfate standard.  The association is extremely disappointed by Governor Mark Dayton’s veto of the final legislation which was revised specifically to address his concerns with the initial legislation he vetoed.

The IMA is very concerned that should the state now enforce the outdated wild rice standard, it will discourage much needed capital investment and economic growth in Minnesota.

“This result will not serve anyone’s interest, and it will not further protect wild rice habitat in Minnesota,” IMA President Kelsey Johnson said. “It may cause unnecessary economic distress for families and communities that rely on the state’s proud and historic iron mining industry.”

The revised legislation created and funded a diverse work group appointed by both the Governor and the Legislature in direct response to the Governor’s May 9 veto letter directive “to bring the different stakeholders together and forge a resolution that respects the federal law, provides regulatory certainty to affected companies and municipalities, and protects our priceless wild rice resource for future generations.” The revised legislation responded to each of these concerns by the Governor and created a work group to make recommendations to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner to prepare a report to the Legislature.

This work group would have explored all the variables that affect wild rice in addition to sulfate science, since studies have shown that sulfate does not impact wild rice at levels found in Minnesota water bodies. In fact, multiple scientific studies have shown that wild rice is not affected by sulfate at levels over 150 times the current 10 mg/L standard. Unfortunately, the Governor has now substituted his own work group with more limited responsibility and without the funding that would have been available had he signed the legislation into law.

“It’s disappointing that our efforts to address this critical issue in Minnesota have been rejected and there will be continued uncertainty for the many entities that are affected by the state’s obsolete wild rice standard,” Johnson said.

Despite the outcome, the IMA thanks the diverse coalition of businesses, labor unions, and communities that advocated for passage of House File 3422.