On November 01, 2018, our DNR announced through Tom Landwehr, commissioner, approval of ten crucial permits that Polymet, a Swiss-based conglomerate, needs to start a copper mine in Arrowhead of Minnesota at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway. This will open the door to an expanded footprint for the proposed NorthMet Project once begun, allowing for greater extraction of water resources from this water-dependent ecosystem, along with the taking of endangered species, Canada Lynx, Timber Wolf, birds and fowl, plant species etc that interfere with this project.
The permits granted on November first: six water appropriation permits, two dam safety permits, a public waters work permit and last (but not least) an endangered species takings permit. The project still needs water permits and air quality permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Other important points:
Since the project is now deemed less profitable as proposed, Polymet in all probability, will need to mine faster and expand the proposed footprint to make the money investors expect. This means that the proposed mine, with its assured potential of 500 + years of pollution, approved by the DNR, will dwarf the damage of the mega-mine actually needed to fullfill its promise and its bottom line. This will be in direct conflict to any environmentally sound promises.
To quote DNR commissioner, Tom Landwehr, the NorthMet project “meets Minnesota’s regulatory standards for these permits.” Wth such confidence as a foundation, and since our citizens are the ones who will suffer the consequences of a poor decision, being the ones who will more than likely “foot the bill,” why would the DNR under Landwehr reject the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s request for a contested case hearing, an independent judicial review, a chance to prove that this decision could stand such scrutiny? Why has it taken over 10 years to permit this mine? Why do the majority of Minnesotans reject this proposal?
Funding clean water projects, and the like, without reducing point source pollution seems a poor way to protect our resources. Is it a radical idea that the health of our freshwater trumps the profits of an international corporation?