This morning, the Duluth News Tribune published this editorial written by Prof. Kent Kaiser on the subject of mining.
Here’s what Prof. Kaiser said in his editorial:
This month, Minnesota’s State Executive Council, which includes the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, voted to delay 77 leases to explore for copper and nickel on private lands in northern Minnesota.
This short-sighted action was initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. It was unfortunate for the job situation in the Northland, and I know many Minnesotans are terribly disappointed.
After all, the people of Minnesota own the rights to minerals in the state, including those under private land. Anyone from Northeastern Minnesota knows this; I remember learning this fact in elementary school.
Dayton and Ritchie said they were responding to the complaints of a handful of Isabella-area landowners who supposedly didn’t know about the state’s century-old mineral laws. Yet most of the people testifying against the leases actually live in the Twin Cities area or are only transplants to the Northland. I think most Northlanders would agree: It’s inconceivable that someone from the Twin Cities or elsewhere would buy property in Northeastern Minnesota without being astute enough to learn the laws relevant to that land. If they didn’t: well, tough.
Gov. Dayton’s decision isn’t difficult to figure out. Gov. Dayton is doing whatever he can to support the militant environmentalists rather than supporting miners. That’s why Gov. Dayton hired Paul Aasen, a militant environmentalist, to be his MPCA Commissioner.
Prof. Kaiser notes in this paragraph that delaying mining projects is a habit of Gov. Dayton’s:
Indeed, Dayton’s actions this month were more consistent with his actions two decades ago. At that time, when he was on the State Executive Council as state auditor, he called for the postponement of mining lease votes so he could consult first with the Sierra Club.
Someone should create a sign for Gov. Dayton’s office door, perhaps something that conveys the message that job-killing special interest organizations are welcome. It’s clear that Gov. Dayton isn’t the jobs governor he campaigned as. He’s the unemployment governor, especially considering he needlessly laid off 23,000 workers this past July.
Gov. Dayton sided with Mark Ritchie when making this decision. That doesn’t mean everyone was on board with Gov. Dayton’s decision:
It should be noted that Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, a Duluthian, advocated for approving the leases, saying it was about jobs. Like most Northland residents, she understands. It is noteworthy, too, that State Auditor Rebecca Otto, from rural Marine on St. Croix, outside the metro beltway, also advocated aggressively for the leases.
It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton and the DFL don’t care about miners or the Iron Range. They care about tree huggers and the Arrowhead. (Yes, there’s a huge difference between the Range and the Arrowhead. Tree huggers inhabit the Arrowhead. Miners live on the Range.)
The difference between the two subregions is substantial. It’s like the difference between the tonier parts of St. Paul and the meat-packing areas of South St. Paul.
When Gov. Dayton sided with the tree huggers and Paul Aasen, he essentially told the miners ‘Go to hell.’ Prof. Kaiser highlights Gov. Dayton’s hypocrisy in this paragraph:
In an act of utter inconsistency (some might say hypocrisy) Gov. Dayton attended a “jobs summit” in Duluth just two days after quashing well-paying jobs in the Arrowhead region. (The average annual salary of a Minnesota miner is about $70,000, with benefits fully loaded on, far more than could be made in tourism or other industries in the region.)
Gov. Dayton’s decision to deny these hard-working miners the opportunity to make god wages for a number of years would change their lives just like mining would positively alter Minnesota’s revenue stream.
What’s noteworthy is that DFL legislators from the Range haven’t spoken out against Gov. Dayton’s giving the Range the finger. What did Gov. Dayton promise to buy their silence? Do Range DFL legislators put the DFL and their special interest allies first, their constituents second?
Based on the Executive Council’s decision, it’s apparent that the DFL is the Metro Party. They used to care about the Range and Central Minnesota. That can’t be said anymore.
They should scrap the DFL name, too. They can’t be pro labor, then push union miners under the bus. Catering to the PEU employees working in cushy offices isn’t being pro labor. That’s being pro special interest. There’s a huge difference.
Prof. Kaiser is spot on in highlighting the Dayton administration’s anti-mining policies. Likewise, he’s spot on with his noting Gov. Dayton’s hypocrisy on jobs issues.
Gov. Dayton is the best governor the militant environmentalist’s money could buy. It’s unfortunate that he’ll sell out the miners for a paltry few trinkets.