In divisive times such as these it's important to remember what has brought us together, what's united us.
Over the course of time, we've worked together to implement innovation.
Most recently, we’ve worked together to make the iron mining industry more competitive globally by controlling energy costs, all the while making strategic investments to grow greener more sustainable iron mining.
We’ve worked together to stop arbitrary rule-making related to sulfate.
We’ve worked together to make the iron mining industry more environmentally friendly.
We’ve worked together to institute more safety practices, becoming a world leader.
We’ve worked together to change blasting techniques to ensure the impact to nearby communities is minimized.
We’ve worked together to ensure taxes are spent strategically within the community.
All of these accomplishments have occurred because we worked together, we collaborated, we coordinated our efforts toward a hopeful outcome.
This time is no different. Since at least 2011 the state has known that its sulfate standard was outdated and needed to be updated. The MPCA tried and failed to update the standard in 2018 and have since left the old standard in place.
Their failure to act has led to involvement by the EPA. The EPA recently told the MPCA that they have to enforce their outdated, burdensome sulfate regulation of 10 mg/L, in order to protect wild rice.
Many waters in the state have natural sulfate levels much higher than the outdated standard and yet wild rice continues to grow and thrive. The majority of waters which may be designated as wild rice waters do not even have a wastewater discharge to them.
Under the Dayton Administration, in an effort to come together to address this problem communities, unions, businesses, environmentalists, and tribal members joined with industries to create wild rice task force findings, which concluded that a wild rice stewardship council was the best course of action.
Now is no different than any other time, the industry has advocated that the best path forward is exactly like all the times before, to work together to address wild rice through a stewardship council.
Let’s fix this issue once and for all in our most Minnesota way, by creating an inclusive wild rice stewardship council. Contact your legislator to show your support for the creation of this important council.
We have one final request for you to consider. EPA is seeking comments by June 30th on their proposed listing of additional wild rice waters which have not properly gone through rulemaking. We've worked together to create a simple to fill out letter which can be found here - https://ironorealliance.com/take-action/
It's as easy as filling out the form, will take less than a minute, and you have the ability to add your own comments to the letter.
Thank you for everything you've done to help us get here today. Let's keep working together to grow our iron mining industry, community prosperity and region.
Kelsey Johnson is the executive director of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota. Steve Giorgi is the executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools.