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MinnPost Social conversation focuses on PolyMet, Twin Metals

MinnPost reporter Walker Orenstein
MinnPost photo by Andrew Wallmeyer
MinnPost reporter Walker Orenstein speaking during Tuesday night's MinnPost Social.

On Tuesday, over 100 MinnPost members and readers gathered at Elsie’s in Minneapolis to hear from MinnPost reporter Walker Orenstein on the state of Minnesota’s most pressing environmental issues.

Orenstein reviewed his recent trip to northern Minnesota, where he spoke with local residents in Ely about their mixed views on the proposed Twin Metals mine. While sharing photos from his visits to the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals sites, Orenstein dug into some of the safety concerns posed by environmental groups about the projects, as well as the responses from the mining companies.

Orenstein also expanded on his recent interview with Gov. Tim Walz, during which the governor discussed the PolyMet and Twin Metals mining projects, including his concerns about economic and environmental issues. Orenstein also touched on the 2020 presidential race, noting that several Democratic candidates have taken positions on the Enbridge’s Line 3 project (including, most recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren), while Sen. Amy Klobuchar has maintained a neutral stance.


The question-and-answer session was moderated by MinnPost editor Andy Putz. The MinnPost Social series — presented by Great River Energy and RBC Wealth Management — allows MinnPost journalists to share their insights with the public. The events are free for MinnPost members and $10 for nonmembers.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/22/2019 - 08:43 am.

    I found Walker Orenstein to be very well informed, and gifted at walking the line between information and ideology/advocacy. I found it refreshing that he twice reminded the crowd that the economic concerns of the people living in the Arrowhead are legitimate, that falling school enrollment is very much the death of community.

    Which is one of my fundamental problems with the viewpoint (that I agree with) that these mines are wrong for many reasons, and would be a long term scar and likely point spurce of pollution – the way so many people from the city can be so very indifferent about the effect of economics that have hollowed out rural areas, and so dismissive about rural concerns about that.

    It reminds me of the time Margaret Thatcher said “there is no alternative” to neoliberal corporatist globalization and all the ecological and economic pathologies that entails. In the modern sense, the attitude that people just need to accept that it is a high tech global economy and if you can’t skill-up then too bad. There seemed to be a great deal of concern in that room about what future generations would have to deal with, with this mining, but much less concern about what happens to people now when economic ideology fails them.

    This mining issue is also a good reminder that there is little that is “green” about a “renewable” society, when the expectation is electric cars and solar panels for 8 billion+ people. So what if we have “renewable” utopia but there are 15 or 20 copper/nickel/precious metals tailings ponds leeching heavy metals and acids into arrowhead waters for “perpetuity”?

    The answer seems to me to use less energy more wisely, with a focus on local production of essentials, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern on either side of the ideological divide.

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