Like it or not, iron ore mining is the strongest and largest industry in beautiful Northeast Minnesota. For more than 130 years, this industry has worked in collaboration with our neighbors living in the Arrowhead Region to bring jobs and investment to our region. Duluth is a direct beneficiary of this collaboration. When our regional economy does well, our beloved Duluth prospers.
Consequently, those of us who work and live in Duluth would be wise to educate ourselves regarding an ominous and immediate threat to mining, our region and our Zenith City. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is moving forward with the implementation of a wild rice sulfate standard that has the potential to impose onerous, and questionable barriers to iron mining, the lifeblood of Northeast Minnesota.
According to the MPCA, the only viable treatment option to meet the proposed sulfate standard will end up being prohibitively expensive. If this punishing standard is implemented, local businesses, communities, and families will have to absorb the increased cost. My understanding is that household sewer and water bills in many of our communities will increase by four times the current cost.
The proposed standard is predicted to cost over $1 billion, which will have to be absorbed by our region’s wastewater infrastructures. This is where each Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) customer may experience dramatic increases in their monthly sewer bill. If WLSSD is required to install this excessively expensive technology to remove this proposed level of sulfate from its wastewater, you and I will join our local businesses and iron mining companies in paying the bill.
We will suffer together. At a minimum, we will get financially drenched in this sulfate-free water. It is ironic and chilling that it will be our supposed guardians and protectors at the MPCA who will be soaking us with this sulfate-free water.
I hope this vivid depiction of what is coming at us in this sulfate-free, enveloping wave, causes us to educate ourselves regarding this impending threat. It’s not too late. We have until November 22 to have our collective voice heard.
Please learn more by inquiring at: www.taconite.org/call2action. You can view the rule-related information, including the draft rule language, on the MPCA site, www.pca.state.mn.us/water/protecting-wild-rice-waters. You can also learn more regarding how to get involved at the Iron Ore Alliance, www.ironorealliance.com/science/.
The Chamber’s leadership is standing in opposition to this well-intentioned, but counterproductive proposed sulfate standard.
David Ross, President & CEO