Comment on Proposed Forest Service Land Exchange with PolyMet - by November 29, 2010
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Sulfide Mining on Public Lands
While PolyMet holds the mineral rights for their mine proposal, the thousands of acres of forests and high quality wetlands on the surface are owned by the public as part of the Superior National Forest. The deed that conveyed this valuable tract to the Forest Service does not allow surface mining.
To get around these conservation restrictions in the deed, PolyMet proposes to buy other lands and “swap” them with the Superior National Forest.
The Superior National Forest has started a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed land swap. Public comment at this stage, called scoping, influences what will be included in for the EIS.
Your comments at this stage are critical. It is crucial to show the Forest Service that the public opposes the exchange and that they MUST thoroughly account for ALL damages to our forests, wetlands, rivers, and lakes resulting from the swap, including those caused by acid mine drainage and heavy metal leaching.
Your message will be sent to each of the following targets:
Mr. Jim Sanders
Ms. Tamara Cameron
A sample message appears below, which you may edit before sending.
PolyMet Land Exchange Scoping Comments
Dear Mr. Sanders and Ms. Cameron:
The proposed Land Exchange for the PolyMet NorthMet open pit sulfide mine project affecting 6,650 acres of the Superior National Forest is not in the public interest.
The exchange of this high-quality federal forest and wetlands to allow PolyMet’s open pit mine would result in an enormous benefit to a private corporation and an enormous loss to the public, harming natural resources important to Minnesota, the Great Lakes Region and the entire nation.
In addition to opposing the Land Exchange, I am asking that specific analysis be done in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). If the SEIS were done fairly and completely, it would demonstrate that the Land Exchange will result in irretrievable harm to wetlands, water, endangered species and tribal resources and does not serve the public interest.
The federal land that would be lost includes thousands of acres of high quality wetlands and habitat for endangered species including the Canada lynx and the gray wolf. The federal land drains into the Partridge River, which is a nationally important watershed for Lake Superior. Once the U.S. Forest Service no longer owns the federal land surface, PolyMet’s massive copper sulfide open pit mine will destroy at least 2,840 acres, causing acid mine drainage, leaching toxic metals and damaging downstream wild rice stands, fisheries and estuaries. Up to 6,650 acres of the federal land could be exploited for mining.
In contrast, the proposed non-federal land is almost entirely outside the Lake Superior Basin, has few minerals and much of it has been heavily logged. For the taxpayer as well as for the environment, the PolyMet Land Exchange would not be a fair trade.
The SEIS needs to give this ill-advised proposal careful scrutiny:
* The SEIS must value the federal land based on the market for minerals exploitation.
* The SEIS must consider the final use of the federal land -- sulfide mining and potential exploitation of the entire site – in determining what the public would lose in the exchange – thousands of acres of wetlands, habitat for endangered species, pristine forest, damage to tribal treaty rights and tribal resources.
* The SEIS must examine every aspect of environmental harm from the Land Exchange, including water quality violations, increased mercury in fish, air pollution near the Boundary Waters and impacts on global warming from mining activities.
* The SEIS must evaluate impacts as if all 6,650 acres may be torn up after the exchange and must also include cumulative impacts from other mining projects. Destruction of wetlands and wildlife corridors and water pollution may be more harmful due to nearby degradation caused by other mines.
If its private benefits and public costs are fairly analyzed, the PolyMet Land Exchange must be rejected. Thank you for considering my views.
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This Action Alert Campaign is Closed.