Tell DNR Commissioner Landwehr--LIsten to the People. Protect the Water!
Join Toxic Taters and people across Minnesota as we tell DNR Commissioner Landwehr and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to listen to the people and protect the water by requiring a public hearing and environmental assessment (EAW) of industrial potato producer RD Offutt’s (RDO) planned expansion in the Pineland Sands Aquifer.
In February 2015, the DNR called for an EAW on the RDO expansion in the region. However, after RDO protested in the courts and developed an agreement with the DNR to start the project in phases the DNR backed down. Instead of requiring RDO to complete an EAW and it intends to work with Offutt on a taxpayer-funded study that will not impact on the potato producer’s ambitious plans to expand. It will, however, give RDO increased power in regulating itself at significant cost to the taxpayers and the environment.
Act Now to Ensure Environmental Review of RD Offut's "Pines to Potatoes" Expansion
Last November, Toxic Taters and Land Stewardship members filed a citizens' petition for environmental review of the nation's largest potato producer RD Offutt's major expansion plans in northern Minnesota. This expansion would use up more than 166 million gallons of water per year (that's up to 3,000 gallons a minute!), just as concerns over the unsustainable depletion of Minnesota's groundwater escalate. RD Offut's plans risk contaminating the vulnerable Pineland Sands aquifer with agricultural chemicals, and require the deforestation of vast stretches of forestland in Becker, Cass, Hubbard and Wadena Counties.
The citizen petition temporarily halted the permitting process and delayed the expansion project. However, the DNR must now respond to the petition and decide whether to uphold citizens' rights and order environmental review. This could happen as soon as today or tomorrow.
Take Action! Contact the Governor Dayton and DNR Commissioner Landwehr TODAY and call on them to order environmental review of RDO's expansion in the Pineland Sands aquifer.
Suggested message: Governor Dayton/ Commissioner Landwehr, I am concerned about the impact RD Offutt's planned expansion in northern Minnesota will have on Minnesota's water and the health of our land and communities. This expansion would use up more than 166 million gallons of water per year as concerns over the unsustainable depletion of Minnesota's groundwater escalate. RD Offut's plans risk contaminating the vulnerable Pineland Sands aquifer with agricultural chemicals, and require the deforestation of vast stretches of forestland. It is the DNR's responsibility to order environmental review to investigate and prevent the potential for significant environmental harm. Please order DNR staff to conduct an environmental review, starting with an Environmental Assessment Worksheet.
Thank you for making these two important calls!
Here are the proposed sites for phase one of the RDO expansion.
There are many issues concerning the new expansion:
- More acres sprayed with pesticides= increased incidents of drift and more people, animals, and plants getting sick.
- Potential for significantly increased nitrate levels as well as other chemical contamination of drinking water
- Deforestation will lead to increased erosion, loss of natural habitat, and destruction of a natural water filter.
- Further loss of threatened and endangered species.
- Lower water levels and contamination will affect nearby landowners and municipalities forcing residents to dig new, deeper wells.
- Local farmers, especially organic growers may suffer damage or loss of crops due to pesticide drift
- Loss of forest lands, change in water temperatures due to pesticides and deforestation will damage trout streams, lakes, and wetlands and impact the local economy which is dependent on these resources through tourism and use by local residents.