In early August, U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer proposed a bill that made it clear he's spearheading the movement to establish sulfide-ore copper mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters - far outside of his district. The proposed bill would reverse a federal decision to initiate an environmental review of the BWCAW watershed. The review would include science and public input.

I was blocked in my attempt to contact Emmer about his bill. His website wouldn't accept emails from people outside of his district. That limits public feedback to only people from Emmer's 6th Congressional District - while he works on legislation that could put the future of a national treasure into the hands of a foreign mining conglomerate with a horrible environmental record.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The dangers facing the BWCAW because of Emmer's bill are of statewide and national importance. These lands belong to everyone. My input matters as much as the views from Emmer's district. Public input is a cornerstone of American democracy. Those affected by the proposed bill should be able to contact Emmer using the most common means. In 2017, that's the internet.

Supporters of copper mining near the BWCAW often call for final decisions to be made by those in the 8th Congressional District, where the mining is proposed. Yet, now, a congressman from a different district seems to be stripping them of an opportunity to speak on the issue. The voices of not only the 8th District but of every Minnesotan could be silenced if Emmer's bill passes. The only ones left with a say then may be outstate politicians and foreign mining giants whose only stake in Northeastern Minnesota is profit-driven. If Emmer only wants to hear from people of the 6th, he should limit his lawmaking to issues only affecting the 6th.

Darrell Spencer