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Stauber introduces PolyMet land exchange bill

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber introduced a long-promised bill Monday that would curb legal challenges to what could become Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine.

Stauber, R-Hermantown, introduced H.R. 527, the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2019, to reaffirm a land swap between PolyMet Mining Co. and the U.S. Forest Service, according to a news release sent by Stauber's office.

Although PolyMet already exchanged 6,900 acres of its land for 6,500 acres of U.S. Forest Service land on June 28, 2018, a bill codifying it by federal lawmakers would drop four ongoing lawsuits opposed to the land swap.

The exchange was already approved with bipartisan support once in the House, but was dropped at the last minute from the National Defense Authorization Act last summer as it went through U.S. Senate-House conference committee.

PolyMet, with its proposed copper-nickel mine site near Hoyt Lakes, earned key permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in late 2018 but the project still needs a wetlands certificate from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Supporters of the project say the mine would bring much needed jobs to the area while opponents argue the project could send tainted runoff into the St. Louis River watershed and Lake Superior.

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