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ALERT!!! Tell the MPCA Today!

Tell the MPCA, the agency charged with regulating mining pollution to do its job and require mining companies to obey pollution laws.

Deadline for responding: Please take a few minutes to comment on the Keetac water-quality permits by August 19, 2011.

ACTIVIST MESSAGE

Tell MPCA Commissioner Aasen and Governor Dayton to Enforce our Clean Water Laws

In Minnesota and in the U.S. Congress, this is a time of proliferating, multi-level attacks on clean water and human health. Please let Minnesota’s regulators know that they need to do their jobs and control mining industry pollution.
Mining company representatives and state officials have insisted that sulfide mining can be done safely in Minnesota due to the toughness of state standards for sulfates (acid mine drainage), toxic mercury and other pollutants.
So how well do state regulators actually control pollution from existing taconite mines? Unfortunately, there is a clear pattern of unchecked mining pollution.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently proposed permits that allow U.S. Steel to increase toxic pollution at expanding taconite mining operations.
• One draft air emissions permit would allow U.S. Steel’s Keetac taconite mine to expand and increase toxic mercury emissions by 75.5 pounds per year, despite mercury-related fish consumption restrictions on nearby lakes and streams.
• At Minntac, MPCA entered into an agreement with U.S. Steel behind closed doors to remove a requirement that U.S. Steel treat wastewater from its mining projects to comply with water quality standards, where there have been violations for years.
The MPCA has taken these actions, despite mercury-related fish consumption restrictions on Minnesota lakes and rivers and elevated sulfate levels from mining which increase the levels of mercury in fish, as well as threatening natural wild rice.
Another draft permit for the Aitkin Agri-Peat facility would allow re-opening of a peat mine without any requirement that the mine comply with mercury water quality standards.
To add insult to injury, as part of Minnesota’s budget deal, industry lobbyists pushed a law through the Legislature making it even less likely that the MPCA will require polluters to build and improve water treatment facilities to prevent sulfates from destroying stands of natural wild rice.
Now, there are two draft water pollution permits for the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin that put Minnesota mining regulation to the test. These draft permits set no discharge limits for mercury and other toxic metals associated with mining and would allow the Keetac mine to degrade waters in the Mississippi River watershed with excess sulfate for another 8 or 9 years.
As a result of comments by citizens like you, we won an extension of time to comment on the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits — Friday August 19, 2011 is the new deadline.
Please comment now on the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin water pollution permits. U.S. Steel, which posted a $222 million profit last quarter, can afford to clean up their mess. Click on the ACT NOW button below.
If weak permits are allowed now, what protection will Minnesota anglers, hunters, residents and natural resources have against sulfide mining?
Problem:
In case after case, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) has allowed mining projects to increase emissions of toxic mercury. The MPCA has also failed to enforce limits on sulfate pollution that decimates natural stands of wild rice and increases mercury in fish tissue. Recently, the agency issued a draft permit that allows U.S. Steel, which posted $222 million in profits last quarter, to continue violating water quality standards without treating its wastewater.
The authority for the State of Minnesota to regulate pollution is delegated by the U.S. EPA. To keep this authority to regulate the mining industry, the MPCA must comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which requires enforcement to prevent violation of water quality standards.
Solution:
Tell the MPCA, the agency charged with regulating mining pollution to do its job and require mining companies to obey pollution laws. Permits must be strong and regulations must be enforced, so that the costs of preventing pollution become part of the bottom line for the business, rather than imposing costs of resource destruction or remediating pollution on our grandchildren and the public.
Tell the Governor and MPCA commissioner to make U.S. Steel comply with state and federal regulations, immediately. When the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits come before the MPCA Citizens Board for a public hearing, attend and hold U.S. Steel accountable for water pollution.
Action Needed:
Send an email to the MPCA commissioner and the governor urging them to rewrite permits that fail to protect public health, fish, and wild rice and violate the Clean Water Act. Also tell them to provide more public notice and information and extend the public comment period on these permits.
Want to do more? You can Call Governor Dayton at 800-657-3717 and Commissioner Aasen at 800-657-3864, and tell them they work for you, and you need clean water and air, not more mining pollution.
Ask them to stop allowing polluters to get away without collecting and treating their wastewater and air emissions. They must do their job, and enforce regulations on mining that effectively control sulfates, mercury and other toxic metals and sulfates. The executive branch exists to enforce the law and this is what Governor Dayton promised in his campaign for governor.
Questions? Contact Paula Maccabee at 651-646-8890 or pmaccabee@justchangelaw.com
Deadline for responding: Please take a few minutes to comment on the Keetac water-quality permits by August 19, 2011.

