The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the agency has a big job ahead in responding to public comments on the PolyMet mining proposal’s supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement.
In an interview with northern Minnesota’s Timberjay newspaper, Tom Landwehr says the DNR is still a few weeks away from completing the task of simply categorizing the 58,000 letters and emails it received earlier this year. Once it has put all the comments in at least one of the 7,000-8,000 “buckets,” it will begin attempting to come up with responses to all the issues raised.
“We don’t know how long it will take. We can’t even say months,” Landwehr told the Timberjay.
Responding to some of the comments will not just require writing, but research, Landwehr says. Addressing some comments might mean doing additional or revised modeling, or collecting more data.
An analysis of the comments performed this month by the environmental coalition Mining Truth last week found that 98 percent expressed concern or opposition about the copper-nickel mine proposal.
Once the DNR has responded to comments on the SDEIS, it will release a final EIS for public review. Comments will again be accepted at that time, as well as when the company applies for permits to mine.