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All of the pundits have hinted that the DFL is one big, happy family. I’m betting that those pundits are stretching things a bit based on this article:

The DFL political establishment on the Range is virtually unanimous in its support, which also has the backing of many in the construction trades, another key DFL constituency. But the controversial project faces stiff and well-coordinated opposition from environmental groups and many DFL lawmakers.

“Clearly this opens up the clash and conflict between those DFLers who value the environment first, versus those who value jobs first. We will all have to answer the question, ‘Whose side are you on?’” Anzelc said. “I think this issue has the potential to divide the DFL convention this summer. The table is set for Democrats running for statewide office to have a real challenging time of it in the ’14 elections.”

Anzelc is partially right. He said this in the context of Gov. Dayton picking Tina Smith as his running mate. This split has been developing since 2009. That’s when Chip Cravaack campaigned hard on the Range and took tons of votes from Jim Oberstar, something that people thought was impossible.

In 2012, ‘normalcy’ was restored when fossilized Rick Nolan defeated Chip. That calm exterior disappeared when Nolan decided to vote for HR761:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

Picking Tina Smith certainly contributed to this division getting exposed but the DFL’s allies have contributed more to this expanding division. Twin Cities Metrocrats are militant environmentalists. They’re passionately opposed to mining. They love harvesting the Iron Range’s votes. They also love stiffing the Iron Range on their highest priorities.

Gov. Dayton’s pick is essentially the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Marlene Pospeck, a former mayor of Hoyt Lakes and a longtime DFL activist, noted that strong turnout on the Range has been critical to many DFL victories in the past, including Gov. Dayton’s narrow victories in the DFL primary and general election in 2010.

“The people in St. Paul need to be aware that if they want to be re-elected, we on the Iron Range hold one of the keys,” Pospeck said.

Still strong for DFL in ’14?

Like Anzelc, Pospeck believes that PolyMet and, more generally, mining, is the principal source of regional conflict within the party. But she said it is not the only one. Another came in 2012, when Mark Phillips was squeezed out as commissioner of the powerful Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). An Iron Range native who previously worked at the IRRRB, Phillips resigned the post after less than a year on the job. The reasons for Phillips’ departure have never been made entirely clear.

Pospeck isn’t issuing an idle threat on this. I wrote this post about Pospeck’s LTE about taking the Iron Range for granted:

For instance, although mining is the lifeblood of our region and provides benefit for the entire state, those in high office in St. Paul have been almost silent in support of this important industry that provides thousands of jobs on the Iron Range.

So when these DFL candidates come north, seeking our votes and making promises they do not intend to keep, let’s carefully assess whether or not they truly support our concerns and intend to effectively address our issues.

It is no longer enough for them simply to carry the label DFL to win our votes. We Iron Rangers must hold their feet to the fire and demand their support for issues important to the Iron Range in return.

It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the DFL. They can either support the Iron Range or they can start expecting to get a smaller share of the Iron Range vote.

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When Alida Messinger picked Tina Smith to be her ex’s running mate, she sent the signal that she didn’t trust Iron Range candidates. That’s likely because Alida hates mining. Imagine her disgust when she found out that the Duluth Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support PolyMet:

The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce has announced its board of directors has voted unanimously in support of the proposed PolyMet copper mine project.

Chamber president David Ross said the vote was to “support advocacy for the PolyMet project. And to go beyond that and state that we are here to encourage decision makers to allow this project to proceed,” Ross said in a video statement.

While it’s about 5 years too late, this development is still welcome. This puts pressure on DFL legislators because they’re trying to thread the needle. DFL legislators have to please the miners. These legislators have to keep the environmentalists happy, too.

At this point, the environmentalists have to be discouraged. They’ve poured time, money, campaigning and misinformation into their effort to prevent PolyMet. At this point, it looks like they’ve lost the fight. It looks like they’ll have to rely on President Obama’s corrupt EPA to prevent PolyMet.

