Agate: Grant Merritt reminds us why we must continue to fight to protect nature.

Grant Merritt describes the lows and highs of his many battles, recalls a pivotal period in Minnesota history, and reminds us why we must continue to fight to protect nature.

Merritt_Iron coverIron and Water: My Life Protecting Minnesota’s Environment is engaging, funny in spots, frustrating at times, and ultimately inspiring.


Grant Merritt is a Duluth-born lawyer and was the director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in the early 1970s, a time of progressive action from both sides of the aisle at the Capitol, a time when Gov. Wendell Anderson landed on the cover of Time for a story touting “The Good Life in Minnesota.”


Merritt is widely regarded as a champion of public advocacy in environmental protection in Minnesota. He became active in DFL politics with the specific goal of stopping Reserve Mining’s dumping of waste rock into Lake Superior. As head of the MPCA, he reported to a policy-making board of citizens whose role was to hold the agency to high standards of openness and advocacy. And he represented many non-profit groups and individuals in court to challenge harmful practices. Some of his fellows nick-named him “The Lorax,” after the Dr. Seuss character who “speaks for the trees,” and when he left the MPCA his staff presented him with a plaque engraved with scenes from the popular book.


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Published in: Agate Magazine
By: Stephanie Hemphill