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This paper examines the environmental policy implications and environmental risks of engaging in copper-ore sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota. The re-instatement of mining leases in the area within the past year has generated significant controversy within the state. Concern over limiting environmental risk through effective regulation sits at the forefront of the prominent debate taking place at the federal, local, and state levels. Currently, Minnesota is not equipped to properly and effectively regulate these mines for environmental protection. With that goal in mind, this analysis argues that regulations must return to—and continue beyond—the status quo ante, established in 2016, by implementing stricter command and control design & performance standards; mandating severance taxation; establishing research and development programs; improving transparency; addressing information asymmetries; and ensuring liability standards for adequate compensation of incurred costs caused by environmental degradation and displaced industries. Implementation of these policy mechanisms will ensure prioritization of environmental preservation of the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota.
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