Our View: DFL can reject anti-mining measure
During the election, Republicans in Northeastern Minnesota worked hard to convince voters the DFL wasn't the labor-backing, pro-workers, for-the-middle-class party their parents and grandparents knew. They pounded on the message that the DFL has ...
During the election, Republicans in Northeastern Minnesota worked hard to convince voters the DFL wasn’t the labor-backing, pro-workers, for-the-middle-class party their parents and grandparents knew. They pounded on the message that the DFL has been overrun by extreme-left environmentalists from wealthy Twin Cities suburbs. As evidence, they pointed to Resolution 54, a DFL party-platform statement in opposition to precious-metals mining because of its “unacceptable environmental risks” and because it “threatens multiple watersheds.”
“It should not be allowed in the sulfur-bearing rock of Minnesota,” the resolution reads.
At the urging of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who faced a tough challenge in Republican Stewart Mills, and others, the resolution wasn’t adopted by the DFL prior to the election. A vote was delayed.
That delay ends tomorrow. The DFL Central Committee is scheduled to meet in Lakeview, Minn., and Resolution 54 is on its agenda.
The resolution really is an anti-all-mining measure, not just a statement in opposition to precious-metals mining. It’s an an indictment of the industry that has driven our economy and has defined our way of life for so long, for more than a century. That’s because it specifies mining in “sulfur-bearing rock,” and all mining in Northeastern Minnesota - whether for precious metals or for taconite - is in “sulfur-bearing rock.”
So residents in our corner of the state could expect their elected DFL leaders to stand in opposition to their party on this one. But not all lawmakers here want to see the measure defeated.
Sen.-elect Erik Simonson of Duluth, for one, is comfortable that the resolution is specific to metals mining only.
“(The resolution) even articulates in the ‘resolved’ portion that ‘sulfide ore mining’ is significantly different than ‘taconite mining,’” Simonson said in a statement to the News Tribune Opinion page; the full statement is published on today’s page. “The DFLers (who) I know in support of this resolution are certainly not opposed to traditional taconite mining, nor are they opposed to the future success of Northeastern Minnesota.”
No matter how the resolution reads, apparently.
Rep. Jennifer Schultz of Duluth said the resolution’s wording may be changed prior to tomorrow’s expected vote. That’d be good. If the DFL wants to continue to enjoy its political stranglehold up north, changes to the resolution would help. Its outright rejection would help even more.
“I believe a task force was convened (with) representation from labor, (the) Iron Range delegation, (the) environmental caucus and tribal communities,” Schultz said.
Rep. Jason Metsa of Virginia and Rep. Rob Ecklund of International Falls were among those DFLers lobbying their party in opposition to the resolution.
“I’m cautiously optimistic it’ll be voted down,” Rep. Ecklund told the Opinion page this week; he hopes to be at Saturday’s Central Committee meeting. “I’m hoping cooler heads will prevail. We need to base decisions on science instead of emotions. And I think a lot of this is being based on emotions. You can’t take copper-nickel projects that happened in the 1950s and 1960s and and use them to say today’s projects won’t work.”
The election saw Democrats losing ground in rural areas all around the country. As impossible as it may once have seemed - especially to our older generations of parents and grandparents - rural Northeastern Minnesota could be lost to the Minnesota DFL if Resolution 54 passes on Saturday.