Local View: Politics superseded science on mining ban, leaving no winners

From the column: "Locking up a massive domestic source of critical minerals crucial for ... green-energy technologies further hamstrings us from reaching our aggressive carbon-free goals."

Boxes filled with 1.5 million feet of core samples are kept by Twin Metals inside a 17,000-square-foot storage facility in Ely.
News Tribune file photo

The federal government’s action that put the brakes on mining across a vast region of Northeastern Minnesota only served to accelerate our collision course with climate change (“ Biden halts new mining near Boundary Waters for 20 years ,” Jan. 26).

The move also destroyed much-needed private investment in the region and halted future developments, which could cause the state to lose billions of dollars in potential revenues for K-12 education — as well as thousands of prospective mining and spin-off jobs from future projects.

The shortsighted and hypocritical nature of the action was just plain wrong — wrong for our region, our state, and our nation. Locking up a massive domestic source of critical minerals crucial for the development of green-energy technologies further hamstrings us from reaching our aggressive carbon-free goals.

Gov. Tim Walz wants to achieve 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. So how are we going to get there? Apparently, by increasing our overreliance on minerals from foreign nations with subpar environmental and worker-safety standards.

We should be ashamed of ourselves for pushing our demand for mining-intensive green technologies (like electric vehicles, solar, and windmills) and for mineral-heavy modern essentials (like mobile phones, laptops, and home electricity) onto the backs of other countries. The U.S. is actually the No. 1 consumer of these critical minerals, and we import most of what we need, pushing the consequences of our consumption overseas. We cannot be OK with this.


Yet, the administration of President Joe Biden continues to pat itself on the back under the delusion that this withdrawal adds further protections to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This action does little more than appease anti-development activists who want to take credit for now suddenly protecting the BWCAW. Spoiler alert: this pristine wilderness area was already well-protected, as it should be, by stringent regulations and environmental-review processes at both the state and federal levels.

The government’s so-called environmental assessment had so many holes, it would have sunk in the desert. If it had been based on science, the administration would have relied on a site-specific project proposal, like the one Twin Metals Minnesota submitted three years ago, and not on a generic study driven by politics.

As the executive director for RAMS — an organization that works to ensure the region’s prosperity through strong educational systems, solid job opportunities, and economic growth — I fear for the message this sends to the business community. We cannot claim to have a thriving and welcoming business environment when the government can unfairly target one company, a company that has invested more than $550 million into designing a world-class mine. I’m disheartened by the message this sends to the thousands of hard-working, skilled Minnesota laborers who could benefit greatly from the family-sustaining jobs produced by mining. They deserve better.

We all deserve better.

Let’s implore Washington to reverse this nonsensical action for the sake of our region’s economy and sustainability, for the preservation of the pristine BWCAW, and for our nation’s efforts to lead the way to a green-energy future.

Steve Giorgi of Mountain Iron is executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, or RAMS, a nonprofit that has been advocating for the Iron Range since 1939.

Steve Giorgi.jpg
Steve Giorgi

What To Read Next
Get Local