Dayton vetoes ‘Wild Rice’ bill

We applaud Gov. Mark Dayton for vetoing HF3422 — the “Wild Rice” bill that allowed all new industries, including the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals sulfide mines, to discharge untreated water that contains sulfates.

“This bill included almost nothing about keeping Minnesota waters clean,” says Chris Knopf, executive director of the Friends. “Under current law, dischargers upstream of wild rice waters have to control their sulfates. This bill, however, would have exempted the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals mines, allowing them to add sulfate pollution to our waters in clear violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

“In addition, the bill’s weak stipulations would have covered only the two-dozen ‘official’ Wild Rice Waters of the state’s 1,600 water bodies that grow rice, and it would have made it possible for lawmakers to avoid consulting the state’s tribes.

“Wild rice is Minnesota’s most iconic grain because it is so important to indigenous culture,” Knopf added. “Not allowing tribes into the discussion would have been just plain wrong.” Dayton also issued an executive order establishing a task force on wild rice that includes tribal representatives.

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness considers the governor’s action to be a significant victory in our ongoing efforts to keep the nation’s most-visited Wilderness Area pristine.