Minnesota Supreme Court hears PolyMet case

Updated: October 13, 2020 05:39 PM

Another day in court for PolyMet. The Minnesota Supreme Court listened to arguments about several permits and the permitting process on Tuesday. The hearing was virtual due to COVID-19 protocols.


Last October, the Minnesota Court of Appeals sent several permits back to the DNR, and ordered the agency to hold a contested case hearing.

PolyMet filed an appeal to have the Supreme Court take up the case. So did the DNR. And Tuesday was that moment.

Environmental groups continue their argument that a contested case hearing in front of an administrative law judge is necessary.

"An adversarial hearing process will help the agency achieve better substantive results. A focused ALJ record will support judicial review. An open neutral hearing will increase public confidence," Paula Maccabee told the court. She represents WaterLegacy, one of the groups.

They want certain things addressed, like the tailings dam failure in Brazil and Glencore's majority ownership of PolyMet, both of which happened after the permits were issued in 2018.

PolyMet and the DNR argue that they are addressing the issues that came up after the permits. Jay Johnson, attorney for PolyMet, said, "I agree this is an extremely complicated record with a lot of facts. The principles of adminisrative law, that's when you defer and lean on the expertise of the agency. Not go to outside to an administrative law judge, who may or may not have the scientific expertise to make these decisions," Johnson said.

Chief Justice Lori Gildea said the court will issue a decision in due course.

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