Senator Tina Smith Proposes Amendment to Help PolyMet as the Project Gains Steam

Senator Tina Smith has proposed an amendment to enable the completion of a land swap needed for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The move is great news for the Iron Range because environmental groups have brought four different lawsuits in federal court in an attempt to block the trade of 6,650 acres of Superior National Forest land in exchange for 6,690 acres of land that is currently owned by PolyMet within the boundaries of the Superior National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service approved the exchange because it deemed the trade a net gain for the U.S. government. In other words, this exchange is a win-win situation.

Some folks have speculated this move was motivated by election-year politics, and it is entirely possible the upcoming election helped motivate Senator Smith to propose this amendment. However, good policy is good policy, regardless of the underlying-and ultimately unknowable-motives of the action.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that this exchange does not necessarily mean that PolyMet will go forward. The final permit to mine must be issued by Minnesota state agencies. This amendment simply prevents lawyers funded by environmental groups from unnecessarily delaying the project based on the land exchange.