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OIP denies PRM administrative appeal on NDAA memos

On February 7, 2014, Public Record Media received a letter from the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy (OIP) regarding one of its pending administrative appeals. In its letter, OIP stated that a 2013 decision by the Office of Legal Counsel to withhold legal memos about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 was correct.

Our NDAA request touched upon two separate policy areas that PRM has followed closely – the scope of presidential powers under the NDAA, as well as the ability of federal agencies to withhold final legal opinions from public disclosure.

PRM pursuit of NDAA records
For over two years, PRM has sought information about detention powers granted under the 2012 NDAA. The NDAA is an annual, omnibus military spending bill that often contains other defense-related provisions, and its 2012 iteration included provisions relating to the indefinite military detention of individuals. Provisions 1021 and 1022 of the Act made explicit the President’s authority under the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to detain any person who was part of, “or substantially supported, al-Qaeda, the Taliba, or associated forces” under the law of war, “without trial, until the end of hostilities authorized by the AUMF.”

Military detention controversy
The detention-related provisions of the 2012 NDAA became the subject of public controversy after their passage, due to concerns that the provisions could be used to detain American citizens in a broad range of circumstance, including inside the United States itself. The indefinite duration of the detentions authorized by the NDAA also raised concerns about due process and related constitutional issues.

The military detention of civilians had been effectively prohibited since the passage of the Posse Commitatus Act in the aftermath of the Civil War. However, the Bush administration confined a small number of U.S. persons in domestic military brigs in the years after the 9/11 attack, raising renewed controversies about the use of indefinite, military detention.

The Bush-era military detentions split circuit and appellate courts. The administration eventually charged one of its U.S. detainees – Jose Padilla – with a series of criminal charges, ending his period of military detention without charge. The Obama administration took the same route with the last domestic military detainee – Ali Saleh Al-Marri. Since the Supreme Court did not end up acting on the al-Marri or Padilla cases, a patchwork of lower court case law remains, some of which could be used to justify future, indefinite military detention.

This legal ambiguity is what has fueled concerns over the content of the NDAA, even in the face of language in the law itself that appears to limit its reach. Section 1201(e) of the NDAA notes that,

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizen, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

However, the case law landscape left over from the post-9/11 years (which could certainly be viewed as “existing authority”) may yet authorize detentions of U.S. citizens in the United States. Likewise, the Obama administration has articulated guidance on the NDAA that seeks to limit its domestic reach, but such guidance is at the discretion of the White House, and could be changed to give the NDAA broader effect.

PRM’s January 2012 FOIA request
In January of 2012, PRM submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) seeking documents pertinent to the President’s military detention powers under a variety of legal authorities, including the 2012 NDAA. For background, the OLC is frequently relied upon by executive branch agencies to evaluate legal issues and provide definitive guidance on a variety of matters.

The OLC responded in February of 2012, and noted that it held fourteen responsive documents. OLC also set out its decision to withhold each document in its entirety, asserting that the records were protected from disclosure by the deliberative process privilege under FOIA’s Exemption Five. This exemption can be used to withhold attorney-client communications and other “deliberative” discussions from disclosure under the FOIA. OLC also noted that it was invoking Exemption Five to protect presidential communications.

Knowing that OLC held responsive documents, PRM reformulated its request and attempted to obtain the records a second time.

Final opinions under FOIA
PRM believes that legal opinions – particularly final opinions – are valuable government records, because they provide the legal basis for government actions. By understanding the scope of a legal opinion, members of the public can anticipate government actions within a defined set of circumstances. Such an understanding is one of the underpinnings of a free society, and a key to government accountability.

The importance of public access to final legal opinions is reflected in the text of the Freedom of Information Act itself, which states that,

“Each agency shall make available for public inspection and copying … final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions.”

Recognizing this, FOIA case law makes it clear that the deliberative process privilege and other FOIA exemptions cannot be used to withhold materials that are “post-decisional” in nature. In other words, once a decision has been made by a government agency, records that set forth that decision should be publicly available. For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Coastal States Gas Corporation case holds that an “agency shall not be permitted to develop a body of ‘secret law’ used by it in its discharge of its regulatory duties and in its dealings with the public, but hidden behind a veil of privilege.”

