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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

New PAC focuses on BWCAW protection

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 8/7/18

ELY— A new political action committee here is hoping to put some electoral muscle behind their desire to protect the Boundary Waters from the threats posed by sulfide-based copper-nickel mining. …

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New PAC focuses on BWCAW protection


ELY— A new political action committee here is hoping to put some electoral muscle behind their desire to protect the Boundary Waters from the threats posed by sulfide-based copper-nickel mining. And they’re starting that effort by weighing-in on the DFL primary contest for governor, set for Tuesday, Aug. 14.

The Boundary Waters Action Fund is a new 501(c)4, which is a type of non-profit organization that can engage in a wide range of social advocacy. Unlike more traditional nonprofits, organized under the IRS rule known as 501(c)3, the Boundary Waters Action Fund will be able to engage much more in electoral politics, even endorsing candidates in some cases.

For now, the group is letting tens of thousands of voters around the state know which gubernatorial candidates they feel are “Boundary Waters Champions.” The group is reserving the designation for candidates who they believe are committed to protecting the 1.1 million-acre wilderness and its associated watersheds from the risks posed by proposed copper-nickel mining.

In the three-way race for the DFL nomination for governor, the group has certified DFL-endorsed candidate Erin Murphy and First District Congressman Tim Walz as champions who will protect the Boundary Waters.

“Erin Murphy and Tim Walz have shown through both word and action that they recognize the absolute uniqueness of the Boundary Waters, the threat posed by sulfide-ore copper mining in its watershed, and the critical importance of protection,” said Drucker. “We are confident that under either of their leadership the Boundary Waters will be protected.”

DFLer Lori Swanson and her running mate Congressman Rick Nolan were not certified by the group.

The Boundary Waters Action Fund will be communicating its certification of Murphy and Walz to its list of over 75,000 Minnesota voters ahead of the primary.

“The Boundary Waters is Minnesota’s crown jewel and one of the most ecologically diverse, pristine, and yet also fragile, ecosystems in the world,” said Action Fund Director Jeremy Drucker. “It is a destination for Minnesotans, Americans, and travelers from all over the world for its world class hunting, fishing and canoeing. It is also a major economic engine generating hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly economic activity. Boundary Waters Champions are those who are committed to protecting this unique Minnesota icon from the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining in its watershed.”

According to recent polling by a Republican-leaning polling firm, roughly seven-in-ten Minnesotans say they oppose copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters. Among self-identified DFLers, that opposition hits 90 percent, according to a statement issued by the group. “By a 40-to-one margin DFLers prefer the candidate who will continue Gov. Dayton’s ban on sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters,” said Drucker.

Additional certifications will be made in the coming weeks in other state and federal races across Minnesota. Boundary Waters Champions will qualify for additional support from the action fund.


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The political plan is for a massive copper-nickel sulfide district that would extend from PolyMet to Teck to Twin Metals--all likely sharing PolyMet's processing plant and infrastructure. Once the state of Minnesota permits a sulfide mine, and the precedent is set that toxic sulfide mining can be done in our water-rich environment, there is very little chance of stopping the other sulfide mines. Those who are silent on PolyMet are facilitating the opening of a sulfide mining district that will extend to the Boundary Waters.

There are some candidates running in the primary election--such as Michelle Lee for 8th district Congressman and Richard Painter for U.S. Senate-- who have voiced their opposition to sulfide mining in northeast Minnesota--whether it impacts Lake Superior or the Boundary Waters. This is the only way to protect the headwaters of the Laurentian Divide and the eventual contamination of both watersheds.

Sunday, August 12, 2018