Environmental advocates are expressing concern about the format of the public meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining Company’s proposed NorthMet project.
The Minnesota DNR, which is hosting meetings in Aurora tonight and Blaine on Thursday beginning at 5:00 p.m. announced last week that rather than have participants speak in public before agency and PolyMet officials, it would have stenographers on hand to record comments individually. The agency said the format was prompted by the large number citizens expected to comment on what could be Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine.
The DNR’s orginal announcement on the meeting format is HERE.
According to THIS StarTribune story, environmental advocates think the format betrays a lack of sincere interest in public opinions about the project on the part of the DNR and denies the opportunity for participants to learn what others think about the project or to question DNR officials directly. The DNR said the format allows the comments of more than 300 attendees to be heard, rather than just 30.
Prompted by the meeting format and other concerns with the public comment process, the advocacy group WaterLegacy wrote the DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday requesting the addition of public comment meetings in Duluth and St. Paul, the extension of the public comment period to March 26 (from February 3), the opportunity for citizens to speak publicly at all meetings, and provision for offering balanced perspectives of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
You can read WaterLegacy’s letter HERE.
The DNR has confirmed that tonight’s meeting in Aurora and tomorrow’s in Blaine will take place, despite the inclement weather.