News Archives

WaterLegacy, Native Tribes and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criticize Failure of State Agencies to Set Limits for Minntac Tailings Pollution

January 2015

After nearly three decades of pollution in violation of Minnesota water quality standards, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency finally suggested that they would prepare a pollution control permit. The pre-publication draft of the permit, released to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff, tribal staff and a few stakeholders, failed to require Minntac to comply with water quality standards by any specific date and failed to require seepage from the huge, 13-square-mile tailings impoundment to comply with the Clean Water Act when this pollution affects wetlands, streams and wild rice beds.

  • Read in the Star Tribune about the failure to regulate pollution at the Minntac tailings basin, the destruction of wild rice and mercury pollution in fish in the Star Tribune. "Minntac is a poster child for failure to regulate pollution," said Paula Maccabee, attorney for WaterLegacy.
  • View coverage on Northland News Center television, where WaterLegacy's Paula Maccabee explains that copper-nickel mining should not be approved when the State is still ineffective in controlling taconite mine pollution, "What are we doing thinking of allowing copper–nickel mining, which is a new, and a different, and a more toxic kind of mining? Let's first get our house in order."

Waterlegacy Requests Study Before Taconite Mining In High - Sulfur Rock Impacts Boundary Waters Watershed

November 2014

WaterLegacy and more than 600 citizens have asked the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to require an Environmental Impact Statement before Northshore Mining begins a new expansion into high-sulfur Type II Virginia Formation rock.

WaterLegacy also asked federal agencies to deny permits for the Northshore Mining expansion into high-sulfur rock until alternatives that contain and treat pollution are considered to protect drinking water and the Boundary Water and Lake Superior watersheds.

Read more: Northshore Mining

Leading Minnesota Medical, Health And Food Safety Groups Call For Polymet Sulfide Mine Health Effects Analysis

October 2014

DULUTH, MN: October 20, 2014 – The Minnesota Public Health Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Citizens Federation Northeast, Healthy Food Action and Food and Water Watch Midwest Region have joined a groundswell of citizens and professionals asking Governor Mark Dayton and state agencies to require a health risk assessment of the threats to infants, children and adults posed by Minnesota’s controversial PolyMet sulfide mine project.

Stay Informed - Wild Rice Standard Research Finds Existing Limits on Sulfate are Needed to Protect Wild Rice

September 2014

The independent research performed under the supervision of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Wild Rice Advisory Committee supports keeping the existing 10 milligrams per liter limit on sulfate in wild rice waters, if not making the standard more stringent. Studies lend no support for an MPCA interpretation that the standard should only apply “seasonally,” allowing sulfate dumping during the fall, winter and spring. Relationships between iron, sulfide formation and the phosphorus cycle that causes eutrophication and algae blooms need further study.

Over 50,000 Comments on PolyMet Mine Plan (SDEIS) & EPA Comments Confirm Tribal and Environmental Concerns

March 2014


Thanks to your hard work, conservation and environmental groups across Minnesota exceeded our goal of 50,000 comments on Polymet's Mine Plan (SDEIS). WaterLegacy supporters alone submitted more than 5,000 comments.

 Read WaterLegacy's official comments on the plan here. 

In 2010, the US Environmental Agency (EPA) gave PolyMet's previous attempt (DEIS) a failing grade. Four years later on 3/13/14, the EPA rating for the SDEIS showed many areas where the analysis was still incomplete. These include failure to model elemental mercury or characterize risks from methylmercury, failure to support the claim that 90% of all seepage will be captured, failure to quantitatively assess indirect impacts on wetlands, failure to show the least environmentally damaging practical alternative, and failure to provide information on the length of treatment or financial assurance.

Success in Overturning Mesabi Nugget Variance

March 2014

SAINT PAUL, MN, March 10, 2014 – WaterLegacy, along with the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, have succeeded in resolving their landmark Clean Water Act lawsuit against the EPA in federal court, WaterLegacy et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

Cumulative Effects Assessment Needed to Protect Lake Superior Basin

December 2013

With the onslaught of sulfide mining proposals in the Lake Superior Basin, 59 conservation, business, faith-based and tribal groups in Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prepare a cumulative effects assessment of negative impacts of mining on clean air, fresh water, mercury contamination and public health across the Lake Superior Basin.