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‘I think we can do things right. It’s my job to make sure we do’: a Q&A with Gov. Tim Walz on PolyMet, Twin Metals and the DFL’s mining rift

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein
Gov. Tim Walz on Glencore: "Skepticism in any endeavor is healthy. Skepticism in this type of mining certainly is warranted. And I think that was my question to them. I said public perception is not good towards them."

Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine received its major permits from state regulators in 2018, shortly before Gov. Tim Walz took office. But that hasn’t stopped new hurdles, opposition and controversy around PolyMet from bubbling up during Walz’s tenure.

Last week, a judge temporarily suspended a critical PolyMet water permit granted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency while a district court investigates whether the agency worked to keep concerns from the Environmental Protection Agency out of the public eye. (The MPCA says it hasn’t.)

The Court of Appeals upheld Minnesota’s rules governing hard rock mining — a win for regulators and PolyMet. The Department of Natural Resources also announced it would not reconsider a permit for PolyMet’s tailings dam even though environmental groups said the dam was similar to one that collapsed in Brazil and killed hundreds of people earlier this year. The DNR said the two dams had significant differences and PolyMet’s is safe.

Lastly, in recent weeks lawmakers have sent dueling letters over whether PolyMet can operate without polluting Lake Superior’s watershed. The latest letter — signed by 70 lawmakers, mostly Republicans — said PolyMet should go forward. “We do not appreciate last-ditch efforts meant to throw sand in the gears of an already state-and-federally approved project vital to the future of the Iron Range and Minnesota.”


Walz has stayed relatively quiet on the subject. But in a wide-ranging interview with MinnPost at the Capitol on Thursday, the DFLer talked about his support for PolyMet, and his skepticism of Glencore — the company’s new majority shareholder. Among other things, Walz said he’d prefer to name Glencore on permits to make sure the Swiss mining behemoth is financially liable should cleanup be required. “I don’t think it’s just a formality,” he said. “I think it sets a precedent and a tone.”

The governor also talked about Twin Metals, a separate company hoping to build a copper-nickel mine in northeast Minnesota. The company, owned by Chilean mining company Antofagasta, is expected to submit a mine plan to state and federal regulators this year for a project south of Ely, just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

PolyMet says it expects to create 360 jobs and another 1,000 spinoff jobs over the course of the mine’s life. But copper-nickel mining carries risk that iron ore mining does not. The extraction process can create an acidic runoff and leach heavy metals into nearby waters. The company plans to build an open-pit mine and repurpose an old LTV Steel taconite plant near Hoyt Lakes, and its tailings dam. After a 14-year permitting process, PolyMet says it can use modern mining technology and water treatment to prevent pollution.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length:

MinnPost: You met with Glencore [Thursday] morning. What did you ask them about and what did you learn?

Gov. Tim Walz: We’ve been asking to set this up once it became apparent… they had [a] controlling share because we’ve been dealing with basically a Minnesota-based company, if you will, with PolyMet working on the NorthMet project. And I wanted them to come in and to be very clear about answering some questions.

Certainly first and foremost, my message to them was: “The only way this gets built [is] if it gets built right.” And my assumption is that they would agree. They said, “That’s right.” And I said when we talk about being built right, accountability both on engineering and accountability on financial assurances. Because the fact is that I think many people knew that Glencore would be a major backer, but PolyMet is on the permits. And our philosophy is that the parent [company] should be on the permit. 

And that is something that they were pretty candid about in terms of “that is somewhat in flux” because they’re doing the financing piece … But I wanted to make it clear to them and spoke very candidly and openly and said, “This project has been 14 years in the making. I trust my agencies’ oversight and Minnesota’s oversight because we want to make sure — we’re proud that we have some of the most stringent environmental concerns.” But I was very honest with them. I said, “Your reputation is different than PolyMet’s. And how do we address this?”

