EPA Comment on PolyMet Notes Gaps, Additional Work Needed

MINNEAPOLIS – A quick read of the cover letter the Environmental Protection Agency released yesterday with its thoughts on the PolyMet Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) would appear to show a federal agency warming to the idea of authorizing the state’s first ever sulfide mine.

But the four pages of detailed comments attached to the letter reveal a different narrative showing that federal regulators remain concerned about the lack of data and lack of specificity on a number of the key issues of the proposal.

The recommendations found in the EPA’s detailed comments on the FEIS submission demonstrate that flaws and gaps remain in what is being described as the final draft of the proposal. The comments, which were provided to the agencies overseeing the review of the FEIS, again raised concerns about the potential for pollution to flow northward out of the Great Lakes watershed and into the Rainy River watershed.  The Rainy River Watershed is home to, among other things, Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  In addition, the EPA notes gaps in baseline data, lack of a plan for monitoring the spread of potential pollution and additional work needed to identify and mitigate thousands of acres of wetlands at risk of being drained by the PolyMet proposal.

“After over a decade of study, all Minnesotans should be concerned that PolyMet still can’t say for sure which direction its polluted water would flow,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “Their proposal offers 500 years of polluted water, threats to public health and cleanup cost risk for taxpayers in exchange for twenty years of mining. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans have commented on this proposal, and overwhelmingly they have said the project will do more harm than good.”

While those in charge of shepherding this proposal though the regulatory process have been hesitant to address these concerns when raised by the Mining Truth coalition, the addition of the EPA asking for answers to some of the very same questions should help ensure that those who have the final say on this proposal can make a fully informed decision.

The EPA’s comment letter is included below, as well as a fact sheet summarizing the EPA’s comments.

Mining Truth is a coalition of Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Mining Truth was formed in 2012 to provide a resource for Minnesotans to get the facts about sulfide mining and its long-lasting impacts.

MORE INFO: For more information on the campaign, or to set up an interview with any of the leaders of Mining Truth, please contact Nate Dybvig at 651.230.3018 or nate@conservationminnesota.org or Aaron Klemz at 612.332.9630 or aaron@friends-bwca.org.

Epa Feis Comments Fact Sheet

EPA -NorthMet FEIS Comment Letter 122115


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