Victory: PolyMet will “go to summer school”

More work will be done on the flawed and incomplete draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the PolyMet sulfide mining proposal near Hoyt Lakes. The responsible government agencies recently announced that a supplemental draft will be prepared to address concerns raised by environmentalists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and many others.

The move is exactly what the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness’s “Send PolyMet to Summer School” petition campaign asked for. It was also included in the list of recommendations the EPA made when it gave the project’s draft EIS a failing grade in February.

The EPA said the PolyMet draft EIS not only described unacceptable environmental impacts, but was also inadequate and did not provide enough information to fully understand the proposal and what it’s effects on water and other natural resources would be. The document also lacked substantive information about the “damage deposit” PolyMet would provide to pay for clean-up in the event the company goes bankrupt or otherwise walks away from the mine.

In a press release, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said:

The supplemental draft EIS will:

  • Fully incorporate the proposed land exchange between PolyMet and the U.S. Forest Service, Superior National Forest.
  • Develop and incorporate additional project modifications, alternatives and mitigation measures to minimize environmental impacts.
  • Provide clear descriptions of alternatives and mitigation.
  • Consider EPA and other public comments and recommendations.

The supplemental draft EIS will be a fully revised document. It will build on the draft EIS and combine and simplify the two separate project and land exchange EISs. The supplemental draft EIS will provide appropriate public disclosure, include at least one public information meeting, ensure compliance with federal and state environmental review laws and regulations, and provide an effective and efficient process.

The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness will continue to pay close attention to the environmental review process as it moves forward. The decision to create the supplement draft EIS is a positive step, but, because of the severity of the faults in the draft EIS, a significant amount of work needs to be done, including field work gathering additional data. (More information from the Friends.)