News Archives


January 2018

After long years of work in collaboration with Chippewa/Ojibwe Bands, the 1854 Treaty Authority, scientific experts and many dedicated citizens, an Administrative Law Judge with the concurrence of the Chief Judge has DISAPPROVED the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s proposal to eliminate Minnesota’s existing wild rice sulfate standard of 10 mg/L and restrict the wild rice waters to which a sulfate limit applies. WE WON!

The ALJ cited concerns about preventing increased mercury methylation as well as further harm to wild rice, applied both state and federal law and recognized the burdens that would be placed on Native American communities if the wild rice sulfate rule were changed. 

Congressman Keith Ellison Comes Out Against HR 3115

November 2017

November 2017

Thank you. In response to your comments on the PolyMet Land Exchange Rip-Off Bill (HR 3115), Congressman Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative from Minnesota’s 5th district, has sent a statement clearly opposing the bill: 

"The Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017 (H.R. 3115) would trade land in Minnesota's Superior National Forest to a mining company. The EPA has described the thousands of acres of wetlands in the Superior National Forest as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance. This bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, of which I am not a member. As a strong advocate for wilderness and our natural resources, I oppose this bill. I will be sure to keep your views in mind as this bill moves through Congress.



WaterLegacy Commentary – PolyMet would be a Climate-change Horror 

August 2017

July 2017

“U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and others seeking to prevent independent court review of the PolyMet land exchange . . . are feeding us a line — to benefit a small group of multibillion-dollar foreign corporate investors at the expense of climate change, as well as at the expense of our Minnesota water quality and public lands.

“The PolyMet mine project proposed for Minnesota would be a climate-change disaster. Over its 20-year mine plan, PolyMet admits that it would produce as much as 15.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent pollution — more than 10 million tons from its burning of fossil fuels alone.”

READ the complete Star Tribune Commentary by WaterLegacy Advocacy Director/Counsel Paula Maccabee here.

Congressman Nolan's Bill to Compel PolyMet Land Exchange Criticized as Bad Precedent and Rip-off

August 2017

July 2017

Over the July 4th weekend, Cong. Rick Nolan introduced a federal bill (HR 3115) that would force the PolyMet land exchange and prevent the federal court from analyzing whether the land exchange ripped off the public in violation of federal law. 

WaterLegacy strongly opposes the bill to compel the PolyMet land exchange: "This kind of circumventing the courts, circumventing due process, sets a very bad precedent for PolyMet, and also leaves the potential that Minnesota taxpayers and users of public land will be ripped off by this project," said Paula Maccabee, advocacy director and attorney for WaterLegacy, one of the groups that filed a lawsuit.

READ Minnesota Public Radio coverage here.

North Shore businessman Bill Hansen explained in a Duluth News Tribune Commentary that the federal bill to force the PolyMet cheats the public.

Wrote Hansen, “I think we all can agree our national forests shouldn't be given to wealthy foreign investors without, at the very least, fair compensation in return. As state Sen. Erik Simonson of Duluth asked in a tweet, "Since when does our government work for foreign corporations?"

READ Bill Hansen’s complete Duluth News Tribune Commentary here.


WaterLegacy Calls for Hearing and New EIS Analysis due to PolyMet “Bait-and-Switch Sulfide Mine Project Changes

August 2017

June 2017

On June 29, 2017, WaterLegacy called upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to require a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) due to new information and changes in the PolyMet sulfide mine design.

“In its applications for state permits, PolyMet has given the citizens of Minnesota a classic bait-and-switch,” explained WaterLegacy Advocacy Director and Counsel Paula Maccabee. “In order to reduce its own upfront capital costs, PolyMet has proposed to do away with technology to reduce the risk of catastrophic tailings dam failure and eliminate the mine site wastewater treatment facility that was a central part of its plan to prevent long-term toxic pollution at the mine site. These changes increase the threat of harm to Minnesota waters and citizens, and require detailed and independent study under federal law.”

READ WaterLegacy’s Media Release here.

As Maccabee stated in a recent Associated Press article: "The project keeps changing and these are not changes for the better."

READ the complete AP article in the Star Tribune.

WaterLegacy Motion for Preliminary Injunction to Block PolyMet Land Exchange Heard in Federal Court

August 2017

April 2017

On Friday, April 28, in federal district court, Judge Joan Ericksen heard WaterLegacy’s motion for a preliminary injunction to block the transfer of 6,650 acres of Superior National Forest federal land to PolyMet until the court has had a chance to determine whether the proposed PolyMet land exchange violates federal law enacted 40 years ago to protect users of public lands and taxpayers. Judge Ericksen also heard a motion to dismiss filed by PolyMet to throw the case out of court.

The federal courts decisions are pending.

WaterLegacy filed our lawsuit in federal district court on January 30, 2017 claiming that the U.S. Forest service undervalued federal land to give a sweetheart deal to PolyMet in violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. We filed our motion for injunction on February 23, 2017.

More detail on the PolyMet land exchange and copies of selected court documents can be found here

New Study: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness An Economic Boost

February 2017

February 2017

"A first of its kind economic study has concluded that overnight visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness spent approximately $57 million in communities around the edge of the 1.1 million-acre wilderness in 2015. 

Those expenditures were directly responsible for generating 635 full-time equivalent jobs in the affected communities, including Ely, Grand Marais, and Tofte. The study found that a total of 817 jobs were created by the wilderness, when indirect and induced effects are included in the calculation."

READ the full article in The Timberjay

Join WaterLegacy at "The Ethics of Mining: Addressing Twin Metals & PolyMet"

February 2017

February 2017

Join WaterLegacy at "The Ethics of Mining: Addressing Twin Metals and PolyMet” Monday, February 27. Listen to some presentations on the threats posed by the PolyMet and Twin Metals mining projects, then stop by our table to take action to preserve the wild rice sulfate standard and request a health impact assessment for sulfide mining. 

The event starts at 6:00pm in the University of Minnesota Duluth Griggs Center (KSC 201).

WaterLegacy Files Suit in Federal Court to Block PolyMet Land Exchange

January 2017

January 2017

On Monday, January 30, WaterLegacy filed a crucial lawsuit in federal district court to block the PolyMet land exchange, which would provide PolyMet with 6,650 acres of Minnesota’s Superior National Forest for its proposed open-pit copper nickel mine. Our evidence shows that the Forest Service undervalued the federal lands and that the proposed exchange would provide a windfall to the PolyMet Mining Company and its foreign investors at the expense of our public lands and the citizens of Minnesota.

READ a summary of WaterLegacy’s claims in our press release.

State Consultants: More Data Needed On PolyMet Financial Risk

January 2017

January 2017

It’s your money. The Timberjay explains why "The state of Minnesota should require PolyMet Mining to provide an updated financial feasibility study and cash flow analysis prior to approval of the financial assurance provisions for the company’s proposed copper-nickel mine.” 

A quick summary: Experts hired by the State at taxpayers’ expense have requested up-to-date information on PolyMet’s financial feasibility based on current metals prices to make sure PolyMet can cover mitigation, pollution treatment and reclamation costs. PolyMet says no information will be provided until a draft permit is issued (i.e. too late) and agency officials are non-committal. The DNR official quoted in the article is Barb Naramore ( 

Read more in The Timberjay