PolyMet mine supporters dominate hearing in Aurora

MINNESOTA Speaker of the House Republican Kurt Daudt talks with Ely residents Ray Marsnik, Gerald Tyler, Bob Berrini and Ross Petersen prior to the PolyMet hearing in Aurora. Photo by Nick Wognum.

by Nick Wognum -

The second to last hearing on the PolyMet copper nickel mine was one sided to say the least.
The gymnasium at Mesabi East high school Wednesday was full but not packed on a chilly February night as the Minnesota DNR and MPCA held a public hearing on t he permits for PolyMet to begin mining copper nickel at the former LTV Mine site.
There was PolyMet blue throughout the gym from the hats that said “Go PolyMet” to the blue shirts Mesabi East students wore that said, “Tomorrow is Mine” on the back.
With a crowd estimated at 450, there was just a handful of people opposed to the permits being issued by the Minnesota DNR and MPCA. Mining supporters made up 98 percent of those present based on applause.
Aurora mayor Dave Lislegard was the first name drawn to speak.
“The company has done its job, you have done your job, please move the process forward so we can do our job,” said Lislegard.
Dan Snidarich, a union official represents 529 unemployed members noted the project has been trying to start operating for 10 years.
“Opportunity” is the word he emphasized especially for the young people of the area and hopes “we can get together and make this thing happen.”
Snidarich said PolyMet has done the science and proved the project can go forward.
“I think it’s time, it’s overdue,” said Snidarich.
Robert Bassing of Buhl, a retired Steelworker, said the environmental studies have to be impartial and pointed to problems in disasters like the Titanic in how the PolyMet dike meets the standards which he feels should be made even more stringent.
Jack Eloranta of Tower said mining has been done better in Minnesota than anywhere in the world.
He said the reputation of Minnesota miners is unmatched. Eloranta spent 22 years in the taconite mines and 18 years as a mining consultant around the world.
“The notion that it’s being done poorly in Minnesota is laughable,” said Eloranta. “People here know what they’re doing and if not we’re going to get our minerals from Senegal and around the world where the standards are not anywhere near ours.”
Brandi Salmela, a student at Mesabi East, said she comes from a mining family.
“I’m proud to be a Ranger. I’m proud of what comes from our mines,” she said. “PolyMet’s copper nickel mine will have a great future not only for my generation but the next generation too.”
State senator David Tomassoni from Chisholm said mining has been going on here for 135 years and “we have the best water in the state.”
Tomassoni emphasized how iron mines won two world wars and how PolyMet can be part of the new economy from medical devices to cell phones to wind power.
“We want to be and should be part of the next generation of mining,” said Tomassoni. “Make no mistake about it we have to mine to make things.”
Tomassoni said the draft permit to mine is one of the most comprehensive documents ever seen.
“PolyMet has met the letter of the law. Minnesota is setting the bar for environmental standards we should be proud of that.”
“It’s time to mine, let’s get started,” said Tomassoni who correlated the building of the Twins stadium to constructing the PolyMet mine which is estimated at two million man hours.
Paul Renneisen of Schroeder said he was opposed to a foreign owned mining company and claimed robots would be used to mine.
“Where in this proposal is the contract for human being manned jobs?” asked Renneisen.
He gave a scenario where toxic dust would cause the governor to order an evacuation and remove campers from the BWCA.
“There’s a clear threat to the environment in northeast Minnesota.”
Gerald Tyler of Up North Jobs yielded his time to Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) of Zimmerman.
“It’s been a long road for PolyMet,” said Daudt, who added he was confident the environment can be protected while natural resources are extracted.
“The economic activity that this modern state of the art mine will bring will be significant,” said Daudt. “Northern Minnesota needs more good paying jobs and can be a leader in the world in providing products needed around the globe.”
He looked at the students sitting together in the stands. “It’s time to mine,” said Daudt.
Paul Undeland, a downstream owner of PolyMet, said he believes the conditions put in place by the DNR and MPCA are prudent and reasonable.
He said the financial assurance provisions will protect the state.
Undeland said he spends time hunting and fishing in the downstream property and that Minnesota has some of the strictest environmental standards in the state.
“The resources this mine will produce are in demand and they will be produced by someone, somewhere. We can do it better, safe and more even safer than anyone else while putting our residents of northeast Minnesota to work.”
Mike Syversud from Gilbert said PolyMet has been involved in the communities and joked he weighed 150 pounds when the project started.
