Mineral Leases and Private Property Rights
Northeastern Minnesota Citizens Petition for Environmental Review before October 2012 Mineral Lease Auction
In the summer of 2012, the Minnesota DNR announced its 33rd sale of mineral leases in portions of Aitkin, Lake and St. Louis Counties. For the first time in Minnesota history, more than 170 citizens petitioned the DNR to prepare a simple Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to analyze impacts of mineral leases on trout streams, wetlands, sensitive natural areas, and residential drinking wells before putting mineral leases up for sale. The DNR went ahead with the auction of leases on October 24, 2012 and then decided on November 8, 2012 that no EAW would be provided. See MDNR Denial of Citizen Petition.
The citizens, led by named plaintiff Matt Tyler, appealed the DNR’s denial of the EAW to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. They then successfully petitioned the Executive Council to delay approval of the mineral leases until the Court of Appeals has a chance to rule on whether the citizen petition for environmental review should have been granted. For more information, see Citizens Petition for Environmental Review Before Mineral Lease Sales.
On September 25, 2012, Finland resident Matt Tyler on his own behalf and on behalf of well over a hundred citizens (Matt’s initial count was over 140, but we believe the total final count of signatures is over 160 names) asked that an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) be prepared before the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proceeds with its 33rd auction of mineral leases.
The Petition also cited the known harms of sulfide mining, including toxic pollution of surface waters, streams and fishing lakes for centuries, impairing aquatic life and angling and increasing mercury contamination of remaining fish.
Associated Press quoted Matt Tyler as follows: “There are quite a few folks who were not happy to hear this was coming down. What it comes down to is communities should be consulted about these things. The state shouldn’t set things out by decree.” (See Star Tribune article.)