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DNR chief leaning against more time for PolyMet review

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said Tuesday he wasn’t likely to extend the public comment period on the environmental review for the proposed PolyMet copper mine project near Hoyt Lakes.

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The DNR this month set a 90-day review for the project, ending March 13. But environmental and other groups last week asked the DNR and Army Corps of Engineers to extend that period to 180 days -- to mid-June -- because the document was so long and technical.

On Tuesday, Landwehr, speaking on Minnesota Public Radio, said he isn’t likely to approve the extension, noting it’s already double the minimum required 45-day comment period for federal projects.

The DNR and Corps of Engineers, along with the U.S. Forest Service, are now taking public comments and will hold three public meetings on the issue in January.

It’s not clear if the federal agencies involved might still agree to a longer comment period. Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the lead group requesting the extension, said Landwehr’s comments Tuesday did not sound definitive.

“We have not received any kind of formal response saying no, so we’re still holding out hope,” Morse said.

(DNT)

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