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In re Reissuance of an NPDES/SDS Permit to U.S. Steel Corp.

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20197
Nos. A18-2094, A18-2095, A18-2159, and A18-2163, (Minn. Ct. App., 12/09/2019)

A state appellate court reversed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's decision to reissue a NPDES permit for an iron ore mine in northeast Minnesota. An environmental group and Indian band challenged the decision, arguing that the agency erred in its interpretation of the CWA and that the permit did not sufficiently protect surface waters. The court found the agency's statutory interpretation was reasonable and thus deferred to its determination that the CWA did not govern discharges of pollutants to groundwater. However, it found the agency did err in interpreting the state's administrative rules governing water quality standards by applying standards for Class 1 waters to groundwater when it determined conditions of the permit. Further, the agency's determination that water quality-based effluent limits for discharges to surface waters were not required in the permit was not supported by the evidence. The court therefore reversed the decision and remanded for further proceedings.