Appeals Brief Filed Today to Preserve Wild Rice Sulfate Standard
Here is the Appeals Brief filed today on behalf of WaterLegacy defending the wild rice sulfate standard. WaterLegacyAppealsBrief(WildRiceStandard)(8-6-12) A quick summary: the wild rice standard is constitutional, enforcement of the standard is well within the scope of authority of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and, in fact, is among the duties of the MPCA under state and federal clean water laws. The wild rice standard was obviously intended to protect natural stands of wild rice as well as cultivated paddy rice, and the Complaint filed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, representing the mining industry, should be dismissed in its entirety and on the merits.
A Minnesota state district court already held that the mining industry’s claims are without legal merit, and a long line of state and federal precedent supports the district court’s decision. However, the legal system allows the mining industry to appeal the trial court’s decision — even if their claims are baseless.
My perspective is that this litigation highlights the hypocrisy of the mining companies. Their public relations message is that the mines will “comply” with water quality standards. But, at every level – legislative, administrative and judicial – the mining companies expend extraordinary effort to eliminate and weaken water quality standards and to ensure that they will be interpreted to put no limits on mining company pollution.
Basically, when mining companies tell Minnesotans that they will comply with standards, they mean that they will play by the rules if and only if they get to rewrite them.
Now, more than ever, regulators are under continuous and abundantly-funded pressure to let the polluters have their way. Staff time is consumed with defending pollution control standards rather than implementing and enforcing them. Sometimes the U.S. EPA is our only backstop.
What can be done? Money matters and political leadership matters. The best thing we could do is enact a constitutional amendment to turn back the Supreme Court’s decision allowing unlimited corporate donations in politics. In the meantime, support President Obama (and his EPA) and elect state officials who care about the environmental and care about real people, not corporations pretending to be people.