It’s important that we hold our representatives accountable when they are out of step with their constituents. In light of that civic responsibility, I want to highlight a disturbing trend in the voting record of state Sen. Erik Simonson of Duluth.
In 2018, at every DFL precinct caucus in Duluth, a resolution passed opposing copper-nickel sulfide mining, and that resolution was overwhelmingly supported at the DFL Senate District 7 convention. Despite this, on July 25, Simonson issued a public statement supporting the Glencore/PolyMet mine in northern Minnesota days after 19 state legislators called for Gov. Tim Walz to put its permits on hold. Even though the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Environmental Protection Agency are being investigated for allegations that information about the environmental impact of the proposed mine was concealed, Simonson chose to praise the work of the flawed permitting process. He said in a statement that he is “fully confident in our agencies and the incredible scrutiny they have applied to this process.”
Unfortunately, Simonson’s actions shouldn’t come as a surprise. On March 12, he voted for the Republican-led initiative in the Senate Energy Committee to defund the Department of Commerce’s appeal of Enbridge’s Line 3 project. Two days later, he authored amendments to the Clean Energy bill that would raise costs to residential customers by $250 annually while lowering rates for large industrial customers to 20 percent below the national average. A year earlier, he and six DFLers joined Senate Republicans to lower the sulfate standard that protects Minnesota’s water quality, wild-rice lakes, and treaty rights.
Simonson’s voting record on environmental issues is out of step with Duluth voters. Duluthians consistently support DFL candidates whose votes protect our livelihoods and the environment on which we depend. We need a Minnesota senator who will represent those values.