Posted at: 12/06/2012 11:56 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - State leaders have decided to hold off on awarding a package of mineral rights leases recommended by the Department of Natural Resources.
The Executive Council voted Thursday to defer action until the Minnesota Court of Appeals weighs in on whether the DNR should conduct an environmental review of the leases.
Several northeastern Minnesota residents sought the delay, arguing they've been shut out of the process, and they're worried that exploratory drilling could contaminate ground water if not regulated properly.
The Executive Council members, who are all Democrats, say they realize mining is important but say public trust is equally important.
Gov. Mark Dayton, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Auditor Rebecca Otto voted to put off a decision, while Attorney General Lori Swanson supported approving the leases.
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