- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would nullify a water quality standard that’s meant to protect wild rice, calling it an “extreme overreach” that would guarantee lawsuits.

The legislation passed by the Republican Legislature would have nixed a largely unenforced 1973 law limiting sulfate discharges into water where wild rice grows to 10 milligrams per liter. Supporters argued that standard is outdated and would cost mining companies hundreds of millions of dollar. Opponents argued those standards protect a food that’s integral to Ojibwe culture.

Lawmakers from the Iron Range introduced bills that would get rid of the longstanding standard while a longer-term solution is worked out, but Dayton said doing so would be going backward.

“Wild rice is very special to Minnesota. It is essential to the culture and spirituality of many Native American Tribes in our state,” Dayton wrote.

Dayton did acknowledge that recent studies have questioned whether the limit was necessary on all wild rice waters, especially when sulfate treatment can be costly for mining companies and municipalities.



The Democratic governor says lawmakers have enough time to reach a workable compromise before the Legislature adjourns May 21.

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