Since he got into office, Gov. Dayton has catered to the anti-mining wing of the DFL. That’s because his first ex-wife, Alida Messinger, a) opposes mining, b) opposes Iron Rangers making a better living for themselves and their families and c) writes big checks to fund the DFL and its chief smear campaign machine, aka the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM.
According to their website, Alida Messinger is the Vice-President of Conservation Minnesota, a radical environmentalist organization that’s opposed to the PolyMet and Twin Metals mining projects.
According to his St. Cloud Times op-ed, Rolf Westgard is “a professional member of the Geological Society of America. He teaches classes on energy subjects for the University of Minnesota Lifelong Learning program.” Dr. Westgard has a dramatically different take on precious metals mining. It’s dramatically different because he deals with facts, not hysteria:
Environmentalists are lined up in opposition to these projects, viewing them as a serious threat to water quality. The issue is these ores are reactive sulfide minerals. When mined, the sulfur comes in contact with water and oxygen, forming sulfuric acid. This acid can then dissolve and carry away toxic elements, polluting water supplies in a process known as acid rock drainage.
In the past, acidic metal-rich waters from mining have damaged the environment when mining companies did not follow safe practices. Today, mining companies have to be good stewards of the environment, and our laws are made to ensure this happens.
At Ladysmith, Wis., Kennecott operated an open pit copper sulfide mine that operated 140 feet from the Flambeau River in the 1990s. During the mining all of the surface area drainage and pit pumping water went into a treatment plant that successfully purified the water so it could be safely returned to the environment.
Upon closure, to avoid ARD, the pit was backfilled with the waste rock that was stripped from the pit along with 30,000 tons of limestone. Limestone was added to neutralize any ARD that formed while the pit was exposed. There were no violations of its permits in construction, operation and closure. These are practices required in Minnesota.
In other words, these companies are experts at mining the precious metals without contaminating drinking water or causing major health hazards. They have a history of cleaning up after themselves, too. That isn’t because they’re altruistic. It’s because they’re monitored by the EPA at the federal level and state agencies in the various states.
While Gov. Dayton pursues ‘high tech jobs of the future’ in California, Minnesota is literally sitting on a gold mine in northern Minnesota that would create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state:
Minnesota owns more than 6,000 acres of land in the region, and it stands to collect $2.5 billion in royalties in the coming decades if mining proceeds. This state property is known as “school trust lands.” Under the Minnesota Constitution, income from such lands is earmarked for the Permanent School Fund, which contributes about $60 per pupil to every school district. An analysis by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources projected that the school fund, with assets of $720 million, could more than triple in size with copper royalties during the next 25 to 30 years.
Why wouldn’t we take advantage of this gold mine? Why wouldn’t we help the blue collar people of the Range earn a better living? Right now, families in St. Louis County make almost $15,000 a year less than the statewide average. Why wouldn’t we want more money going into the Permanent School Fund? It’s the easiest of easy money.
If the goals are to fund schools without overburdening taxpayers while restoring prosperity to the Iron Range and economic health to the state, issuing permits for the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects is the way to go. It’s the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B.
This route isn’t being taken because the DFL’s special interest puppeteers aren’t interested in funding schools with minimal costs to Minnesota’s taxpayers. The DFL’s special interest puppeteers aren’t interested in restoring prosperity to the Range. The biggest mistake conservatives make is thinking that the DFL leadership is interested in doing the right thing for the right reasons.
It’s important to understand that the DFL will always do the right thing…when it’s the only option left.
Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton will continue recruiting companies that require massive government subsidies to succeed. It’s a shame that he just doesn’t put in place policies that help companies already here succeed.
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