Send PolyMet to Summer School – sign the petition

We are proud to announce a new petition campaign insisting that PolyMet Mining Corp. and the responsible government agencies heed the Environmental Protection Agency and do the remedial work necessary to address serious concerns raised by the EPA in February. Sign the petition »

A Failing Grade

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that the PolyMet mine proposal presented unacceptable risks to the environment.

The EPA also said that the project should not proceed as proposed, but that the company and the responsible government agencies should do remedial work to bring it up to standards.

The “Send PolyMet to Summer School” petition simply calls for PolyMet and the agencies to do exactly what the EPA said they should. Rather than proceed to the usual next step in environmental review, they should do more work and give the public a chance to review it and offer feedback.

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What did the EPA say?

In its February 18, 2010 comments letter on the PolyMet draft Environmental Impact State (EIS), the EPA said:

“…Because of deficiencies in the Draft EIS, additional information, alternatives, and mitigation measures should be evaluated and made available for public comment in a revised or supplemental draft EIS.”

The EPA rated the PolyMet draft EIS as “Environmentally Unacceptable (EU) / Inadequate (3).” This is the most negative rating possible. According to the EPA, “Environmentally Unacceptable (EU)” is reserved for projects that have “adverse environmental impacts that are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the proposed action must not proceed as proposed.”

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Is this unusual?

Yes. The rating has only been given out to 41 of the 11,834 EISes the EPA has reviewed since 1987 (0.3 percent).

What does this mean for the PolyMet DEIS?

The EPA’s comments identify a number of gaps and flaws in the analysis that must be addressed. The EPA recommends the creation of a supplemental DEIS to address gaps such as a lack of financial assurance in the DEIS, incomplete analysis of water quality impacts, a lack of environmental analysis of necessary land exchanges, inadequate mitigation and protection of important wetlands, and mercury contamination of the Lake Superior watershed. Failure to address these issues would cause the EPA to “not support the issuance of a permit for this project.”

The EPA has the authority to force higher-level review of the PolyMet proposal through two separate mechanisms. If their concerns are not met, the EPA can refer the project to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), an executive agency that adjudicates environmental disputes. Second, the EPA can “elevate” the issue to higher levels of the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act.

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Media coverage of EPA statement:

Participating Organizations

Lead: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Add your name to the list! Contact greg@friends-bwca.org if you want to be included as a participating organization.

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