PRM’s April, 2012 FOIA request
In April of 2012, PRM sent a reformulated request to OLC seeking a more limited sub-set of records pertinent to the 2012 NDAA. PRM’s request also explicitly stated that it was only seeking records that constituted “final determinations of policy or final opinions” that were “post-decisional in nature.”

OLC eventually responded to that request by confirming that it held four responsive documents, but that it was withholding all of them under FOIA Exemption Five. PRM appealed the withholding via administrative appeal to the Office of Information Policy.

OLC letter of June, 2013
On June 25, 2013, OLC sent a letter to PRM in response to its administrative appeal. In its letter, OLC characterized its NDAA opinions as “final opinions” of the agency, but also noted that they were not “post-decisional” materials. Instead, OLC categorized the opinions as pre-decisional legal advice to its client agencies. Because of this clarification, OLC claimed that its four documents were not – in fact – responsive to PRM’s FOIA request.

OIP Administrative determination
Upon administrative review, OIP affirmed OLC’s withholding of the NDAA memos. OIP’s Sean O’Neill wrote that,

“OLC informed you that it does not maintain records such as those you described because all of OLC’s legal opinions and memorandum are pre-decisional. In light of your clarification of the scope of your request and OLC’s subsequent response, I have determined that OLC’s response was correct.”

OIP’s recent determination affirms a much longer-term practice by OLC attorneys. For years, the OLC has maintained that its opinions are merely legal advice to clients, and has chosen to minimize their authoritative effect on federal agencies. OLC opinions have been used as the principle legal authority undergirding many of the government’s most controversial actions, including the Bush administration’s torture and warrantless wiretapping programs.

PRM believes that any final legal memoranda that government actors rely upon to guide their actions should be available for public review. Our opinion is shared by organizations such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed a lawsuit against OLC last year. CREW’s lawsuit seeks to make all of OLC’s final opinions public, by seeking to enforce the FOIA’s explicit language about final legal opinions. More information about CREW’s lawsuit is available here.

In the coming weeks, PRM will continue its pursuit of NDAA-related legal opinions to seek clarity on how these provisions of law are interpreted by federal agencies.

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List of mining documents inspected at Minnesota DNR

In November of 2013, PRM made public record requests from six state and federal agencies relating to ongoing or proposed mining operations in northern Minnesota, including the proposed “NorthMet” copper-sulfide mine. Our requests sought correspondence between various regulatory agencies and the mining companies that they oversee.

Document production begins
Within recent weeks, we have started to receive records responsive to our requests. First, the Minnesota pollution control agency produced several hundred pages of records, followed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Most recently, we were able to inspect a large volume of correspondence held by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. We have requested copies of the most relevant data, and expect to receive them soon.

PRM is currently undertaking the long, involved process of cataloging and reviewing the documents it has received, in preparation for on-line posting.

Record lists to be published
Due to extensive public interest in northern Minnesota mining operations, we are taking several steps to make our collections available to the public prior to their appearance on our site. First, we will be publishing lists of all of the documents that we currently posses, or that we have inspected and are scheduled to receive. In the event that members of the public, the press, or the policy community wish to inspect any of these documents prior to their appearance on-line, PRM can be contacted at info@publicrecordmedia.com. PRM will make the documents available to any party that wishes to review them.

Interim record availability
Secondly, PRM is working to make its documents available in some interim electronic form until such time as it can post the records in an organized fashion on its site. We will have additional information on this soon.

DNR document list
Below is the list of documents that PRM has inspected at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The documents encompass several projects, including the proposed NorthMet mine and a Twin Metals exploration project. Documents are grouped according to the folder or file they were inspected in:

PAPER FILES

FOLDER: “Twin Metals – Hydro Geology Test”

Description: Printed e-mails, starting with e-mail from Andrew Gibbons to Matt Oberhelman.
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is May 20, 2013.

Description: Printed e-mails, starting with e-mail from Andrew Gibbons to Matt Oberhelman.
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is April 7, 2013.

Description: Printed e-mails, starting with e-mail from Andrew Gibbons to Matt Oberhelman.
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is Nov 20, 2012.

