Now that we have entered the "policymakers restating the same arguments" phase of the state's debate over copper-nickel mining in Minnesota, I'll weigh in.
As chair of the St. Louis County Board, I feel it is imperative that we continue on the path of science and technology when making important decisions regarding copper-nickel mining.
Former Gov. Mark Dayton wrote essentially the same commentary piece that Star Tribune readers have seen from numerous conservation groups and the newspaper's Editorial Board ("Sulfide mining has no business near the BWCA," Opinion Exchange, March 10). There were two new items in the piece:
The former governor appears to no longer be concerned about the economic health of the Iron Range or the need for critical minerals to address climate change.
The former governor also seems to forget that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) was created after decades of discussion and compromise, which included no mining within the BWCA and its state and federal buffer zones, along with the express agreement that mining would occur in the exact location Twin Metals is now proposing for its mine. Ignoring that agreement would be ignoring the word of all those involved.
On these very pages, numerous people from across the state, including from my neck of the woods, have strongly agreed that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area needs to be protected.
We love the BWCA. We love it so much that we choose to live near it. We care deeply about the environment. We continue to work diligently to preserve the wilderness for future generations. And yes, we do care about jobs in northeastern Minnesota and we are willing to see what the environmental review process tells us about the science behind the Twin Metals mine plan.
The reason we are willing to allow the process to go forward is simple. Science.
The regulatory agencies at the state the federal governments are required by law to thoroughly study detailed plans for the proposed project to determine whether the measures to be built into the mine can protect the surrounding environment. It is a proven, multiyear, science-driven process that has both led to the rejection and the approval of mining projects across the country.
Central to the process is public engagement. This means all interested voices will be heard and will inform the decisions of the regulatory agencies. This means regular Minnesotans — both those who understand the science and engineering and those who have other agendas — will be able to inform policymakers of their thoughts related to the plans under review.
In these times, when we are seeking to alter the course of climate change, this review process is more important than ever. The technology needed to advance a low-carbon economy requires the minerals that are highly concentrated in northeast Minnesota. We owe it to current and future generations to let science, not speculation, determine whether we can access these critical minerals in a manner that preserves our environment.
The state and federal governments have in their hands a mine plan to evaluate against data and environmental standards. So, this experienced policymaker who shares former Gov. Dayton's love for the wilderness recommends that we get going on a real environmental review of a real proposed project.
Michael A. Jugovich represents the Seventh District on the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners.