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Appeals court stays wastewater permit for PolyMet

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Appeals Court ruled Tuesday to stay a key wastewater permit for PolyMet due to concerns surrounding “irregularities” in the permitting process.

In granting the appeal, the appellate court said it recognized the “difficulty of stopping a bureaucratic steam roller, once started.”

Rather than delivering comments critical of the draft permit in written form to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Environmental Protection Agency staff instead read them over the phone.

As a result, those comments were not included as part of the official administrative record.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and other conservation groups asked the Court of Appeals to stay the permit in June.

“The Court has recognized the substantial evidence that PCA actively worked to conceal significant concerns by EPA scientists, who highlighted critical questions about PolyMet’s potential to pollute Minnesota’s waters,” Kathryn Hoffman, CEO for MCEA said.

“We are disappointed in the court’s decision, but we remain confident that the water quality permit meets all applicable standards and will ultimately be upheld in the Court of Appeals,” a PolyMet spokesperson said in response to the ruling.

Barb Naramore, Deputy Commissioner for the DNR, issued the following statement regarding the decision:

“The DNR is pleased with today’s Minnesota Court of Appeals decision upholding the state’s non-ferrous mining rules. These rules were developed after a robust public process in the early 1990s, including active participation by a wide range of stakeholder interests. The decision affirms that, in seeking to promulgate rules that are both rigorous and appropriately flexible, the DNR did not exceed its statutory authority or violate constitutional provisions. We acknowledge the importance of learning from experience as rules are implemented and identifying opportunities for improvement. This is something we strive to do with all of our rules. However, we continue to believe that the current non-ferrous rules fundamentally provide an effective framework for implementing our regulatory responsibilities and ensuring protection for public health and the environment.”

Reading on our app? Click here for the Court of Appeals ruling.

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CBS 3 Duluth

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