Description: Printed e-mails, starting with e-mail from Kathy Lewis to Betsy Daub.
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is Nov 1, 2013.

Description: Letter from MN DNR to Anne Williamson
Date: May 22, 2013.

Description: Printed e-mails, starting with e-mail from Gregory Fontaine to Matt Oberhelman.
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is Sept. 9, 2013.

Description: Letter from Twin Metals to Matt Oberhelman
Date: July 17, 2013.

Description: 1 page, labeled “Table 1: Hydrologic well locations”

Description: 1 page, labeled “Table 1: Hydrologic well locations”

Description: 1 page map, labeled “Twin Metals Minnesota (7/19/13)”
Date: July 19, 2013

Description: Printed e-mail from Susan Damon to Kathy Lewis

Description: Printed e-mail from Jess Richards to Kathy Lewis
Date: October 29, 2013

Description: Correspondence from MN DNR to Twin Metals
Date: August 30, 2013.

Description: Correspondence from Ben Lagerquist to Kathy Lewis
Date: October 30, 2013.

Description: Printed e-mail from Kathy Lewis to Bob Meier, Barb Naramoew
Date: “10/30″

FOLDER: “Twin Metals – Surface Leases”

Description: Printed e-mail from Dennis Martin to Peter Clevenstine
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is October 31, 2013.

Description: Printed e-mail from Kathy Lewis to Joe Pokala
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail is October 28, 2013.

Description: Letter from Kathy Lewis to Kevin Boerst
Date: September 24, 2013

Description: Printed e-mail from Dennis Martin to Kathy Lewis
Date: September 24, 2013

Description: Printed e-mail from Twin Metals to Matt Oberhelman
Date: Date on “top sheet” e-mail September 19, 2013.

Description: Letter from MN DNR to Kevin Boerst
Date: September 24, 2013

Description: Letter from MN DNR to Anne Williamson
Date: September 24, 2013

Description: Letter from Kathy Lewis to Dennis Martin
Date: September 16, 2013

Description: Bundle of two folded sheets labeled “Resource Comments”

Description: Bundle of eleven folded sheets labeled “Resource Comments”

FOLDER: “Twin Metals – Tailings Lease”

Description: Stapled packet of material referencing “Lease Number 144-012-0817″

Description: Printed e-mail from Debra Filipovich to Michael Lilegren
Date: August 5, 2013

STACK OF PAGES BOUND BY PAPER CLIP

Description: Correspondence between Phillip Larson and John Engessen
Date: October 8, 2012

PACKET BOUND BY METAL CLASP

Description: File labeled “Regional Geological Reconnaissance Authorization (and attached exhibits)”

Description: Three pages stapled packet of correspondence between Kevin Boerst and Matt Oberhelmen
Date: September 19, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis; notation reads “Application for nonferrous mineral lease, Lake County”
Date: February 25, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis
Date: August 16, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis
Date: July 26, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis
Date: August 16, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Vicki Steller and Mark Hall
Date: December 3, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis
Date: July 16, 2013

FOLDER: “Duluth Metals negotiated lease requests labeled 2011″

Description: Printed e-mails between Kathy Lewis and Theresa Bodon related to “Clarification of MN mineral bed ownership”

Description: Printed e-mails between Kathy Lewis and Mark Hall related to “Application for negotiated non-ferrous metallic mineral leases”
Date: Cover page dated February 9, 2011

Description: Twin Metals news release labeled “Duluth Metals Announces” …
Date: June 13, 2012

Description: Printed e-mails between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis related to “Application for non-ferrous mineral lease, Lake County”
Date: Cover page dated February 25, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Kathy Lewis and Mark Hall related to “Application for non-ferrous mineral leases”
Date: Cover page dated February 9, 2011

FOLDER: “DMC Negotiated Lease Request – T.59, R.12, T.69, R.12, St. Louis County”

Description: One sheet of correspondence between Vicki Sellner and Mark Hall related to “Request for registered non-ferrous metallic mineral leases in St. Louis County”
Date: August 20, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis related to “Application for negotiated non-ferrous lease T59 and T60, R12″
Date: August 16, 2013