We had a long conversation on that … I think it was a beginning conversation in terms of the accountability piece. Then I talked about labor, my expectations of good wages, about project labor agreements and card-check requirements being honored.


MP: A lot of people have said Glencore brings a lot of mining savvy and is a positive for the project. A lot of people have pointed out some of their problems. They’ve faced investigation for corruption and money laundering; there’s been some issues with pollution. The United Steelworkers gave them a “silver medal” in “corporate irresponsibility” in 2015. What would you say to Minnesotans who are concerned about those things?

TW: I would say I share those concerns and I brought those up this morning. I think in a large corporation they obviously feel like they’re going to be somewhat misrepresented, that you’re going to pick the bad with the amount [of] good they do. They do bring probably the highest level of sophistication on modern mining practices. … 

On the Steelworkers, PolyMet just has met with Leo Gerard and the Steelworkers. It was my expectation that Glencore will meet with the Steelworkers. And I said, I need to hear from [the Steelworkers] that they’re comfortable with this. … I asked them, they said, “We have union and non-union.” I said, “No. I want to see a positive message towards labor and a positive message towards worker and environmental safety.” And so they took that back with them. 

Skepticism in any endeavor is healthy. Skepticism in this type of mining certainly is warranted. And I think that was my question to them. I said public perception is not good towards them. And that’s the issue about whose name is going to be on there. I said, “People here are fairly sophisticated. They know that Glencore is running this operation.” So my question is what does that mean to Glencore to run it? What does that mean for labor standards? What does that mean for environmental standards? Who’s in charge and who’s the point person? I kept asking who can answer those questions. And so I think that’s what they’re taking back.

Glencore's corporate offices in Switzerland
Courtesy of Glencore
Glencore's corporate offices in Switzerland
MP: How do you feel about our state’s environmental standards when it comes to mining? Are they appropriate? Are they too strict? Are they not strict enough?

TW: I think they’re appropriate, but I think what we’re seeing, even over a 14 year period, I think everything evolves as technology and better monitoring and better processes come online. I think we need to continue to modernize them as new forms of mining or new techniques or even other economic activities. We need to continue to modernize those. 

Minnesota’s process, I’m proud that it is stringent. But I do think we need to — you know, 14 years of process [for PolyMet] — we’ve got to give some more certainty. I don’t think you cut any corners. … Those who say it’s just not worth it, I hear them. I think that is an equation that I have to balance. Is the economic and the environmental benefit outweighed by the environmental risk or the change that could happen to groundwater and everything else? Those are things we’re trying to figure out.

Both the science as it evolves, the law and the process, we have to implement that fairly and with a critical eye. And what I think we need to continue to strengthen is so there’s not the variable of whoever sits in this office says “Yay” or “nay” or moves things around. That the people have to know that the process is solid, verifiable, and trustworthy. And I think that’s what we’re continuing to try and strengthen. So I think Minnesota laws are as good as any place in the country, but can they be better? Yes. 

I think the incidents with the stay on the discharge permit shows that there’s at least a question of how that would happen. I am confident that that we did that correctly, I am confident that it did not compromise a permit. But I am also very cognizant from the perception of it that people are frustrated by that.


MP: Some environmental groups have called for PolyMet to use “dry stack” technology to store its tailings. Twin Metals recently announced it would use this method and called it “best available technology.” There has been a bill at the Legislature to put new restrictions on tailings dams and designate “dry stack” as the best standard in the industry. What are your thoughts on dry stacking?

TW: I think it’s a technology that makes sense. But each of these mines is different and each of these proposals is different. And I think what we know is the environmental footprint on the NorthMet project being run by PolyMet, and of course Glencore being the main backer, it’s an existing mine with an existing pit. And the reason for that is it’s less environmental impact, less movement around, less impact on wetland. And the determination was made, and still supported by DNR in the permitting process, that in this instance in this piece of land, it makes more sense to use the tailings dam the way it is.

