The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has challenged a statement made by Polymet Mining Company regarding the EPA’s critical review of Polymet’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.
In a press release dated March 4, 2010, PolyMet states that "The EPA's rating of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) as unsatisfactory appears to have been based on the 'proposed project' without consideration of alternatives or mitigations discussed in the document."
Kenneth Westlake, Chief of the EPA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Implementation Section in Chicago responded by email to PolyMet representative LaTisha Gietzen, saying that EPA had in fact reviewed and commented on the entire Draft EIS, "including all proposed alternatives and mitigation measures presented." “Each alternative was rated ‘Environmentally Unsatisfactory – Inadequate,’” said Westlake, “as was the Draft EIS as a whole.....therefore, the Company's assertion, as quoted above, is incorrect.”
Polymet has apologized to the EPA for the “misunderstanding,” however, to date, the statement remains on the company’s website.
When asked why the statement has not been retracted or clarified, Gietzen, who is Vice-President of Public, Government and Environmental Affairs at Polymet, said the company is hoping to sit down to discuss the EPA's comments in the near future.
“We need to get to a good understanding of what they rated and how they did it, and really the path forward,” said Gietzen.
Vancouver-based mining company, Polymet, is the first of several companies hoping to mine copper, nickel, and other precious metals on the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. The environmental review of the Polymet project has been under way for close to five years and is a joint state and federal process led by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).