The Twin Metals sulfide mining project is all but dead. Between the pressure exerted by Governor Dayton and former Vice President Mondale, and the national priorities of the Bureau of Land Management the U.S. Forest Service, it seems highly unlikely the mineral leases will be renewed. Though there certainly was opposition to Twin Metals from environmental advocacy groups and local residents, the chief cause for the negative reaction is the behavior of the Iron Range legislative delegation.
In their longstanding but short-sighted fixation on undermining the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s ability to enforce state law and the federal Clean Water Act, present and past Range legislators generated a political, legal, and moral backlash that will do more to obstruct sulfide mining in Minnesota than any other single force.
While succeeding so far in shielding iron mining companies from the mandates of law, the Range delegation has also succeeded in tarnishing Minnesota’s “green” reputation to the extent that the Environmental Protection Agency may well step in to enforce regulations that the MPCA cannot or will not address.
For the pertinent question remains: if we cannot even effectively regulate the discharges of the taconite facilities, how can we possibly be trusted to deal with sulfide mining waste for centuries to come? The short answer: we can’t be. When the federal government takes over the task you will have your elected officials to thank.
Peter M. Leschak
Side Lake, Minn.