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Don’t stifle views of those who worry about new mining impact

Don’t stifle views of those who worry about new mining impact...printed in the Ely Timberjay Sept. 19, 2011...image was not included in original printing, we added that.

In Sunday’s Mesabi Daily News, Bill Hanna, headlined his front page with the news article, “Never Mined.” From his bully pulpit Mr.Hanna derided the North House Folk School for presenting a play against PolyMet and scolded the IRRRB for giving funding to a community arts group that would dare question the copper/nickel/precious metals proposal in our backyard. Tony Sertich and David Dill stated this group had a right to present an anti-sulfide mining play, but Mr. Sertich also stated that funding to this community group “might be something to look at in the future.”

When freedom of expression is held ransom, like the debt ceiling was, because persons in the media and our elected officials use their power and money to silence the opposition it is time that they be reminded that people on the Range are informed, intelligent and have an obligation and right to present the other side of the story.

This is not an anti-mining stand. My father worked in the Soudan Underground Mine and relatives and friends are employed by the taconite mines today. But we also hunt, fish and run businesses that are based on the tourist industry economy in Nothern Minnesota. This is a stand based on facts that sulfide mining in our backyard is a very toxic idea for people, wildlife and our environment. We are a state of 10,000 lakes; not 10,000 mines. We have a diverse economy and know that to permit damage to our lakes, rivers and water through sulfide mining is not an intelligent choice. A vision for the IRRRB, our elected officials and the media is to respect and protect the diversity of this area and be a guardian of all its natural resources—not a destroyer.

It is time for those who use the bully pulpit in their news outlets and the elected officials of all government to take notice. See what is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and across the United States where the infrastructure of our middle class— the teacher, the policeman, the firefighter, the nurse— is being destroyed. This is not only a sulfide mining problem in our backyard; it is an attack and undermining of our democratic way of life. You can distort or omit the facts. You can refuse to print or edit our point of view. You have one vote. We have one vote. We have a voice! We are informed! We are many!

Cathy Carlson

Lake Vermilion

Tower, Minn.

1 comment to Don’t stifle views of those who worry about new mining impact

  • Jane Koschak

    Your message is right on target..thank you! The silent majority here in our Ely area has been held hostage for long enough on this controversial issue by our regional politicians and some of our local media who have constantly preached that we need the jobs provided by metallic metal mining (copper nickel) that has been proven to destroy the environment and pollute the water where ever it has been done in the world.

    Should sulfide metallic mining be permitted, what then of the existing 30,000 tourism and recreational jobs and fisheries and wildlife jobs that depend upon clean water and clean air? Fishing alone nets 43,000 Minnesota jobs, and $2.8 billion in retail spending (Ely Echo, May 14, 2011). And a huge number of those jobs and significant retail spending occurs right here in our Ely area. However, that will disappear when our natural resources are ruined from sulfide mining, and our vibrant Ely area is turned into another mining district with flat topped hills devoid of trees, and smog hanging over it.

    Technological changes in mining industries have significantly impacted communities adjacent to mines. “Between 1979 and 2005 labor productivity in MN iron mines tripled. Even so, employment in MN’s iron mines declined by 73%. This pattern of significant decline in employment despite stable or increasing levels of production can also be found in almost every mining sector from copper to coal. For adjacent communities that do not have diversified economies and rely heavily on mining, this pattern means regular layoffs and relatively high unemployment rates, even when high levels of production are maintained.” (Thomas Michael Powers, Economics Dept. University of Montana)
    Take a good look at Virginia with several existing taconite mines surrounding it making more money per ton of taconite right now than any time in recent history. Yet its streets are lined with empty shops and rundown schools. Any short term gain from a construction boom of an extraction industry is soon offset by the long-term decline in employment as jobs for people are replaced by mechanization and citizens are left with the huge clean up costs.

    There is nothing radial about opposing toxic sulfide mining, and more and more people are doing just that in Ely and the surrounding area.

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