Dayton Shares About Wild Rice Task Force

Updated: May 31, 2018 07:01 PM

Governor Mark Dayton acknowledged the wild rice issue is a tricky one. "It's a difficult needle to thread. You've got competing interests, some who really think anything should be allowed, and some that think nothing should be allowed."

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He said his just announced Wild Rice Task Force will be broader than the proposed work group that he vetoed. The work group was part of the bill he vetoed on Wednesday.

Applications for the task force will be available starting on Friday. It is a volunteer position. "I think with the recognition of the importance of it, we'll still have a lot of applicants. But it will take a real commitment, time and effort," Dayton added.

The MPCA agreed with the veto of the wild rice legislation. Commissioner John Linc Stine said in a statement, "Governor Dayton's action assures that we will continue to comply with the Clean Water Act and improve wild rice protection while a more comprehensive solution is sought."

Dayton acknowledged that those solutions aren't available yet, and said the agency will not be allowed to force existing permitted facilities to install unaffordable treatment.

But the Iron Mining Association said they wanted more certainty, which they had outlined in the second bill.

Kelsey Johnson, president of the IMA, said, "The evaluation on the cost side means very different things to very different people. If we're going to make the investment of 100s of millions of dollars, in some communities and in some facilities, we want to know the wild rice habitat is going to be positively affected."

She's heard some stakeholders have been asked to apply for the task force by Commissioner Linc Stine.

Dayton said he hopes the task force will have recommendations ready for next year's legislature. He will not be in office then, as he is not running for re-election.

Johnson told us that the industry plans on approaching the new administration on this issue.

You'll be able to apply for the task force over the next four weeks, once it's officially posted in the state register on Friday.

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