ELY— Two environmental attorneys were in Ely last week to update the Tuesday Group about their work to protect the Boundary Waters against the potential threats posed by sulfide-ore copper-nickel …
ELY— Two environmental attorneys were in Ely last week to update the Tuesday Group about their work to protect the Boundary Waters against the potential threats posed by sulfide-ore copper-nickel mining.
Alison Flin of The Wilderness Society and Erin Whalen of Earthjustice told area residents that the proposed Twin Metals project is currently in court, where key decisions are likely to be made.
Becky Rom, a local lawyer and BWCAW advocate, introduced the speakers. “You all heard the science and the science is clear. We all know the industry and their practices are clear,” she said. “The argument that we need copper mining for jobs is not substantiated by a recent independent economic report. We need the best (lawyers) in the business and we have them.”
Whalen said she is part of a group that has “104 active lawsuits” against the Trump administration, although she said she could not discuss many details of the ongoing litigation. “The government acted without authority and did so arbitrarily because their decision was based on an incorrect interpretation of the law,” she said.
Flint said she has “worked for decades at the national level” to champion environmental causes. “Everyone is now in court and we’ll see how all that plays out,” she said.
Twin Metals Minnesota is currently allowed to continue exploration of a proposed underground mine project southeast of Ely under an order signed by President Trump.
“It can be demoralizing, but I remain optimistic and energized. We have no choice but to keep fighting to protect this unparalleled place,” Flint said.
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for the nation’s wild places.
Earthjustice is the nation’s premier nonprofit environmental law organization, regularly taking on some of the largest, precedent-setting cases in the country.
During a brief question and answer period, local sulfide mining supporter Mike Banovetz cited an academic article from a Maryland professor in the journal, Feminist Theory, that defines “eco-sexual” as “a person that finds nature sensual or sexy that takes the earth as their lover” and to use “environmentally-friendly sex products” or “to have sex with nature itself.”
He went on to cite the article, saying “defecating outside is a form of eco-sexuality.” At this point, many in the audience began to shout down Banovetz. “My question to you, is this the underlying reason for constant litigation by you, your organization and your supporters?”
Flint answered, “I don’t think that justifies a response.”
Later in the conversation, another audience member responded to Banovetz’s comments, “These are public meetings and most of the public comes here come with the desire to learn and understand. And for those who come to ridicule and insult, I challenge you to come openly because you are welcome and be open to what is being discussed. You don’t have to agree with it, but be respectful.”