The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 27, 2014

Regulators delay release of wild rice report

ST. PAUL (AP) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency postponed its plans to issue Thursday a long-awaited and politically sensitive preliminary recommendation on whether changes to the state's water quality standards are needed to protect wild rice from sulfates.

The agency gave no explanation for canceling the release except to say it wasn't ready. Agency spokesman Dave Verhasselt wrote in an email to reporters late Wednesday that the agency would provide an update "when we can in the coming weeks."

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is criticizing the methodology and conclusions of a major three-year study on which the agency was going to base its recommendations, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The Chamber's 84-page report says its own analysis of the agency's research concluded that a sulfate standard is unnecessary.

But John Pastor, a University of Minnesota Duluth biologist who was one of the lead researchers on the study commissioned by the agency, told MPR the current standard or something close is "about right."

The Chamber and other supporters of iron and copper-nickel mining have argued the standard is obsolete, while the state's American Indian bands fear any weakening of it could imperil a food source they consider sacred and central to their cultural identity.

A 40-year-old state law, based on research from the 1940s, limits discharges of sulfates into waters that produce wild rice to 10 milligrams per liter. The new research suggests that even low levels of sulfates can hurt wild rice, under the right conditions, when the sulfates turn into toxic hydrogen sulfide in the mucky sediment of northern Minnesota's lakes and streams.

Pastor said the MPCA has a difficult task in deciding whether to change the standard, and how to do it.

"It's really hard to say what's a single number that works for all conditions. Unfortunately, that's the way the regulatory laws work," he said. "This is a very, very complicated problem."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Sniper-Author-Ventura [Duplicate] Day 3 of deliberations ends in Ventura lawsuit Jury has deliberated 19 hours

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man accused of stealing from group HASTINGS (AP) — An Apple Valley man is charged with five counts of theft for allegedly stealing more than $113,000 from a Rosemount youth athletics group. Sixty-two-year-old Robert Steven Reischauer was the former finance manager of the Rosemount Ar

    July 24, 2014

  • Sanders offers lower-cost bill to reform VA Bill would allow vets to go to private doctors

    July 24, 2014

  • Wetland Loss [Duplicate] Report says Prairie Pothole region losing wetlands BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal officials and conservationists say a recent report detailing wetland losses in the five-state Prairie Pothole Region over the past decade highlights the need for increased protection for the region that provides breeding

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • France: Air Algerie flight vanishes over N Mali ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali, the plane's owner and a French government official said. Air navigation services lost

    July 24, 2014

  • Migrant children face test in Dallas immigration court DALLAS — In a packed Dallas immigration courtroom, Elsy Garcia sits next to her 16-year-old brother, Jose. She last saw him when he was 9, when she fled their home in Usulutan in southern El Salvador. Now Jose is facing deportation. His case is conf

    July 24, 2014

  • Poet takes his act to Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The old poet is dressed in black, his platinum-blond hair rakishly moussed. He stands amid the hubbub, facing a stern test of his crafted words and carnival-barker delivery. The venue is a smoky lounge called Ichabod’s, east of the Strip.

    July 23, 2014

  • Minnesota race track to refund horse owners ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota race track manager says the track will refund horse owners after an audit found it shorted race purses by nearly $437,000 over four years. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports ( ) the Running Aces

    July 23, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysia jet victims leave Ukraine KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, while British investigators began work on a pair of "black boxes" to retrieve da

    July 23, 2014

  • Attorney general sues 2 Minn. colleges ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against two colleges, accusing the schools of misleading criminal justice students about their ability to land a job in their field and about transferring credits to other instit

    July 22, 2014