Bulldozing forest land

Protect the Superior National Forest from Destruction and Exploitation!

Act now to protect 39,000 acres of our Superior National Forest from destruction and exploitation. Read more ...


Defend wild rice in rule, in law, and in the courts

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has jusWaterLegacy’s testimony and materials t proposed eliminating the 10 milligrams per liter wild rice sulfate standard and beginning a process that would plug iron and organic carbon numbers into a formula to get a different sulfate limit for each of more than 1,300 wild rice water bodies.

Scientists are concerned that the MPCA's proposal has not been validated in experiments, and it hasn't been shown even if the model accurately predicts sulfide levels, let alone that it would protect ecological communities of wild rice. Some researchers have called the proposal "scientifically indefensible."

Learn more about the MPCA proposal and how to protect wild rice.

The Minnesota Legislature is threatening to block enforcement of the wild rice standard to avoid costs of treating polluted discharge. WaterLegacy believes that enforcement of Minnesota’s existing wild rice sulfate standard is required by sound science and by the federal Clean Water Act.

Paula Maccabee, Advocacy Director/Counsel for WaterLegacy testified at the Minnesota House Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee on February 24, 2015 in opposition to a bill that would suspend the wild rice sulfate standard and prevent listing of Minnesota wild rice waters that are impaired due to excessive sulfate pollution. (H.F. 1000)

WaterLegacy summarized the grounds for our concerns about the legislative proposal:

First, the scientific evidence gathered as a result of taxpayer-funded research demonstrates clearly that interference with enforcement of the existing Minnesota wild rice sulfate standard would be unreasonable and unscientific. Second, legislation preventing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) from fulfilling its obligations to control sulfate pollution and list wild rice impaired waters would conflict with the Clean Water Act, which is governing federal law. As the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised in 2011, failure of our State to comply with the Clean Water Act and enforce the wild rice sulfate standard could result in Minnesota’s loss of state authority to control water pollution.

Read WaterLegacy’s complete testimony and materials provided to Committee Members.

Polling throught wild rice02/11/15   Read WaterLegacy's Counterpoint: The science is clear: Protect our wild rice, a Star Tribune article by WaterLegacy Advocacy Director and Counsel, Paula Maccabee.  “The Earth is not flat, there is no tooth fairy and sulfate limits are required to protect natural stands of wild rice.”

WaterLegacy, Native Tribes and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criticize Failure of State Agencies to Set Limits for Minntac Tailings Pollution

After nearly three decades of pollution in violation of Minnesota water quality standards, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency finally suggested that they would prepare a pollution control permit. The pre-publication draft of the permit, released to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff, tribal staff and a few stakeholders, failed to require Minntac to comply with water quality standards by any specific date and failed to require seepage from the huge, 13-square-mile tailings impoundment to comply with the Clean Water Act when this pollution affects wetlands, streams and wild rice beds.

  • Read in the Star Tribune about the failure to regulate pollution at the Minntac tailings basin, the destruction of wild rice and mercury pollution in fish in the Star Tribune. "Minntac is a poster child for failure to regulate pollution," said Paula Maccabee, attorney for WaterLegacy.
  • View coverage on Northland News Center television, where WaterLegacy's Paula Maccabee explains that copper-nickel mining should not be approved when the State is still ineffective in controlling taconite mine pollution, "What are we doing thinking of allowing copper–nickel mining, which is a new, and a different, and a more toxic kind of mining? Let's first get our house in order."
  • Wild Rice Rulemaking Fact Sheet -- Reviews laws that govern wild rice rulemaking and explains why "waters used for the production of wild rice” should include all existing wild rice waters identified by the Department of Natural Resources or tribal research as wild rice waters and any waters growing natural wild rice at any time covered under the Clean Water Act (1975 through today).

WaterLegacy, Native Tribes and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criticize Failure of State Agencies to Set Limits for Minntac Tailings Pollution

After nearly three decades of pollution in violation of Minnesota water quality standards, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency finally suggested that they would prepare a pollution control permit. The pre-publication draft of the permit, released to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff, tribal staff and a few stakeholders, failed to require Minntac to comply with water quality standards by any specific date and failed to require seepage from the huge, 13-square-mile tailings impoundment to comply with the Clean Water Act when this pollution affects wetlands, streams and wild rice beds.

  • Read in the Star Tribune about the failure to regulate pollution at the Minntac tailings basin, the destruction of wild rice and mercury pollution in fish in the Star Tribune. "Minntac is a poster child for failure to regulate pollution," said Paula Maccabee, attorney for WaterLegacy.
  • View coverage on Northland News Center television, where WaterLegacy's Paula Maccabee explains that copper-nickel mining should not be approved when the State is still ineffective in controlling taconite mine pollution, "What are we doing thinking of allowing copper–nickel mining, which is a new, and a different, and a more toxic kind of mining? Let's first get our house in order."



