DFL Legislators Want to Halt PolyMet, Urge Governor To Cancel Permits

According to the Star Tribune, eighteen liberal Democratic lawmakers from the Metro area are calling for Governor Tim Walz to suspend all state permits for PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. The legislators claim the suspension is needed to make sure that “the permits were not rigged.”

It’s interesting to note that not a single DFL lawmaker from the Iron Range, where the mine would actually be located, signed on to the letter. This makes sense, because no project in Minnesota history has been studied more extensively than the PolyMet project, which has been under regulatory review for more than 14 years. Furthermore, the project meets all state and federal environmental standards, which are the most stringent in the nation and in the world.

The fact that liberal metro-area lawmakers are not satisfied with this extensive review process is telling because it suggests that they will never be satisfied with the environmental review process, no matter how extensive it may be. Instead, the goal is to perpetually move the goal posts so the project can never be built, no matter how many environmental protections are put in place to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits.

Despite their opposition to mining in Minnesota, it is unlikely that any of the 18 lawmakers who signed on to the letter are Amish, and therefore they contribute to the demand to copper, nickel, platinum, and cobalt every single day through their use of computers, cell phones, and virtually anything else that allows us to enjoy a modern standard of living. This makes their anti-mining stance incredibly hypocritical, especially if they claim to care about the planet.

If we do not mine in Minnesota, that means the metals and minerals we depend upon must come from somewhere else. As I have often said, this “somewhere else” will have lower standards for the environment and human health. The most obvious example of this situation is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where as many as 40,000 children mine cobalt by hand in dangerous conditions and wash the ore in rivers.

There is a good chance that many of these lawmakers believe in purchasing fair trade coffee because they believe in promoting companies that are good stewards of the environment and treat their employees fairly.

Minnesota has the largest reserves of cobalt in the United States, and developing these resources is the best way to show leadership  by responsibly developing our mineral resources in the most ethical, and environmentally responsible way possible.

I sincerely hope that the legislators who sent the letter urging Governor Walz to cancel the permits for PolyMet will  extend this same principled stance to the metals and minerals they rely upon every single day.