Legislative auditor will investigate PolyMet water permit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s legislative auditor will investigate concerns over how state regulators handled an important water quality permit for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

Rep. Rick Hansen, who chairs the Legislative Audit Commission and a House environment committee, says the auditor’s review will start immediately.

An e-mail leaked last week indicates a top Minnesota Pollution Control Agency official asked her counterparts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to file written comments on PolyMet’s permit during the public comment period. Critics say this had the effect of keeping federal regulators’ criticisms out of the public record.

Hansen says the allegations require “an independent, nonpartisan, third-party investigation.”

MPCA spokesman Darin Broton tells the Star Tribune the agency “supports a more transparent permitting process” and is working with the auditor to meet the request.