Historically, industry has been pitted against the environment, often for good reason. Tycoons of the past adjusted their monocles and thought only of profits rather than of the protection of workers’ rights or the environment.
In today’s landscape, that’s not an option. Today’s social norms will not tolerate bad behavior. Nor will local communities, tradespeople, or regulators.
Certain activist groups, largely funded and run out of the Twin Cities, would have you believe otherwise, especially with respect to PolyMet. They tout doom and gloom and spark fear in young impressionable minds. Rather than support responsible projects that generate wealth in our region, they seem to prefer importing goods from third-world countries that don’t respect their workers or the environment the same way we do. The NIMBY mindset — “Not In My Back Yard” — clearly applies to these people. They ignore facts.
The PolyMet project meets all state and federal regulations. The PolyMet project can and will operate safely and responsibly. The PolyMet project will boost our state’s economy by creating great union construction and permanent jobs for Northeastern Minnesotans.
Opponents will stop at nothing to keep these projects from our backyard — their playground. They seem to have zero respect for the regulatory process or the expertise the agencies bring to the table. They downplay and scrutinize the process, even though it was the most comprehensive, expanded, public-reviewed environmental review and permitting process that Minnesota has ever witnessed. Opponents seem to want to continually change the requirements on research and public input, forcing more cost and delay until, ultimately, project supporters back down.
We will not back down.
As our name implies, we with Better In Our Back Yard believe industrial development is better done here, in our own backyard, in a backyard that is regulated to protect the environment we all enjoy, a backyard where there is concern for worker safety and providing amenities to attract the best talent, and a backyard where communities and schools derive the benefit of a tax base.
Better In Our Back Yard supports PolyMet’s decision to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court on the Court of Appeals’ decision (“PolyMet appeals ruling that reversed 3 permits,” Feb. 12). It’s time to embrace what makes our region unique. We can, and do, coexist with the environment every day. We know responsible industry works in Minnesota. We can do it better here, in our own backyard.
Daniel Manick works out of Duluth and Virginia for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. He’s also a board member for the grassroots, mining-advocacy group Better In Our Back Yard (betterinourbackyard.com).