Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 8, 1998 · Page 1
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · Page 1

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Sunday, March 8, 1998
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Weather - Moifiutoii Variety i Lowell Lundstrom: t 7 i Sports Big Ten tourney: Gophers are ousted by Michigan 85-69 ci Class AA:Duluth East 3 Anokal Class A: Eveleth-Gilbert 4 Hermantown2 Building a ministry on grit and gospel El I Kim Ode: Betrayal and the Lewinsky case E4 III Low: if Sunrise: 6:39 Sunset: 6:09 67th day; 298 until '99 B8 Sunday MARCH 8, 1998 $175 r on I t I W 4e"l I 1 QLujuli) Minneapolis Edition NEWSPAPER OF THE TWIN CITIES 1 Regulatory board accused of favoring hog-farm owners By Chris Ison Star Tribune Staff Writer While large, new animal feedlots have raised environ mental concerns across Minnesota,' one-third of the members of the state board charged with protecting the environment have themselves been feedlot owners. Three of the nine members of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) citizens board were feedlot owners until one decided not to seek reappointment in January. Not a single environmental activist or pollution specialist sits on the board. Critics contend that, under that leadership, the MPCA has been largely deaf to concerns of rural residents and environmentalists about health threats from manure runoff into creeks, rivers and ground water. One of Minnesota's largest feedlots produces as much waste as a city of more than 50,000 people, according to some estimates. And some studies suggest that the toxic gases that emanate from open manure lagoons can cause respiratory problems. Yet several board members say they can't remember ever voting to deny a feedlot permit. Last year the agency approved 154 big feedlots, up from 10 in 1990. The state, home to an estimated 45,000 animal feedlots, is the nation's third-biggest hog producer. tJU ------ " " By their own admission, MPCA officials remain un-aware of all of the effects of big feedlots. But environmen talists, rural Minnesotans and even some MPLA othcials ritft manv nrnhlnms. Turn to AGENCY on A14orr """" The state can't say how many feedlots are operating. Many feedlot owners' state permits have expired, A closer look at the membership of the MPCA board. t v V j J? "hat Y . Star Tribune photo by David Brewster Renville County resident Julie Jansen regularly monitors air quality near neighboring ValAdCo hog farm. She helped persuade the state to require similar tests at large feedlots. 1 M . U9 i. , . i - ' r-y i MPCA-permitted swine feedlots ! .. with more than 90 "91 '92 93 Rancor grows along uith size of operations "94 "95 96 97 i ' 1 Source: MPCA Star Tribune graphic i By Richard Meryhew Star Tribune Staff Writer " T ORTHFIELD, MINN. Rick VI Nord's two-story farmhouse is J. i sealed in plastic. It's stripped across the windows, wrapped snugly on the doors and stretched tightly across the front of his living-room fireplace. Not even in the sweltering heat and -humidity of midsummer does Nord take it off. , , . .. The stench from 1 hog manure, which seeps through gaps in - the window frames of the 25-year-old farmhouse, is too powerful. . "Some days I can walk outside and taste it," said Nord, 52, a truck driver who lives 700 feet from a large, open-air lagoon filled with millions of gallons of hog manure. "It's disgusting. Whether it's a good day or a bad day all depends on which direction the wind is blowing." But the smell of manure is also the smell of money. Big money, r Over the past decade, scores of large-scale hog, cattle and poultry operations have popped up across the countryside, posing formidable : threats to air and ground water, the viability of small farms and the social fabric of rural communities in a ; state that traditionally has prided itself on the virtues of the family farm. At a loss to regulate the expansion and pressured by the farmers who are their neighbors, communities have turned to the Legislature to address environmental and economic concerns and slow the momentum. Nerves are frayed. Last spring, shots were fired in southern Minnesota after a man pulled a rifle on a feedlot official in Faribault County. No one was injured, but the man later told police that he was upset with large feedlot operations. Turn to NEIGHBORS on A14or Neighbors can barely Speak to one another in Rice County. tf-V-.'