Evidently Rep. Betty McCollum didn’t get the “One Minnesota” memo. Her latest attempt to block even the review of copper-nickel mining in Northeastern Minnesota flies in the face of that one-for-all/all-for-one idea (“Bill would ban copper-nickel mining near BWCAW,” Jan. 16).
Twin Metals Minnesota wants to develop an underground mine, which, for starters, would provide thousands of union construction jobs over several years. Once running, the mine would employ more than 700 people with strong, family-sized paychecks and stimulate the creation of at least another 1,400 jobs.
The Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce supports the creation of jobs in Northeastern Minnesota, providing that those jobs meet strong standards for worker and environmental safety. Rep. McCollum’s legislation ignores science altogether and is a slap in the face to Minnesota’s strong regulatory process.
I believe in the ability of our state, federal, and tribal governments to evaluate industrial projects based on their merit and environmental protections and to hold them to those standards.
A lot has changed in the world of mining in the last 100, 50, and even 20 years, resulting in safer, more environmentally responsible operations. A moratorium on mining ignores both our country’s and the world’s need for precious minerals and the technological advances we are making every day to ensure safer mining operations. A moratorium on mining on land specifically designated for mining and timber ignores our state’s amazing resources and the thought and process that went into creating the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and buffer zones through the BWCA Wilderness Act of 1978.
Mining is already prohibited in the Boundary Waters or in the federal and state buffer zones outside of the Boundary Waters. Placing a moratorium on mining even outside of the buffer zone outsources jobs and environmental responsibility to other countries that don’t have the labor and environmental protections in place that we have — that we demand — as the citizens most affected by these potential projects.
Before they can even begin mining, any companies interested in investing in our area have to prove to the satisfaction of federal, tribal, and state governments — and the public — that they can and will operate in compliance with the law. Otherwise there will be no mining.
But McCollum wants to stop the whole process dead in its tracks. Imagine the message that sends to people who want to invest in Minnesota and its people. That’s not right or fair.
Vicki Hagberg is president of the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce.