Reader's view: PolyMet's mining plan adds up to a net negative
In my opinion, the sulfide mine proposed by PolyMet Corp. to be placed near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake Superior would have a net negative impact for the area. In the short term the promise of jobs is attractive, but in the long term the environment will be irreversibly degraded.
A finite number of jobs would be created for a limited number of years by the mine, with the big beneficiary being PolyMet Corp.
Many businesses and jobs now depend on tourism. People visit the BWCAW and the North Shore largely because of the pristine wilderness and natural beauty the area has to offer. The proposed mine would be located close to these natural resources. I believe the economy, in the long run, will be negatively affected by mining projects that aren't environmentally sound.
Finally, and most importantly, we all need clean water, and this is perhaps our area's greatest natural resource. To put our fresh water at risk would be incomprehensible. The impact of pollution caused by this mining operation is a big unknown. The health impacts and management problems of contaminated water are issues PolyMet could walk away from and leave for local residents to grapple with for generations.
We are not obligated to produce an economic windfall for PolyMet. We are obligated to manage our natural resources in a responsible fashion with an eye to future generations. Until copper and nickel can be extracted without compromising clean water and the integrity of the environment, we need to stand firm on protecting our natural resources. The industry must bear the burden of proof that it will not leave an environmental disaster in the wake of its operations.