LEADING MINNESOTA MEDICAL, HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY GROUPS CALL FOR

POLYMET SULFIDE MINE HEALTH EFFECTS ANALYSIS

DULUTH, MN: October 20, 2014 – The Minnesota Public Health Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Citizens Federation Northeast, Healthy Food Action and Food and Water Watch Midwest Region have joined a groundswell of citizens and professionals asking Governor Mark Dayton and state agencies to require a health risk assessment of the threats to infants, children and adults posed by Minnesota’s controversial PolyMet sulfide mine project. Read more.


WATERLEGACY REQUESTS STUDY BEFORE TACONITE MINING IN HIGH –SULFUR ROCK IMPACTS BOUNDARY WATERS WATERSHED

WaterLegacy and more than 600 citizens have asked the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to require an Environmental Impact Statement before Northshore Mining begins a new expansion into high-sulfur Type II Virginia Formation rock.

WaterLegacy also asked federal agencies to deny permits for the Northshore Mining expansion into high-sulfur rock until alternatives that contain and treat pollution are considered to protect drinking water and the Boundary Water and Lake Superior watersheds. Read more here.


Stay Informed – Wild Rice Standard Research Finds Existing Limits on Sulfate are Needed to Protect Wild Rice

The independent research performed under the supervision of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Wild Rice Advisory Committee supports keeping the existing 10 milligrams per liter limit on sulfate in wild rice waters, if not making the standard more stringent. Studies lend no support for an MPCA interpretation that the standard should only apply “seasonally,” allowing sulfate dumping during the fall, winter and spring. Relationships between iron, sulfide formation and the phosphorus cycle that causes eutrophication and algae blooms need further study. Read more here...


ACT NOW: Join the Minnesota Nurses' Association in Asking Governor Mark Dayton to Require A Full Analysis of the Health Risks of PolyMet's Open Pit Copper-Sulfide Mine Plan

PolyMet’s mine plan has the potential to damage the developing brains of fetuses, infants and children as a result of exposure to drinking water polluted with lead and manganese and increased mercury contamination of fish. Other human health risks of the PolyMet sulfide mine include asbestos-like fibers and nickel dust causing cancer and lung disease in mine workers, and arsenic in Hoyt Lakes area drinking water increasing cancer risks.

More than 45 individual doctors and nurses, the Minnesota Nurses Association - the state's largest nurses' union - and Dr. Edward Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, have raised concerns about the health impacts of the PolyMet project and have asked for an assessment of health impacts posed by the PolyMet project. Read more ...


Over 50,000 Comments on PolyMet Mine Plan (SDEIS) & EPA Comments Confirm Tribal and Environmental Concerns

THANK YOU!

Thanks to your hard work, conservation and environmental groups across Minnesota exceeded our goal of 50,000 comments on Polymet's Mine Plan (SDEIS). WaterLegacy supporters alone submitted more than 5,000 comments.

 Read WaterLegacy's official comments on the plan here. 

In 2010, the US Environmental Agency (EPA) gave PolyMet's previous attempt (DEIS) a failing grade. Four years later on 3/13/14, the EPA rating for the SDEIS showed many areas where the analysis was still incomplete. These include failure to model elemental mercury or characterize risks from methylmercury, failure to support the claim that 90% of all seepage will be captured, failure to quantitatively assess indirect impacts on wetlands, failure to show the least environmentally damaging practical alternative, and failure to provide information on the length of treatment or financial assurance. Read EPA's letter here.


WaterLegacy, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands,
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Succeed in Overturning Mesabi Nugget Variance

SAINT PAUL, MN, March 10, 2014 – WaterLegacy, along with the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, have succeeded in resolving their landmark Clean Water Act lawsuit against the EPA in federal court, WaterLegacy et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

Read more ...

Read the EPA Motion to Remand ...


Cumulative Effects Assessment Needed to Protect Lake Superior Basin

With the onslaught of sulfide mining proposals in the Lake Superior Basin, 59 conservation, business, faith-based and tribal groups in Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prepare a cumulative effects assessment of negative impacts of mining on clean air, fresh water, mercury contamination and public health across the Lake Superior Basin. Read more ...


Join Our Award Winning Work



WaterLegacy Protecting Clean Water w/Paula Maccabee
seal In May 2013, WaterLegacy was honored as an Ally for Justice by the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. We've also won awards from Philanthropedia (2011), and the Lake Superior Binational Forum (2012). Read more... seal

 

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