Oberstar pushes for faster action on mine proposalby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
Hoyt Lakes, Minn. — U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, who represents northeastern Minnesota, was in Hoyt Lakes Friday to push for faster completion of the environmental review for a proposed copper-nickel mine.
It's been in the works for more than four years, but when the environmental review came out last fall, the federal government blasted the report as inadequate.
Oberstar says he wants a thorough review, but it shouldn't take so long.
"The red tape, the slowdown, the lack of full attention by federal and state permitting agencies has dragged this process out much too long," said Oberstar.
Oberstar said the No. 1 issue people talk about in northeastern Minnesota is jobs. And the Polymet mine promises 400 jobs.
"I've heard some concerns, 'Be careful about our environment. We love this land, we don't want our waters to be adversely affected.' And I've assured people that corners will not be cut, there will be no exceptions made, but we have to do this in an expeditious manner," he said.
The Minnesota DNR and the federal EPA didn't respond to a request for comment.
Polymet says it's changing some of the project plans to answer concerns of the federal government.
Environmental groups say copper-nickel mining has never been done without harm to the environment from waste rock that leaches sulfates and heavy metals.