Public comment period now open for proposed Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule

The public comment period for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed Groundwater Protection Rule (GPR), formerly known as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, is now open and will remain open until July 26, 2018.

Opened on April 30, public comments on the Groundwater Protection Rule can be made on the Office of Administrative Hearings website at www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.

“In an effort to ensure all stakeholders have the opportunity to have their voices heard, we have extended the traditional 30-day public comment period by 50 days and will hold an 80-day public comment period,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “I encourage anyone with interest in the rule to provide their feedback through the rulemaking process.”

Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater; elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can pose serious health concerns for humans. The goal of the Groundwater Protection Rule is to work with local farmers to reduce elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. The proposed rule would regulate the use of nitrogen fertilizer in areas of the state where soils are vulnerable to leaching and where drinking water supplies have high nitrate levels.

Public input is important to the rule making process, and in addition to submitting written comments online, the public can also testify on the rule at Administrative Law Judge hearings scheduled this summer.

The Administrative Law Judge hearing schedule is as follows:

Farmington
Monday, July 16, 2018
1:00 – 6:00 PM
Robert Boeckman Middle School
800 Denmark Ave
Farmington, MN

Stewartville
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Stewartville Civic Center
105 1st Street East
Stewartville, MN

Worthington
Thursday, July 19, 2018
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
1450 College Way
Worthington, MN

St. Cloud
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
River’s Edge Convention Center
10 Fourth Avenue South
St. Cloud, MN

Park Rapids
Thursday, July 26, 2018
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
American Legion
900 1st Street East
Park Rapids, MN

The public comment period ends on July 26 and the Office of Administrative Hearings will conduct a post-hearing comment period of a minimum of five business days until August 2.

Timeline for Groundwater Protection Rulemaking

The publication of the proposed rule triggers a formal comment period during which anyone can submit comments on the proposed rule to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

April 30, 2018 – The State Register publishes the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule and Statement of Need and Reasonableness.

April 30 – July 26, 2018 – Time period for submitting comments on the rule to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

May/June 2018 – The Department of Agriculture holds information sessions on the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule and how to participate in the rulemaking process. (Attendance at an information session does not count as providing input on the proposed rule; all input must be submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings at www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.

Fall 2018 – The Office of Administrative Hearings reviews the comments and drafts a report approving, approving in part, or disapproving the proposed rule.

December 2018 – The Department of Agriculture submits the final Groundwater Protection Rule to the Governor for signature.

The Groundwater Protection Rule is part of the state’s overall Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) which was developed with broad stakeholder input over a five year period and implemented in 2015. More information on the rule and the NFMP is available at www.mda.state.mn.us/nfr.