The editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune isn't alone in believing that we should Keep politics out of water protection in Minnesota.
Minnesota House members serving Mankato and North Mankato agree, the Mankato Free Press reports in Lawmakers field mining, medical questions at town hall.
Dan Linehan writes:
[Beth] Proctor, a Minnesota State University professor who in recent years has sought to strengthen regulations of a frac sand mining operation just noth of Mankato, asked about mining regulations. Bills under discussion at the Capitol would require legislative approval of water-protection standards. These standards have been controversial because they add to the cost of some Iron Range mining projects.
According to her faculty webpage in the Biological Sciences Department at Minnesota State University at Mankato:
My research interests include evaluating nutrient flux in aquatic ecosystems and evaluating responses of biological indicators to environmental stressors, particularly responses of aquatic invertebrates to disturbances.
Bluestem assumes that she has a better understanding of how nutrients like phosphorous trigger those blue-green algae blooms than Representative Cornish, who lives just south of Mankato.
The Free Press article continues:
Considine sits on a mining and outdoor recreation committee and said the political reality there is that nine of its members are Republicans and four of its six Democrats are from the Iron Range.
"Quite frankly, there's a race to the microphone to tell mining companies how great they are when they're doing their pitches," he said. He acknowledged that Polymet, which is trying to build a large copper mine, is "trying to go in the right direction" regarding water quality.
But he was skeptical that a sulfide mining operation — where the ore is extracted from sulfide, which can create acid when exposed to air and water — can ever be environmentally safe.
That sort of statement might build resentment among his Range peers to the point that they might come down with chronic Range amnesia around the freshman DFLer. Let's hope they remember more than just their grudges.
Johnson said he opposes requiring legislative approval of water quality standards, which he called an attempt to "politicize water quality standards in the land of 10,000 lakes."
"Imagine the political pressures associated with (approving a water quality standard)," he said. "We’re in flush times now. It might be easier to do that now. We won’t always be in flush times."
Photo: A blue-green algae bloom, via MPCA. The Star Tribune editorial notes:
Phosphorus is a pollutant that spurs algae growth and can turn sky-blue water into pea-soup green. Currently, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) takes the lead in determining water-quality standards and issuing permits for wastewater plants. . . .
The controversial bills, written by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, would require legislative approval of water quality standards as well as an added layer of review.
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