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Political Matters
Political Matters: Mining in the Penokee Hills
Monday, March 10 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Mining in the Penokee Hills

I’ve devoted several recent “Political Matters” columns to the environmental threat posed by sulfide mining in northeastern Minnesota, the proposed PolyMet mine. This month, I’ll change things up and write about taconite mining. Specifically, Gogebic Taconite, LLC (GTAC) is considering developing what reportedly could become the largest open pit mine in North America.

GTAC’s big dig, just south of the Bad River reservation, would be 4.5 miles long, 1.5 mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. The Wisconsin DNR states that, if developed, “the project would likely include an open pit mining operation, a plant site and waste disposal facilities.”

The GTAC project, as you might imagine, has sparked controversy across northern Wisconsin. I talked recently with Cyrus Hester, an environmental specialist with the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa.

Political Matters: Sulfide mining debated in St. Paul
Friday, February 07 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Sulfide mining debated in St. Paul

Hope Flanagan, of Minneapolis, first spoke in Ojibwe when she addressed the large throng in the St. Paul RiverCentre, at the public meeting on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed NorthMet mining project.

“I want to speak for our children,” Flanagan said, shifting to the English language. She explained that Indian prophecies speak of the Seventh Generation, the children of the future who will be affected by the decisions we make today. She added that women have a special role in protecting the natural world. “All you women out there, this is our job … We’ve got to have clean water, clean food. Let’s start thinking about our children.”

Political Matters: Comment on PolyMet's plan
Thursday, January 09 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Comment on PolyMet’s plan

You can download a copy of the new environmental review of the proposed NorthMet copper-nickel mining project at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website (dnr.state.mn.us ). It’s a big file, 136 megabytes and the DNR warns that it “could take time to download.”

In late December, I talked with Betsy Daub, policy director for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness (friends-bwca.org), a group that has been trying to raise public awareness about the environmental dangers from sulfide mining.


Political Matters: Go PolyMet?
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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Go PolyMet?

In early December, PolyMet Mining will release its supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its NorthMet copper-nickel project near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. In October 2009, the first draft EIS was released; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that report inadequate and sent the Toronto, Canada-based firm back to the drawing board.

Four years later, with the new EIS set to arrive, the controversy over the environmental risks from sulfide mining – a new industry in Minnesota – will ramp up. The mining firm is behind a public relations effort dubbed “Go PolyMet,” which is aimed at winning public support for the NorthMet project. This is a “slick, high-production values ad campaign,” according to Nancy Schuldt, the water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.


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