Iron Rangers have traditionally supported the DFL. Their faithful support shouldn’t earn them the DFL’s cold shoulder. At this point, the ruling Metrocrat wing of the DFL loves the Iron Range’s support but they hate the Iron Range’s pro-mining agenda.

Hopefully, the Iron Range will wake up to the fact that the GOP is pro-mining. Hopefully, that recognition translates into increased support for the GOP’s pro-mining candidates. Hopefully, conservative DFL voters will file for a messy divorce the first Tuesday this November.

Frankly, it can’t happen soon enough.

After the DFL’s 2010 wipeout, Alida Messinger told then-DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez that he would be resigning. If he didn’t, she’d stop writing big checks to the DFL. Melendez resigned a week later. He was replaced by Ken Martin, who had worked for her at the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

This morning, Gov. Dayton announced that Tina Smith, his current chief of staff, would be his running mate for the 2014 election. First, here’s a little something from the Martin coronation article:

Most of the criticism of DFL state party chair Brian Melendez in the wake of Election Day has been confined to the liberal blogosphere. The three-term incumbent could likely survive those barbs.

But a much more important DFL supporter, wealthy donor Alida Messinger, is also apparently opposed to Melendez remaining as party chair. According to a reliable DFL source, there won’t be any checks arriving in DFL coffers from the Rockefeller heir if Melendez remains in the post.

Of course, Ken Martin, the person most often cited as a potential rival for state party chair, is closely aligned with Messinger. He chaired the Win Minnesota Political Action Fund, which played a key role in the governor’s race. The group’s largest individual donor: Messinger.

Back then, I wrote that the DFL was quickly becoming a subsidiary of the Dayton Family Politics, Inc. This information provides important insight into Gov. Dayton’s pick:

Smith is a longtime friend of Dayton’s former wife, Alida Messinger, a significant donor to Dayton’s first election effort and other prominent DFL causes.

When Dayton was searching for someone to help his campaign after winning the DFL primary, Messinger recommended Smith for the job.

This isn’t surprising. Alida Messinger wants to create a political party that stands for the things she stands for. If that means filling the DFL power structure with her yes people, then that’s what she’ll do. In fact, we have proof that that’s what she’s doing right now.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, is funded by her. Ditto with the DFL. One of her puppets is the DFL Party chairman. Now, because she doesn’t trust Iron Rangers, she’s hand-picked a candidate to be Gov. Dayton’s candidate for lieutenant governor from the Twin Cities.

Simply put, Tina Smith was picked because Alida Messinger didn’t trust another Iron Ranger as Gov. Dayton’s lieutenant governor. In Alida’s DFL, Iron Rangers are welcome for their votes. Unfortunately for people living on the Range, Alida’s DFL doesn’t like a pro-mining agenda. Gov. Dayton’s pick of Tina Smith turns that opinion into fact.

This LTE is exceptionally defensive sounding:

Some people are making a big deal out of a story about the executive committee of a local DFL party unit coming out against copper-nickel mining jobs and, therefore, workers in Northeastern Minnesota. Some even wonder whether and when the DFL decided to drop the “L” from its coalition (“DFL unit’s resolution opposes copper mining,” Jan. 14).

The resolution was the action of a small minority of extreme folks who apparently don’t believe in the regulatory process that Minnesotans worked together to develop over decades. This was not a reflection of the larger feelings of DFLers across the state or even in the Northland.

I can assure you, as a labor leader in Northeastern Minnesota, that the “L” is alive and well in the DFL and that the party will stand strong for good-paying jobs and working people across our region and state. We hope.

