UPDATE #2 May 19, 9:25 p.m.
Session Daily's Jonathan Mohr reports Ag committee considers, then delays, procedural move to block nitrogen rule:
The House Agriculture Policy Committee gathered Saturday to consider using, for the first time, a 17-year-old state statute that would allow it block a controversial groundwater protection rule proposed by the Department of Agriculture earlier this year.
However, after passionate objections that had as much to do with the procedure as the policy, the committee decided to adjourn and postpone action until a noon meeting Sunday in hopes a compromise agreement can be reached.
The story contains an inaccuracy, as it fails to note the second draft of the rule was introduced in late April. See Josephine Marcotty's story, Overuse of farm fertilizer drives Minnesota’s first effort to regulate it.
And here's the video from the first meeting of the committee before several recesses:
Here's the second part:
And part 3:
UPDATE: After a recess, Anderson declares that since this is a committee resolution, there's no need to have public testimony and when they return from another recess, the resolution but not the rule will be discussed. Mahoney suggests that since "we know how this will go," that Anderson should just call for a vote.
It's not the dark of night, but it is after 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon. The only consolation for Minnesotans who want clean drinking water may be the optics of this hearing. The Republicans aren't looking pretty. We'll add the video as soon as House Info staff load it on YouTube. [END UPDATE]
As we post this, the House Agriculture Policy Committee is meeting to delay adoption of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's proposed Groundwater Protection Rule pursuant to Minnesota Statute section 14.126. This takes away the ability of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to implement the long-under-development rule to protect groundwater from nitrogen pollution.
This is an interesting last-minute switch, as Chair Anderson had written in a column released on April 30, Nitrogen rule unveiled, period of public debate begins:
The Dept. of Agriculture this past week released the second draft of its controversial Nitrogen Management Plan. Originally, they had planned to make it public in mid to late May, but pushed up the release date due, at least in part, to strong pressure from legislators and farm groups. An 80-day comment period starts this week, followed by a series of informational meetings around the state. After that, an administrative law judge will either accept or reject the rule or suggest changes. When all these steps have been completed, Gov. Mark Dayton could be signing the rule by December. . . .
UPDATE: In early May, Forum News reporter Don Davis reported in One Minnesota water issue mellows as rally begins:
Minnesota water advocates gathered at the Capitol for their annual Clean Water Action Day when at least one water controversy seems to be easing.
House Agriculture Chairman Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, on Wednesday said that farmers now pretty much accept a Dayton administration draft rule on nitrogen fertilizer, although he said they still do not trust the administration.
Hundreds rallied in favor of clean water Wednesday, talking about issues such as sulfate in wild rice water and construction of an oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
But the latest agriculture water controversy was subsiding.
Gov. Mark Dayton and key agriculture aides are working on cutting the use of nitrogen fertilizer, which results in nitrates entering water. They have a draft rule to ban its fall application in much of Minnesota.
After looking over the latest draft rule, which could be made permanent later this year or early in 2019, Anderson said most of his concerns have been fixed.
“The rule by itself, I don’t think is too bad,” he told Forum News Service. [end update]
Although Chair Anderson wanted to runcounter to House rules and not allow public testimony on the resolution--now he has agreed to allow public testimony after the House recesses this evening. It's shaping up to be a "dark of night" committee hearing. Or maybe not, as the committee has briefly recessed after Anderson blathered about "the power of the committee."
Here's Governor Dayton's letter to the committee leaders objecting to the move.
2018 05 19 Letter From Governor to Ag Committees' Leaders uploaded by Sally Jo Sorensen on Scribd
Photo: Where do that water, soil and farm chemicals go?
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