Why Are Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith Sponsoring Minnesota Anti-Mining Legislation?

Mainstream news outlets in Minnesota rarely tell the tale of how the Obama Administration incorrectly broke decades of protocol by cancelling mineral leases of Twin Metals Minnesota and sought a 20 year moratorium on mineral exploration in the Superior National Forest during his lame duck session.

The inappropriate actions of the Obama Administration were reversed  by President Trump, but unfortunately, Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are supporting an action that would force the National Forest Service to prevent any action that would advance mining in this area, according to documents obtained by Mining Minnesota, pictured below.

While Senator Smith’s position on mining has always been vague, this is a sudden flip-flop for Senator Klobuchar, who scolded the Obama-era Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak for cancelling the mineral rights and not following proper procedure, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, which I’ve posted below.

[embeddoc url=”http://wsj.com/public/resources/documents/AK060719.pdf?mod=article_inline” viewer=”google”]

You’ll notice that Senator Klobuchar said:

“[the mineral leases] should have been handled through the normal process. It wasn’t.” Later, Senator Klobuchar said she “repeatedly expressed concerns about using this lease denial process after they [Twin Metals] had had the leases for years. Sally Jewell [who was the Secretary of the Interior under the Obama Administration from 2013 to 2017]  actually said publicly what would happen before comments were even submitted and deliberations made. Oops.”

This is a stunning admission because it shows the fix was always in, and that the Obama Administration was determined to inappropriately cancel the mineral leases no matter what comments were made. It’s no wonder the people living in Northern Minnesota, who support copper-nickel mining by a margin of 61 percent in favor, 27 percent opposed, and 14 percent undecided, felt like no one was listening to them under the previous administration.

New data that have become available since American Experiment published our study Unearthing Prosperity suggest non-ferrous mining in our state would create up to 4,667 direct jobs in the mining industry, which pay an average of $80,000 per year, support 4,912 indirect jobs, and 5,271 induces jobs, for a total of 14,850 jobs, and boost Minnesota’s GDP by $5.9 billion each year, according to the economic modeling software IMPLAN, the industry standard software for economists. Cancelling mining activity in the Superior National Forest would destroy many of these potential jobs.

Not only would Smith and Klobuchar’s most recent attempts to stop mining in Minnesota deny economic opportunities for hardworking Minnesota families, they are also bad for the environment.

Both Senators support mandating more renewable energy onto the grid, but they seem to conveniently ignore the fact that these energy sources use enormous quantities of copper, nickel, and cobalt.

Minnesota has some of the largest undeveloped deposits of copper and nickel in the world, and the largest deposits of cobalt in the United States. Minnesota also has some of the strongest environmental regulations in the world which are specifically designed to minimize impacts on the environment while allowing responsible mining to be a powerful engine for Minnesota’s economy.

In fact, Twin Metals even announced they go to extraordinary measures to protect Minnesota’s water resources at their planned copper-nickel mine in Northern Minnesota by using a method called dry stack tailings storage, which is often touted by environmental groups as the best way to store waste rock left over from the mining process.

In other words, if there were any place in the world that these politicians should support mining, it should be in Minnesota.

However, if we  make it impossible to mine in Minnesota, we are destined to import these metals from areas of the world with fewer protections for workers and the environment, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 40,000 children mine for cobalt and wash the ore in rivers.

Environmental groups like Friends of the Boundary Waters and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy often claim with certainty that copper and nickel mining at the Twin Metals mine will negatively impact the environment, but it is important to remember that these claims cannot possibly be based on a scientific assessment of the planned mine because Twin Metals hasn’t even submitted a proposal yet.

Therefore, this criticism is like a four-year old who proclaims they don’t like broccoli even though they have never tried it.

Unfortunately, Senator Smith and Senator Klobuchar are also making up their mind about mining before a formal mine plan can even be proposed.