AT&T Asks Courts to Overturn Tower Ruling

AT&T asked the Minnesota court of appeals to overturn a decision barring the company from building a 450-foot cell phone tower on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

In a brief filed at the beginning of January, AT&T argued that Hennepin County District Judge Philip Bush wrongly applied state law to federally owned land. According to the associated press, AT&T’s attorneys acknowledged that the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act protects “scenic and aesthetic resources… owned by a government unit.” But they went on to argue that most of the BWCAW is federally owned, not owned by Minnesota.

The company’s primary argument is one of public safety. AT&T attorneys stated that Bush wrongly ruled that a shorter cell tower would be adequate to expand cell service. They claimed that the shorter, 199-foot tower approved by Judge Bush and already under construction will provide 71.8 fewer square miles of reliable cell phone service.

The Friends of the Boundary Waters, who initially sued AT&T on the grounds that the tower’s flashing lights would disturb the wilderness character of the BWCAW, could not comment on the appeal because it is still pending. The Friend’s reply is expected at the end of the month.

Read AP coverage in the Star Tribune HERE and at CBS News HERE.

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