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People have sent in thousands of comments about the PolyMet mine project

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About 30,000 comments have been sent to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the most recent review for the divisive PolyMet mine proposal.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a news release the agency has "made every effort to facilitate public review" of the Environmental Impact Statement since it was opened for comments a month ago.

In that time, tens of thousands of them have come in – and the DNR says it's actually extending the deadline so people can send more.

The initial final day for the public comment period was Dec. 14. It'll now be Dec. 21 – extra time the DNR hopes "will help other interested parties comment on the adequacy of the document."

PolyMet’s proposal calls for the creation of Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine, called NorthMet, which would include an open-pit mine near Babbitt and a processing plant near Hoyt Lakes.

It's been a divisive topic within the state – environmentalists say the risks aren't worth it, while others argue it could be done safely and would bring much-needed jobs to a struggling region.

Click here for directions on how to send comments in electronically or by mail.

What's an Environmental Impact Statement?

An Environmental Impact Statement is part of a standard process required before some big projects or developments.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says environmental impact statements are designed to talk about “the potential negative environmental effects … and ways to avoid or minimize them” before the project gets approved or built.

The PolyMet proposals Impact Statement was released in November – and it's a whopping 3,500 pages long.

In addition to the public comment period, two other federal agencies have their own reviews to complete – including the U.S. Forest Service, the DNR says.

Then in February, the DNR will decide whether the impact statement was an adequate review of the environmental implications.

As the Duluth News Tribune says, if it’s deemed adequate, it then goes through to the permitting stage, at which point it is likely to be a target for litigation. It also must show financial assurance that it can clean up any problems caused by the mine.

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