May 12, 2012   On Thursday May 11, 2012 a Ramsey County District Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce that challenged Minnesota’s water quality standards for protecting wild rice.  Judge Margaret Marrinan concluded that the existing Minnesota rules limiting sulfate discharges to 10 milligrams per liter were valid.  

 
Judge Marrinan held that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCAs) rules did not violate due process, were not unconstitutionally vague and were not arbitrary and capricious. The Chamber of Commerce argued that the rules should be thrown out because they were based on research dating back to the 1940s.  Last year the Minnesota Legislature directed the MPCA to study whether the standard should be revised.
As a result of the ruling, Minnesota industries, including the controversial expansion of mining in northern Minnesota, must continue to comply with the standards.  The MPCA has indicated that it plans to address compliance with the discharge standards through its permitting process.  The state study is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and work to develop new or revised regulations based on the study is not scheduled to begin until 2014.
The Chamber of Commerce’s counsel had no comment on the ruling.  The Chamber could seek review before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  For more information about the ruling please visit: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/05/11/environment/ramsey-county-judge-wild-rice-ruling/.