Nolan Listens to Constituents on Mining
Reader’s View: Nolan Listens to Constituents on Mining
Duluth News Tribune (Daily)
May 13, 2015
Congressman Rick Nolan has come under fire for supporting future copper/nickel and iron mining operations in Northeastern Minnesota. Various groups and individuals have even gone as far as questioning his loyalty to his constituents and his fitness to serve.
Hard-working, middle-class families of the 8th Congressional District support Nolan’s views on mining. The entire legislative delegation that represents the Iron Range supports Nolan’s views on mining. Furthermore, both Minnesota U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, support Nolan’s views on mining.
Right now hundreds of people are losing their jobs on the Iron Range. Plants and mines are closing, and we are entering another contraction.
Our region will continue to lose young families that will move in search of greater prosperity and new opportunities if the proposal that St. Paul Congresswoman Betty McCollum is pushing becomes law.
Opponents of mining like to paint the picture that you can’t have new mines and a safe environment. They use scare tactics and fear-based hypotheticals to drive a wedge between environmentalists and working people.
I am proud Rep. Nolan trusts the laws, regulations and processes of our state and federal agencies and believes you can safely mine and protect the environment at the same time.
Nolan knows who he represents. He represents all the people who live in Northeastern Minnesota, not just a vocal minority of well-financed opponents of industry — and not just people who come up here from the metro for vacation.
Congresswoman McCollum would do well to focus her attention on the substantial problems that exist in her own district. U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has us all covered up here.
Mining Lessons for Merit Badges
When Geologist Frank Pezzutto asked the dozen or so Boy Scouts what gypsum crystals are used for in our everyday life, all but one stood there in Minnesota Discovery Center’s Hall of Geology baffled.
“Sheet rock,” yelled one of the scouts.
And he was right.
That was just one of the many tidbits of information the 50-plus scouts learned while attending the Mining in Society Merit Badge-Spring Camporee earlier this month. The first-of-its-kind event was organized and sponsored by the Minnesota Section of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME).
Roughly eight troops of the Boundary Waters District of the Voyageurs Area Council Boy Scouts of America participated. The scouts were receptive and enjoyed the day, said Bill Beyer, district chair.
“The boys were really excited, and learned a lot about mining that they didn’t already know in terms of growing up here on the Iron Range,” he said. “They got a better picture of how mining happens and how big a part of our economy it is.”
The scouts spent the day at the Minnesota Museum of Mining, Minnesota Discovery Center (MDC) and a local mine fulfilling the requirements of the Mining Merit Badge. The camporee concluded with an awards ceremony, during which the scouts each received his badge.
To earn the badge, the scouts were required to do several things, including learn about minerals, use a map to locate five mining enterprises, identify potential hazards a miner may encounter, discuss the dangers someone might encounter at an abandoned mine, visit a mining/minerals museum or an active mine, find out what is being done to help control environmental impacts, read about reclamation, meet with a worker in the mining industry and/or research three career opportunities in the mining industry, among other options.
The badge is about a year old, according to Beyer. He said it was devised by a joint effort of Boy Scouts of America and SME.
“We really had both sides of the aisle involved with this, and both were really excited to do this,” he added, noting that not many scouts have earned this merit badge yet. “ … We felt this was a fitting badge for the boys to earn because of being from the Iron Range.”
Beyer also pointed out that merit badges span a range of topics, some of which may spark interest in a scout as potential long-terms goals or even future career options — including mining.
Corie Ekholm, chair of the Northern Subsection of SME, said the camporee went off as planned.
“All has been good,” she said mid-way through the day. “We have beautiful weather, the boys seem very engaged and are learning a lot.”
This was SME’s first time hosting such an event. The goal was to offer an eight-hour, hands-on experience that would result in each participant earning a full badge.
“They really are learning about many aspects of mining — from safety to what the minerals produce after they are mined, to how they are recycled in the afterlife and what really happened in our mining operations,” said Ekholm.
She also noted that SME and Boy Scouts were grateful to the Minnesota Museum of Mining, (MDC) and the local mine for allowing them to utilize their properties.
