WRITTEN BY: Hudson Kingston, MCEA Staff Attorney
Minnesotans care about clean water. While some Americans have been waking up to water pollution dangers in light of unprecedented demonstrations against pipeline projects, in our state it has long been an issue of concern that folks are willing to speak up about.
Now is a great time to do just that. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), after getting challenged by MCEA, has opened a comment period on a proposed draft permit for the biggest taconite mine in the state. This permit has not been re-issued for 29 years, and it is showing its age. Even the proposed updated permit leaves much to be desired.
The MPCA needs to hear from you, and how you expect them to uphold the law and issue a modern permit that follows the Clean Water Act and protects Minnesota resources. Write to them today to tell them that they need to protect all watersheds impacted by this facility from all pollutants coming out of the Minntac facility under the permit. Tell them the importance of Minnesota’s waters to you, and the value you place on clean water that serves the needs of people as drinking water, fosters wild rice and trout, and supports other wildlife and human uses.
Write a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 16th in order to have your concerns heard.
Environmental permits are meant to prevent our historically dangerous unchecked pollution
Back in 1960s America, rivers occasionally lit on fire, smog in LA was so thick that people wore gas masks and cried uncontrollably due to regular pollution levels stinging their lungs and eyes. It was bad!
After well-known spills and resulting lawsuits, both the public and the polluting industries came together to call for groundbreaking laws that finally controlled the emissions of dangerous pollutants. On the public's side, they were tired of dangerous pollution; on the industry's side, they were worried that they would be put out of business without some certainty about what they were actually allowed to do. Our current environmental permitting system followed.
MPCA’s failure to regulate the mining industry’s water problems
MPCA has not upheld its part of the deal on permitting. The Minntac mine and tailngs basin were built before the Clean Water Act amendments of 1972, but the facility was subject to the new law and received its first permit in 1987. That permit expired in 1992, and Minnesota still hasn’t issued an updated version. Far from issuing a new permit every five years, Minnesota has sat on an expired permit for 24 years. Minntac’s permit is now 29-years-old, with pollution limits that were weak in the 1980s.
For more information about our case, please visit our Mining page!