As a union official he pointed out “you gotta have a job before you can have a school.”
He said PolyMet has given Aurora a light at the end of the tunnel to bring communities back to where they should be.
“These are living wage jobs where you can raise a family here,’ said Syvesrud.
Elaine Palcich of Chisholm said the potential for pollution is not in the best interest of the people of the state.
“This kind of mining cannot be done in a water rich environment without leaving behind a toxic legacy,” said Palcich. “I believe there are people in our agencies who will step up and deny the permit to mine.”
Jerry Baland of Gilbert said he was a very proud Iron Ranger. He spent 30 years with Erie Mining and 15 years with the Soudan Underground Mine.
“I would like to have the opportunity passed on to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I had and my family had growing up here,” said Baland. “In Michigan the Eagle Mining Company is successful meeting the environmental challenges. Can’t we do the same?”
Greg Mosher of Ely had his name drawn and gave his time to Representative Julie Sandstede (DFL) of Hibbing.
Sandstede said mining is a great Minnesota tradition. She said the safety of mining has been important because people live in the environment where they work.
“We care deeply about the environment and this project is setting the bar for environmental standards and we can be proud of that.”
She said vibrant communities need opportunities to build on the success of the past.
“The production tax this project could bring could improve our schools which is the bedrock of any community.”
Mesabi East schools superintendent Gregg Allen read a resolution from the school board in support of state permits for PolyMet.
“This project is extremely important for school districts on the Iron Range,” said Allen. “For schools in the taconite tax relief area there is funding from the production tax at the mines. If the mines are producing, schools receive funding.
“This year Mesabi East received $10,400 per pupil on average for all ages. The state average is $12,000 which leaves Mesabi East school district $1.5 million short per year. PolyMet will help close this gap and provide more opportunities for our students. These students are PolyMet’s next generation of workers and doctors, lawyers, teachers and employees at the Minnesota DNR and MPCA.”
State representative Jason Metsa (DFL) spoke to misleading statements made earlier.
“I am sure glad my constituents can see dust and are not robots. Minnesota will be a shining Star of the North for many years to come from having the most safe, responsible mining in the world.”
He noted how Virginia’s city water comes from a recycled mine pit. Metsa said the recycling of the former LTV site helps reduce the carbon footprint of the project.
“Overall the people of this room and the kids behind me are our future…they will become the next state representative and state senator and make the world a better place,” said Metsa.
Pete Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner from Hermantown who is running against Rick Nolan as a Republican spoke next.
“Mining is the economic engine that powers St. Louis County. PolyMet has proven the conditions will protect Minnesota’s pristine environment.”
He said the time has now come in the final stages of environmental review to move on from the one or the other discussion.
“We all care deeply about the environment in our backyard,” said Stauber. “The LTV mining site has sat quiet long enough. I urge the agencies to approve these permits.”
Hoyt Lakes city council member Chris Vreeland, is also a licensed water and wastewater operation.
He said water testing used to be done in parts per million but is now tested in parts per billion.
“Technology in treatment methods and analysis have advanced,” said Vreeland, who added that in 2001 when LTV closed and 1,400 people were put out of work, it was devastating to the area and Hoyt Lakes has still has not recovered.
Allen Brown of Aurora said he was a packsacker and worked 41 years in the paper industry in International Falls.
“I see the same people who are against everything including the paper industry.”
He said he moved back 13 years ago to be closer to grandchildren.
“I watched a grocery story, a dentist office, a drugstore close. This town is hurting. I think we really need to do something to help people out,” said Brown.
Former Aurora mayor Mary Hess said she has spoken many times in support of the PolyMet operation.
She said she came from a farming family but in 1959 her dad was hired by Erie Mining.
“My mom and dad were in heaven. They were drawing a paycheck every two weeks, they had health insurance, we had a good school to go to.
Hess was an employee of IRRRB when LTV closed and she said it was very devastating.
“I saw what happened there and my husband and I helped a lot of people in that time. I look back at all of the money that has been spent on this process that could’ve been in families’ pockets.
“I appreciate all the studies that have been done…I think it’s time now to move forward I think we’ve waited long enough. Thank you for all of your work. It’s time to put a shovel in the ground,” said Hess.
Arik Forsman a former resident of Aurora who nows lives in Duluth spoke in support of PolyMet.
