We have great news! Ramsey County District Court Judge Laura Nelson today issued an order rejecting Twin Metals’ motion to dismiss our MERA case. Judge Nelson’s order also remands our challenge of Minnesota’s nonferrous metallic mineral mining rules (copper mining rules) to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for public comment period and other processes in line with the stipulation agreement which we negotiated and signed with DNR in November 2020. In short, here’s what that means:
The DNR agrees that it will undertake a review of Minnesota’s copper mining rules to determine whether, as we argue, those 1993 rules are out of date and inadequate to protect the BWCAW from pollution, impairment, and destruction that would be caused by sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed.
Within 21 days, the Minnesota DNR will issue a procedural order outlining the process and timing of a public comment period on the adequacy/inadequacy of the state’s rules.
During the public comment process, anyone can weigh in and suggest why the current regulations are inadequate to protect the Boundary Waters, and how they should be improved.
The Campaign will explain why the existing mining exclusion area around the Boundary Waters must be expanded to cover all of the watershed of the BWCAW.
After considering the public comments, the DNR will issue a substantive order in which it explains whether or not it believes the current copper mining rules should be changed as the Campaign argues.
If the DNR agrees that the rules should be revised, then Twin Metals likely would petition for a contested case hearing, and if the DNR determines that the rules are fine as currently written, then the Campaign would seek a contested case hearing. A contested case hearing involves another public input process and evidentiary proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
If the ALJ recommends that an amendment to the state’s copper mining rules is needed, then according to the stipulated agreement between the DNR and the Campaign, the DNR will accept that recommendation and initiate a rulemaking to fix the inadequacies in the rules.
Any new rulemaking would likely require about 2 years from start to finish.
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is being represented by the Ciresi Conlin LLC law firm, who’s help was essential. Without your support of the Campaign, we would not be able to battle this proposed mine as vigorously as we do. Thank you for your support! We will keep you apprised of the upcoming process, including the opportunity for public comment.