Press Release: Minnesota Court of Appeals delivers significant victory to Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in case opposing Huber Engineered Woods factory
February 8, 2023
ST PAUL, MN – In an important win for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a massive and controversial engineered wood factory proposed to be built near the Band's Reservation must undergo additional environmental study.
The decision sends Huber Engineered Woods' proposal back to the City of Cohasset for further review, reversing the City's earlier decision to ignore the Band's request for a more detailed environmental study in this matter – called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Court ordered Cohasset to further study the proposal's effects on wetlands and issue a new decision on whether an EIS is needed. The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy represented the Leech Lake Band in this case.
In a first for Minnesota, the Court of Appeals also recognized that Tribal governments have expertise that must be considered when project proposals threaten Treaty rights: "Based on the Leech Lake Band's sovereign status and environmental expertise, we accord significant weight to its comments [in environmental review] and arguments in this appeal," the opinion stated.