Dan Olson
Superior

People aren’t questioning that private sector unions support mining. That isn’t the point. In fact, it’s a non sequitur argument. The point the article made, which I wrote about here, is that elitist Twin Cities Metrocrats vehemently oppose mining. That part of the DFL isn’t a tiny minority. They’re the part of the DFL that writes the biggest campaign checks. That’s why they get the preferential treatment from the DFL. Tom Rukavina represented the miners, which he told me in this email exchange. Here’s Rep. Rukavina’s response:

Gary

I’m perplexed. I sent an email to the three who voted no, I’m awaiting a reply. Frankly, if Gov Dayton is pissed off at the DNR (hell, Rangers have been pissed off at them forever), he should fire some top dogs over there. But don’t take it out on the good people of the Range who have been mining for 130 years and playing by the rules that some folks now want to change.

Perplexed and pissed off would better describe my reaction. But hey, I’m a has been but I have been wondering why I’m the only member of the Range delegation who seems concerned about this. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only member of the Range delegation who represents the real Iron Range and has never represented any other constituents in my 26 year tenure.

Rep. Rukavina is an old school Iron Ranger. While Metrocrats agreed with his tax and spending policies, they worked tirelessly to undermine his mining policies.

As long as the Metrocrats dominate the DFL, Mr. Olson can talk all he wants about the DFL still supporting Labor’s issues. Their claims will ring hollow in the ears of the unemployed miners.

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This LTE isn’t what the Metro DFL wants to hear. In fact, it’s an in-your-face ultimatum to the DFL:

For instance, although mining is the lifeblood of our region and provides benefit for the entire state, those in high office in St. Paul have been almost silent in support of this important industry that provides thousands of jobs on the Iron Range.

So when these DFL candidates come north, seeking our votes and making promises they do not intend to keep, let’s carefully assess whether or not they truly support our concerns and intend to effectively address our issues.

It is no longer enough for them simply to carry the label DFL to win our votes. We Iron Rangers must hold their feet to the fire and demand their support for issues important to the Iron Range in return.

TRANSLATION for DFL: Put up or shut up. Here’s what Marlene Pospeck wrote prior to that ultimatum:

It will soon be time for DFL candidates for statewide office to trek to the Iron Range seeking our support. They do this because they know how strongly Iron Range voters turn out on Election Day. Many candidates have been successful in their quest for higher office chiefly because we Iron Rangers have supported them.

It can’t be enough, however, for these candidates to simply be DFL to garner our support. When asking for our support, these St. Paul candidates have an obligation to offer the Iron Range their support in return but this hasn’t necessarily always been the case. They tend to rely on our votes and then promptly forget about doing what’s good for our region.

This is a variation of what I call Tom Daschle Disease. Prior to his defeat in 2004, Tom Daschle would act like George Bush’s best friend while visiting South Dakota. The minute he picked up his luggage at the DC airport, he’d instantly turned into the far left’s darling. In 2004, he got exposed. Then he got defeated. That time is coming for the DFL, too.

Metrocrat elitists consistently repeat the mantra that they support “working families.” That usually happens right before they file another lawsuit preventing PolyMet from becoming a reality.

Pospeck isn’t just any DFLer. She’s the former mayor of Hoyt Lakes. She speaks for lots of Rangers. Patterns are patterns until they aren’t anymore. Range Republicans are making a spirited push to win over ‘Mining Democrats’:

The 8th Congressional District Republican Committee has given full backing to copper nickel/precious metals mining projects on the Range.

The GOP committee’s strong support for nonferrous mining was announced just prior to today’s public hearing on PolyMet Mining Co.’s NorthMet project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement. And it closely followed a resolution passed by a St. Louis County DFL unit that opposes nonferrous mining, which is in conflict with views of Iron Range DFL legislators.

“It’s a shame that the DFL Committee in northeast Minnesota is publicly opposing new copper/nickel mining jobs and projects seeking permits in the state. We’ve met as an 8th Congressional District GOP board and announce our strong, unapologetic support for copper/nickel mining and the jobs it promises to create,” said Ted Lovdahl, chairman of 8th District Republicans.

“We want to assure the hard-working people across Minnesota that the GOP is with them, and if they aren’t yet with us, they have a home in the Republican Party.”

