A federal appellate court got it right recently when it issued a stay against a series of stringent new pollution requirements for a handful of taconite operations including the Tilden Mine in National Mine.
The 8th District Court of Appeals gave the temporary delay, requested by Cliffs Natural Resources, which, in addition to the Tilden Mine, operates three taconite plants in Minnesota, and by ArcelorMittal, which runs the Minorca taconite operation in Minnesota.
The stay, which went into effect Friday, puts on hold a final decision until January by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to demand new pollution-control devices for taconite plants aimed at reducing pollution from taconite plants that causes haze over northern parks and wild areas.The new regulations would force some taconite operations to add expensive pollution-control equipment to curb nitrogen oxides, or NOx, and sulfur dioxides, SO2.
Environmental groups have long maintained that pollution causes haze and potentially lung difficulties. The EPA said the pollution controls are expected to reduce NOx emissions by about 22,000 tons per year and SO2 emissions by about 2,000 tons per year. Although Cliffs offered no comment publicly, a Minnesota state representative observed the court order would give more time for Minnesota plants to develop the technology to solve the pollution problem without forcing them into costly improvements too soon.
While it wasn't immediately clear when the court would hear oral arguments, this was the right decision at the right time. The minerals extraction industry, like a great many segments of the American economy, continue to recover from the Great Recession slowly but surely. Encumbering them with additional costs at this time seems unwise.