This article highlights the friction building within the DFL. Friday night, DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said that his party would emerge from their state convention in Duluth “united and energized.” That’s happy talk, putting it politely. Put bluntly, I’d call it BS. Here’s what’s causing the friction:

Some special interest groups want a far-reaching environmental impact statement done by the U.S. Forest Service on the effects of mining done in all of northern Minnesota, specifically in the Superior National Forest.

But Democratic elected officials are basically saying in unison — enough is enough. Some of them, however, are using more direct and unequivocal wording.

They all say the proposal would be providing an unnecessary layer of environmental review on top of stringent processes already in place.

The environmental groups, such as Friends of the Boundary Waters, want the Forest Service to prepare something called a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on mining in the region, with a focus on the Superior National Forest.

According to their website, Friends of the Boundary Waters Board of Directors are from the Twin Cities. Simply put, the metro DFL wants to shut down mining while the Iron Range DFL wants to put people back to work in the mining industry. Actually, let’s be clarify things a bit.

Rank-and-file Iron Range Democrats are pushing Iron Range DFL legislators into supporting mining. Rank-and-file Democrats have found that they have to push Democrat legislators into supporting mining. That’s illustrated perfectly in this article:

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.”

Incredibly deceptive is what Democrats do on the subject of mining. Here’s what Sen. Franken said on the subject:

“Mining is a great Minnesota tradition, and so is protection of our environment and natural resources.

“There’s no question that we need to take into account the environmental impact of any proposed project, but Minnesota and the federal government already have rigorous processes in place to make sure that happens. There’s no reason to have an overly burdensome process.

“I’ve been talking with the Forest Service about this issue and I will continue to be in touch with them,” Franken said.

Notice what Sen. Franken didn’t say. He didn’t say that he’s pushing the USFS and the EPA to make PolyMet a reality. Sen. Franken’s statement sounds identical to Jim Oberstar’s statement that he was “working behind the scenes” on PolyMet.

The Democrats’ lip service to miners is insulting. When something’s important to them, they organize big public displays to show their unswerving commitment to the cause. While Nolan and Franken make the right noises about mining, their actions stop far short of showing that unswerving commitment to mining.

It’s almost as if it’s an afterthought to them.

Check back later today for more on that topic. Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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