A retired official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency testified Tuesday that Minnesota’s request for the EPA not to submit its concerns about the planned PolyMet mine in writing was highly unusual.

Minnesota was the first state to make such a request to him, said Kevin Pierard, former chief of the water quality permitting branch in the EPA’s Chicago office. Pierard worked for the federal regulator for 36 years. Of the estimated 700 water quality permits from various states he reviewed over the years, Pierard said that “most of them” would have received official EPA comments in writing. MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE