Lawmaker's View: Regardless of owner, PolyMet must meet all standards

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Rep. David Lislegard

It appears the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness has instantly assumed the mantle of a workers’ advocacy group. Its concerns in its June 18 “Statewide View” column in the News Tribune (“Be concerned should Glencore own PolyMet”) would have appeared more genuine if it supported the hard-working men and women who live, work, and raise their families in Northeastern Minnesota and if it made efforts to understand our way of life.

First, we all have the same goals: create good-paying jobs to support families and have an environment with clean air and water. Those of us who work in these industries — and not just recreate in Northeastern Minnesota — demonstrate that commitment every day.

PolyMet is the most highly regulated mining company in Minnesota history. The level of scrutiny in environmental review and permitting, the additional investment toward required environmental safeguards, the abundance of ongoing reporting requirements, and the level of financial assurance are each far greater than any mine ever in Minnesota.

As then-Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr stated after PolyMet’s Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved, the project will not generate acid rock drainage. This means the Friends can stop sensationalizing misinformation and start supporting working women and men in our region.

If Glencore or any other company, foreign or domestic, wants to build a mine, paper plant, airplane assembly facility, or anything else in Minnesota, we expect them to follow all processes and meet or exceed state and federal standards — based not on histrionics or emotions but on sound science. Period. This includes all labor and safety practices according to the law. If they aren’t committed to meeting these requirements, they can feel free to do business elsewhere. If they are committed, we welcome them wholeheartedly.


Finally, when it comes to technology, the level of innovation in automation serves as a positive. It leads to increased productivity. The advanced, modern technology used in mining today requires additional skills, training, and abilities. This means new jobs and, as a result, additional wages. This is a good thing.

We all can recognize it takes metals to provide what we use in every aspect of our lives, and we can work to provide these essential resources right here in our backyard. We are committed to doing the right thing, the right way, by creating good-paying jobs while protecting the environment in the land we all love.

Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora, represents District 6B in the Minnesota House.

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