It isn’t known how long the DFL’s tired mantra of supporting “working families” will be effective. How many times will miners buy that schtick, then watch the Metrocrats get their way? The Metrocrats don’t have a history of being pro-mining. That’s big because Rangers are suffering bigtime. The median household income for Minnesota from 2008-2012 is $59,126, compared with $46,231 for St. Louis County for the same period. There’s an income gap of 22% between Minnesota’s statewide median household income and the median household income for St. Louis County. That’s the direct result of the Metrocrats’ anti-mining policies. Even retired Rep. Tommie Rukavina is upset with the DFL’s anti-mining policies. Here’s what he told me right before he retired:

I’m perplexed. I sent an email to the three who voted no, I’m awaiting a reply. Frankly, if Gov Dayton is pissed off at the DNR (hell, Ranger’s have been pissed off at them forever), he should fire some top dogs over there. But don’t take it out on the good people of the Range who have been mining for 130 years and playing by the rules that some folks now want to change.

Perplexed and pissed off would better describe my reaction. But hey, I’m a has been but I have been wondering why I’m the only member of the Range delegation who seems concerned about this. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only member of the Range delegation who represents the real Iron Range and has never represented any other constituents in my 26 year tenure.

Finally, it isn’t possible to argue that elitist Metrocrats like mining. They like getting miners’ votes but they don’t care about mining. If they didn’t need miners’ votes to win elections, there’s a 100% chance elitist Metrocrats would throw miners under their political bus.
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Based on what’s in this editorial and what’s in this editorial, the DFL’s divisions might soon be front and center. Let’s start with the ‘PolyMet’ editorial:

While Duluth and other media speculated that opponents and supporters were evenly split at the five-hour public hearing that included a two-hour open house session and a three-hour comment period, the numbers just don’t add up that way.

They reported that attendance was 1,300 to 1,500. But of that number, a caravan of seven buses and a passenger van journeyed from the Range with at least 500 supporters and another 100 or more arrived in advance by cars.

Simply put, there are lots of Iron Rangers who badly want PolyMet to happen. They might not have sophisticated presentations but what they lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in passion and verifiable information.

The unified message of business and labor all across the Iron Range to Duluth and the Twin Cities delivered in a fact-based and civil manner was outstanding.

That paragraph indicates that Iron Rangers are tired of being told by elitist metro Democrats, aka Metrocrats, that they don’t have the right to earn a living. This has the potential of turning the relatively conservative, pro-Second Amendment, Range Democrats against the anti-mining Metrocrats. This indicates the hostility isn’t that far below the proverbial surface:

Yes, some opponents and preservation groups will continue their misinformation campaigns which are part of an excessive rhetoric fear campaign of damage to the environment.

The facts, however, will win out in the EIS and then permitting processes. And the preservationist fear mongers do not hold those cards.

The “preservationist fear mongers” that the editorial cites have this in common: they’re almost exclusively elitist Metrocrats. That’s a stark contrast with the blue collar Iron Rangers who supported Gov. Dayton in 2010. The ‘Lt. Gov. editorial’ offers a different perspective of the same potential problem:

The list of four is heavily female-metrocentric-weighted. The governor’s chief of staff, Tina Smith, state Sen. Katie Sieben and Kelliher, all of the Twin Cities area, are strongly suggested.

The other person that’s supposedly on Gov. Dayton’s short list is IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. I haven’t confirmed whether Sertich is actually on Gov. Dayton’s short of if he’s more of a ‘wishful thinking’ candidate. Still, the risks are high for Gov. Dayton. If he picks a Metrocrat, he risks alienating Iron Rangers. If Gov. Dayton picks Sertich, he’s essentially snubbing the check-writing, anti-mining Metrocrats from the Twin Cities.

