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Key Democrat wants answers from EPA on Minnesota mine plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. — An influential Democratic congresswoman wants to know why the Environmental Protection Agency opted against filing formal comments with state regulators when they considered whether to issue a key permit for the PolyMet copper-nickel mine in Minnesota.

Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum, a critic of the project who chairs a House subcommittee that oversees the EPA, says it’s “remarkable” that the EPA did not formally weigh in before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued the final water permit last month.

McCollum was responding this week to questions from environmental group WaterLegacy. Paula Maccabee, the group’s attorney, says documents obtained from the state agency show that regional EPA staffers told the agency last fall that they had “substantial questions” about the water permit.

EPA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Steve Karnowski, The Associated Press