MP: Moving on to the MPCA and the water permit that we talked about, now there are several investigations, the court has put a stay on that permit and sent the issue back to district court. They seem concerned about it. Are you concerned about the MPCA and its process in awarding that permit?

TW: I’m confident the MPCA did it right. As I said, certainly I think those perceptions as it came to, even though they were accepted practices on a [Memorandum of Understanding] with the federal folks, it gave the perception that all concerns weren’t being heard. Those who dug into it know … they were just being conferred verbally in many cases. …

At this point in time, I still feel that the highest best practices were followed that the permits do what they’re supposed to do, protect our environment, protect Minnesotans and I think the courts will they make that determination. If the courts believes there’s gonna be a different determination, they ask for something different to happen, we of course will certainly honor that.

MP: There’s a rift in the DFL party right now. You’ve got a group of legislators, a lot of them from the Twin Cities metro area, who are very concerned about PolyMet and they see this as a threat to clean water. You also see DFLers from rural areas and the Iron Range who see this as an economic lifeline and a new mining boom for the region. You’re the party leader here at the Capitol, how do you go forward knowing there’s a split over this?

TW: First of all, I’m proud that there’s not a rigid ideology that dictates folks, that they’re sent to represent the people that you see. I think Democrats being concerned with the environment and Democrats being concerned with job creation, especially labor — those are things that we’re proud of. I’ve always made the case that you don’t have to choose one over the other. That we should be able to do viable economic activities that provide quality of life while at the same time protecting environmental standards. That that should be the standard where we’re at. 

I think certainly, in our politics, we’re moving more towards a rigidness in positions. We’re moving more towards things that sometimes become litmus tests. I think there’s a great deal of frustration in the Democratic Party about Republicans’ total rejection of climate, environmental concerns. And I think that bleeds over in frustration of people feel the need to say, “You know what? I don’t want to be complacent in any of this of what they’re doing.”

I think it’s my responsibility to say if you want to see us move — as I put forward — to a carbon free future, there’s 5.5 tons of copper in every megawatt of solar, and it comes from somewhere. And I’m not going to source it from a place that uses child labor or has horrible environmental standards. So I feel a sense of responsibility to see if that can be done. 

I’m not just the party leader, I’m the state’s leader on these issues. In this case, the strange irony of it was that it was Republican legislators who tried to set the record straight on some of the concerns that were there. Probably not an unhealthy position for us to be where we’re seeing some of these not traditional alignments, but all looking for that common goal.

MP: Can you say you broadly support PolyMet right now as a project? Also, Gov. Mark Dayton went out to visit mines in South Dakota and Michigan as he had a public reckoning with this issue. In the end he said he thought PolyMet was a “risk worth taking.” He also opposed Twin Metals. What’s been your journey on this? 

TW: I have been to some [mines] and I spent, of course, time in Congress and looked at different things. The [state] permits for this NorthMet project run by PolyMet were all issued by the time I took office. I understand I accept the responsibility as a state’s governor to get this done right. I do support responsible usage of minerals, especially ones that will lead us to a clean energy economy. But I take each one of these as an individual and I do think you have to do the risk analysis on if it can be done. 

There are those, and I respect them, who say there is nothing that can come out of this that’s good enough to merit the risk. There are others that say we can alleviate that risk and we can do this better than anybody else can and we can use these minerals not just to create jobs, but to create a cleaner energy future. And I come down on the side that I think we can do things right. It’s my job to make sure we do. 

We’re not going to cut any corners. This has been the most vetted project in Minnesota’s history. And apparently there’s more, a little bit more to vet on this. …

What I would say on this, totally different animal in Twin Metals. … I think it was a huge mistake for the Trump administration to short-circuit the environmental impact statement. Because I’ve already told people: if you’re a supporter of these projects then you’re responsible for making sure they’re absolutely vetted and that the public feels trust in them.