He said at a precinct caucus meeting in Duluth the night before a lady said she was concerned about the brains of babies being damaged by mercury even thought the mine documents show mercury levels would drop with water treatment.
“These uninformed activists have done something else that is truly remarkable. They have inspired us, generally soft spoken Iron Rangers, to get in the game and fight for our future,” said Forsman.
A 2006 graduate of Mesabi East, Forsman said, “The rebirth of the economy of the East Range is close at hand. And when those who would rather see us go away speak loudest, remember that we are the Giants, that we couldn’t be prouder and even when they refuse to hear us we will yell a little louder.”
State representative Dan Fabian (R) of Roseau, the chair of House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committee spoke as well.
“I look forward to the day when we actually start sticking a shovel in the ground. I believe that PolyMet can and will meet environmental and financial assurance standards,” said Fabian.
Fabian said he lived through Arctic Cat and Polaris plants closing in the early 1980s.
“They’re back up producing the best ATVs and snowmobiles in the world right now. I’m fighting for you folks on the Range. I want to see this project happen. I urge our state agencies to issue the state permits for the NorthMet as soon as possible. This project’s time has come,” said Fabian.
Seth Thun of Silver Bay owns the North Shore Agency in Aurora and said his dad and brothers decided to expand their insurance agency here 10 years ago.
“Part of what we did was purchase a building and expanding our business. Part of it was PolyMet was very promising for the area. My dad and grandpa worked at Reserve Mining. We got together with Mayor Hess and bought the old Moose Club and invested $200,000 for the future.
“It’s high time to have this project go. We know there’s detractors here. We’ve invested here, we want it to go.”
Ross Petersen, former mayor of Ely and owner of rental houses in the Aurora-Hoyt Lakes area, said he has seen opposition come from a few people in Ely.
“The overwhelming number of folks from Ely are for this project. But the leaders of the opposition tend to come from Ely. To be honest I’ve been disappointed in some of the reasons they’re using to oppose this project.
“I think if you’re familiar with Becky Rom and Reid Carron and the article in the New York Times. It displayed something a lot of us have known for a long time. A lot of opposition comes from people who don’t want to see a similar project in Ely.
“I think in many ways it’s not because they’re worried about pollution. They feel miners and blue collar people are in that basket of deplorables that Hillary Clinton talked about. They don’t want see those folks in Ely. And some of them have businesses with excellent people that they’re paying virtually nothing to and they feel that will change if mining comes in.
“They’re not worried PolyMet is going to pollute, they’re worried PolyMet is not going to pollute and will further additional projects in the Ely area.
“I think there are some nefarious reasons for things that have been done and I hope they don’t affect this panel moving forward,” said Petersen.
ISD 2142 St. Louis County School board member Daniel Manick of Cook said, “We have a school over in Babbitt, one of five schools in our district. Our school in Babbitt was built to hold enrollment of 2,000 students. We currently have 200 in that building. I would hope now would be time to grant these permits before another graduating class at Mesabi East, another graduating class from any school in our district, these kids leave and they’re gone. Can we please keep some more kids in our area? We do love tourism dollars that the Boundary Waters brings and everything, like snowmobiling. We love the people who come here to play but we need people to stay,” said Manick.
Executive director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Chris Knopf of North Oaks said, “When I think of PolyMet think of slick road on winters day covered in ice...I wonder if you’re going to go down that icy road, what’s going to happen. We’re talking about a different type of mining.”
Knopf cited the Mt. Polly mine dam burst and a mine in Montana where water coming off of it is orange just like orange juice.
“With PolyMet that’s just what you’re going to get here.” He said any disasters will be paid for by the taxpayers.
Hailey Lislegard of Aurora read from her cell phone when she spoke. She said came from a long line of miners, her grandfather helped build LTV and her father worked at LTV until it closed in 2001.
Lislegard is now a union apprentice with Local 49.
“I found it insulting when I hear people from outside area say my job is not work the risk,” said Lislegard.
Babbitt mayor Andrea Zupancich said the population of Babbitt used to be around 4,000 before the mine closed for a period of time starting in 1987 and the town “pretty much emptied out, prior to that we were a thriving community.”
Zupancich said there used to be two elementary schools and a booming high school with amazing shop offerings with the help of the mine.
“Our school was one of the very few that had an indoor swimming pool and indoor arena. Class sizes then were over 400. Now fast forward to today - our third grade has 10 kids and our 10th grade has about 13. We are cutting down and consolidating classes.
