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Northshore Mining Co. v. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20131
Nos. No. A07-634, (Minn. Ct. App., 05/20/2008)

A Minnesota appellate court upheld a state environmental agency decision denying a mining company's request to eliminate the "control-city" standard from its air quality permit. The standard required the company to keep the asbestos fiber count in the air at its Silver Bay facility to the level ordinarily found in the ambient air in St. Paul. The company argued that the control-city standard was obsolete and that the permit could be amended under the state's administrative permit amendment rule. But the plain language of the rule does not provide for amendments to clarify the meaning of the entire permit, but rather provides for amendments that clarify the meaning of a “permit term.” Here, the company does not want to clarify a permit term. Rather, it seeks to eliminate a substantive monitoring requirement from the permit. The company also failed to demonstrate that the control-city standard is obsolete since there "is no current health-based ambient air standard or an equivalent precautionary and preventative substitute for the control-city standard." The company, therefore, should proceed under the more strict major permit amendment rules to alter its permit.