Business group sues over mining pollution rulesby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is suing the state over a rule governing sulfate pollution in wild rice beds.
Proposed copper-nickel mines in northeastern Minnesota are expected to release large amounts of sulfur into water bodies, and potentially harm the wild rice that grows in those waters.
The Chamber's environmental consultant, Mike Robertson, says the current standard is based on research that's almost 70 years old.
"There's other science out there that shows different numbers that could be applied," he said. "We think, based on those facts alone, that the rule deserves a strong review and much more current scientific interpretation about what is the best way and the best standard to protect wild rice."
After years of letting the rule lie dormant, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently began applying it to the two mining proposals.
Betsy Daub, from Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, says the lawsuit is an attempt to weaken environmental protections.
"We've been told by the mining industry all along that they can and will comply with Minnesota's good environmental regulations, and that they will protect our water," she said. "And here we have an attempt to weaken the laws that Minnesotans want for our clean water, and resources like wild rice."
The MPCA plans to review the rule as part of a larger review, but in its lawsuit, the chamber says that will take too long. The agency says it is studying the lawsuit.