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Cravaack pushes for mining permits in meeting with governement officials

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-8th District, held high-level meetings with government agency officials Thursday to speed up the permit process for new Iron Range mining.

PolyMet, a nonferrous mining operation slated for the Iron Range has been held up as the environmental permitting process runs its course.

Thursday Cravaack met with officials from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Thursday's meeting "was a chance for me to discuss several priorities for the 8th District with influential officials at the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Cravaack. "These two agencies will play key roles in the development of northeast Minnesota's vast mineral resources."

Several companies have expressed interest in new mining operations for non-iron ores, such as palladium and nickel.

"I plan to work closely with the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife to bring high-paying, skilled jobs to our district while protecting our naturally beautiful wild spaces," Cravaack said. "My hope going forward is that I will find willing partners in both agencies who, like me, are focused on both economic growth and environmental stewardship."

Cravaack has scheduled meetings for early next week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

Cravaack is in his second week as 8th District congressman, having defeated last fall 34-year veteran Democrat U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar. Cravaack serves on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the same panel Oberstar chaired.