The other name I’ve heard floated is former Sen. Tarryl Clark, aka Taxin’ Tarryl Clark. With Gov. Dayton’s tax increases likely to be a major campaign issue, Taxin’ Tarryl would just add fuel to that fire. That’s before talking about her responsibilities with the Blue-Green Alliance. ‘Carpetbagger’ Tarryl didn’t win many friends when she ran for the Eighth District endorsement. DFL activists rejected her, in part because she was a carpetbagger, partially because she’s as anti-mining as the Metrocrats on that short list.

The simple truth is that Gov. Dayton will have to choose. Either Gov. Dayton sides with the elitist Metrocrats and alienates Iron Range Democrats or he sides with the more conservative Iron Democrats and alienates elitist, anti-mining Metrocrats.

There’s an old, ancient really, joke about giving a chameleon a nervous breakdown. The way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put it against a plaid background. In this situation, I’d argue that Gov. Dayton is the chameleon and the DFL is the plaid background.

Good luck with that.

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Baird Helgeson’s article doesn’t do the greatest job highlighting the inevitable split in the DFL but it’s a start:

All sides are closely watching as Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration faces a crucial decision on the project that could come near the election.

At risk is a political coalition that has made good on a string of high-profile DFL priorities like same-sex marriage, higher taxes for the rich and expanded union influence around the state. Dayton is depending on that same coalition to help him press for a second term and keep the state House in DFL hands.

“We are going to go through some hard times,” predicted Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township. “This may be the signature event in the decades-long battle between jobs and the preservation of the environment. This battle determines what kind of a Minnesota Minnesotans want.”

Democrats are scrambling to contain the conflict and prevent another “massacre” of 1978, when Republicans capitalized on similar outrage over the creation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Rivals divided the DFL over the issue and allowed Republicans to make historic electoral gains, claiming the governor’s office and both U.S. Senate seats.

It’s anti-climatic to say that the DFL left blue collar workers. That happened when the DFL, like Democrats nationally, decided militant environmentalists were a more important special interest group to be coddled than the miners. This paragraph is incomplete, perhaps intentionally:

A copper mine that could provide hundreds of high-paying jobs on the Iron Range also is threatening to crack the fragile alliance of blue-collar Democrats up north and the environmentalists that are an influential part of Minnesota DFL’s base.

Let’s include what’s missing from that paragraph. Here’s how it would read:

A copper mine that could provide hundreds of high-paying jobs on the Iron Range also is threatening to crack the fragile alliance of blue-collar Democrats up north and the Twin Cities-based environmentalists that are an influential part of Minnesota DFL’s base.

The so-called Metrocrats tossed the Tom Rukavina wing of the DFL under the bus long ago. Here’s what then-Rep. Rukavina said about mining just about a year ago:

I’m perplexed. I sent an email to the three who voted no, I’m awaiting a reply. Frankly, if Gov Dayton is pissed off at the DNR (hell, Ranger’s have been pissed off at them forever), he should fire some top dogs over there. But don’t take it out on the good people of the Range who have been mining for 130 years and playing by the rules that some folks now want to change.

Perplexed and pissed off would better describe my reaction. But hey, I’m a has been but I have been wondering why I’m the only member of the Range delegation who seems concerned about this. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only member of the Range delegation who represents the real Iron Range and has never represented any other constituents in my 26 year tenure.

This sentence stood out for me:

But don’t take it out on the good people of the Range who have been mining for 130 years and playing by the rules that some folks now want to change.

The DFL is playing a game with these miners’ lives. Increasingly Republicans are coming to these miners’ assistance. Chip Cravaack’s loyalty to the miners is exceptionally well-documented. Other Republicans, including Stewart Mills, are taking up Chip’s fight.

Here’s what happens when the DFL treats this issue as a political issue:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

The reaction of the those who gathered in Bohannon Hall on that Saturday afternoon is perhaps best summed up by 32-year-old Jesse Peterson, who characterized Nolan’s responses and actions with respect to HR 761 as “incredibly deceptive and reflecting a willingness to be phony.