“Those who are against mining say bring other businesses to town. I don’t see them offering any solutions. We are working to get other businesses here. We are working on every option dangled in front of us. We have some of the best resources here and this is such a fantastic opportunity how to do it and do it right.
“At one time we had a thriving pool table company in our town. They employed 50 people. To some that’s a small number, to us that’s a big number. China was able to duplicate their design and with cheap labor they were able to manufacture those tables at a fraction of the cost. We now have five empty buildings employing no one and not generating any tax revenue.
“We have reviewed and trust the science of state experts. Two million construction hours to build is a lot of jobs for our area,” said Zupancich who ran out of time when the three minute allotted time mark hit.
Virginia city council member Charlie Baribeau spoke about water quality “everybody so concerned and afraid of and that PolyMet will destroy the water.
Baribeau, a pharmacist, talked about how PolyMet will use reverse osmosis to treat water.
“Reverse osmosis is used in the pharmaceuticals industry as well,” said Baribeau.
He said the Virginia city water that comes from a former mine pit “is as pure as any water in the Boundary Waters.”
Town of Morse supervisor Bob Berrini yielded his time to St. Louis County commissioner Tommy Rukavina, who quipped, “When this started 14 years ago I was in the state legislature and I was six feet tall.”
Rukavina said he wanted to assure the naysayer from Schroeder, “I don’t represent robots I represent super men and women who have contributed to this county and this state like no other people in this world.
“I have to say this, for anybody who would think I would want to do anything to harm my daughter and my two grandchildren who live five miles south of here, that’s absurd.
“Whether you’re against mining or for mining you’re a consumer of these minerals and they can only be mined where they lay in the ground.
“We have a proven track record for 135 years. We are looking at one of the largest recycling projects in the history of the state of Minnesota.
“For people who don’t know, everything is there basically in order to run this mine. The only thing that has to be done is to dig a new hole amongst all the other holes that have been dug by both Northshore Mining and the old LTV.
“I say it’s time to move and I want to thank you for what you’ve done. And I want to thank the people of the Iron Range for putting up with this for 14 long years.”
Bill Erzar of Ely ceded his time to St. Louis County Commissioner Mike Jugovich of Chisholm. He said it was an amazing thing that the process has taken so long.
“No one wants to pollute where we live, work and raise families. We have the technology and ability to mine and mine right.”
Aurora Chamber of Commerce representative Lance Johnson said he has attended public meetings in 2010, 2014, 2016 and now in 2018.
“I encourage the DNR and MPCA to take a drive through Aurora and see the buildings that were once home to productive businesses and are now falling down and empty.”
Tonia Kittelson of Duluth said she works with the Friends of the Boundary Waters and strongly urged the state to deny PolyMet’s permit application.
“If PolyMet’s mine pollution was to go 400 miles it would go all the way from here from the Partridge River to the St. Louis River to the Duluth and Superior estuary and 203 miles from the lift bridge in Duluth,” said Kittelson.
“On reverse osmosis in the permit to mine the testing was done on taconite rock not in sulfide ore that’s going to be used in the PolyMet mine proposal,” said Kittelson.
Friends of the Boundary Waters board member John Gappa of St. Paul questioned the financial protection being required by the state.
“If PolyMet fails to meet any of its financial assurance requirements, the DNR needs to have the option to first prohibit payments of dividends to mine shareholders, prohibit payment of bonuses, stock options and other incentives to executives of the mine and require full cash funding for all security obligations in the event the mine is sold.
“To adapt an old saying, in God we trust, PolyMet please bring cash.”
After a short break, Bob Tammen of Soudan was the next speaker.
Tammen questioned statements made that Minnesota knows how to do mining right.
He cited U.S. Steel wanting another 20 years of not meeting the standards of its water permits.
“The existing mining industry has degraded our waters,” said Tammen, who said he worked at LTV.
Tammen said duties and tariffs on steel imports make it more expensive to use Minnesota taconite.
“The same will happen with Minnesota copper. This is a crappy ore body, this is a low grade ore body. It’s a matter of time we’re going to have to subsidize copper the same way we’re subsidizing steel.”
IDEA Drilling president and CEO Julian Collins said his company “offers lots and lots of high paying jobs to local citizens. We relocated our headquarters to the Iron Range to specifically support the local economy.”
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce President Melissa Cox said she represented 300 businesses in the Quad Cities.