Description: One sheet of correspondence between Vicki Sellner and Mark Hall related to “Request for negotiated non-ferrous metallic mineral leases in St. Louis County”
Date: July 18, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Mark Hall and Kathy Lewis
Date: July 16, 2013

FOLDER: “Encampment Minerals – negotiated lease requests”

Description: One page, printed e-mail from Harry Noyes to Kathy Lewis related to “Encampment negotiated lease requirement”
Date: December 2, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Vicki Sellner and Theodore DeMatties regarding “Request for negotiated leases in St. Louis County”
Date: November 19, 2013

Description: One page map labeled “Encampment negotiated lease request”
Date: December 2, 2013

Description: Single page of correspondence between Susan Damon and Theodore DeMatties
Date: December 6, 2013

Description: Correspondence between Ted DeMatties and Kathy Lewis regarding “Negotiated Lease Request”
Date: December 3, 2012

FOLDER: “Encampment Right of Way”

Description: Correspondence between Kathy Lewis and Harold Noyes
Date: August 29, 2012

Description: Correspondence between Harold Noyes and Kathy Lewis, with “Encampment Minerals, Inc.” listed on the top page
Date: August 10, 2012

Description: Hand-written notes
Date: “7/17/12″

Description: E-mail from Dennis Martin to Kathy Lewis related to “Serpentine Deposit lease work”
Date: August 28, 2012

Description: E-mail from John Engesser to Kathy Lewis related to “Encampment and Northshore leases”
Date: November 1, 2011

Description: E-mail from John Engesser to Kathy Lewis related to “Encampment and Northshore leases”
Date: October 24, 2011

Description: E-mail from Kathy Lewis regarding “Encampment access to serpentine deposit”

Description: Single sheet e-mail from Dennis Martin to Kathy Lewis regarding “Encampment owes DNR the two sample results – follow-up from yesterday’s meeting”
Date: July 18, 2012

HARD-BOUND BINDER LABELED “Executive council meeting Oct 25, 2013″

HARD-BOUND BINDER LABELED “Executive council meeting December 6, 2012″

FOLDER: “Executive council follow-up”

Description: E-mail from Kathy Lewis to M. Hines regarding drill holes and charts
Date: December 16, 2013

Description: E-mail from Kathy Lewis to DNR_LAM_ALL, et al regarding “Executive Council Land Exchange”
Date: December 11, 2013

Description: “Executive Council 12.11.13 agenda and draft minutes
Date: December 11, 2013

Description: Letter from Comm. Landweher to Comm. Cronk
Date: November 25, 2013

Description: Series of e-mails from Kathy Lewis to Dennis Martin, including drilling data
Date: October 29, 2013

Description: E-mails from Kathy Lewis to Peter Clevanstine
Date: December 4, 2013

Description: E-mails from Kathy Lewis to Chathl@aol.com et al regarding “Exploration plans on DNR web page”
Date: December 9, 2013

Description: E-mails from Kathy Lewis to E. Best regarding “Exploration plans on DNR web page”
Date: December 9, 2013

Description: E-mails from Peter Clevanstine to J. Richards et al regarding “Mining taxes and Royalty”
Date: November 22, 2013

Description: E-mails from J. Richards to Peter Clevanstine et al regarding “Mineral leases – notices”
Date: November 18, 2013

Description: Document containing revised draft of Comm. Landwaher response “to Paula”

Description: Redline minutes of 10/25 Executive Council meeting
Date: November 16, 2013

Description: Letter from Duluth Metals to Governor Dayton
Date: November 1, 2013

Description: Statement of Lt. Governor Solon
Date: December 25, 2013

Description: E-mail from Comm. Landweher to J. Richards regarding talking points on Executive Council meeting
Date: October 25, 2013

Description: Document labeled “Improving the mineral lease sale …”
Date: October 25, 2013

FOLDER: “2012 Metallic Mineral Lease Sale …”

Description: E-mails between Kathy Lewis and Dennis Martin regarding “mineral lease on Henkels property”
Date: November 8, 2013

Description: Document labeled “2012 leases ‘Talking Points Request for approved 31 state metallic mineral leases”

