DULUTH, MN — The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of engineers regarding the permits issued to PolyMet for the company’s proposed copper nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.
The Band, which filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, says the proposed mine would be located in the band’s Ceded Territory, which is where the band has treaty rights for hunting, fishing, and gathering.
Band members say the territory is about 70 miles upstream from their reservation.
According to Fond du Lac Chairman Kevin DuPuis, the band “is not against mining, but wants to ensure that any new mining operation in Minnesota complies with the law and is protective of the environment, not only for the Band and its members, but for all Minnesotans.”
The Band states the St. Louis River within the reservation area is already above the Band’s water quality standard for mercury, which has caused health advisories to limit fish consumption based on the contamination in fish.
In addition, the Band says it has the right to make sure the mine won’t violate their downstream water quality standards, which has stricter mercury levels than the state’s.
According to Band members, the EPA and Army Corps ignored the Band’s multiple requests for notice, as well as a public hearing, and didn’t respond to the Band’s requests and analysis.