Rick Nolan and Jeff Anderson, two of the DFL candidates running to challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District, spent Wednesday promoting their plans to bring more mining jobs to the Iron Range.
Rick Nolan wants to bring a $250 million per year federal research center dedicated to mineral research, environmental studies and mining technology. If elected to Congress, Nolan said he'd immediately introduce legislation to create the United States Technical Institute for Mining and the Environment, a move that he said would also bring much-needed jobs to the district.
Anderson supports a bill introduced in Congress that would streamline the permitting process for projects such as the PolyMet copper mine near Hoyt Lakes in northeastern Minnesota.
"While I support the idea of doing more research into evolving mining technologies, the people seeking jobs in this district cannot feed their families with studies," Anderson said. "They need jobs."
Anderson also wants to table plans to develop new standards in wild rice waters until the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency complete its study. Many Iron Rangers say the current standards hamper mining operations.
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, who represented the Eight District for 36 years until Cravaack defeated him in 2010, supports Nolan's plan.
"This is an exciting initiative for the future or our entire region," Oberstar said.
While Nolan and Anderson hosted their dueling press conferences, candidate Tarryl Clark issued a statement, voicing her support for the region's mining industry and cautioning against efforts that would sidestep environmental safeguards.
"With the right advocate in Congress, we can build on our past successes and lead the world in 21st century mining that creates good-paying jobs while remaining responsible stewards of our environment," she said.
Last week, Cravaack introduced an amendment in the U.S. House that would speed up the permit process for mineral exploration, which can take more than a decade in some cases.