Court of Appeals rules environmental impact statement necessary for Huber Mill project

The City of Cohasset’s decision to use an environmental impact worksheet over the more-involved environmental impact statement was overruled by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In an opinion filed Monday, the Court of Appeals says the record “lacks substantial evidence to support the city’s determination that no public waters wetlands will be eliminated.”

Huber’s proposed OSB facility will use 159 acres of undeveloped and agricultural lands one mile east of the Leech Lake Reservation.

The Minnesota Legislature adopted legislation with the governor’s signature that would not require projects like Huber’s to need an EIS, based solely on the size of the facility and if the project received financial incentives from Minnesota DEED and Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation during 2021.

Construction of the Huber facility is expected to permanently fill or excavate 26 of 31 wetlands, with most of the impact attributed to the future filling of the rail spur, which will cross two large wetland complexes to the north of the facility.

The Leech Lake Band, the 1855 Treaty Authority, the Red Lake Band, the White Earth Band and Honor the Earth are listed as some of the appellants in this case.

The City of Cohasset began the public notice for the environmental assessment worksheet in Sept. 2021, revising in Jan. 2022 and adopting the EAW in March 2022. Despite hearing 45 distinct comments including from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Leech Lake Band, Cohasset determined an EIS was not necessary.

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