Northeastern Minnesota has far too much to lose if either PolyMet or Twin Metals starts mining.

Nobody enjoys layoffs in the iron-ore business. That, however, is no excuse for decimating environmental protections, laws, and practices. The preciousness of Northeastern Minnesota's ecology is due in large part to the long-running and well-recorded history of exceptional protections - such as adding acreage to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, motor bans in the wilderness, controlling human overcrowding with a permitting process, can and bottle bans, live-bait restrictions to stave off invasive-species infections, and more. Investigating the Iron Range's haze issue, water-quality controls, fugitive oil containment practices, and the silica and asbestos issues all point to a growing desire to protect, conserve, and mostly preserve what we don't need to disturb while we mine iron ore.

Scaring steelworkers and other iron ore mining interests with Proposition 54 was a carefully crafted and perfectly timed ploy inserted strategically to soften the loyalty of miners, outdoors enthusiasts, and their families.

No one seems to care that Northeastern Minnesota has been duped by copper-nickel mining interests. Show me the union leaders or elected public officials with the guts to say so to the docile and obedient little rank-and-file constituents living and working in the copper-nickel target area. This is iron ore country. And this is exclusive outdoors, wilderness, and timber country.

For generations we held iron ore companies' feet to the fire regarding environmental standards. Why, suddenly, do we seem willing to weaken environmental protections and bypass laws to take a gamble on an intrusive mining technique in a water-saturated environment that cannot be replaced?

We're like a bunch of sightless, helpless, naked baby birds waiting for the powers-that-be to drop another crumb or two down our pathetic throats.

Mike Maleska