... let the process continue based on facts and science rather than opinion, sensationalism, and misrepresentations

Dear Editor:

A group of copper mining opponents spent over an hour Tuesday night presenting at the Ely City Council study session. The fourteen speakers went over the amount of time they had expected, and a planned Power Point presentation was eliminated and then the podium was vacated.

Mayor Novak asked if there were any questions and I chose not to ask the number of questions I had. Not sure if it was a desire to make it home in time to watch game one of the World Series or fear that my questions would turn the evening into a long drawn-out debate involving everybody in the council chambers.

I still would like to hear the answers to these questions. Maybe this is not the right forum to ask them, but at least the group gets a whole week to respond.

1. You have made it clear that you do not trust these large mining companies. That’s fair. We should question them. What I’d like, though, is for you to explain why you do not trust the regulatory agencies that will be involved in protecting our environment? Feel free to provide current and relative examples of how the EPA/MPCA/BLM/DNR/Army Corps of Engineers/Department of Interior/etc. have lead you to believe they will allow our lands and waters be destroyed.
2. The tourism/small business economy is an extremely important part of the area’s total economy. How can we get these businesses alone to support all of the infrastructure needed to accommodate the traffic created by their own success? Contributions from the IRRRB of taxes that came directly from mining have been used in almost all city infrastructure projects I can recall. Without that mining contribution, how much more can we tax our small businesses to support these projects without causing them to close their doors?
3. During the mining era in Ely, beautiful buildings like the Memorial and Washington schools, City Hall and the Community Center were built. Why is it that, in this sustainable tourism based economy we have now, we can’t even keep the doors to a community center open?
4. The industrial arts classes in the local schools while the mines were open regularly got new equipment donated by the mines. Sadly, my children did not get the opportunity to work with the same variety of equipment in their shop classes that I did at the end of Ely’s mining era. As school budgets get stretched further and further in this canoe economy, how do we ensure that our schools have the equipment needed to teach the next generation of technicians?
5. We can thank Reserve Mining for a large donation that made it possible to build our nursing home. Over the last few years the nursing home has struggled just to keep the doors open. Who is going to support the necessary institutions of our city without the mines? Is maintaining a facility that cares for our elderly something we can count on from the local outfitters?
6. Upper Michigan was the copper mining capital of the nation at a time when there were no regulations ensuring environmental protection. It is easily one of the most beautiful regions of the country today. How did that survive two centuries of unregulated mining?
7. I just spent half a week in Elko, Nevada. It is a high desert town with a mining economy. The immediate geography is just plain unappealing (although the neighboring Ruby Mountains were nice). But the town is thriving - And has been since the ’80s. Not really a question, just a response to Mr. Tammen’s comment that mines don’t make cities prosperous.
I won’t have any real say in whether or not there is a precious metals mine near Ely. I just wish we could let the process continue based on facts and science rather than opinion, sensationalism, and misrepresentations.
A hundred years from now the BWCAW will still be over a million acres of wilderness that has not been mined or clear cut in at least a hundred and fifty years. Ely will still be the gateway to that wilderness. We will still have fresh water in the greatest outdoor playground in the world... Because none of us are going to accept anything less from the employers of our future generations.
Albert Forsman
City Council,
Ely, MN