Description: Document labeled “Recommendations for land use screening criteria for public metallic minerals lease sales post 2013″
Date: September 10, 2013

Description: E-mails between J. Welborn and G.Jhuhek (sp?) regarding “Western Mining Services)
Date: December 2, 2013

Description: DM Venn Baker (sp?) letter to Gov. Dayton
Date: October 25, 2013

Description: A. Anderson petition
Date: October 22, 2013

Description: Kathy Lewis e-mail to M. Hines regarding “Metallic mineral lease sale”
Date: October 18, 2013

Description: Pat and Dan Hurang (sp?) letter to MN Executive Council
Date: October 16, 2013

Description: J. Flaten petition to Executive Council
Date: October 12, 2013

Description: Kathy Lewis letter to Northshore mining company
Date: October 10, 2013

DIGITAL FILES

FOLDER: “Metallic minerals lease sale”

Title: “SD TRANMGR”
Date: 1/16/14

Title: “Twin Metals – All Files”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “IRE ESSAR Update”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “IREe ESSAR Update”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “20130410131305140″
Date: 4/10/13

Title: “allpages_exploration_drilling_maps”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “dimension stone lease sale2013 3.pdf”
Date: 04/24/13

Title: “ESSAR one pager 032913″
Date: 04/04/13

Title: “ESSARE Update”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “FW Canisteo – Magnetation Scenarios”
Date: 01/14/14

Title: “FW Environmental Screens (T56-R25-S …)”
Date: 01/14/14

Title: “FW Draft letter_Intent to terminate lease”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Rainy River Resources Completes Feasibility Study …”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Hill Annex Mine PA Consultation letter”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Hill Annex Mine PA Consultation Letter w/ Pete comments”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Iron Ore Leases for March 6 Exec Council …”
Date: 01/14/14

Title: “Minntac EAW negative declaration”
Date: 04/08/13

Title: “Lease map section 36 Coleraine.pdf”
Date:

Title: “Magnetation license request”
Date: 01/14/14

Title: “Minntac press release”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Minntac press release”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE Canistero Pit”
Date: 01/14/14

Title: “Iron Ore Leases for March 6 Executive …”
Date: 01/1414

Title: “Iron Ore Leases for March 6 Executive …”
Date: 01/1414

Title: “RE Canistero Mine Pit”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: DRI work group meeting Doodle”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: ESSAR update”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Geotechnical – Polymet tailings basin”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: Hill annex mine PA consultation letter”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: Magnetation permits”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: Magnetation Plummer East Basin”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “Minntac press release”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “RE: Minntac release”
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “TMM Prelim Screening Apr 8 2013″
Date: 01/09/14

Title: “ENGESSER”
Date: 01/16/14

Title: “Comments to USFS for TMM Sup Scoping”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “FW Long Term Active Treatment”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “FW TMM environmental plans for existing …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Fwd Proposed NE MN precious metals …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “LTA Treatment Statement (3)”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “LTA Treatment Statement”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Permitting meeting”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Points on PolyMet permitting status …”
Date” 01/15/14

Title: “Polymet mining news release”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Questions on PolyMet draft EIS”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “RE Co-lead agencies concurrence …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “RE FW TMM environmental plans for …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “RE FW TMM environmental plans for …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “RE FW TMM environmental plans for …”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “Polymet video”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “RE TMM environmental review”
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “TMM Meeting – June 10″
Date: 01/15/14

Title: “TMM Project – state and federal agency …”
Date: 01/15/14

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PolyMet/NorthMet public comment hearing held in Duluth

An estimated 1300-1500 people were in attendance in Duluth on January 16 for the first of three state public hearings on the PolyMet company’s proposed NorthMet mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.

Representatives from the Minnesota DNR, the US Forest Service, and the US Army Corps of Engineers were in attendance. The audience also included current and former elected officials, union members, nonprofit groups, and interested citizens generally. Speakers were selected at random and allowed a three-minute period in which to make comments.
 
Public comments on SDEIS
The formal purpose of the hearing was to record into the permanent public record citizen comments on the NorthMet Supplemental Draft EIS. An EIS must be found to be adequate before a project can be considered for permitting.

