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PolyMet Update: Bad Public Lands Bills Pass House, Senate is the next stop

Earlier this month, bills that would force an unfair land exchange with PolyMet Mining and end a scientific study of the risk that sulfide mining poses to the Boundary Waters passed the U.S. House. HR 3115 would end court review of the land exchange that PolyMet is seeking to gain control of nearly 7,000 acres of public land in the Superior National Forest. MCEA is challenging the PolyMet land exchange because public land was valued at just $550/acre, shortchanging taxpayers and public land users. There are also three other court challenges to the land exchange, all of which would be stopped if HR 3115 becomes law.

A second bill (HR 3905) would end a scientific study of the risk to the Boundary Waters from sulfide mining, prevent future Presidents from using the Antiquities Act in Minnesota, and make federal mineral leases in the Superior National Forest permanent and irrevocable. Both of these bills ran into significant opposition in the House, but both passed and are now awaiting action in the Senate. Contact your Senators today and tell them to protect public lands. 

Here in Minnesota last week, PolyMet submitted an updated permit application to the Minnesota DNR for their mine proposal. The application is over 20,000 pages long, with appendices. We're having our experts review it, and will let Minnesotans know what is in it as soon as we are able. The Minnesota DNR has not deemed this version of PolyMet's permit to mine application complete. If they say it is complete, that will start a 30 day period before they can publish a notice that the application is being considered. Then there will be a 52 day public input period where Minnesotans can weigh in, including public hearings. The DNR stated that they will have more information soon about this process.

Thank you to everybody who is working to protect Minnesota's water for future generations. We appreciate all that you do, and we'll have more information soon about ways your voice can be heard in this decision.


MCEA attorney brings big ideas back from climate summit

MCEA Senior Staff Attorney Leigh Currie was part of a multi-sector delegation of Minnesota leaders who traveled to the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany this past November.  The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) brought nations of the world together to continue their work on strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change. 

Leigh traveled with seven other delegates from Climate Generation to observe the negotiations and published a number of blog posts describing her experience. Some highlights include "Shaking Al Gore’s Hand (see selfie above)," "America’s Most Wanted: State-Level Actions," and "The U.S. Is Out, But We Are Still In." Leigh also sat on a panel at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment after returning from Germany. Leigh and other panelists shared their reflections on the Bonn Climate Summit, which can be heard here

This weekend, Leigh joined nine other Minnesotans who attended the global climate summit in a Star Tribune commentary that outlines actions Minnesota needs to take to regain our climate leadership. Leigh will also be presenting on her COP23 experience to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board on Wednesday, December 20. She will be presenting alongside Ellen Anderson, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, urging the Commissioners of Minnesota state agencies to do more to fight climate change. The EQB meeting will be webcast and available to view here.

MCEA Welcomes Another New Environmental Defender

Carolyn Berninger, Clean Energy Associate

Carolyn joined MCEA last month and supports MCEA's clean energy work. Her previous experience includes working as a research assistant at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, and as an educator at the Newton Community Farm in Newton, MA. Carolyn graduated from Boston University in 2016 with a dual M.A. in International Relations and Environmental Policy. She earned her B.A. in International Studies from Stonehill College in 2013.​ Welcome Carolyn! 


Save the date!

MCEA is working with other conservation groups to create an environmental forum with 2018 candidates for Minnesota Governor. Join us for this interactive opportunity to hear candidates for governor share their vision about air, water, land, and outdoor legacy issues in Minnesota.

Space is limited. Register for your free tickets todayCan’t make it to St. Paul? Register online for a “remote ticket” and we’ll send you info on satellite viewing parties around the state, remote viewing instructions, and how to submit your questions to the candidates online. 

Forum Sponsored by: Audubon Minnesota | Clean Water Action  | Climate Generation  | Conservation Minnesota | Environment Minnesota | Fresh Energy | Friends of the Mississippi River | Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division  | MN350  | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy | Minnesota Conservation Federation  | Minnesota Environmental Partnership | The Nature Conservancy | Women's Congress for Future Generations


MCEA in the News

What Minnesota can do now to regain leadership on climate change

MCEA clean energy director Leigh Currie joined nine other Minnesotans who recently attended the global climate summit in Germany in a Star Tribune commentary this weekend. They note that Minnesota's carbon emissions have flat lined and describe what actions are needed to get us on track to meet the challenge.  

Read the climate commentary in the Star Tribune

Minnesota DNR documents show $1 billion damage deposit needed for PolyMet

Taxpayers in other states have been stuck with billions of dollars of cleanup costs when copper-nickel sulfide mines have been abandoned or the company has gone bankrupt. Now Minnesota DNR documents show PolyMet would need to put up $1 billion to fully cover cleanup costs if they go bankrupt. Will they meet their promise to protect Minnesota taxpayers?

Read the Star Tribune article featuring MCEA board member Ron Sternal

MCEA Blog: ALJ's decision finds blanket exemption for municipalities illegal

Staff Attorney Betsy Lawton explains how MCEA's advocacy resulted in an Administrative Law Judge rejecting Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulations that violated the federal Clean Water Act, which sets the minimum water quality requirements in all states.

Read More


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Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
26 E. Exchange St.
Suite 206
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
(651) 223-5969

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