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Speaker pledges no 2014 mining bills

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House speaker will not allow any legislation to pass this year setting an amount PolyMet Mining Corp. should set aside to fix environmental damage done by its proposed copper-nickel mine.

“We are not taking up any legislation related to mining, one way or the other,” House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, told Forum News Service on Friday. “The best thing is to let the process work its way out.”

One of Thissen’s committees held a 5½-hour meeting this week dealing with how much money the state should require PolyMet to pay up front to clean up any environment issues once the mine closes. PolyMet itself has said that perhaps $200 million should be available at mine closure, with a few million more a year for some time afterward.

Some environmentalists and others question whether PolyMet has enough money to handle potential cleanup costs and have suggested the Legislature take the issue out of the Department of Natural Resources’ hands and set a large financial amount so any contingency can be handled.