Mining hadn’t even been proposed yet. There was still just mineral exploration in far Northeastern Minnesota, to see if there was enough to help satisfy our nation’s hunger for the copper and other metals that power our everyday existence, our necessities like cellphones, cars and lights.
That was why the sudden yanking of federal mineral leases from Twin Metals in December seemed so premature and came off as an obvious 11th-hour overreach by a lame-duck Obama administration eager to appease an extreme environmental base.
It’s also why President Trump now can heed the call that came right away from U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, the resolution approved this week by the St. Louis County Board, and the voices of the reasonable-minded many to overturn former President Barack Obama’s order and allow Twin Metals to resume the exploration.
Obama’s order included a two-year study of the impacts that mining could have on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is near where Twin Metals had been exploring. But what exactly would be studied? Again, no mining had been proposed. How can a company’s actions be analyzed when those actions are unknown?
And when a project is pitched, laws and stringent regulations already are in place requiring rigorous environmental and other reviews.
Twin Metals was $400 million into what could be $3 billion of private investment in our state with the promise of nearly 1,000 badly needed, well-paying, family-supporting jobs.
Like any entity, Twin Metals deserved to be treated fairly in accordance with the rules and laws. Obama’s order usurped those rules and laws instead and was hardly fair treatment.
None of this is to suggest that those who stand opposed to a potential Twin Metals mine near Ely don’t have legitimate concerns. They do. Precious-metals mining has a less-than-exemplary record. And the Boundary Waters are a cherished resource and the basis of a thriving tourism industry. If mining can’t be done in a way that doesn’t pollute, it shouldn’t be allowed.
But that’s what the process properly has to be allowed to determine.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DULUTH NEWS-TRIBUNE