Robert S. Donovan, Flickr

MINNEAPOLIS - Major decisions on copper-nickel mining, water quality and a push to reduce carbon emissions by Minnesota's utilities will be among the top issues on Minnesota's environmental agenda for 2016.

Some of the debate will be very public, while much work on issues such as oil pipelines and wild rice will take place behind the scenes, within state agencies that will be conducting environmental reviews and developing regulations.

Among the major events, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr plans to decide "about February" whether to certify as adequate the final environmental impact statement on the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to convene a water quality summit in February. And officials will be working to implement Dayton's law requiring buffer strips of vegetation between farmland and streams.