On Feb. 7 and 8, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will host public meetings in Aurora and Duluth, respectively, to provide information and comment opportunities regarding recently released draft permits for PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet mine.
The meetings will include an open house where the public can learn more about the DNR’s draft permit to mine and the MPCA’s draft air and water quality permits and 401 wetland certification. Attendees will also have an opportunity to comment on the draft permits. Stenographers will be available to record oral comments offered individually and during the public comment forum. In addition, comment boxes will be available for submitting written comments and objections at the meetings.
“These public meetings are an important opportunity for citizens to learn more about the proposed project and offer comments to the agencies,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We understand that many people have strongly held opinions about the project, and we are committed to providing a welcoming, respectful environment where all perspectives can be heard and considered.”
MPCA Commissioner John Stine said, “We expect a large turnout, and we may not be able to accommodate everyone who wishes to speak publically during the meeting. However, we will select speakers using a fair and transparent process. In addition, people should know that there will be multiple ways to submit comments at the meetings and all will receive our full consideration.”
The host agencies have engaged an independent facilitator who will select speakers at random from among attendees who sign up to speak at the public comment forum. “We are confident that this will allow us to hear from the greatest number and diversity of speakers as possible,” added Landwehr.
People do not need to attend a meeting to comment. Public comments may also be submitted by March 6, via the state’s comment portal at http://polymet.mn.gov/.
Like all public meetings, the DNR and MPCA expect that attendees will remain cordial and respectful of all participants, agency staff, and facility hosts. DNR is working with facility representatives and local officials to ensure the meetings are welcoming and orderly.
The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center will be employing its standard large event security measures as outlined below. In order to ensure a consistent and fair process across both meetings, these measures will also be in place for the meeting in Aurora.
The following items will not be allowed in the public meetings:
- Outside food and beverages
- Backpacks or large bags
- Handheld signs
- Noise makers
Public meetings will be held on:
Wednesday, Feb. 7
Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt Lakes) High School
601 N 1st St W, Aurora, MN 55705
4-9 p.m. Open house
6-9 p.m. Public comment forum
Parking is available in the lots adjacent to the school as well as on the street.
Thursday, Feb. 8
DECC – Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
1-9 p.m. Open house
6-9 p.m. Public comment forum
Onsite parking in the DECC parking lot is available for $5. Additional parking information is posted at https://decc.org/parking-directions/.
In case of a weather-related cancellation, the following alternative meeting dates have been established: 1) Wednesday, Feb. 21, Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt Lakes) High School – Aurora as a substitute for the scheduled Feb. 7 meeting; 2) Thursday, Feb. 22, DECC – Duluth as a substitute for the scheduled Feb. 8 meeting. The DNR will notify the public of any cancellations or time or venue changes via GovDelivery message, press release and/or social media.