IMA disappointed by the MPCA’s proposed denial of Minntac’s variance application

Posted January 9, 2018

IMA disappointed by the MPCA’s proposed denial of Minntac’s variance application

The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) is disappointed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)’s proposal to deny U.S. Steel’s application for a water permit variance at its Minntac mine

In its application for a variance in relation to state water quality standards for the Minntac basin, U.S. Steel asked for time to study alternative methods of cleaning groundwater. Furthermore, the company said it believed the facility already met the criteria for the state standard under EPA guidelines and that further regulations would not be economically feasible.

This raises questions about how the MPCA will consider future permit variance applications for issues such as their wild rice sulfate proposal.

The MPCA has acknowledged that while there is currently no easy or cost-effective method of treatment to meet their proposed wild rice sulfate standard, affected entities could apply for variances until they find a better solution.

“The MPCA’s proposed denial of U.S. Steel’s variance application is very concerning because it poses challenges for a larger employer on the Iron Range and raises questions about how the agency will respond to variance applications from other industrial facilities and municipalities in the state,” IMA President Kelsey Johnson said.

“The MPCA has continually used the potential for variances to brush away concerns raised by multiple stakeholders,” she continued. ““But this proposed denial raises serious concerns that the agency has no intention of granting variances on the wild rice sulfate standard.”

A public hearing is scheduled Jan. 23 from 4-6 pm at the Mt. Iron Community Center. The IMA encourages all those who spoke up in regards to the wild rice sulfate proposal to also attend this hearing or submit comments by 4:30 pm Jan. 24.