And if the scouts take just one thing from the day?
“Just how important mining is and how much it plays a role in our everyday lives,” said Ekholm. “Everything we use, most of it comes from something that was mined.”
But that’s not the only main message they took with them
“The biggest thing that seemed to stick with them is how big the mining process is — from turning rock into a product,” said Beyer. “They got a better picture of mining as a whole.”
Reject False Choice Between Jobs and Environment
Letters to the Editor: Rejects the False Argument that We Must Choose Between Jobs and the Environment
Ely Echo (Weekly)
May 9, 2015
An open letter to:
Rep. Betty McCollum
1714 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Rep. McCollum:
I am writing on behalf of Jobs for Minnesotans, a coalition co-founded by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and strengthened by community leaders and businesses from across the state. Together we represent 55,000 men and women of the trades, 2,300 businesses and hundreds more mayors, local chambers of commerce and citizens who support Minnesota’s mining future.
Collectively, from the Iron Range communities around Ely to the southern reaches of Austin and Fairmont, our coalition speaks for the thousands of people who believe in the opportunity to mine minerals and produce the materials essential to our quality of life. We are proud of the iron mining heritage that has supported generations of families and produced hundreds of millions of tax revenue dollars and generated billions of dollars of economic activity for this great state. Jobs for Minnesotans is equally passionate about a new era of mining in copper, nickel and other strategic metals that represents an even greater economic opportunity. These metals are critical to clean energy technologies, medical devices, defense industry applications and electronic devices – everything we use in our daily lives.
Your proposed National Park and Wilderness Waters Protection Act presumes state and federal regulations are not sufficient to protect our natural environment. It implies regulators are not capable of working with industry and the numerous stakeholders to thoroughly review mining plans in a fully transparent manner that addresses all environmental concerns. This bill in fact concludes that mining will no longer be a lawful activity in a state with some of the most stringent environmental protections that exist. Northeastern Minnesota holds the greatest promise to provide our nation’s domestic supply for metals needed in all areas of our economy. Let’s stop relying on foreign countries with low environmental standards and poor labor safety laws to meet our demand. Let’s do it here, let’s do it right.
Jobs for Minnesotans adamantly rejects the false argument that we must choose between jobs and the environment. We trust the regulatory process and our state and federal regulators to protect everyone who enjoys the beauty of the BWCA and consider it a national treasure, including the people who make their living from the mining industry. We applaud Rep. Rick Nolan, who is truly the voice of the people who make their homes and livings in northern Minnesota, for his long-standing support of mining and the wilderness. With all due respect, we believe the bill is unwarranted and ultimately destructive to our state and national economy, as well as the livelihood of thousands of Minnesotans.
Nancy Norr is Board Chair of Jobs for Minnesotans
Mining Is Our Livelihood
Hibbing Daily Tribune (Daily)
May 12, 2015
As we can see on the Iron Range, mining is our livelihood.
The Minnesota Museum of Mining allows visitors to climb aboard historic mining equipment and experience the beauty of the Stone Castle. Iron Range visitors can also see the world’s largest open pit iron mine at the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine and explore the first underground mine in Minnesota at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. Bus tours take you through active taconite mines and scenic overlooks provide the greatest views of operating and non-active mines across the state.
The Iron Range and its residents are proud of the strong mining heritage in Minnesota and it is important to maintain this legacy for years to come.
I value the current mining ventures taking place in our state, and I am excited about the projects to come.
As a long time BWCA-goer I take pride living where natural resources offer such recreational opportunities and economic opportunities. It’s a rare thing to have plentiful minerals at our fingertips, to know we can turn a corner and mine successfully for iron ore, copper or nickel. This isn’t an opportunity we can afford to waste.
Not only are the minerals bountiful, the wilderness is as well. As an avid fisherman, I look forward to the excitement that surrounds the Governor’s Fishing Opener each year. The event has always conveyed the pride our state’s residents have for our land and our culture.
