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DNR: 2,100 Show Up For Final PolyMet Meeting in St. Paul

Updated: 01/29/2014 1:38 PM
Created: 01/28/2014 11:25 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

A big crowd full of passion showed up in St. Paul Tuesday night for the final public meeting on the PolyMet mining project.

DNR officials said about 2,100 people showed up to the meeting at the RiverCentre. The crowd had mixed opinions of support or concern for the project.

PolyMet would be the first copper-nickel mine in Minnesota.

"If there was no mining on the Iron Range, the Iron Range wouldn't exist," Darrell Godbout, with Ironworkers Local 512, said.

"It's not ready for primetime," Steve Morse, with MN Environmental Partnership, said. "The EIS process is fundamentally flawed on a number of fronts. We think there should be more time for review."

Similar to the other two public meetings, people showed up in droves to share comments about the environmental impact statement for the PolyMet project. Some people even sacrificed gas.

"We ended up with three full buses from the Northland," Jobs for Minnesotans Chair Nancy Norr said. "We had a number of people driving."

This third meeting came after new data about possible increased water flow at the proposed mine site. A topic many people had on their minds.

"PolyMet dismisses the idea that fractures could push polluted water out without it being treated," Paula Maccabee, of Saint Paul, said.

"I trust the EPA is going to follow the laws," Godbout said. "Our job is to build it; their job is to make sure it stays clean."

The DNR even weighed in on the findings.

"What we need to do is we need to evaluate whether that data is of high enough quality and whether or not that data is likely to lead to some changes in the model," DNR official Steve Colvin said.

During the public hearing portion of the event, people were given three hours and three minutes each to share their opinions. The crowd was mixed with cheers and clapping after each speech.

Mining supporters were easier to spot because many were wearing hard hats.

"Let's not blow a chance to show the country what good copper-nickel mining looks like," Harry Melander said.

"It's a near certainty that there will be millions of dollars of clean up," Rob Davis said.

It's an issue that hits home for so many people, but each of these meetings has remained respectful. Something not surprising given our reputation.

"Minnesotans are at their core pretty good people," Colvin said.

The DNR said 640 people signed up to speak. 59 people spoke during the three-hour meeting. 

This is the final meeting for the EIS report. You can still submit comments through March 13.

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