There will be plenty of work in Minnesota in the coming months and years for environmental attorneys. Four lawsuits have already been filed that could potentially delay the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project proposed for northeastern Minnesota. And several more are expected if the state eventually grants the mine the permits it needs to begin construction.
The suits are a key tool for environmental groups trying to block the controversial project. Some of the plaintiffs, including the Sierra Club and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, are well-funded organizations and no strangers to litigation.
Others are small, grassroots groups, like the Save Lake Superior Association and Save our Sky Blue Waters, which along with the Duluth chapter of the Izaak Walton League filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s recent approval of a land exchange with PolyMet.
“This should stop PolyMet,” said Elanne Palcich, a retired teacher from Chisholm and a member of Save our Sky Blue Waters.
“This land exchange should never have gone through. It could have stopped PolyMet in its tracks long ago because the Forest Service should have done its duty. That is why we chose to do this, to hold the Forest Service accountable.”
Palcich worries that PolyMet is just the first mine in line. If it ultimately goes forward, she said, other copper-nickel mines exploring in the region could follow in its wake.
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