Minnesota Supreme Court hears arguments over PolyMet water permit
WTIP file photo
Outdoor News

Minnesota Supreme Court hears arguments over PolyMet water permit

The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments last week on an attempt by environmental groups to cancel a key permit for a long-stalled copper-nickel mine.

Opponents of PolyMet Mining Corp.′s project say state regulators should have included “end-of-pipe” limits on discharges of mercury, sulfates and other pollutants in the water quality permit. They also say the state improperly tried to suppress the concerns of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and PolyMet counter that the permit meets the legal requirements and that the project won’t violate clean water standards, according to the Associated Press.

PolyMet plans to build the open pit mine near Babbitt and reuse a former iron ore processing plant a few miles away near Hoyt Lakes. The sites are in the upper St. Louis River watershed of northeastern Minnesota, which eventually flows into Lake Superior.

Paula Maccabee, an attorney for WaterLegacy, was among several groups who argued against the permit Nov. 30 in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court. She said the case is an important test “of both whether the courts will help us defend clean water and human health, and whether the courts will help us defend regulatory integrity in Minnesota.”

Maccabee spoke with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs following the court hearing. Audio below.

Also discussed during the interview is the prospect of a proposed joint venture between PolyMet and Teck Resources to form what some are calling a “mega mine” near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that would also be in the Lake Superior watershed.