This op-ed by Rolf Westgard states the damage done by the Twin Cities DFL in its attempts to killing precious metal mining projects.
Last spring, Conservation Minnesota created a website telling Minnesotans that projects like the Twin Metals mining project near Ely and the PolyMet precious metals mining project near Hoyt Lakes would severely damage watersheds. Mr. Westgard refutes that:
There is a 714-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement(DEIS) for the Polymet Project from the Minnesota DNR and the Corps of Engineers. It is clear from the Statement that any effluent from the project ends up in the drainage areas of the Partridge and Embarrass Rivers. Those rivers flow south to the St Louis River and Lake Superior, not north to the Boundary Waters.
The DEIS is generally positive about the project, and it suggests that if all of Polymet’s commitments are met, there is no serious impact on the environment. The following quote from the DEIS on the Partridge River applies to its analysis of all three rivers involved: “Even with these higher loadings and assuming no natural attenuation, the model results indicate that water quality standards for the Partridge River would be maintained for the eight constituents studied (i.e., antimony, arsenic, fluoride, cobalt, copper, nickel, vanadium, and sulfate) under all flow conditions and mine years modeled. Therefore, even using relatively conservative assumptions, the Proposed Action is not predicted to result in any exceedances of surface water quality standards for the Partridge River at the modeled locations.”
Simply put, the DEIS’s findings refute everything Conservation Minnesota and Alida Messinger said about these mining projects. What’s more important is that Conservation Minnesota’s fearmongering-filled campaign against Twin Metals, PolyMet and other proposed mining projects might have a significant impact:
The state of Minnesota owns more than 6,000 acres of land in the region, and I estimate that Minnesota’s schools would collect at least $2.0 billion in royalties in the coming decades if these new mining projects proceed. 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 these new royalties over 25 to 30 years.
In other words, preventing these mining projects from happening is stealing $60 per year for each public school student for the next thirty years. That’s the impact that Conservation Minnesota and other militant environmentalist organizations would have on school funding.
What’s most disturbing is the fact that the EPA is essentially admitting that they’re rejecting PolyMet’s proposal for political reasons:
PolyMet is the furthest along in the environmental review and permitting process. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the company’s draft Environmental Impact Statement a failing grade, calling the mine’s environmental impacts “unacceptable” and the review itself “inadequate.”
Dr. Westgard isn’t the oil companies’ shill. He isn’t the mining companies’ shill either. Dr. Westgard is “a professional member [of the] Geological Society of America and is guest faculty on energy subjects for the U of Minnesota LIfelong Learning program.” If Dr. Westgard is convinced that the Arrowhead, the Iron Range and especially the Partridge River won’t be negatively affected by these projects, then it’s imperative that these projects get started ASAP.
These projects will rejuvenate the Iron Range’s economy while pouring significant money into K-12 education without hurting the environment. Why wouldn’t Conservation Minnesota, the Metro DFL and the Silent Six jump at this win-win-win opportunity?
Tags: Conservation Minnesota, MiningTruth.org, Alida Messinger, Mark Dayton, Mark Ritchie, Tom Bakk, Tom Saxhaug, Tom Anzelc, David Thomassoni, Dave Dill, Carly Melin, The Silent Six, DFL, Iron Range, Education, Economy, Employment, Twin Metals, PolyMet, Mining