I think that Congressman Rick Nolan is representing us in Washington very well, on most issues, but I want to raise two challenges to his recent statement in support of the PolyMet copper/nickel mining plan.
First of all, he implies that because the permitting process “has been going on for ten years,” well then, “it’s time to move forward.” The lengthy process in fact is a strong argument for the opposite conclusion. It has gone on for years because the plan is flawed. There are many critical issues which remain unresolved even in the current third draft of the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange Environmental Impact Statement. Just as with the Keystone XL Pipeline, the years-long debate is a strong indication that the concerns are legitimate and that the PolyMet project, like the pipeline, should not be permitted.
And secondly, Rep. Nolan suggests that this hard-rock mining should be allowed to proceed because, in his words, “Make no mistake - the monitoring and enforcement process will be vigorous.” Given that every taconite mine on the Iron Range is out of compliance with the Clean Water Act, or has been granted variances, I wonder what legislation our congressman plans to push through to assure us that his promise is not just empty campaign rhetoric. The federal and state regulatory agencies clearly will need more funding, personnel, and authority if we are to have vigorous monitoring and enforcement of this risky new kind of mining in NE Minnesota.
Morse Twp., Minn.