“We stand today in strong support of our next generation of mining and the draft permit to mine and the air quality permits and the 401 wetland certification for the PolyMet NorthMet project.
“The Laurentian Chamber of Commerce supports responsible mining in all forms in northeast Minnesota. PolyMet will not only provide up to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs it will also have a massive impact on our infrastructures, our schools and other areas.”
Christina Norri of Knife River said she has concerns on the permanent waste storage elements. She said the waste storage basin is unlined and in fractured rock.
“According to the PolyMet plan, untreated water will seep directly into the groundwater,” said Norri. “Five million gallons from site and 10 million gallons from a storage basin. It struck me when everything is operating perfectly, millions of gallons of contaminated water are going into our groundwater.
“We are so rich in water. The amount of water PolyMet says they will use is 6.1 billion gallons each year. They are paying $8 per million gallons. I live downstream; my concern is for everyone around the mine whether top or bottom of stream my concern is about contaminating water and what is the value of our land if we can’t drink the water.”
Chara Jarvela graduated from Mesabi East 2007 and named buildings the school has closed since LTV closed and she lost one-third of her graduating class.
Jarvela is currently a teacher in Virginia, married and has a daughter attending early childhood at Mesabi East.
“It’s been very depressing driving down streets where you used to see people mingling and business thriving and they are now vacant and closed.”
Fighting back tears, Jarvela said, “I have dreams of my daughter growing up in this school just like her parents did. Molly will someday play volleyball and basketball on this court just like I did, meet new friends and find success here at Mesabi East. I implore you all to think of these dreams as well.”
Nancy Norr, director of regional development at Minnesota Power and the chair of Jobs for Minnesotans said she was there on behalf of 55,000 union labor members and 2,500 businesses across the state.
“The core belief in our organization is we do not have to choose between jobs and the environment.
“You’ll hear from a very vocal minority that these permits should not be issued and that the financial assurance is insufficient.
“I don’t think they would ever think the project is good enough or safe enough. But those same individuals consume like we all do consume 1,400 tons of metals and minerals and fuels in a lifetime.
“Critics of the financial package are loose with the facts and it seems they are as loose as those who keep claiming there will be acid rock drainage when the DNR clearly stated that there will not.
“If we say to no mining here we’re saying yes to mining somewhere else in the world where it’s unlikely their environmental protection are as rigorous as ours in Minnesota.”
Tony Jeffries, an engineer of Eveleth and member of the Iron Range Tourism bureau said he has worked in many projects across the country.
“I am not convinced there’s been any argument made to date that suggests that this project will be environmentally degrading to human health or the environment.”
James Watson said he has lived on the Iron Range for about 50 years.
“I worked for PolyMet three summers in a row cleaning up and reorganizing things the mine had left. What I picked up from the workforce is these PolyMet people really got their stuff together. It was clean and they do it right and the way it needs to be done. I think PolyMet has really got the environment at heart and making money too.
“I also play in a country band and in the hay days with LTV running you couldn’t find a parking place on a Friday or Saturday night. Now you could shoot a bazooka down the street and not hit a person or a car or nothing. It’s becoming a ghost town, we’ve lost a grocery store, the drug store and about six or eight bars.
“I’d like to see some opportunity for the young people. Most of our young families have left the area. Why? Their means of support are gone. Polymet is the salvation.
“I’m 76 years old, it’s too late for me. I’m worried about my kids and my grandkids. I was afraid to get up here and talk because I wouldn’t keep my language clean. I think I’m doing pretty good. PolyMet in my opinion is good to go, it’s time. Go PolyMet!”
Lance Kupka of Hibbing said he is the son of a steelworker, a grandson of a steelworker and has a brother in law who is a steelworker.
“I’m a proud member of the Mesabi East teachers’ union. We can have well paying mining jobs and make sure our water is clean and safe to drink.
“I’m a third generation Iron Ranger who wants his son and daughter to live on the land they were born.”
He said class sizes at Mesabi East dropped by over half when LTV closed in 2001.
“We need this project for our communities and the well being of the Iron Range…I’ll give my very last breath to make sure the area thrives in the future.”
Mike Gisdorf said those opposed to the project are “afraid PolyMet is actually going to do this correctly and they are.”
He pointed to the Eagle Mine in Michigan and the Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith, Wisconsin which is “used now as a park.”
“We can create a mine with top of the line controls and unequaled safety for the lakes and woods of NE Minnesota.
