As I have stated many times before, I have followed PolyMet for Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS) since 2004. I have attended community readiness meetings, open houses, presentations and hearings and have learned about PolyMet’s process, environmental safeguards and financial assurance, which would be updated annually.
In those early days, few if any activists opposed to copper/nickel mining attended the PolyMet meetings. Only in the last few years have they been speaking against the permitting process.
A public scoping meeting on PolyMet was held as early as June 29, 2005, in Hoyt Lakes. In 2010, hearings were held on Dec. 9 in Aurora and on Dec. 10 in Blaine. In 2014, hearings again were held in Aurora on Jan. 22, in Duluth on Jan. 16 and in St. Paul on Jan. 28. Most recently, hearings were held in Aurora in 2018 on Feb. 7 and in Duluth on Feb. 8. There may have been other PolyMet hearings I have missed.
Where were Tom Berkelman, Arne Carlson and Janet Entzel (“PolyMet proposal: Let the sunshine in,” Aug. 14)? Did they attend any of those public hearings? I know many of Minnesota’s other political leaders who signed the recent letter to Gov. Tim Walz supporting PolyMet attended and spoke at those hearings.
The main argument against copper/nickel mining is that it might, may or could pollute area lakes, rivers and streams.
Industrial agriculture is, in actual fact, the biggest polluter of Minnesota lakes, rivers and streams, but we don’t stop all farming. We realize food production is a necessity, just as mining our natural resources is. We regulate farming to make it better. That is what our state agencies have done with mining. PolyMet has passed all the permitting requirements set before it.
And just as robotics has taken over much of the ag/farming industry, maybe in the future robotics will be a big part of the mining industry in northeastern Minnesota as well. But there still are jobs in maintaining those robots. And those may be union jobs. It will be up to the workers to decide to unionize, not the company.
CWCS has asked the many anti-mining groups to come to the table with PolyMet and work to ensure it will mine safely. But they would rather sue and delay the future of Minnesota’s next generation of mining, depriving people of good-paying jobs that would help sustain our schools, hospitals and communities. They look away as another store closes and another family moves out of town.
What was really sad was when, at a legislative meeting in Ely last year, newly elected Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora, asked, “If a company follows the process, meets or exceeds state and federal standards, would you support the project?”
Steve Piragis, a supporter of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and Save the Boundary Waters, answered, “No.”
Nancy McReady, of Ely, Minn., is president of Conservationists with Common Sense.