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To the Editor: PolyMet needs to be held accountable

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opinion Cloquet, 55720
Pine Journal
(218) 879-2078 customer support
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

To the Editor:

I’m disappointed the Minnesota DNR, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers — agencies directed to protect our environment  — continue to consider the PolyMet sulfide open pit mine project, which, according to their own plan, would contribute toxic metals and sulfate pollution to the St. Louis River watershed, requiring 200-500 years of water treatment following closure. Seepage laced with these poisons will escape untreated to contaminate the land and waters. [In my opinion] this doesn’t meet requirements in Minnesota Rule (6132.3200), which states when a mine closes, it’s to be left clean and maintenance free [to read Rule go tohttps://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/rules/?id=6132.3200].

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PolyMet fails that test. The mining industry has a history of avoiding its fiscal and environmental responsibilities, taking their profits and leaving a toxic mess for the public. It happens because the agencies responsible for oversight are lax in enforcement, and no amount of financial assurance can guarantee that PolyMet won’t leave a toxic mess.

The plan fails to protect tribal rights guaranteed under treaty. Wild rice, a dietary staple, has nearly been eliminated by relatively low levels of sulfides in waterways downstream from existing iron mines. Yet PolyMet would mine a formation higher in sulfides, contributing to higher levels of sulfates. This virtually assures the elimination of wild rice, and contributes to increased mercury levels in fish.

Though PolyMet’s site is 50 percent wetland, there’s no replacement site available in this watershed, so mitigation will be outside the watershed, leading to loss of wetland type and function within the watershed. Plus, over 7,000 acres of wetlands would be “indirectly impacted” by the mine as a result of dewatering the mine pit, drawing down the surrounding surface waters and aquifer. None of which is mitigated. Considering that these lands were purchased with appropriations from the Weeks Act, for the expressed purpose of protecting the headwaters of navigable streams, this proposal negates that intent and is truly “swimming against the current” of public opinion.

As citizens, it’s our responsibility to provide our input. Join us by submitting your comments before March 13, to NorthMetSDEIS.dnr@state.mn.us. Include your full name and address.

Craig Sterle, Blackhoof Township

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Wendy Johnson
(218) 879-1950
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