The following is a statement from Paul Austin, Executive Director of Mining Truth member Conservation Minnesota in response to today’s DNR adequacy finding on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed PolyMet mine in Northern Minnesota.
While proponents of sulfide mining may describe today’s decision as being a milestone, in reality this document fails to live up to the rating of “adequate.” In successive drafts, this document has become longer and less specific. The final draft avoids answering many basic questions that Minnesotans have long been asking.
The final EIS fails to address how the company plans to meet state law requiring the site to be left maintenance free after the mine closes in twenty years. The EIS goes to great lengths to not answer the basic question of how long treatment of polluted water will be necessary after closure, despite the State of Minnesota’s data that shows it will take hundreds of years. The financial risk to taxpayers for any possible catastrophe and water treatment for hundreds of years after closure has also not been addressed. Is there a risk to the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? The Environmental Protection Agency has concerns about this and encouraged more research on the topic. But the new draft fails to address this risk, again deferring a decision on what to do about it until later.
Governor Dayton has said he will make the final decision on PolyMet’s proposal. Unless PolyMet can answer these key questions, the risks of this new form of mining far outweigh the potential rewards for the vast majority of Minnesotans.