EPA to study impact of mining on Lake Superior

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A coalition of 59 groups from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a broad review of the cumulative effects of expanded mining in the Lake Superior basin.

The environmental, business, faith and tribal groups wrote Monday to Susan Hedman, the EPA’s regional administrator in Chicago, to ask the federal agency to study the long-term effects of mining activities. Among them are copper mines proposed or planned for northeastern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula, as well as a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin.

Paula Maccabee, attorney for the Minnesota group Water Legacy, said the coalition wants the EPA to study how multiple new mining projects might combine to adversely impact Lake Superior. One of their main concerns is mercury pollution, she said.

EPA regional spokeswoman Phillippa Cannon said the agency is reviewing the letter.

The groups filed their request less than two weeks after state and federal regulators released a nearly 2,200-page environmental review of the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, which the EPA helped draft.

Frank Ongaro, executive director of the trade group Mining Minnesota, said the cumulative impacts of proposed projects already are being studied as part of the PolyMet review.

But the groups are seeking an even broader study covering the entire Lake Superior basin.