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MPCA, DNR respond to PolyMet permit concerns

ST. PAUL, MN — PolyMet’s permits became a battle at the state capitol last week.

It started when a number of environmental groups called on Minnesota’s Attorney General to open an investigation into PolyMet’s majority owner Glencore.

Then, one day later, some democratic lawmakers got involved when they asked the Walz Administration to suspend state permits for the proposed copper and nickel mining project.
The lawmakers point to three recent developments in asking for the suspension of permits issued by the MPCA and the DNR.

They include:

  • The MPCA’s handling of EPA comments surrounding PolyMet permits
  • Dam collapse in Brazil earlier this year that killed nearly 250 people
  • And Glencore becoming the majority owner of PolyMet

In December of 2018, the MPCA issued PolyMet the air emission permit, water quality permit, and 401 certification.

In a statement to CBS 3 MPCA Commissioner, Laura Bishop responded to the concerns saying:

“Something I have learned since becoming Commissioner is that the MPCA needs to do a better job explaining our permits what is required, how we hold companies accountable and how the agency made the decision. With PolyMet’s 479-page NPDES permit, the MPCA is holding the company accountable to stringent, enforceable water quality standards for eight contaminants, including mercury and lead. I understand lawmakers’ concerns, and welcome all opportunities to discuss the details of the permit.”

Following the environmental review process the DNR issued the permit to mine, six water appropriation permits, two dam safety permits, a public waters work permit, and an endangered species takings permit for the NorthMet project in November of last year.

In a statement to CBS 3, the agency said:

“DNR has received the letter requesting suspension of the permits. We have offered to meet with Senator Marty to better understand the concerns outlined in the letter and to provide information regarding DNR’s decisions on these complex permits.”

Iron Range lawmakers also responded to the letter saying it’s a desperate, last-ditch effort by anti-mining folks to stop an important project for Northeastern Minnesota.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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