PolyMet land swap amendment clears Senate

Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements may apply for Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grants that help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife. (U.S. Forest Service)

MINNEAPOLIS — A bill containing a provision from Sen. Tina Smith to complete a land exchange between PolyMet Mining Corp. and the federal government has cleared the Senate.

The Minnesota Democrat’s amendment is part of a big defense bill that passed 85-10 Monday.

PolyMet needs the land for its planned copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. The company would get 6,650 acres of the Superior National Forest in return for about the same amount of private land.

The Mesabi Daily News reports the exchange isn’t a done deal yet. The Senate bill has to be reconciled in a conference committee with the House version. If President Donald Trump signs the bill, it will bypass four pending lawsuits by environmental groups that oppose the swap.

The land exchange is due to close June 28.

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