Newspaper article

Iron Range DFLers Echo GOP Mining Rhetoric in Letter to Klobuchar, Franken

Newspaper article

Iron Range DFLers Echo GOP Mining Rhetoric in Letter to Klobuchar, Franken

Article excerpt

The DFL Iron Range legislative delegation has fired off a letter to Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, using language that sounds like the GOP's campaign themes.

The letter protests a potential U.S. Forest Service "programmatic environmental impact statement" that would evaluate mining throughout northern Minnesota and the Superior National Forest. A coalition of environmental groups has requested the PEIS.

"A regional or PEIS proposal ... is not necessary or appropriate, would be an inefficient use of federal resources, does not contribute to the public interest ... and would cause unacceptable delay in bringing jobs to Minnesota," wrote the eight-DFLer delegation.

The letter defends copper-nickel mining as "a tremendous opportunity for both the region and the state."

State Rep. Tom Anzelc, group chair, said that copper-nickel concerns are "appropriate," but another layer of environmental review would cast a shadow over iron ore mining, the region's main employer.

"My point is that the Environmental Protection Agency's increasingly aggressive interest in dealing with copper-nickel mining has morphed into areas that have consequences in iron and taconite," the Keewatin DFLer said. "And we have been doing iron and taconite for 125 years."

A spokesman for Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness, which supports the PEIS request, acknowledges such a review would touch on other copper-nickel mining projects. "It looks at how a landscape or region approaches different kinds of development," said communications director Aaron Klemz.

Klemz said that the proposed Twin Metals mining project is an example of what could come under PEIS review. "Twin Metals is relying on leases that were procured in 1966, before we had laws that require environmental review."

Anzelc maintains that government environmental agencies should stick to the facts. …

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