.. .. .. Judge orders the release of 39,000 secret documents The ruling, which punishes the industry for trying to hide evidence, means the state can start inspecting the documents on Monday. By David Phelps Star Tribune Staff Writer The release of 39,000 secret tobacco industry documents was ordered Saturday by Ramsey County District Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick, who ruled that the industry "blatantly abused" its claims of confidentiality and tried to hide evidence, in one instance, that smoking habits of children as . young as 5 were studied. Attorneys for the state in Min- nesota's tobacco trial said Fitz-patrick's ruling is a landmark de-. cision that could lead to the release of even more internal documents about the industry's knowledge of smoking-and-health issues. "A 40-year wall of fraud and deceit has been breached," said Michael Ciresi, lead attorney for the state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "We will take: that wall down brick by brick." A spokesman for the industry denounced the ruling. ' "It's simply wrong on a number of legal issues," Michael York, an attorney for Philip Morris Inc., said Saturday. "It's another example of the court ruling on the basis of so-called tobacco law where an industry is so unpopular f Tobacco v s". e fin Trim f "11 UllU,;: r , ' JiLrn,,,,,,,, Michael Ciresi, lead attorney for the state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said that "a 40-year wall of fraud and deceit has been breached." that it has a law onto itself. " York said the defendants in the trial would challenge it as soon as possible. In his 18-page ruling, Fitzpatrick . said the industry and its attorneys deliberately violated the attorney-client claim of privilege in trying to shield documents from review in the state's multibillion-dollar lawsuit, which is entering its seventh week of testimony in St. Paul. In some instances, Fitzpatrick said, industry attorneys miscat-egorized documents to obscure their existence. He noted one document in particular that was placed in an advertising category but actually focused on the potential market of underage smokers and should have been in a category relating to minors. Turn to DOCUMENTS on A9on '-The court's special master's report is unsealed. A reviewoflast week's developments in the trial. Star Tribune file photo by Darlene Pfister "The intentional and repeated misuse of claims of privilege is intolerable in a court of law, and an appropriate sanction for such abuse is release of all documents for which privilege is improperly claimed." Ramsey County District Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick, " in his ruling Saturday "It's simply wrong on a number of legal issues. It's another example of the court ruling on the basis of so-called tobacco law where an industry is so unpopular that it has a law onto itself. " Michael York, a Philip Morris attorney, ' responding to the Fitzpatrick order Blame it on It 00D By Peg Meier Star Tribune Staff Writer Enough already. This blame-it-on-El-Nino is getting ridiculous. If you're keeping an ear open, you're hearing it all over the Twin Cities. Frizzled hair? EI Nino. Flattened cappuccino? Ditto. Arthritic knees? For sure. Poor attendance at precinct caucuses? Maybe that too. ,. True, some gripes may be based on El Nino fact, even here in temperate Minnesota: Zooming prices for artichokes. Daffodils pushing up dangerously early. Dirty carpets, because El Nino is producing more rain than snow so dogs and kids are tracking in mud. David Lund of Minneapolis has a legitimate gripe with El Nino. He and his wife, Jane ' :.H ; Ml,. ' , " X ; , ,i If Associated Press El Nino's charms fooled flowers In Philadelphia Into blooming early, which worries many gardeners. Curry, had planned, save'd and researched for a scuba-diving trip off the coast of Panama. Turn to EL NINO on Alfon How 'If President Mark "El" Yudof is coping. A snowstorm takes aim at southeastern Minnesota. B4. f HEWS LtncjDE.." Villagers flee Kosovo attacks For a third day, terrifying attacks against ethnic Albanian separatists in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province sent villagers fleeing the Serb crackdown. The death toll remained unknown. Albanian men said thousands were hiding in the woods. Turn to A12. J Please read f recycle General information . . . 673-4000 Classifieds 673-7000 Circulation 673-4343 .or 1-800-775-4344 7 lillJilllii 9 1!!!! Sunday, March 8. 1998 Copyright 1998 Star Tribune Volume XVINumber 338 13 sections

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