Senate passes bill to kill new sulfide/rice standard

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When the Minnesota Senate passed SF2983, it did the right thing. Sen. John Marty is upset with the bill’s passage but it’s the right thing to do.

After the bill passed, Sen. Marty said “Declaring the science something you don’t like does not mean it is bad science. We’re basically saying as a Legislature that we don’t like the results you came up with so we’re going to declare it bad science.” Actually, Justin Eichorn’s bill is rock-solid on multiple fronts. Most importantly, a U of M study, which I wrote about in this post, said that “rice growth was stunted except when there was a high concentration of iron in the water. The study found that iron mitigated the damage sulfur caused to the rice.”

Therefore, Sen. Eichorn voted for the bill that’s been verified by multiple scientific studies:

In 2013 the state hired the University of Minnesota to do a scientific study of the effects of sulfates on wild rice and to determine what the standard should be. Also the Minnesota chamber hired an independent laboratory to do the same. Both studies agree that sulfate is not toxic to wild rice. The studies also found that if sulfates turn to sulfides it does slow the growth of wild rice. However if there is iron present in the water, iron combines with the sulfides and doesn’t allow the sulfides to affect the wild rice.

Sen. Marty is the politician who is fighting verified scientific findings.

Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, said he’s willing to work with the agency on a compromise but finds its current route untenable. Bill supporters argue that tougher discharge standards could prove costly for local communities, which could be forced to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities with expensive technology. They also say it would stifle industry, particularly mining companies.

“This bill will put a stop to what’s going on now, take a pause and go back to the drawing board,” Eichorn said, “and make sure if we are going to do something that everybody is on board and everybody gets a seat at the table, including industry, including municipalities, including environmental groups and government.”