ACTION PAGE

In case after case, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) has allowed mining projects to increase emissions of toxic mercury. The MPCA has also failed to enforce limits on sulfate pollution that decimates natural stands of wild rice and increases mercury contamination in fish.

Recently, the agency issued draft permits that allow U.S. Steel, which posted $222 million in profits last quarter, to continue violating water quality standards without treating its wastewater.

The authority for the State of Minnesota to regulate pollution is delegated by the U.S. EPA. To keep this authority to regulate the mining industry, the MPCA must comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which requires enforcement to prevent violation of water quality standards.

Tell the governor and his “pollution prevention agency”, MPCA, to rewrite permits for expansion of operations at Keetac taconite that fail to protect public health, fish, and wild rice and that violate the clean water act.

Also tell them to provide earlier public notice and more complete information and to extend the public comment period on these permits. They must do their job, and control mining industry pollution.

TARGETS
Governor mark Dayton http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. MLK Blvd.
St. Paul MN 55155
800-657-3717 0r 651-201-3400
651-797-1850 FAX

MPCA Commissioner Aasen aasen.paul@pca.state.mn.us 800-657-3864

TARGET MESSAGE (email to elected officials)

SUBJECT: MPCA non-enforcement of water-quality regulations on mining industry

BODY:
Dear Commissioner Aasen and Governor Dayton:

I am writing to ask the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to revise the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin water pollution permits (NPDES) and to rewrite these permits so that they protect clean water, fish and natural wild rice. I also believe that these permits should be reviewed by the MPCA Citizens’ Board and that the water quality standards set in Minnesota and federal laws must be more rigorously followed.

The Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits are the result of a huge expansion in mining and processing at the Keetac taconite mine, including an increase in the size of waste rock stockpiles, tailings basin volume and the use of water for mining activities. The draft permits don’t explain how the limits being set will protect water quality from being degraded as a result of the Keetac mining expansion. They also don’t set limits on the total amount of pollutants that will be dumped into Minnesota waters by the Mine or the Tailings Basin.

The draft Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits don’t set discharge limits for many of the pollutants related to mining, such as mercury, aluminum and manganese. At the same time, the Keetac Air Emissions permit would allow more than 75 additional pounds of mercury per year to be emitted into the air. I am concerned about the public health impacts of increased mercury in Minnesota fish – how does the MPCA propose to ever meet the requirements of fishable waters if polluters like U.S. Steel are allowed to emit more mercury before proving that they have any technology to control this dangerous pollutant?

The draft Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits don’t even require U.S. Steel to monitor for manganese, aluminum, hardness or other chemicals that can be harmful to health or to the ecosystem. Information from other mining projects shows that these pollutants can be elevated above water quality standards at taconite tailings basins.

This is also the first time that the State will be setting limits for sulfate that affect wild rice waters since the Legislature’s new bill was passed pertaining to the wild rice standard. It is very troubling, given the history of excessive sulfate pollution from the Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin, that the draft permits do not set any limit on total amount of sulfate that will be discharged to Minnesota waters as the Keetac mine expands. It doesn’t seem that there is any specific plan requiring U.S. Steel to improve collection and treatment of wastewater – just more studies. Keetac is not required to meet sulfate pollution limits until 2019 or 2020, so our waters could be degraded for another eight or nine years under the draft permits.

Please let me know when the MPCA has set a public hearing at the Citizen’s Board to listen to public concerns about the Keetac Mine expansion. The Keetac Mine and Tailings Basin permits need to be rewritten in an open process to require the mining company to protect clean water, fish, public health and natural stands of wild rice.

While the company may be in a hurry to receive permits, I count on you to ensure that the public receives permanent adequate protection of our air and water.

Sincerely,

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