Polluting politics

by Linda Xiong, University student

As Congress is poised to attack a rule that would restore federal protections to 51 percent of Minnesota’s streams, Environment Minnesota’s recent report, “Polluting Politics,” touches on a salient topic for all Minnesotans. The report establishes a link between some of the nation’s largest polluters, including the Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend Refinery, which operates as a processor of Canadian crude oil in Rosemount, Minn., and their enormous lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions.

According to the report, the Rosemount plant spewed more than 739,982 pounds of toxic pollutants into Minnesota’s waterways in 2012. In 2014, the corporation spent $13.8 million to advance its political agenda.

It is not just our outdoor recreation industry and Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes that are threatened by water contamination, but many thousands of Minnesotans, whose drinking water is currently at risk of unchecked pollution. Yet big industries like Flint Hills are using their vast financial resources to smother Minnesota’s voters and protect their damaging practices.

As citizens, it is our duty to make our voices heard and to demand that our decision-makers do what’s right for all Minnesotans — not what’s right for a few dirty industrialists. They may have deep pockets, but if we keep up the pressure to pass the EPA’s clean water rule, we can overcome these special interests and take a huge step toward protecting Minnesota’s waterways.