Rick Nolan is the ultimate politician. The best way to expose Nolan’s phoniness is to tape him while he’s talking mining with the United Mine Workers, then tape him talking with militant environmentalists. The contrast would be sharp. In fact, he’d look like 2 different people.

That’s the DFL’s dilemma. It’s inevitable that something earth-shaking will happen to settle the issue once and for all. The split between the Metrocrats and the blue collar Iron Rangers is inevitable. I just hope I’m here to watch the collision.

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This article reads like a press release from the MCEA. It isn’t reporting. It’s ‘journalism’ bia press release:

A campaign by critics of proposed copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota says it has gathered petition signatures from all 87 Minnesota counties.

Mining Truth says more than 12,000 people have signed its petition, which asks Gov. Mark Dayton to ensure the environment will be protected in any copper-nickel mining.

Scott Strand of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says people statewide want Dayton to put water quality first when considering projects like the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals mines.

First, how many of the 12,000 signatures came from Hennepin and Ramsey counties? It isn’t a stretch to think that the majority of them came from those 2 counties. In fact, it’s likely that a majority of signatures to the petition came from those counties.

Second, existing laws require mining companies not pollute. These laws’ provisions are proactive, eliminating the need for taxpayer-financed superfund clean-ups. Plans are submitted to the state and federal regulating agencies. After approval, the mines are inspected on a regular basis to guarantee that pollution isn’t happening. If the mining company isn’t living up to their plans, operations can be shut down. Fines can be imposed, too.

The organizations spearheading this effort aren’t committed to the truth. Conservation Minnesota, aka CM, insists that the previous mining operations polluted the land. I’ve cited examples of precious metal mining operations that improved environmental quality in the long run on this blog. That’s irrefutable fact. That isn’t speculation. MCEA is known for its hardball tactics. Its most notable ‘accomplishment’ was stopping the Big Stone II power plant project from happening. MCEA considers it a victory to make electricity more expensive and high-paying jobs extinct. That says everything you need to know about their priorities.

Simply put, MCEA’s and CM’s priorities aren’t Minnesota’s priorities. They’re the priorities of their plutocrat donors. They’re the special interests’ priorities.

This paragraph is laughable:

Dayton has been feeling conflicting political pressure over mining from his environmentalist allies on one side, who oppose copper-nickel mining, and his labor and Iron Range supporters on the other side, who want the jobs. The Democratic governor has said he’s pro-environment and pro-jobs, and there needs to be a balance.

Gov. Dayton isn’t just pro-environment. He’s pro-environmental extremist. MCEA and CM don’t play nice. They won’t hesitate in lying if that’s what’s needed to win a fight.

Northern Minnesota needs mining jobs. Tourism hasn’t come close in replacing mining in terms of jobs. Meanwhile, poverty rates on the Range are disgustingly high, approaching 16% in the Arrowhead. If Gov. Dayton won’t tell these extremists to take a hike, then Minnesotans need to fire him ASAP. Restoring prosperity to the Iron Range isn’t just important, it’s essential.

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Since he got into office, Gov. Dayton has catered to the anti-mining wing of the DFL. That’s because his first ex-wife, Alida Messinger, a) opposes mining, b) opposes Iron Rangers making a better living for themselves and their families and c) writes big checks to fund the DFL and its chief smear campaign machine, aka the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM.

According to their website, Alida Messinger is the Vice-President of Conservation Minnesota, a radical environmentalist organization that’s opposed to the PolyMet and Twin Metals mining projects.

According to his St. Cloud Times op-ed, Rolf Westgard is “a professional member of the Geological Society of America. He teaches classes on energy subjects for the University of Minnesota Lifelong Learning program.” Dr. Westgard has a dramatically different take on precious metals mining. It’s dramatically different because he deals with facts, not hysteria:

Environmentalists are lined up in opposition to these projects, viewing them as a serious threat to water quality. The issue is these ores are reactive sulfide minerals. When mined, the sulfur comes in contact with water and oxygen, forming sulfuric acid. This acid can then dissolve and carry away toxic elements, polluting water supplies in a process known as acid rock drainage.