Proponent comments
While proponents and opponents of the project alike expressed a general desire for both clean water and jobs, project supporters indicated a faith in the regulatory agencies and contemporary industrial technologies. “I’m pleased to stand in solid support of Polymet and the people who have worked so hard and spent $50 million or more trying to satisfy the demands required of a project like this,” said William Whiteside of Hibbing. “I’m very confident that the water quality issues will have been addressed.”
 
“It’s 2014. We’ve had many years for mining technology to increase,” said Joe Baltich of Ely, who also stated his belief that if mining is to be conducted, the United States, Minnesota, the Iron Range and Ely “should be leading that charge.” Joe Begich of Eveleth made comments in favor of the project as well. “From what I can follow, this company is planning to do it the right way,” he said. Norm Voornees of the Ironworkers Local 512 discussed the decent living iron mining has afforded he and his family, and noted that he had toured the proposed facility.
 
Criticism of project, SDEIS
David Kane of Biwabik noted that he had initially been “pro-mining,” but after researching copper/sulfide mining (the type at issue in the NorthMet project), he “changed sides.” “I don’t think it’s wise to mine toxic materials on top of an aquifer,” he said.
 
Project opponents pointed to what they deemed to be inadequacies in the SDEIS, a trigger for additional agency review. Elli King of Finland stated her belief that the “means of controlling sulfates are dubious and incomplete in the EIS.” Citing the Financial Assurance section of the SDEIS, David Freeman stated his belief that the cost of water treatment is “unknowable,” rendering the SDEIS inadequate. He offered as context the recent chemical spill in West Virginia, the Deepwater Horizon spill, and the ongoing situation with Japan’s Fukushima nuclear facility.

Hillary Peterson stated that, by law, a project “must be maintenance free at closure,” and that the SDEIS is therefore inadequate. Tyler Nord of Duluth stated that the Land Exchange portion of the SDEIS should be rejected. Nord also requested more information in the SDEIS on what would happen in the event of pump failure at a tailings pond during a flood (citing the increasing frequency of “100 year floods” in the region).

Public comment period continues
All comments provided will be recorded and placed in the permanent public record. The public comment period is scheduled to continue through March 13, although a request for an extension of the period is currently under review. The next public hearing is in Aurora on January 22, followed by a January 28 hearing in Saint Paul. Comments can be made by anyone online, by letter, or at one of the two remaining hearings. 
 
Agency communications to be posted
PRM continues its FOIA work to provide an enhanced opportunity for public review of agency communications related to the proposed project. PRM is currently receiving documents from two state and two federal agencies, and is waiting for documents from the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior.
 
For a transcript of the hearing, interested citizens and organizations may call Doug Bruner, US Army Corps of Engineers, at 800-290-5847. PRM will post the transcript on this website upon receipt.

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Minnesota mining document update

During the past few weeks, Public Record Media has received thousands of pages of mining documents from a variety of state and federal agencies. The document releases have occurred in response to several public record requests filed by PRM in November of 2013. Those requests sought correspondence between regulatory agencies and mining companies related to various mining projects in northern Minnesota.

Thus far, documents have arrived from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Later toady, PRM will be inspecting documents held by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Records from the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to arrive within the next few weeks. PRM will be posting all of these materials in its document archive, and will be providing summaries on its blog.

Draft NorthMet documents available

PRM has also posted a variety of draft documents associated with the proposed PolyMet “NorthMet” copper-sulfide mine. These documents include components of the Preliminary Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PSDEIS) for the project. The revised version of the SDEIS was released on December 7, 2013, and can be found on the DNR web site. DNR is a co-lead agency on the project, along with the United States Forest Service and the USACE.

The records were obtained through public records requests submitted by the Minnesota Environmental Advocacy Center. PRM became aware of the documents last year, and has posted the record collection in order to expand the body of publicly available documentation related to the NorthMet project.

PRM has posted preliminary SDEIS documents here, and will continue to add records in the coming weeks.

Documents in this collection include draft materials circulated to tribal authorities, and correspondence related to simulations and modeling associated with water quality impacts. Also included are documents that track changes made from an earlier version of the NorthMet PSDEIS.

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