Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) introduced his first bill Monday in an effort to provide “legal certainty” to PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel mine in Stauber’s district.
“This bipartisan legislation provides legal certainty by codifying the land exchange between PolyMet Mining, Inc. and the U.S. Forest Service into statute. The legislation will move PolyMet one step closer to responsibly developing the NorthMet ore body located in northeastern Minnesota,” Stauber’s office said in a press release.
Years of legal battles surround the PolyMet project, described by MPR as “one of the most contentious environmental and regulatory battles Minnesota has ever seen.” In December, PolyMet moved one step closer to building the mine after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved three air and water quality permits for the project.
That leaves just one major obstacle for the project, a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry expects to receive soon.
The PolyMet mine is one of two controversial mining projects making its way through the permit process, the second being a Twin Metals copper-nickel mine. Both projects would be the first copper-nickel mines in Minnesota, and have faced significant pushback from environmental organizations.
Stauber and groups such as the Center of the American Experiment argue that “responsible mining and preserving the environment are not mutually exclusive.”
“We can and must do both, and I am proud that my first piece of legislation will help unleash the economic engine in our state,” Stauber said Monday after introducing H.R. 527.
The bill would codify the “exchange of approximately 6,650 acres of federally-owned surface land above and around the NorthMet ore body to PolyMet and 6,690 acres of private land to the [U.S. Forest Service,” Stauber’s office explains.
“Minnesota is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that puts us in a unique position to not just ensure that the United States remains competitive on a global level, but also to create good paying jobs for hardworking folks here at home,” Stauber said Monday. “Like all Minnesotans, I treasure our state’s natural beauty.”
In early January, Stauber estimated that the Twin Metals project would “bring about $520 million of economic activity to northeastern Minnesota for a minimum of 20 years.”
“This is like bringing the Super Bowl to northeastern Minnesota every year,” he added.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Rep Pete Stauber” is by Rep Pete Stauber and “Nickel Ore” is by James St. John CC2.0.