PolyMet EIS forum LIVE on MinnesotaBrown, via Uptake

The Partridge River in St. Louis County, Minnesota. PHOTO: Save our Sky Blue Waters

The Partridge River, seen here, is ground zero in environmental disputes over the proposed PolyMet mine site.

The final PolyMet EIS forum will take place this evening at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the last of three forums exploring the Environmental Impact Statement released late last year by several regulating agencies as they determine whether to grant mining permits.

As most know, PolyMet has proposed a new nonferrous mineral mine near Hoyt Lakes in northern Minnesota, just off the central formation of the Mesabi Iron Range. The controversial project would use new methods to extract previously untapped minerals in the region, such as copper, nickel and palladium, which creates the byproduct of hazardous sulfides that would have to be mitigated for hundreds of years. PolyMet says it has the technology to do just that.

Most residents and leaders in the region, hungry for jobs since an economic collapse in the 1980s, support the potential for hundreds of new mining jobs and the possibility of more at other nearby proposed mines. But opponents have cited not just the environmental concerns, but the idea that mines like this are unlikely to bring anything but temporary economic relief, and that when the mine closes mitigation costs will fall on taxpayers.

It’s been a stalemate, and the first two hearings produced little in the way of new arguments. However, last week’s revelation of problems in the government study of the water flow near the PolyMet site could add some mild intrigue this evening. Opponents look to punch holes in what they’ve long believed was a flawed environmental assessment by PolyMet, and supporters look to patch those holes.

My most recent comment on this matter suggests that Iron Range residents would do better to focus on local aspects of economic growth and stability; allowing the data and financial concerns of big projects like PolyMet to play out as they will. But I know this is a very important issue for many of you, and St. Paul is a long way to travel on a cold day like today. So, below, I’m providing footage from the Uptake, who will be covering the event live at 5 p.m., if you’d like to watch.

UPDATE: 2,100 people attended Tuesday’s forum. The archived video is here:

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