Protect Northeast Minnesota Wetlands

Target: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Goal: Suspend approval of an iron ore tailings basin project in Northeast Minnesota in order to protect fragile wetlands and water quality.

After destroying hundreds of acres of wetland and filling a lake in Minnesota, the iron mining company United Taconite is planning a new tailings basin which would destroy 1,300 more acres of wetland. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently deciding whether to change the company’s Clean Water Act permit in order to require stricter environmental standards.

Several conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Save Lake Superior Association, the Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation have submitted comments regarding this pending approval, stressing the importance of suspending the permit until thorough environmental analysis is undertaken. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers must obtain an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. Danger to ground and surface water, in addition to air quality, must be investigated. Two prior tailings basins built in Minnesota constructed by this company have filled an entire lake, and destroyed 800 acres of wetland. Further, the processing plant channels wastewater and runoff into another lake. The diverse wildlife of the St. Louis Watershed and expansive wetlands must not suffer any longer from habitat destruction and pollution due to mining, tailings basins or processing plants.

The permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to Eveleth Taconite Company in 1982 to begin building these tailings basins was scheduled to be in effect for sixty years. However, the environmental damage the permit has permitted is unacceptable, and thus the permit must be suspended until it is thoroughly changed. Please ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers prioritize the protection of the community of people and wildlife in and around this watershed, including lakes and wetlands.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

Several conservation groups, including The Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club, among others, have come forward to comment on the permit regarding a new taconite iron ore tailings basin to be built in Northeastern Minnesota. The Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit in 1982 for Eveleth Taconite Company to construct iron mining tailings basins and processing plants which have destroyed hundreds of acres of wetland and watershed areas.

Although this permit was supposed to last for sixty years, it allows for far too much environmental damage and must be changed before a new tailings basin is considered. The Army Corps of Engineers must conduct thorough environmental analysis of the effect of discharge of dredge and fill materials on ground water, surface water, wildlife, and air quality.

Please suspend the permit to construct a new tailings basin, and obtain an environmental impact statement prior to approving this project which would have a huge impact on the watershed and community in Northeastern Minnesota.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tina Shaw, USFWS via Flickr

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