Pro-Mining Unions and Businesses Rip Forest Service “Charade”

Northern Minnesotans came out swinging this week in the Star Tribune, ripping the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management on mining. The tough talk came via a full-page ad announcing a boycott by a coalition of 17 union, civic and business groups of the federal agencies’ public hearing in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.

We’re fed up with jumping through federal hoops, burning gas, vacation days and
family time to sit through your endless, taxpayer-funded meetings. It’s death by a thousand cuts.

Anger and frustration over a last-minute Obama administration regulation banning mineral exploration in the national forest and reevaluating the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine practically jumps off the newspaper page.

We – workers, business owners and residents of the region – are ready and able to
embrace a new era of advanced mining technology, backed by a commitment to responsible environmental practices in one of the most mineral-rich areas in the world.

Your staffs have other ideas, such as blocking any new mining projects in a vast swath
of the Arrowhead Region and the good jobs that go with them. Your contrived process
is undermining and displacing a well-established, legally mandated and fair review
process that’s been in place for mining projects for decades, and which came about
because mining opponents who want the Northland to be only a playground applied
enough political pressure on a former administration to get their way.

It’s not often a group with a membership as diverse as chambers of commerce, 32 cities and townships, 16 schools, civic organizations and numerous labor unions agrees on anything. But the blunt language in the coalition’s letter–to the point of calling the hearing a “charade”– shows how desperately the Iron Range and Arrowhead need the well-paying jobs and economic development generated by mining.

No one should even pretend this is about gaining new information or insight. It’s about
politics, theatrics and stuffing the comment box with sentiments opposed to mining in
Minnesota and our region’s way of life.

How many hearings do we really need? Why must the people with the greatest stake,
whose jobs and regional economic viability are at risk, have to keep turning out for
these charades? When was the last time federal agencies held a hearing up North on
projects in the Twin Cities, such as the Green Line or St. Croix River Crossing?

Although the process seems stacked against them,  mining supporters promise to make their case once more at the Forest Service’s third and final public hearing on the issue next Tuesday on the Iron Range.

If you want to have a meaningful conversation about our region, our
lands, waters or minerals, you’ll hear from us loud and clear at the last public hearing in
Virginia, Minnesota, on July 25.

Enough is enough. No more delays. Return to a fair process. We’ll see you in Virginia.