Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its rating of the PolyMet project supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). The EPA gave the project an EC2 (environmental concerns) rating. This rating marks another important and necessary step forward so the EIS can be finalized and we can permit and build the mine.
What is an EPA rating?
The rating is the EPA’s review of the SDEIS’s:
- Sufficiency in identifying potential environmental impacts.
- Quality of the data and analyses of alternative actions.
The EPA uses a specific set of criteria for rating these environmental review documents.
What does PolyMet’s rating mean?
The EPA’s EC2 rating of the PolyMet SDEIS is not unexpected. By its nature, mining disturbs the land, so receiving a rating that indicates there are ‘environmental concerns’ is not unusual. In fact, of all the ratings given to mine projects by the EPA over the past five years, the PolyMet project rating is among the best. No new mine project has received better than an EC rating.
The EPA is consistently tough in its ratings and historically reserves its best ratings for wilderness designations and conservation-related projects. Over the past 10 years, no nonconservation-related project in Minnesota has received a rating better than an EC.
The EPA’s rating shows how much work has been done since the project’s prior rating in 2009. We’ve collected considerably more data, built and successfully tested a reverse osmosis water treatment facility, and conducted numerous additional scientific studies. We’re extremely proud of where the project is today and the progress that’s been made. We’re confident we can build and operate this mine in a safe and responsible way.
What happens next?
The EPA rating provides feedback and guideance to the co-lead agencies to make improvements to the SDEIS. As always, we will work closely with the agencies to ensure they receive any additional data required as a result of the EPA’s guidance.
After agencies review and respond to all comments (from the public and EPA), they will publish a revised, final EIS for public review. The agencies will use this document to make their Record of Decision (ROD) and Adequacy Decision (AD).
Once the ROD and AD have been made, the information in the Final EIS will be used by state and federal agencies in making decisions about permits to build and operate the mine and processing facilities.
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