Gov. Mark Dayton and President Obama have more in common than simply being liberal politicians.
Both are taken with the belief that they are allowed to act solely upon their personal beliefs and opinions.
In the case of Obama, if he wants something done his way, he doesn’t follow the process envisioned by our founding fathers. He simply issues an executive order.
Dayton has become partial to exercising his own version of an executive order.
Most recently, it was Dayton’s unilateral decision to block access to state lands and deny future mineral leases to Twin Metals Minnesota.
Twin Metals Minnesota is working to develop an underground copper-nickel mine between the cities of Babbitt and Ely to expand economic growth and opportunity in one of the most economically challenged regions of the state. Twin Metals Minnesota is trying to create jobs.
How many jobs?
It is estimated that the Twin Metals Minnesota project will create about 850 full-time jobs when in operation and that it will generate nearly 12 million labor hours during a three-year construction period — plus another 1,700 to 1,900 additional indirect jobs.
Dayton, in blocking this effort, destroys jobs. It is as simple and as pure as any of the groundwaters of Minnesota we all seek to protect and preserve.
It is that commitment to protecting Minnesota’s natural resources that defines the process that Twin Metals Minnesota has followed in its efforts to create jobs in the mining industry.
Our own Minnesota founders made it clear that the state’s natural resources exist to be responsibly used for the benefit of all of our citizens.
In fact, under our state’s Constitution, specifically Article XI, Section 8, royalties generated from the extraction of our abundant minerals on state trust-fund lands are dedicated to a fund to support every school district in Minnesota.
Minnesota has developed one of the nation’s most rigorous environmental-review processes and permitting standards in order to ensure that extraction of minerals does not come at the expense of the environment. Minnesotans rightly expect our Department of Natural Resources to deny permits for projects that pose a danger to the environment, and to permit projects that meet our standards, after a rigorous review of the project’s impacts on the environment and the community.
But the governor doesn’t want that process even to happen. He intends to pull an Obama and violate both the spirit, and perhaps even the letter, of the law.
His personal opinion is now more important than the process and the law.
Twin Metals Minnesota is being arbitrarily denied even the opportunity to prove its viability through Minnesota processes that were created to responsibly uphold the state’s mandate to support the exploration and extraction of mineral resources.
Due process denied.
I understand the governor’s devotion to environmental extremist groups that seek to stop all mineral development regardless of its impact on the hardworking families of northeastern Minnesota. It’s easier to be a hero to them than it is to be an advocate for Twin Metals Minnesota.
But nobody asked the governor to be an advocate for Twin Metals Minnesota — or for any other company seeking to follow the rigorous environmental-review process we should all support before permits are ever issued.
Minnesotans, regardless of where they stand on these issues, simply want the governor to enforce a consistent set of rules.
The governor communicates to companies seeking to do business in Minnesota that finding yourself on the wrong end of his personal ideological agenda may be a one-way ticket to denial of your business opportunity.
The governor has an obligation to let the process for Twin Metals Minnesota — or for any company that must comport to an environmental-review process — play itself out without interference or undue influence.
In the case of Twin Metals Minnesota, his failure to do so doesn’t just undermine economic opportunity for northeastern Minnesota families, but it also jeopardizes a potential financial windfall for Minnesota schools, students and families throughout the state.
The only winner in this losing hand the governor has decided to play are those who would deprive Minnesotans of economic opportunity and jobs in the name of political correctness and environmental extremism.
Norm Coleman is a former U.S. senator from Minnesota.