This Our View editorial in the St. Cloud Times was intended to sound moderate and reasonable. It isn’t. This is a key sentence in the editorial:

The containment system PolyMet envisions has never been tried on this scale. And should it or other proposed mine systems fail, sulfide-laden waste materials could contaminate watersheds that feed both Lake Superior to the south and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the north.

Anyone who’s read a map knows this is part of the militant environmentalists’ propaganda. PolyMet is on the south side of the continental divide. Waters on the south side of the divide flow south. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, aka the BWCAW, is on the north side of the divide. It’s physically impossible for PolyMet drainage to reach the BWCAW.

I don’t blame the Times for not being experts on PolyMet issues. I blame them for not doing their homework to be credible. This paragraph doesn’t help the Times’ credibility either:

That debate, already simmering for years, hits new heights Friday when the state releases an 1,800-page environment impact statement about PolyMet Mining’s proposal to create an open pit copper-nickel mine about 10 miles south of Ely.

That’s BS. Here’s what the PolyMet ‘moonscape’ looked like this year:

Conservation Minnesota, the Sierra Club and other environmentalist organizations talk about disturbing the Iron Range’s delicate ecosystems. Does that picture look like a delicate ecosystem? Does it look like pristine wilderness? It definitely doesn’t look pristine by most people’s definition of pristine.

This paragraph is worth examining:

Dominating the rewards are likely 20 or 30 years of jobs and economic growth, mostly for the economically challenged Iron Range. Should PolyMet’s efforts prove successful, a dozen or so other companies stand ready to seek mining permits, furthering that growth and undoubtedly creating trickle-down growth across the state.

If the permits are issued, PolyMet and Twin Metals will become major employers in Minnesota. That isn’t speculation. That’s verifiable fact.

As for “the economically challenged Iron Range”, that’s an understatement. According to this information from the U.S. census data, the median household income for St. Louis County, the heart of the Iron Range, for 2007-2011 is $45,399. That’s a far cry from the statewide average of $58,476. That’s only part of the picture. One in six people in St. Louis County, or 16.0%, lives in poverty.

I’ve written before that precious metal mining isn’t the automatic ecological disaster that militant environmentalists insist it is. This post highlights the fact that it’s quite possible to mine precious metals without destroying the environment:

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.

It’s time for people to ridicule dishonest environmentalist organizations. It’s time to move forward with precious metals mining. It’s time the private sector lifted the people of St. Louis County out of poverty by letting them flourish.

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