ST. PAUL, MN -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday reversed two key PolyMet permits and ordered the Department of Natural Resources to hold a contested case hearing.
Environmental groups including the Fond du Lac Band, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and WaterLegacy challenged the permit to mine and the dam safety permits because they lack enforceable terms and conditions needed to protect the public and environment.
They argued that the DNR was legally obligated to hold a contested case hearing with a neutral administrative law judge before deciding whether to approve the permits.
The groups said Monday's court decision is a victory.
"The Court’s decision validates the Band’s concerns about the ability of the project to protect the environment, the public, and the Band’s treaty resources," Kevin Dupuis, Sr., Chairman of the fond du Lac Band said in a statement.
"By ordering a contested case hearing, the Court has dragged the PolyMet permitting process into the light. PolyMet’s toxic threats to water, human health, downstream communities, and taxpayers will finally get the scrutiny they deserve," Paula Maccabee, Advocacy Director and Counsel for WaterLegacy said.
The DNR and PolyMet argued that the project has met the legal requirements. PolyMet leader said Monday they are disappointed in the court's decision.
"The administrative record for the NorthMet Project is built on a comprehensive process of scientific study, analysis and public review and comment established in state law, which we participated in for 15 years. We and the regulatory agencies have strictly followed that process," a statement read.
PolyMet said Monday it is reviewing the decision and exploring all of its options, including filing a petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme Court.