Judge Invalidates Meteor Timber’s Wetland Permit

Atlanta-based Meteor Timber is appealing a judge’s decision to invalidate wetland permits it was issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fill 16 acres of wetland in Monroe County as part of a proposed $75 million frac sand processing and rail loading facility, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

On Friday, May 4, Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort ruled the DNR improperly granted Meteor Timber permits because the agency lacked enough information to determine the environmental impact of the project and whether a plan to alleviate wetland impacts would work.

“Today, we filed an appeal of the administrative law judge determination on our DNR Permit. We believe our permit application and the 30-plus months of continued work with the Department clearly demonstrate the permit was comprehensive and should allow the project to go forward. We look forward to a robust discussion and intend to follow the process to its rightful conclusion that will allow this $75 million project to proceed, and the local community to flourish,” said Chris Mathis, project manager for Meteor Timber.

A document sent to WPR by Meteor Timber mentioned the DNR has “the sole discretion to concur with the administrative law judge or reverse the decision if the agency believes there are significant factual or legal errors. Meteor Timber believes there are errors which merit a second review by the state agency with decades of experience in environmental permitting.”

Meteor said a number of Defort’s findings in his decision are contradicted by conditions included in the permit issued by the DNR. Also, the document criticized the court for making its decision without “acknowledging the testimony of the department’s five witnesses (or any of the Meteor witnesses), but based solely on the testimony of a former department staffer who helped to draft the conditions of the permit she later testified against.”

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