Senate Floor Vote / April 30, 2018

HF 3280: Repeal existing wild rice sulfate water quality standard

In the 1970s the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) developed a water quality standard to regulate sulfate discharges. The standard was set at 10 mg/L. Within the last several years, at the direction of the legislature, the MPCA began efforts to revise the sulfate standard. After new science was published that created a more precise formula for determining how much sulfate a waterbody can safely handle, the MPCA began the formal rulemaking process. During the formal rulemaking process, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OHA) disapproved of the proposed new wild rice sulfate rule submitted by the MPCA. The OHA’s disapproval concentrated on the challenges the agency would have to apply the new science and to affordably implement the new rule. In response to the OHA’s disapproval the MPCA, on April 26, 2018 withdrew the proposed rule from the formal rulemaking process. Once the MPCA pulled the proposal from the rulemaking process, the portions of the bill concerning rulemaking are no longer relevant.

One part of the bill that is still relevant is the part of the bill that repeals the existing 10 mg/L water quality standard, and leaves nothing in its place. If the bill becomes law the MPCA will no longer have any water quality standards to protect wild rice from sulfate pollution. This leaves upcoming water quality permitting decisions on Polymet copper nickel mine and other future mining operations near the Boundary Waters in question.

The Senate adopted the already passed House language, and passed the bill with 38 “Yes” votes and 28 “No” votes.

What Would Happen?

A “Yes” vote would repeal the existing wild rice sulfate water quality standard and move the bill onto the Senate for concurrence.

A “No” vote would leave the existing wild rice sulfate standard in place and would not move the bill onto the Senate.

How The Senate Voted

A “Yes” vote would repeal the existing wild rice sulfate water quality standard and move the bill onto the Senate for concurrence.

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How The Senate Voted On This Issue

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December 7th, 2018 4:00 PM