And right now the public doesn’t feel a total trust in certainly in the Twin Metals because they don’t know enough about it. But I certainly acknowledge there’s concerns and I need to do everything to alleviate their concerns. And they’ve entrusted with me to do the things they cannot have the time or the authority to do. And at this point in time, I have got the best people at MPCA and DNR doing the best work they can. …

But I’ll also say I sat at this very table with folks from the Boundary Waters, who I consider dear friends. And they know for me, having the site of my brother’s death in the Boundary Waters while he was canoeing is something I don’t talk about a lot, but I think they know weighs pretty heavy on me because it’s pretty special place for our family.

Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Alan Muller on 08/12/2019 - 11:59 am.

    In response to the MPCA permitting scandal, Walz says “I’m confident the MPCA did it right.” If he can’t see, or won’t admit, error here, what would it take??? This is an insult to all of us.

    • Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 08/12/2019 - 04:59 pm.

      I’m certain (ok, a little certain) that the process was skimmed over at the Dept of Natural Resources (DNR). In my experience with state DNR’s it is not their purview to question the regulatory actions taken or not taken by MPCA or the EPA. They’ll sign off on anything to avoid taking on anything smelling of politics. Due to their expertise in natural resource use and preservation, it follows that they get active and protect the Boundary Waters, the watersheds that come into play in this mining scheme, and the people of Minnesota’s future assets and resources. Someone is just not being forthcoming and transparent here.

  2. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/12/2019 - 01:10 pm.

    “we’re proud that we have some of the most stringent environmental concerns.”

    So stringent most of the lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands in the bottom 2/3rd of this State are more polluted than ever. So stringent pollinators numbers have collapsed.

    Nevermind too, most of the resources and the profits will leave this State, and pollution controls after the mining ends will cost more than the economic benefit of this mining, likely. And whatever money for cleanup put aside will likely be plundered just like the resource, so likely future generations who have no say about this mining will have to pay for cleanup out of pocket, assuming they can.

    Intergenerational injustice. What’s new? Nothing is new about this. The results are as predictable as the setting of the sun…these mining companies, their executives and shareholders will not be around for the cleanup….nor will the leadership of this State…so willing to profit but so full of empty promises about the money trickling down to”labor

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/12/2019 - 01:11 pm.

      …and about taking care of the “environment”.

      • Submitted by Arthur Lind on 08/13/2019 - 03:05 pm.

        So mining has been around in MN for 135 years and yes we have some holes in the ground as well as old abandon mines some of which are recreation lakes. In the northeastern part of the State we still have pristine lakes and forests while modern agriculture has taken care of the southern 2/3. Its too bad that agri-business does not have the same oversight that mining does. By the way check into the “trickle down” of dollars from mining wages, taxes, state mineral fees and the like that goes around many times throughout this state and especially in our area, which by the way includes Duluth and the Great Lakes. Precious metals mining will continue to provide for our environment as well as our livelihoods.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/14/2019 - 04:01 pm.

          Arthur,

          Iron mining does not make sulphuric acid like copper/nickel mining, which breaks down rock which sends heavy metals/assorted toxins into ground and surface water. Cleanup will cost more than Minnesota will profit from these mines – after most of the profits and the resources leave America, and Glencore no longer exists because their sordid history of plunder and polluting catches up with them.

  3. Submitted by Jim Grinsfelder on 08/12/2019 - 02:19 pm.

    Here’s how mining companies operate in the current regulatory climate:

    1. Form an operating subsidiary and a holding company.

    2. License the mine and all associated liabilities to the operating subsidiary.

    3. Mine the minerals from the ground and keep things clean enough during the mining operations to be profitable.

    4. During the profitable phase, the subsidiary company will:

    a. purchase “services” from the holding company at well above market rate.

    b. purchase “services” from another subsidiary of the holding company, again, at well above market rate.

    5. Eventually, the resources are exhausted and the operating mining company files for bankruptcy.

    6. Then the mine-tailing dam fails or whatever else is likely to go wrong does go wrong and it results in the mining operation polluting nearby waterways. In this case, we’re talking the Boundary Waters Canoe Area lakes.