Nancy McReady of Ely, the president of CWCS, said she has followed the issue since 2004.
“In those early days few if any copper nickel activists attended the meetings.
“Their main arguments that this is sulfide mining as they call it. PolyMet’s ore body has a low sulfur content of three percent comparing to Flambeau at 30 percent.”
Aaron Stolp of Duluth said he was born and raised on the Iron Range.
“I believe in hearing both sides of any story. After 13 years of hearing opposition while PolyMet has followed the letter of the law.”
He said the argument of there being too much copper available in the world is the same argument of too much craft beer in Duluth. But if a new brewery opens up and has the right permits, they have a right to do that.”
Tony Hansen of Duluth pointed to the economic benefits of the project that will create 360 full time mining jobs and an additional 600 plus related spin off jobs.
“Having a good job is one the most powerful determinants of quality of life,” said Hansen.
Dave Kromer of Ely said, “One of things that bugs me most is all the facts aren’t facts. When we use the word antis it’s because the word means against. When I use the word antis, the only word I’ve ever known that they’ve used is the word no.
“They never talk about bringing jobs to town. If the antis have any ideas they should bring them up. If they don’t they should shut up.
“What do we get (in Ely) when we have a new business come to town. We got another outfitter that’s what we got this year. Well we need another outfitter like we need more ice and snow. They’re done by the end of September. It’s not a living job, I’ve done it. You need two or three jobs.”
“If these people were around when the Wright brothers were around nobody would be flying. They have no positive ideas in their heads. We have people who have told us, they stated they don’t care if everything we’re saying is true and the mines work and have no pollution they’d still oppose it. That’s what we’re up against.”
Justin Dallas of Knife River spoke in opposition to the permits and said it was “a question of conscience.”
He said, “I do believe we need jobs, we need to mine but at same time we need to do it right. We shouldn’t settle for less and shouldn’t settle for long term damage to get something now. We need to take the time to do it right.”
Jerry Fryberger, born and raised in Duluth, said he was passionate about the Range and that the PolyMet project was something Minnesota should be very, very proud of.
“I was paddling in the Boundary Waters in 1946 long before many of you were born so I understand the environment. PolyMet will arguably be the benchmark of copper nickel mining not only in Minnesota but in North America.
Jodi Piekarski of Grand Rapids said industry and environmental regulations can co-exist together and urged the MPCA and DNR to grant the permits in a timely manner.
John Rebrovich of Hibbing, a third generation miner, and assistant to the director of United Steelworkers 11 that covers nine states spoke about how precious metals mining can be done right.
“One of the states mentioned was Montana and the Stillwater Mining Company. They have the East Boulder Mine on one side of the mountain and Nye on the other. Very sensitive rivers run right next to it. The Yellowstone River you can throw a rock from the parking lot into the river.
“When that mine opened up we heard the same things that are going on here. They went through a stringent and rigorous environmental impact statement and they met the standards but the fight was still going on.
“They started the mine and showed there was no pollution and the regulators were right, they did it right. What the mine did was talk to the environmentalists and said come on in here and look what we’re doing. They formed what is called the good neighbor agreement. It’s transparent to everybody and the environmentalists, the union and company showed this can be done safely.”
Steve Giorgi of the Range Association of Municipalities of Schools that has 72,000 residents who are members of the association, said, “We stand here in support of all the work in this project that has been done.”
Giorgi said it is time to issue the permits and asked the audience to give the DNR and MPCA commissioners, who were present, and their staff members a hand for the work they have done.
Robert Peterson from Embarrass, a senior at Mesabi East high school said he sometimes questions why his dad has only moved a mile his whole life.
Peterson said it’s because of the opportunities he has here on the Iron Range and his job in the mines.
“When I think about my future I don’t see it on the Iron Range. I’ve grown up seeing businesses close and I don’t see myself raising a family here when the economics are so unstable. I’d really like to see PolyMet go through and come back here after college and Air Force to raise my family.”
The final of the 58 speakers was William Whiteside of Hibbing who said northeast Minnesota has the most highly educated people on average.
“We have lots of engineers. They do know what they’re talking about, they’re not coming from a place where people don’t understand the issue.
“This whole area has been extremely important to our country. We have provided the backbone for this country to save the world from becoming a totalitarian swamp. We can still provide these rich resources we need to go forward.”
The final public hearing was held Thursday night in Duluth. Public comment on the permits ends March 6 for the DNR and March 16 for the MPCA.