The chief executive of Twin Metals wants us to believe that Minnesota’s “strong environmental standards” and “rigorous” environmental regulation will protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the disastrous consequences that have followed copper-sulfide mining everywhere such mining has been allowed (“Let the mine permit process work,” Dec. 1).
So how “strong” and “rigorous” has Minnesota been in protecting our sky blue waters? Using data from the agencies charged with protecting water quality, here are some facts:
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 56% of Minnesota’s waters overall are impaired, and in farm country it’s higher. The MPCA also found in 2015 that of 93 streams in southwestern Minnesota, only three were habitable for fish and only one was considered safe for humans to swim in because of agricultural pollution.
The state Department of Agriculture has found that nine Minnesota watersheds are contaminated with chlorpyrifos, a dangerous agricultural pesticide that is linked to brain damage in children and has been banned by New York, California and eight European countries.
According to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, fewer than 20% of rivers and streams in parts of southern and western Minnesota can support a healthy balance of aquatic life because of contamination from agricultural fertilizers and chemicals.
So, based on reporting from the agencies themselves, it seems pretty clear that Minnesota has not been “vigorous” and “strong” in protecting our water resources, especially when the problem is largely caused by a politically powerful industry. Up to now that industry is big agriculture, but soon it might be copper-sulfide mining.
Giant international outfits like Antofagasta Minerals and Glencore (behind the PolyMet mine project) are hiding behind the illusion that Minnesota is a leader in protecting its beautiful lakes and rivers. Don’t fall for it.
Greg Larson, Excelsior
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Twin Metals Minnesota CEO Kelly Osborne hypocritically accuses the Star Tribune of asking Minnesotans “to ignore state and federal law by pre-empting an open and transparent process designed to test a proposed project.”
In fact, Twin Metals helped engineer the destruction of an open and transparent process. The Luksic family, which controls Twin Metals owner Antofagasta, bought a mansion in Washington, D.C., for $5.5 million and rented it to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Twin Metals has spent nearly half a million dollars lobbying the Trump administration.
Is it coincidence then that in 2018 the Trump administration canceled a nearly finished study that was proceeding under federal law to examine the environmental, economic and social impacts of copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters? This study was initiated after the U.S. Forest Service determined that copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed posed an unacceptable risk to the wilderness and recommended a 20-year ban. Over 180,000 people submitted public comments to the study, and 98% supported a ban. Politicians of both parties are demanding that the study be completed, the public process be respected and a decision on whether to ban copper mining in the watershed be based on science.
Osborne argues instead for a federal environmental impact survey (EIS) of a Twin Metals mine plan. Under Trump policy, a federal EIS for the mine plan must be completed in one year and be no longer than 150 pages. So much for rigorous environmental review. For this reason, the state of Minnesota recently rejected partnering with the federal government on environmental review of a Twin Metals mine.
Twin Metals’ sole interest is to line the pockets of its owners. Only a ban on copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters will protect this magnificent wilderness, which belongs to all Americans.
Rebecca Rom, Ely, Minn.
The writer is the national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
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I share the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s desire to protect the BWCA from environmental damage (“Not this mine. Not this location,” editorial, Nov. 24). But I do not share its desire to stop environmental review of the proposed copper-nickel mine near Ely and Babbitt, Minn. The review is a thorough evaluation of the proposal against environmental standards. The only reason to oppose the review is the possibility that it may yield results you don’t like.
If population in Minneapolis or St. Paul were cut in half, would those cities turn away opportunities and hopes of doubling their residents, school and tax bases? When Reserve Mining Co. closed in Babbitt in 1986, our population fell by around 50%. Twin Metals’ plans to open a second office in Babbitt brings the possibility to double or even triple our population, bringing two to three times the amount of kids, as well as increased demand and patronage for local businesses. Would city leaders snub that, or see what it has to offer if it fits in and follows the rules?
We get it. The Editorial Board doesn’t want the mine to go forward. It truly believes the high wage jobs and economic development in northeastern Minnesota promised by the mine are not that important; however, we don’t just play here — we live here, too. What I object to is its resistance to allowing the process, which we have relied on to guide project safety and economic development in Minnesota for generations, to develop information that might change the board members’ minds.
Andrea Zupancich, Babbitt, Minn.
The writer is the mayor of Babbitt, Minn.
A helpful gift guide for politicians
• Andrew Yang: $1,000 per month to drop out of the presidential race now.
• Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Travel-friendly, disposable cutlery sets. Tangle-free combs. Cookbook of Minnesotan hot dish recipes.
• Sen. Cory Booker: Judd country album with the song “Why Not Me?”
• Ex-Mayor Mike Bloomberg: Beatles album with the song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Frank Sinatra album with “New York, New York” on it to encourage him to stay there, please.
• Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Several T-shirts displaying “Black Lives Matter” to help him convince black voters to really, really like him.
• Sen. Elizabeth Warren: New weekly planners (with plenty of space for fill-ins) until year 2030.
• Sen. Bernie Sanders: Several nifty new suits and personal tailoring services. Goodbye, baggy pants. Supply of strong throat lozenges for when his voice gives out from boisterous speech-giving.
• Joe Biden: CD/MP3 player, the book “Computers for Dummies,” cheat sheet summarizing the Me Too movement.
• President Donald Trump: First-grade U.S. civics textbook. Also, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” A Pocahontas doll.
• French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: The book “How to Handle a Hard-to-Handle Kid” for their next (unfortunate) meeting with Trump. Acting lessons to learn to conceal emotions of disgust and disdain upon talking to idiots.
• Rudy Giuliani: Ukraine travel guide.
Stephanie Sarich, Minnetonka
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