Mining debate brings out emotion, familiar claims from both sides

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the proposed copper mining projects were both being discussed last week.
On Wednesday the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management held the first of three public Zoom meetings on removing over 200,000 acres from mining development for the next 20 years.
The withdrawal is, at the core, a move by special interest groups to stop the Twin Metals Minnesota project while the Democrats hold the White House.
On Thursday U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber was part of a forum titled “Minnesota Mining and American Potential: An Opportunity for a Brighter and More Secure Future” in conjunction with the House Natural Resources Committee.
The familiar arguments that have been made for decades by those for and against were brought up again, with plenty of emotion and hand-wringing on each side.
On Wednesday there were two Ely voices that caught our ear. Scott Mills spoke in favor of the withdrawal of 225,378 acres on the Superior National Forest from mineral exploration and mining development.
Mills said in his three minute speech that sound travels for miles and people inside the BWCA will be able to hear mining operations going on miles outside the wilderness. He said Ely is already benefiting economically with no hotel rooms to be found in the summertime.
City council member Angela Campbell painted a much different picture, saying during the 30 years she’s lived in Ely she has seen the local economy and population drastically decline.
“This, despite the fact that the BWCA has been the benefactor of a great deal of federal and state legislation to ensure the tourism industry suffers no harm from mining operations,” said Campbell.
In Washington D.C. on Thursday, Stauber fired back in an emotional speech during the forum.
“Let me be clear: this is a policy decision by a Democrat Administration. After promising Americans domestic mining during the campaign, Joe Biden and his Administration did a 180-degree turn, opting to get cobalt from child miners instead of American workers just to appease his radical, activist base.
“And he has plenty of allies in Congress. My colleague from St. Paul introduced legislation that would enshrine this mining ban in statute, and tacked poison pills onto spending bills that would arbitrarily ban mining in my district outright,” said Stauber.
Another year, another public display of division between those for and against mining.
If you’d like to tune into the final two public meetings on Zoom, they will be held today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday from 5-8 p.m.
You can find links to the Zoom meetings on the Superior National Forest website.
A 90-day public comment period will end on Jan. 19. Those comments will be used as part of the USFS environmental assessment.
This battle has been going on for over 50 years and it won’t end anytime soon. If you consider listening to people speak out for and against mining, grab a bowl of popcorn and tune in.
If you would rather be doing anything else, it’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy the outdoors or stay inside and read a book.
Either one sounds just fine to us.