By Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Wednesday, October 31, residents of Winona County won a key victory as a District Court Judge in Ramsey County ruled to allow an extended public comment period on the proposed massive expansion of the Daley Farms dairy feedlot.
Judge Jennifer Frisch halted the attempt by several major Minnesota agribusiness groups to end the extended comment period – though the groups have not ruled out continuing to pursue their lawsuit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA.)
The MPCA which was assisted in Wednesday’s legal hearing by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), had decided to extend the comment period from the required 30 days to provide more opportunity for residents to speak up.
Local community organizers, farmers, and advocacy groups, including the Land Stewardship Project, requested the extension to ensure that Winona County residents would have adequate time to make their concerns about the megafarm heard.
If allowed to go forward, the Daley Farms expansion would more than double the number of cows on the property, causing the county’s largest feedlot to greatly increase its impacts on local communities, land, water, and air. According to the Land Stewardship Project, this would include doubling its output of liquid manure and waste water to 46 million gallons a year, threatening the vulnerable groundwater relied on by surrounding communities. That’s why it’s so important that Winona County residents have adequate time to make their voices heard.
Good public review is critical to Minnesotans’ health
Scientific review conducted by public agencies like the MPCA is deeply important to protecting our communities from pollution. But it’s not the only component – that’s where public comment comes in.
Input from residents and citizen-scientists helps to ensure that Minnesotans’ values are taken into account. Scientific analysis can determine the likely impact of an activity on local air quality, for example, but public comment tells us how neighbors anticipate it will impact their lives – and whether they consider the impact acceptable. Environmentally sound and just decisions in Minnesota are only possible when Minnesotans can show up and speak up.
For any major project – a factory farm, a pipeline, a mine, or any other disruptive undertaking – Minnesotans must have the right and the adequate opportunity to be heard.
The most basic public comment of all
The 2018 election is three days away. We believe that our democracy, our communities, and our natural resources will be best defended if all eligible Minnesotans cast their ballots. Voting is the first step in making sure our policies protect us.
If you need information on how to cast a ballot or learn about the candidates, visit the voter resources section of our website.
Make your voice heard!