Minnesota Republican Chip Cravaack added language to a mining bill in Congress Thursday that would fast-track the controversial PolyMet mine in northern Minnesota, which is already under environmental review.
 
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, opposed by environmentalists and the Obama administration, passed the House by a largely party-line vote of 256-160.
 
Environmentalists argue that the bill will allow mine projects like PolyMet’s to escape adequate environmental review. Cravaack said the bill would create a 30-month cap to complete the permitting process, which can currently take "upwards of ten years."
 
PolyMet Mining initiated an environmental review of its proposed NorthMet copper and nickel mine in 2005. Regardless of the bill's fate in the Senate or White House, the issue is likely to figure in the fall election, where three DFLers are competing in an August primary to take on Cravaack. They are former Congressman Rick Nolan, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, and former Duluth City Council President and Ely native Jeff Anderson.