EPA recommends against reissuing permit for PolyMet mine

May 3, 2022, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Federal regulators recommended Tuesday that the Army Corps of Engineers decline to reissue a key permit for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine, saying the project could raise levels of mercury and other pollutants downstream from the site in northeastern Minnesota.

It’s just a recommendation, but it could deal a severe blow to the $1 billion mine if the Army Corps accepts the advice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

The EPA announced its position at the start of a three-day hearing in Carlton, where the Corps is taking testimony on whether PolyMet would violate the water quality standards of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose reservation lies down the St. Louis River from the site.

The Corps is considering whether to reinstate the project’s wetlands permit, one of several key approvals PolyMet needs to begin construction. It’s one of three critical PolyMet permits that have been suspended as the project remains tied up in court and regulatory proceedings.

The EPA determined that there were no conditions that the Corps could place on the wetlands permit that would ensure compliance with the tribe’s water quality regulations, which are stricter than the state’s. Tribal members rely on fish from the St. Louis River, which flows through the reservation, but consumption advisories limit the number of fish that can be safely eaten from it.

Environmental groups that oppose PolyMet said they expect the EPA’s position to carry significant weight with the Corps when it decides whether to reinstate or revoke the wetlands permit, and that if the Corps doesn’t follow the EPA’s advice, a court would likely reject the Corps’ decision.

But PolyMet said in a statement that the agency “disregarded the science-based conclusions” reached in the project’s environmental review and permitting process. The company said it’s confident the Corps will affirm the permit after it considers all the evidence.

PolyMet contends the project will actually reduce mercury and sulfate discharges into the St. Louis River watershed because it will clean up an old iron mining waste pond at the processing plant site. The company pointed out that the site is more than 100 river miles upstream from the reservation.

The permit in question would allow PolyMet to fill around 1,000 acres of wetlands at its proposed mine site. The Corps approved the permit in 2019, but a federal judge ruled last year that the government failed to notify the downstream tribe about the potential impacts. So the Corps suspended the permit, leading to the current hearing.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

3 days ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

3 days ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

7 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

11 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

11 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

EPA recommends against reissuing permit for PolyMet mine