    7. By this stage in the game, there is no money in the bank account of the operating mining company, so the state is left to pay for the cleanup.

    8. And the holding company creates another operating subsidiary and starts the whole process over again.

    • Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 08/12/2019 - 05:15 pm.

      yes! this is the elephant in the living room that no one wants to talk about. the governor is the governor of all Minnesotans and I bet this Duluth is tearing him apart. I go back to what I always say…it’s time for Minnesotans in the BWCA to create sustainable jobs so that miners don’t have to wait for short-term, risky extraction mining work to put them to work. we can do this! let us begin it!

    • Submitted by Dave Paulson on 08/21/2019 - 04:40 pm.

      You are absolutely correct and Glencore is a master at the long-term negotiation – it is much cheaper to promise and cheat on that later, re-write the rules later, and try to find the money later, so that’s what they do.

      They are masters at it and Waltz is not, has not been bitten. Its his job to come out on top in these negotiations, not to be reasonable from “everyone’s perspective.”

  4. Submitted by Tom Berkelman on 08/12/2019 - 02:20 pm.

    Nice to have the Governor finally say “something” on sulfide mining. However the Orenstein completely dropped the ball with his ineptness to follow up and/or push back on a series of weak responses by Gov Walz. Maybe Orenstein simply hasn’t done his homework.

    He not only gave Gov Walz a free pass on questions re: technology, he completely didn’t ask one of the most obvious questions : “why has there not been any health impact study?”. Isn’t that what ALL Minnesotans care about? How about asking the question “why Gov Walz don’t YOU initiate an independent health impact study because at the end of the day, we ALL want to feel safe?”. EVERY medical group in a state that prides itself on health concerns has called for such a study. Why isn’t the Gov supporting their collective professional judgement?

    If Orenstein had been reporting when Nixon was in the White House, Nixon would have never left. Sad day for journalism here.

    • Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 08/12/2019 - 05:21 pm.

      Orenstein is a youngster learning to be a journalist and he thinks reporting facts will make him appear like “the liberal media.” He failed to report in detail how deep the issues are. they are deep! Minnesotans, keep the heat on and let’s see how this looks in another month or two.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/14/2019 - 08:28 am.

      You all should be more kind to Mr Orenstein. He is doing an excellent job of reporting on environmental issues in this State. Such reporting is otherwise rare.

      If you press these politicians too hard, you lose access. It is a tricky balance. At least he is trying. Most of the rest of media in this State is oblivious.

  5. Submitted by richard owens on 08/12/2019 - 02:22 pm.

    The fix is in. I feel like a sucker for many hours and hours of studying this issue.

    Exposing not just the track record of all sulfide mines attempted in wet environments, but the dismal management record of Glencore.

    Our neighbors to the north and east can attest to permanently polluted groundwater from these mines. It’s easy to research if one cares.

    Governor, you don’t need to look at the Brazil containment failure for examples of that weak link- the IRRRB had to deal with a berm collapse that not only destroyed the headwaters of the Embarrass river for spawning fish, but tore out public infrastructure. Biwabik folks remember- it was just a few years ago when all this rain changed our weather patterns and ripped open the berm

    PLEASE READ IT, as it was the proverbial canary we should have noted. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/06/04/northern-minnesota-mine-breach-leaves-messy-cleanup-damages

    How can anyone talk about this as “good for the future of the iron range” knowing full well mining is an extraction industry that takes resources and leaves nothing of value. Show us ONE mining town that thrived after the company left.

    Technology will be used to automate this excavation-grinding-washing process with the fewest jobs ever needed for a project this big.

    Two questions for anyone who dares an answer:
    1) Why is Trump and his EPA determined to undermine our environmental protections when human beings are living in dread of an uninhabitable future? Is it to help Minnesota or Is it to DIVIDE Minnesota?
    2) Can we agree that the most valuable endangered resources we Minnesotans have left are the land and waters of the North country? Why not?

