Good News on Polymet! Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules Environmental Groups Can’t Move the Goalposts

There is good news on the Minnesota mining front, as the Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected a challenge by anti-mining groups seeking to invalidate Minnesota’s rules for non-ferrous mining.

This is a big deal, because anti-mining groups, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, were trying to overturn the entire regulatory framework for how Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources evaluates and regulates mines that produce copper, nickel, platinum, cobalt, and other metals we depend upon every single day.

Had this challenge succeeded, it would have been a massive blow to Minnesota’s economic future, and a loss for the environment, as well.

Minnesota has some of the largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel, platinum, and cobalt in the world. Developing these resources responsibly would be a major boost to the economy of the entire state of Minnesota, supporting as many as 14,850 jobs and adding $5.9 billion to the state’s economy. The people who live in Northeastern Minnesota want these jobs, as our polling has shown 61 percent of people living in the area support more mining.

Mining in Minnesota would also be a net benefit for the environment. I often talk about how Minnesota has some of the strongest regulations on mining in the world, and how if we make it impossible to mine here, the mining will simply take place in other countries like the Congo, where 40,000 children work in cobalt mines and wash the ore in rivers.

While this should be entirely unacceptable for someone who considers themselves to be a progressive environmentalists, it doesn’t seem like they really care that mining in Minnesota could reduce the demand for minerals mined in unethical and environmentally destructive ways.

For example, in a MinnPost article from earlier this year, Kathryn Hoffman of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy claimed it wasn’t worth it to mine in Minnesota because our mines wouldn’t produce enough metal to make a difference. According to Minnpost:

“Hoffman, of the MCEA, said PolyMet and Twin Metals would be “barely a bug on the windshield of the global copper market” if built. An increase of a capacity at existing mines could “dwarf the effects of PolyMet,” she said.”

Considering Minnesota has some of the largest undeveloped copper and nickel deposits in the world, this argument is flat out wrong. Demand for metals is rising because governments and MCEA are advocating for mandating increasing quantities of inefficient, expensive sources of wind and solar, not to mention electric vehicles.

It’s incredibly hypocritical for MCEA to claim that it isn’t worth it to mine in Minnesota because the global impact would be too small while at the same time advocating for technologies like wind and solar that will continue to send our electric bills skyward even though Minnesota’s carbon dioxide emissions are “barely a bug on the windshield of global carbon dioxide emissions.”


Time and time again, we have seen MCEA advocate for policies that harm the industries that are the backbone of Greater Minnesota’s economy. By trying to prevent Minnesota’s non-ferrous mining industry from ever getting started, and suing Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for not using greenhouse gas emissions as a criteria for approving the expansion of a dairy farm, and advocating for policies that increase electricity prices, they have systematically made it harder to make a living outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Real environmental leadership would consist of showing the world how to mine responsibly. This would allow Minnesota to prosper economically while showing the world how to do things right to protect the environment at the same time.

Unfortunately,  itappears groups like MCEA only want to “show leadership” on environmental issues when it limits economic opportunities for hardworking Minnesotans.