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Protect these wetlands from a toxic mine

Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Action Ended On

June 6, 2022

What Happens Next

These letters added to the chorus of voices speaking out against this mining project, which would contaminate the waters upstream of the Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe with toxic mercury as well as destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands and more than 1,700 acres of critical wildlife habitat in northern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest. While Earthjustice challenges a key water permit for the PolyMet mine in court, your participation in public comment periods like this is essential in letting decision makers like the Army Corps know that there is overwhelming opposition to this project and resounding support for access to clean water and the protections of crucial wetlands.

What was at Stake

When the U.S. Army Corps authorized the largest wetlands destruction project in Minnesota’s history, it was done without an adequate environmental review. It did not properly take into account that the PolyMet open-pit copper mine would bulldoze close to 1,000 acres of wetlands and would damage or destroy at least 6,500 additional acres of biologically diverse wetlands that provide critical wildlife habitat in northern Minnesota's Superior National Forest. It also did not take into account that the mine would contaminate the waters upstream of the Fond du Lac Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe with toxic mercury. The Fond du Lac Band exercised its rights under the Clean Water Act to object to the U.S. Army Corps’ wetlands destruction permit for the PolyMet mine and now a public hearing is underway. It is vital that all communities support the Band’s rights and everyone’s access to clean water.

Photo by Rob Levine

An aerial view of the Partridge River in Minnesota, near the proposed PolyMet open-pit copper mine.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.