Letter: …Who are those that are so strongly opposed to Twin Metals copper-nickel mining project?

Letter to the Editor:
Earlier this week I attended the annual legislative meeting hosted by the Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board. Attending the meeting, as reported by the Ely Echo, were State legislators Tom Bakk and Rob Ecklund, City officials, IRRRB commissioner Mark Philips, Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar’s field representatives and field representative Spencer Igo from Congressman Pete Stauber’s office.
The meetings are held each year at this time and provide the opportunity for our local community leaders and the public to communicate with our legislators and express their concerns regarding infrastructure, our school and hospital, streets, roads and highways, the absence of broadband service, jobs and the state of our local economy. And conversely, it provides an opportunity for our legislators to tell our community leaders how much state money will be available to fund local projects.
Of special interest were comments made by our legislative representatives regarding Twin Metals’ proposed copper-nickel mining project.
In response to a request by mining supporter Nancy McReady that DFLers should adopt a resolution opposing the continuation of a two-year study by the U.S. Forest Service regarding Twin Metals proposed mining project, Bakk said that resolutions to Congress by state bodies are merely symbolic in nature.
Both Bakk and Ecklund who strongly support Twin Metals’ mining project spoke of the opposition they face within the DFL party by anti-mining zealots. Bakk said he would be working with Democrat Governor Tim Walz to make sure permitting moves forward once Twin Metals submits a mine plan, and that Walz is facing “a tremendous amount of pressure to not let Twin Metals get started on the review process.”
One can understand Senator Bakk’s frustration given the opposition to copper-nickel mining projects by Metro area DFL party elected officials, anti-mining environmentalists and several print media organizations. Who are those that are so strongly opposed to Twin Metals copper-nickel mining project?
• In 2006, the Twin Cities based Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy informed the U.S. Forest Service District Forest Supervisor in Duluth that if the USFS issued any more prospecting permits in the Superior National Forest without completing an Environmental Impact Statement, they intended to file a lawsuit. A moratorium was imposed banning mineral prospecting, and the USFS went ahead with an EIS that was not completed until September 2012. At that time, 28 prospecting permits were issued to DMC Corporation, Twin Metals Minnesota and others.
• In March 2016, then DFL Governor Mark Dayton publicly announced his opposition to Twin Metals Minnesota’s proposed copper-nickel mining project and directed then DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr not to authorize or enter into any new state access agreements or lease agreements for mining operations on those state lands.
• Attorney Becky Rom serves as the vice-chair of Ely based Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the anti-mining organization unalterably opposed to Twin Metals’ proposed mining project. In March 2019 Tom Landwehr, who spent eight years as DNR Commissioner under former Governor Mark Dayton, was named Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. The Campaign to save the Boundary Waters is led by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness.
• In early September in a closed-door session with Twin Metals Minnesota officials, labor leaders, mining supporters and local and regional elected officials, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D) said she opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to curtail a study that was initiated by the Obama Administration that derailed a copper-nickel mining project planned by TMM that could have led to a 20-year ban on mining on 234,000 acres of national forest land in the Superior National Forest.
• Ready – Fire – Aim! In November, the editorial board of the Star Tribune, the state’s largest newspaper weighed in with a full three-page opinion piece captioned, “Not this mine. Not this location.” “Why Twin Metals’ mine proposal is a risk we can’t take.” All this, even before Twin Metals files their application for a mine plan of operations permit which will begin a five to seven-year period of permitting, environmental review and public, legal and regulatory scrutiny.
It is to be expected that Twin Metals will soon apply for a mine plan of operation, the beginning of a long regulatory process involving fact-based studies submitted to the permitting agencies, both federal and state. During that long drawn out process it will become clear what the fight between the anti-mining environmentalists and Twin Metal supporters is all about.
A clear divide in the state of Minnesota exists between the Metro area and rural Minnesota interests. Metro area interests, supported by Metro area politicians and the state’s largest newspaper, are advancing their ultra-liberal agenda at the expense of rural Minnesotans. Almost all of rural Minnesota is being harmed by the divide, but probably none more so than the Iron Range cities, which can only watch their populations decline and their economies suffer as their residents migrate to urban areas seeking jobs that pay a living-wage and will support their families.
I am confident that we will see the day when - after Twin Metals has had the opportunity to submit their fact-based environmental and feasibility studies – it will receive a go-ahead from federal and state agencies to begin mining operations. Until that time, we must continue to support the political leaders that support us in our fight to preserve our way life here in Northeastern Minnesota that is presently being threatened by Metro area politicians and anti-mining zealots.
Gerald M. Tyler
Chairman, President & CEO
Up North Jobs Inc.
Ely, Minnesota