MPCA scrutinized over handling of proposed PolyMet mine

The next legal challenge for a controversial mining project in northern Minnesota is underway.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is under the microscope over its handling of a proposed copper-nickel mine in St. Louis County. In an evidentiary hearing Tuesday, officials closely examined state regulators' handling of a PolyMet permit. 

Among a long list of complaints, the MPCA is accused of acting irregularly in awarding a water permit for the proposed copper-nickel mine near Babbit, Minn.

Opponents say the MPCA withheld a potentially damaging environmental report until after the public comment period was closed. It's now up to a judge to determine if the permit was properly approved.

The hearing came less than a week after an order by the Minnesota Federal Appeals Court. 

The MPCA denies any wrongdoing. 

PolyMet has faced a number of challenges in its quest to build the state's first copper-nickel mine, and it could be days before the hearing wraps up.