Late last year, the Star Tribune Editorial Board came down firmly against the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, Minn. On Monday, that project, deeply reported on location and spanning three pages in the Opinion Exchange section — under the headline “Not this mine. Not this location.” — was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes.
The hardest work was done by our colleague Jill Burcum. It’s the second time in just a few years that her editorial writing has caught the attention of the Pulitzer judges. The first was for her series of editorials in 2015 about the underfunding and dilapidated state of Bureau of Indian Education schools.
Regarding the Twin Metals editorial, the judges cited its “passionate, persuasive writing about a pristine wilderness area, accessible largely by canoe, to demonstrate to readers why a proposed mine would do incalculable environmental damage.” The important word with respect to the writing is “persuasive.” It’s at the core of what we aim to do on the editorial page.
The Indian schools editorials were persuasive enough to lead to increased federal and state funding for BIE schools nationwide, as well as construction of a new high school on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota.
We’d remind readers, however, that there’s very much still pending on our list of recommendations for federal and state leaders regarding the Twin Metals proposal.
Burcum remains on the case. Just this Sunday, in “Federal secrecy is a red flag on mining,” she argued on behalf of the board that Minnesota should halt all state-level work on the Twin Metals proposal if the Trump administration won’t share vital data about copper mining’s risks to the BWCA.