Band of Ojibwe sues drug firms

CASS LAKE (AP) — The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is suing the country’s largest opioid drug manufacturers and the three largest prescription drug distributors.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Minnesota.

The Leech Lake Band alleges the companies used deceptive marketing tactics to maximize profits while minimizing the addictive nature of these drugs and the health risks to patients.

A statement from the tribe Thursday cites data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that in 2014 Native Americans had the highest rate per 100,000 people of opioid overdoses. In the four-county area containing Leech Lake’s tribal lands, it says, opioid-related deaths have increased dramatically.

Several local governments across the country have filed similar lawsuits. Representatives for the drug companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Minneapolis curbing road salt use

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota isn’t close to its goal of reducing its use of road salt, but Minneapolis is showing slow progress.

Road salt used by winter maintenance crews is a worrisome pollutant. Heavy use of road salt over the past 20 years is causing many lakes to show chloride levels considered dangerous to aquatic life.

Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency found that 21 lakes, 22 streams and four wetlands have “unacceptable” chloride levels.

Many alternatives to road salt can negatively impact the environment and it can also be costly for cities to adopt new technology, so Minnesota’s water maintenance leaders set goals to be more efficient with road salt use.

Consultant Connie Fortin trains maintenance crews in “smart salting.” She directs drivers to spray brines that contain more water than salt as a strategy. She also suggests using sand or other chemicals.