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Supreme Court finds state agency used proper procedures in issuing PolyMet air permit

ST. PAUL, MN -- The Minnesota Supreme Court says Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's used proper procedures in issuing air permits for the PolyMet copper-nickel project.

In the 104 page decision released following a seven day hearing, Judge John H. Guthmann rejected allegations that the MPCA engaged in a "systematic effort to keep evidence out of the administrative record."

The allegations were brought forward by a number of environmental groups including the Fond du Lac Band, Water Legacy and Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Judge Guthmann found no evidence that the MPCA attempted to suppress EPA comments.

However, the court observed that the process for PolyMet’s permit involved “significantly more interaction between the EPA and the MPCA than with the usual NPDES permit.

"The court renewed its confidence in the MPCA’s permitting process for PolyMet," Darin Broton, Senior Advisor and Director of Communications, for the MPCA said. "While the MPCA always strives to do better, the court overwhelmingly said the agency’s permitting procedures were not irregular. The MPCA remains committed to ensuring that its permit processes and decision-making are transparent and provide a robust opportunity for public participation."

"We believe the court's ruling was too narrow on issues of law and are reviewing it to determine if we will appeal. But as a result of this trial, the public now knows about the EPA scientists' concerns that the PolyMet water pollution permit would not protect our water," the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy tweeted.

The Supreme Court's decision sends the case back to the Appeals Court. The permit at the center of the case remains suspended.

The Supreme Court took on the case after PolyMet appealed an earlier ruling that canceled three permits needed for its proposed mine near Hoyt Lakes.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the Permit to Mine appeal for October 13, 2020.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director

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