ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — United States Steel Corp. has moved a major step closer to proceeding with a $300 million expansion of its taconite operation in Keewatin.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the water quality permits it needs to proceed.

Supporters touted the 120 permanent jobs and 500 temporary construction jobs the expansion is expected to create.

Much of the meeting dealt with how U.S. Steel will make Keetac comply with state standards for protecting waters where wild rice grows. Environmentalists questioned whether the permits have enough teeth.

MPCA engineer Brandon Smith says the project is not expected to increase water pollution, and that all state and federal requirements will be met.

U.S. Steel officials say they’re committed to making Keetac the industry leader in pollution controls.

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