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Secretary of Agriculture Perdue Defends Decision to Renew Mineral Leases

Anti-mining activists have been quick to criticize the Trump Administration’s decision to renew the mineral leases for the Twin Metals Minnesota project located north of Ely, Minnesota. However, these criticisms are not intellectually honest. After all, it was the Obama administration, in a lame-duck action, who broke decades of protocol by cancelling these mineral leases and sought a 20 year moratorium on mineral exploration.

Even Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar stated the renewable should have been handled through the normal process.

This is why it was refreshing to see Sonny Perdue, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, take to the pages of the Star Tribune to criticize the Obama administration’s decision:

In the waning days of 2016, the Obama administration made a political decision to rush through paperwork, throw out precedent and ignore the voice of congressional representation in the area by unilaterally adding lengthy, duplicative steps to circumvent the traditional rigorous environmental impact study. The goal of that decision was to stop any mining altogether, halting the precedent of environmental impact studies and precluding any future decision from being based upon sound science.

I believe this is exactly what happened. The waning days of the Obama Administration can only be described as a temper tantrum of cancelling projects that would improve America’s economy. The delay of the Dakota Access Pipeline and a flurry of midnight regulations designed to further kneecap the coal industry come to mind, but the former President also sought to ban uranium mining for 20 years in Arizona.

Purdue continued:

Approaching this issue on a case-by-case and local basis, rather than mandating an inflexible 20-year prohibition, meets both the economic and environmental needs of Minnesota’s rural communities. Mineral exploration creates stable jobs in local communities, and the minerals produced from lands managed by the USDA Forest Service are critical to a variety of applications and technology — from medical and infrastructure applications to household appliances, smart phones, computers and cars.

Approaching this issue on a case-by-case and local basis, rather than mandating an inflexible 20-year prohibition, meets both the economic and environmental needs of Minnesota’s rural communities. Mineral exploration creates stable jobs in local communities, and the minerals produced from lands managed by the USDA Forest Service are critical to a variety of applications and technology — from medical and infrastructure applications to household appliances, smart phones, computers and cars.

It is fascinating that the people who claim to care about “the science” when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions are largely the same crowd who oppose responsible mining in our state. Although these activists claim to care about science, the data clearly show that their proposed solution to carbon dioxide emissions, building wind turbines and solar panels in Minnesota, are not even capable of providing around-the-clock carbon free power. Only nuclear and large hydro can do that.

Secretary Perdue should be applauded for his efforts to shine some light on the Obama administration’s tactics when wrongfully cancelling the TMM leases.

 

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