Debate over proposed mine reaches Capitolby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — About 70 people were at the Capitol Monday to hear testimony on a proposed copper-nickel mine for Northeastern Minnesota.
Polymet CEO Joe Scipioni said his company has already invested $100 million to plan for environmental protection.
"Investors today do not want and are not interested in investing in a project that's going to leave legacy costs down the road; that's a real loser," Scipioni said. "So the only way to build a project of course is that you have to meet all of the environmental and permitting standards and you build the environmental protections in so you don't create the environmental legacy problem."
Critics said the draft Environmental Impact Statement -- or EIS -- lacks information about loss of wetlands, possible water pollution, and financial assurance for environmental protection after the mine is closed.
"What the EIS essentially says is those issues will be dealt with in the future. Essentially, trust us," said Former state Sen. John Hottinger, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. "I seldom quote President Ronald Reagan, but this would be an appropriate time: 'trust, but verify.' And we don't have that verification."
The federal Environmental Protection Agency said the study lacks critical information, and the project should not go forward as currently planned.
The legislature is considering a bill to beef up financial assurance requirements for non-ferrous mining projects.