SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Environment and Natural Resources budget. The compromise legislation, which funds the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), and more, will help preserve Minnesota’s air, water, land, and wildlife for future generations. The legislation also included a provision chief authored by Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL – Hibbing) and supported by Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora) to protect permits at the former Essar Steel site in Nashwauk.
“I’m incredibly excited about this legislation that will set the stage for a new company to start work on the Essar site. Iron Rangers are ready to wash their hands of the Essar and Mesabi Metallics debacles which have stopped the potential for economic opportunity for many years,” Rep. Sandstede said. “I’m thankful for the DNR and state Executive Council’s actions giving us the opportunity to leave Essar behind us. This legislation is a strong example of DFLers stepping up to deliver real results for the Iron Range, and we will continue to push for a company with a demonstrated track record to operate in Nashwauk, as well as other opportunities to create jobs in the mining industry.”
“People of the Iron Range are eager for a proven operator, fully committed to our region’s success to take control of the Nashwauk site, and to leave Essar and all of its broken promises in the past,” Rep. Lislegard said. “This important measure will ensure when a new company acquires the mineral leases, the operation will be viable, successful, and create sorely-needed jobs and real economic opportunity.”
In May, the DNR terminated the mineral leases for Mesabi Metallics, a company which failed to meet several required benchmarks to maintain control of the Nashwauk site. The Environment budget bill requires the DNR and PCA to wait at least two years after the termination of mineral leases before they can terminate associated permits.
The bill language can be found here, and a spreadsheet of the included investments is available here. Video of today’s floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.