  6. Submitted by Bill Hansen on 08/12/2019 - 02:25 pm.

    The 360 jobs aren’t even being claimed by PolyMet anymore – and that is assuming they will not use automation, which, of course, they will. Copper mining is historically a community killer – no exceptions. Glencore is a money laundering scheme for the world’s most rapacious criminal oligarchs. This is what happens when there is unlimited, untraceable, dark money in political campaigns. Minnesotans are too smart to fall for this scam.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 08/13/2019 - 09:25 am.

      Absolutely agree.

      Automation in mining is taking the jobs before they can materialize.

      Here is a new gold mine in DR Congo, where:

      “In a world first, [Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleetsystem] allows a fleet of up to five LHDs (Load, haul, dump machines) to be operated autonomously, 750m below the surface, within the same 6m x 6m production drive while utilizing designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes,” the company said today.”

      “The company said that its Kibali’s underground operation, a gold mine located in Democratic Republic of Congo, is managed by Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleetsystem. Operations are supervised by a single operator.”

      A SINGLE OPERATOR. (But he’ll get paid very well?) So much for helping the people of DR Congo. Gold smelting also kills rivers lakes and groundwater even cattle can’t survive gold effluents.

      https://www.kitco.com/news/2019-08-12/Barrick-Underground-Mine-Is-Supervised-By-A-Single-Operator.html

  7. Submitted by David Lundeen on 08/12/2019 - 02:53 pm.

    More refusal by Walz for accountability, and a seriously misrepresented view on the risks of mining. He’s what I said from the start, a Republican.

  8. Submitted by joe smith on 08/12/2019 - 05:27 pm.

    Fantastic news. After decades of frivolous lawsuits and delays, it appears folks in decision making roles will allow mining. 2019 regulations are very strict and will protect the environment. Folks up here are ready to work.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/13/2019 - 08:15 am.

      So strict the waters in the lower 2/3rd of the State are a polluted mess and pollinators are near extinction numbers. But I get it, progress dictates we bow before Glencore and Antofagasta like we bow before Bayer, Cargill, General Mills etc, and pollute the whole of the State.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/15/2019 - 02:52 pm.

      They should just move to where the jobs are like the rest of us.

    • Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 08/18/2019 - 11:28 am.

      There was an excellent suggestion above – why aren’t Minnesotans, especially those with ties to the Iron Range, working on developing sustainable jobs up there which won’t pollute the area and which won’t line the pockets of outside firms?

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/12/2019 - 05:57 pm.

    The “just say no” line is not as easy as presented here.

    I am a very frequent visitor to the area and they certainly feel like they are not ignorant to the risks of mining iron ore or copper nickel. It’s a lot easier for folks in the city to say: “tough luck, McDonald’s is hiring”.

    Walz is on the right track, in reality the only track: both sides need to get some kind of a win out of this. Not easy and hard to predict how it ends. Just digging (pun intended) in will not work for either side.

  10. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/12/2019 - 09:21 pm.

    It appears that Governor Walz is much like Senator Amy in that he is both for and against the issue. 14 years of study will not be enough as court challenges will make this last 5-10 more years which means a different Governor will likely be in office once the project is allowed to move forward (if at all). The minerals will be mined somewhere but NIMB will triumph as usual, which is OK as long as it is in China, or Mexico, or…

    • Submitted by Dave Paulson on 08/21/2019 - 04:43 pm.

      Not true this mine will be operating in 3-4 years and polluting in 3-6 years.

      Now is the time to be tough and Polymet promised many things it now is backing out of – per the usual strategy.

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/12/2019 - 10:25 pm.

    Yuck ! Waltz has let me down. And yet who would take on mining in this state. It seems no one but conservation, environmental intert groups, and tribal communities. There is only a politician or two with any courage to speak truth to power gop or dem. I fear all might be lost ….

