abc
QUICK LINKS:

DNR Explains Polymet Financial Assurance Plans

Created: 02/11/2014 5:14 PM WDIO.com
By: Renee Passal

Minnesota legislators learned more about planned financial assurances for possible cleanup and reclamation of the Polymet mine project at a hearing Tuesday.

In the 1990s, lawmakers created financial assurance requirements holding companies responsible for cleanup and reclamation costs. Supporters of the project say, "trust the system."  Opponents are skeptical.

In front of a packed hearing room, the DNR started the House Environment Committee hearing with an explanation of what the agency will mandate before any permits are issued. Jess Richards, director of the DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals Contacts, answered 16 pre-written questions and said they are doing their homework.

"The DNR has access to over 200 mine sites in the western United States.  In addition, we are also reviewing financial assurance from across the nation," Richardson said.

He said a trust funds, managed by multiple banks or even the state, are a potential idea.

Some lawmakers seemed skeptical about DNR's answers and data.

"I haven't heard any set aside of money for what happens if something happens to this resource that is going to become more valued," said Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), the chair of the committee.

Others, like Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), seemed satisfied with the DNR's answers.

Polymet plans to mine copper nickel and other precious metals near Babbitt and then process them in Hoyt Lakes at the site of the old LTV plant. Potential cleanup costs have not been nailed down yet, but officials acknowledge it could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The final numbers will be decided once Polymet applies for their permits.

After the DNR, there was time for more than a dozen people to speak about the issue. People from the Northland and the Twin Cities spoke on both sides of the issue.  Evironmentalists say they don't want the taxpayer saddled with the costs.

"Our big concern is that there are too many unknowns regarding the mine itself to really know what the true costs are to the taxpayer," said Luther Dale of the Sierra Club.

But mining advocates say financial assurance works.

"The states and the federal government require annual reviews of financial assurance to make sure the amounts are correct.  Anytime there's a modification of a plan of operation, they recalculate the financial assurance," said Laura Skaer with American Exploration and Mining.

No legislation has been introduced in St. Paul about the project. That promped one member of the committee to sharply question the point of the hearing.

Front Page

  • Pride Parade is Twin Ports' Biggest Yet

    As hundreds gathered to watch the Duluth Superior Pride Festival's annual parade Sunday, many of those marching said it was moving to see such a wide base of support. 

  • 1 Injured in Crow Wing County Crash

    A Brainerd man was injured when he lost control of his car and crashed on Highway 210 near Riverton Sunday. The Minnesota State Patrol said the accident happened just after 10 a.m. The man suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

  • Storms Light Up Skies Over Lake Superior

    Storms moving across Lake Superior lit up the skies in Duluth on Sunday. WDIO Photographer Jamie Merideth captured the sight from West Skyline Parkway around 8:40 p.m.

  • Minnesota State Fair Sets All-Time Attendance Record Saturday

    The Minnesota State Fair experienced a record-breaking day on Saturday. Fair officials said 252,092 people attended, breaking the all-time record for the highest attended single day in the fair's history. As of Saturday, people visited the fairgrounds nearly 1.5 million times this year.

  • St. Paul Police Defend Officers in Stun-Gun Video

    The St. Paul police union is defending three officers caught on camera using a stun gun on a man who was sitting in a downtown skyway. The man said he did nothing wrong. Police say he refused "numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time."

 

Flood Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Ashland; Bayfield; Iron; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 9/1/2014 6:30 AM

Flood Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Bayfield; Douglas
Expires: 9/1/2014 4:45 AM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement