An attorney for DNR Secretary Dan Meyer will review an administrative law judge’s decision invalidating a frac sand mining permit.

DNR attorney Mark Herman will decide whether to honor Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort’s ruling at the beginning of this month that the DNR failed to gather “necessary information” before issuing a permit to Meteor Timber last year.

The announcement Thursday drew the ire of Clean Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nation and Midwest Environmental Advocates, which have previously argued Meteor Timber’s $70 million project would destroy 16.3 acres of wetland that includes rare white pine and red maple. The groups had also called on Meyer in a letter last week to decline the company’s request.

“We do not believe that DNR should have granted this review,” the groups said in a joint statement this afternoon. “DNR should have exercised its more traditional level of respect toward the independent administrative law judge. Integrity of independent judicial review is at risk when DNR becomes the judge of its own actions.”

DNR spokesman Jim Dick said Meyer’s decision came on the advice of Herman. Meyer in a letter May 18 ordered Herman to decide whether to launch a review by yesterday.

Meteor Timber project manager Chris Mathis praised the decision.

“We worked with the DNR and US Army Corps for over 30 months to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan with a mitigation ratio of nearly 40 to 1,” he said in a statement. “Equally important, is that this project if approved creates and preserves 630 acres into perpetuity, which can be enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and ATV enthusiasts.”

Herman has met with the parties involved in the case, Dick said, and has discussed a schedule for filing briefs.

See the May 18 letter from Meyer to his designee:

By Briana Reilly

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