  12. Submitted by Alex Schieferdecker on 08/13/2019 - 10:31 am.

    “…to a carbon free future, there’s 5.5 tons of copper in every megawatt of solar, and it comes from somewhere. And I’m not going to source it from a place that uses child labor or has horrible environmental standards…”

    I’m skeptical about these mines and worried about the potential for a disaster. At the same time, I find this argument hard to ignore. We do need more copper and we do need more nickel in order to transition to renewable energy sources. Those resources will be mined somewhere, and that somewhere is almost always in a developing country where conditions are terrible and pollution is unmitigated. Should a wealthy place like Minnesota not play its part?

    What’s the response to this?

    • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 08/13/2019 - 05:20 pm.

      Recycling copper works well. Are we already recycling most of what can be recycled? What is going in the landfill bound waste stream? I was digging around, but did not find an answer to the latter question.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/14/2019 - 09:47 am.

        We are so good at copper recycling that if you leave your door open your house wiring and copper plumbing may be gone…

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/14/2019 - 08:18 am.

      That is why I keep telling people who believe we can transition to a “renewable” society that otherwise looks like this one, there is nothing particularly green nor renewable about solar panels or wind power, especially coming from a society obsessed with eternal growth and waste-based in its economics.

      Nor is there likely anything like enough metals on earth to run such a “renewable” society for America, not to mention the rest of humanity. As for battery storage, that technology has never kept up with the rest of tech, we are already seeing hard limits on lithium, and “renewables” are like 3% of global energy output. It simply doesn’t scale.

      Polutting Minnesota waters for a few hundred years, for one generation’s attempt to build something that can’t and won’t be built, is a very bad idea.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/14/2019 - 09:43 am.

        Hmm…

        Current fossil fuel energy solutions: unworkable

        Projected renewable energy solutions: unworkable

        And as you previously have stated:

        Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump: No difference

        How about a nice commentary on Duncanotopia?

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/14/2019 - 04:19 pm.

          Edward,

          I recommend scaling down energy use radically, relocalizing the economy especially food and essentials production, stop taxing income and start taxing pollution, obscene weath/Monopoly, corporations, finance and automation, heal the land and waters and expand wilderness.

          That’s a start. But instead I expect more of the same trends of income inequality, ecological destruction, and resource constraints leading toward civilizational collapse, while society remains obsessed with eternal economic growth, eternal progress and consumerism generally, continuing to elect politicians who promise that.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/14/2019 - 06:57 pm.

          I suspect it may lift quite a bit from fellow named Ted from the sounds of things…

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 08/14/2019 - 12:56 pm.

        Nonsense. Wind and solar are not completely without environmental impacts. But they are exponentially greener than fossil fuels. And they are easily scalable.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/14/2019 - 04:06 pm.

          If you are going to dismiss my comment with the word nonsense, then I am going to address your statement with: prove it.

  13. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/13/2019 - 11:00 am.

    I’ll argue that the only relevant bit of information here is this: Sulfide mining has NEVER been done – anywhere on the planet – without severely polluting the local water supply.

    Never.

    There are lots of competitors for the title of “worst” in terms of pollution, duplicity, and fiscal irresponsibility, including railroads and numerous other manufacturing operations, but in that context the mining industry has perhaps the worst record of any heavy industry in terms of dealing honestly with the public, including maintaining the local area environment, and the fiscal responsibility that an environmentally- dangerous industry ought to be required to meet.

    Since it’s never been done, ever, we’re talking about a “permit” that will allow the potential ruination – for centuries, perhaps millennia to come – of the only environment we’ll ever have in that part of the state. That “permit” is being granted to a foreign business that will pocket the profits from our own raw materials, and that has zero stake in the long-term future of Minnesota. That company’s fiscal and legal track record is, in a word, awful. There’s no reason to believe assurances from company offices. All of this for a few hundred temporary jobs. And once the ore has been extracted… then what?

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