In the past, acidic metal-rich waters from mining have damaged the environment when mining companies did not follow safe practices. Today, mining companies have to be good stewards of the environment, and our laws are made to ensure this happens.

At Ladysmith, Wis., Kennecott operated an open pit copper sulfide mine that operated 140 feet from the Flambeau River in the 1990s. During the mining all of the surface area drainage and pit pumping water went into a treatment plant that successfully purified the water so it could be safely returned to the environment.

Upon closure, to avoid ARD, the pit was backfilled with the waste rock that was stripped from the pit along with 30,000 tons of limestone. Limestone was added to neutralize any ARD that formed while the pit was exposed. There were no violations of its permits in construction, operation and closure. These are practices required in Minnesota.

In other words, these companies are experts at mining the precious metals without contaminating drinking water or causing major health hazards. They have a history of cleaning up after themselves, too. That isn’t because they’re altruistic. It’s because they’re monitored by the EPA at the federal level and state agencies in the various states.

While Gov. Dayton pursues ‘high tech jobs of the future’ in California, Minnesota is literally sitting on a gold mine in northern Minnesota that would create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state:

Minnesota owns more than 6,000 acres of land in the region, and it stands to collect $2.5 billion in royalties in the coming decades if mining proceeds. This state property is known as “school trust lands.” Under the Minnesota Constitution, income from such lands is earmarked for the Permanent School Fund, which contributes about $60 per pupil to every school district. An analysis by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources projected that the school fund, with assets of $720 million, could more than triple in size with copper royalties during the next 25 to 30 years.

Why wouldn’t we take advantage of this gold mine? Why wouldn’t we help the blue collar people of the Range earn a better living? Right now, families in St. Louis County make almost $15,000 a year less than the statewide average. Why wouldn’t we want more money going into the Permanent School Fund? It’s the easiest of easy money.

If the goals are to fund schools without overburdening taxpayers while restoring prosperity to the Iron Range and economic health to the state, issuing permits for the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects is the way to go. It’s the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B.

This route isn’t being taken because the DFL’s special interest puppeteers aren’t interested in funding schools with minimal costs to Minnesota’s taxpayers. The DFL’s special interest puppeteers aren’t interested in restoring prosperity to the Range. The biggest mistake conservatives make is thinking that the DFL leadership is interested in doing the right thing for the right reasons.

It’s important to understand that the DFL will always do the right thing…when it’s the only option left.

Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton will continue recruiting companies that require massive government subsidies to succeed. It’s a shame that he just doesn’t put in place policies that help companies already here succeed.

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Kathryn Hoffman’s op-ed is littered with half-truths, irrelevancies and distortions. Here’s an example:

Sulfide mines have a long record of polluting surrounding lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater with mercury, acid mine drainage and toxic metals. Mines proposed in Minnesota would pose risks to some of our most important water resources such as Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters.

Evidence shows that children in northern Minnesota already are exposed to higher levels of mercury than in other parts of the state. Any increased risk to these children would be unacceptable.

There’s no question that mining disturbs the earth’s natural state. Whatever the human activity is, it potentially damages the earth as defined by MiningTruth’s activists. The question then becomes what society gets in exchange for temporarily disturbing the planet.

That said, the doomsday picture that MiningTruth paints isn’t exactly accurate. First, recent precious metal mines don’t pollute like the mines of 50 years ago. The advances have been gigantic. Second, most precious metals mining companies have to live up to the standars set by corporations like Kennecott Mining.

In this op-ed, MiningTruth proposes an impossible standard:

When a sulfide mine closes in Minnesota, the mining company is supposed to reclaim the area and leave it so that it doesn’t need any additional maintenance. Will that rule be enforced?

Minnesota’s government shouldn’t allow mines that are likely to produce pollution and require water treatment for 50, 100, 250 or more years after they stop mining.

