The current wild rice standard is 10 mg/l. Dr, John Moyle, a foremost expert on natural wild rice, stated: There were no large and important and self-perpetuating wild rice stands in Minnesota where sulfate levels exceeded 10mg/l.
Exceeding 10mg/l results in an excessive concentration of sulfates in the soil and reduces nutrient uptake by reducing root respiration. High levels of sulfate pollution can also cause naturally occurring mercury to become toxic and accumulate in fish, leading to fish consumption advisories.
Should these bills become law, mining projects like PolyMet Mining Company’s NorthMet Project near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, would be able to discharge levels of sulfate pollution that are currently not allowed – and that will damage wild rice. In addition, there are several other sulfide mining companies who are expected to apply for mining permits in the near future.
Discharges of high levels of sulfate pollution from mining operations or other sources is a serious risk to wild rice stands and the northern Minnesota ecosystem. This pollution will impact the ecosystem and cultural practices for the long-term.
Additionally, the loss of wild rice stands will impact the Anishinaabeg people for whom manoomin (wild rice) has been central to their livelihoods, culture, and traditions for hundreds of years.
We strongly oppose the current bills that affect the natural wild rice stands and ecosystem in northern Minnesota. They are unscientific and culturally and ecologically irresponsible. We demand that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency be allowed to complete its environmental study on the effects of sulfate contaminants on Manoomin without interference from the Minnesota Legislature.