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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Court of Appeals issues another mixed ruling on PolyMet

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REGIONAL— The Minnesota Court of Appeals delivered another mixed verdict on PolyMet Mining’s water discharge permit on Monday, guaranteeing months of additional agency analysis and potential future litigation over the controversial project.

While the three-judge panel sided with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on a number of issues, the judges did send the permit back to the agency to determine if potential discharges to groundwater should have been regulated under the federal Clean Water Act.

The MPCA had determined at the time it issued the permit, that the federal law only applied to surface water discharges, not to releases to groundwater.

But the U.S. Supreme Court, in its consequential 2019 decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, determined that discharges to groundwater are subject to Clean Water Act regulation if they are “the functional equivalent” of a discharge to surface water.

The court is now asking the MPCA to decide whether potential discharges to groundwater from the PolyMet operation meet that test.

The Timberjay will have much more on this story later today, and will have the full story in its Jan. 28 print edition, and on the web, available on the newsstands on Thursday.

PolyMet, Court of Appeals, Water Legacy

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