I said earlier that there’s never been a mine that didn’t produce pollution while it was in production. Saying that Minnesota shouldn’t allow mines if they pollute is saying Minnesota shouldn’t allow mining. Period. That’s MiningTruth’s goal. Their website is filled with BS, starting with this video:

The narrator’s ominous-sounding voice delivers the message that “No sulfide mine has ever operated without polluting lakes and rivers.” What the narrator didn’t tell people is that restoration is quite possible. In fact, restoration’s the norm. Kennecott Mining’s website explains in detail that it’s quite possible to restore the land:

In 1936, Kennecott constructed evaporation ponds to store and evaporate mine water originating from the Bingham Canyon watershed. Over time, additional ponds were constructed to increase capacity, and the area became known as the South Jordan Evaporation Ponds (SJEP). The ponds were used for mine water until 1965 and for periodic storage of runoff water until 1987. SJEP use was discontinued in 1987.

Studies in the early 1990s concluded that there were elevated levels of heavy metals in the soil where the holding ponds had been located. Kennecott took responsibility for the impacts and agreed to reclaim and remediate the SJEP area. The removal work was undertaken pursuant to an EPA Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).

A massive clean-up operation began in 1994 involving the removal of pond sediment and six additional inches of underlying native soil. The material removed from Daybreak was permanently relocated to the Kennecott Blue Water Repository as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) clean up. At this time, some sediment, with a low concentration of lead and arsenic but an elevated sulfate concentration were consolidated onsite and capped with topsoil and re-vegetated. In 2001, the EPA issued a Record of Decision stating that the removal action adequately satisfied the remedial objectives and EPA determined that no further action was required. An Operation and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan) was established to address
further management of the consolidation site.

Pursuant to agreements between the EPA, UDEQ and Kennecott, Kennecott began removing the remaining sediments at the consolidation site under the guideline of the O&M Plan. In 2006, Kennecott, the EPA and the UDEQ entered into an agreement solidifying the unrestricted residential and commercial use clean-up standards for the entire site.

In early 2007, the consolidated pond sediment removal project was completed. In 2008, the EPA and UDEQ issued a Consent Decree for the ground water cleanup efforts.

Kennecott met the EPA’s high standards for cleaning up the mining site. In addition to that, they initiated a plan that “integrates sustainable landscape practices into the community in a number of ways.” That’s only part of Kennecott’s story. Here’s another part of Kennecott’s story:

Storm water runoff is collected in a variety of ways and filters down to recharge the aquifer beneath Daybreak. Residents are encouraged to plant a water wise landscape, limit turf areas that require a lot of supplemental water, and improve soil to better absorb water and encourage deeper roots. A list of plants that grow well at Daybreak is available through the Daybreak Community Association.

Gardening is encouraged at Daybreak as a means of producing sustainable food supplies. Gardening opportunities are available to Daybreak residents at their home or at one of the “Community Gardens,” which have been constructed throughout Daybreak.

MiningTruth is hinting that evil multinational corporations are intent on destroying the Boundary Waters and Superior National Forest. Despite Kennecott’s record of success, MiningTruth insists that “sulfide mining” will destroy the fragile BWCAW ecosystem. Kennecott’s Daybreak restoration proves that restoration is quite possible.

What’s noteworthy is that almost everyone on MiningTruth’s Board of Directors lives in the Twin Cities. Only one member of the board lives in northern Minnesota. It’s also noteworthy that a major part of MiningTruth’s funding comes from Aleda Messinger, the same lady who funds the DFL and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota. ABM has a history of smearing people it disagrees with with half-truths and outright lies.

It isn’t wise for MiningTruth to follow in ABM’s practice of waging smear campaigns. Apparently, ABM and MiningTruth think they can continue with their smear campaigns with impunity. As I’ve clearly shown, MiningTruth shouldn’t be trusted because they won’t tell the truth.

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