By STEVE KARNOWSKI
MINNEAPOLIS - Scientists will launch a $1.5 million study into whether a water quality standard meant to protect wild rice beds needs updating under the budget deal that ended Minnesota's government shutdown. But some environmentalists say it sets a bad precedent because it means the state won't enforce the existing standard until the study is done and new regulations are issued.
The impetus came from copper-nickel mining supporters who say limits on sulfate discharges should be based on fresh science - rather than research from the 1940s.
Ojibwe bands have kept a close eye on the fight because they consider wild rice sacred.
Lawmakers who helped craft the provision say it should satisfy most groups with a stake in the issue. However, several environmental groups say they don't consider it a compromise.