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Clean Water Groups Ask Regulators to Put PolyMet Permits on Hold

Groups ask for stay on permits for PolyMet. Groups ask for stay on permits for PolyMet. |  Photo: Mn Center for Environmental Advocacy

Updated: November 08, 2018 03:31 PM

On Thursday morning, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and WaterLegacy, and Duluth for Clean Water supporters hand delivered a message to the state.

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"In my hand I have a stop sign, to stop PolyMet from polluting the St. Louis River and Lake Superior, downstream," said Chris Knopf, executive director of Friends.

"We're here to say, stay the permits, and protect our lake, for goodness sake," added Mike Mayou, from Duluth for Clean Water.

They delivered a formal request to the DNR and the MPCA to stay PolyMet permits until the Court of Appeals weighs in. Those groups want the court to order those agencies to do an analysis (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) of the larger and more intense mining plans described in a financial study done in March.  

"This bait and switch plan to permit a smaller project, and then massively enlarge it later, without public scrutiny, violates environmental law," explained Paula Maccabee, from WaterLegacy.

DNR leaders denied the petition for an SEIS in July and August, and the groups appealed. The appeal is still pending.

This issue came up during a press conference with DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr last week. He said, "This is not a bait and switch. It is a proposed project that has been permitted. Any subsequent changes need to go through the same permitting process. They (PolyMet) are required under Canadian law to provide analysis of the mineral deposits, such that their investors are protected from fraud or misinformation. It is not a project proposal.  It's (the March report) is a detailed financial analysis."

PolyMet said, "We can only do what our permits allow us. There is no ability to do anything different."

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy may also appeal the issuance of the permits themselves, and will decide by December 1st. They are reviewing the permits now.

Last Thursday, the DNR issued 11 permits for the project. It was a significant milestone for the project. The MPCA is still working on theirs.

PolyMet is the proposed copper-nickel mine planned for the Babbitt area, and the processing plant would be in Hoyt Lakes.

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