Court Clears Way for Minn. to Issue Minerals Leases

Created: 09/09/2013 11:23 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Court of Appeals says the state does not need to order environmental reviews when it awards leases for exploring for metallic minerals.

A three-judge appeals panel says the sale of minerals leases, by itself, does not trigger environmental review requirements under the Minnesota Environmental Protection Act. The ruling says that's because a lease sale does not necessarily mean the land will ever be prospected or mined for minerals such as copper and nickel.

But the ruling also says the environmental review requirements may be triggered later by more specific exploration plans for the property.

The ruling clears the way for the state to award a package of leases that had been on hold since last year, after a group of northeastern Minnesota residents petitioned for an environmental review.

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