I am confident in the protection of this land through environmental regulations and reviews required by state and federal law for mining projects. The environmental standards currently in place are some of the most stringent in the world, demanding companies adhere to proactive and responsive measures to ensure the land is protected long before mining begins through years after mining has concluded.
We know how to mine here, and we know how to do it responsibly. While many other countries have lax regulations, the United States is an outstanding example of how job creation can be a reality all while remaining environmentally responsible. Without a doubt, our state is an advocate for the environment and the economy, and together we can be successful with both.
I am proud of Minnesota’s mining heritage. Our great state has flourished on mining for decades and the industry is the pride of generations of families here on the Iron Range. It has supported four generations of my family.
Copper-Nickel Mining Vital to Region’s Economy
Reader’s View: Copper-Nickel Mining Vital to Region’s Economy
Duluth News Tribune (Daily)
May 8, 2015
The city of Duluth and surrounding communities have made progress toward a more stable economic atmosphere since my wife and I moved here nearly 10 years ago for college, but unemployment in our region is still higher than in some other areas. The layoff numbers keep increasing on the Iron Range, where my father, uncle and cousin are waiting to hear what’s happening next at the taconite mines where they work.
Fortunately, copper-nickel mining projects in the Duluth Complex, one of the world’s largest untapped sources of copper, nickel and other strategic metals, will supply hundreds of mining and spin-off jobs to the region.
With good-paying, long-term copper-nickel mining jobs in Minnesota, more northern Minnesota residents will be able to stay and raise families in our communities, and businesses statewide will benefit from purchasing goods and services associated with a thriving copper-nickel mining industry.
Taxes and royalties from copper-nickel mining projects will benefit local governments and schools districts across the state. These mining projects are the catalyst to long-term benefits to this area, an area that celebrates the tourism industry but cannot rely on it to sustain our region.
Minerals from mining projects are key components of technology we use every day and are critical to the clean-energy movement. Wind turbines and solar panels are just a few important products made from these metals. As Minnesota seeks to be a leader in clean energy, so, too, should our state policymakers support our ability to responsibly mine the essential minerals that supply this industry with raw material.
Mining companies are taking steps to ensure these essential elements will be mined responsibly. Support for copper-nickel mining is support for long-term economic stability, good-paying jobs, and clean energy for our state. It is an opportunity too great for us to pass up.
PolyMet Will Add Much-Needed Diversity to Iron Range
Cherry: PolyMet Will Add Much-Needed Diversity to Iron Range
May 7, 2015
Both the copper market and PolyMet are positioned well for future growth, the company’s president and CEO said April 15 at the annual Society of Mining Engineers Minnesota Conference in Duluth.
Jon Cherry said a company that mines copper, nickel and other precious metals will diversify the state’s mining industry at a time when the iron ore market is struggling with low commodity prices, which have triggered layoffs.
“The iron price, as I’m sure you are painfully aware, continues to drop. There are a lot of forecasts of iron falling to $40 a ton and some suggest it could fall to the $30 range, which is pretty brutal. Who can tell if there’s any end in sight,” said Cherry, who is leading PolyMet through the final phases of environmental review, financing and development of its top-tier mineral deposits near Hoyt Lakes.
The demand for precious metals is being fueled by rapid development in countries emerging from the third world.
“In China, you literally have a billion people moving from a subsistence lifestyle to a middle class lifestyle, and they want all the products we take for granted – electricity, indoor plumbing and cell phones,” Cherry said, noting that the same is happening in Brazil and India. “It all takes a lot of natural resources – a lot of copper.”
During 2014, 24 million tons of copper were consumed worldwide, with China using 45 percent of it. Demand for the metal, which is needed in electrical and electronic applications, has increased in 28 of the past 30 years, he said.
Further fueling demand are clean energy applications such as windmills, which typically need 10,000 pounds of copper, and hybrid motor vehicles, which need twice as much copper as standard cars and trucks. In terms of generating electricity, solar panels need twice as much copper per watt as windmills, Cherry noted.
“Over the next several years, we believe the market will be in balance for copper, and prices will be stable or rising,” he said.
If developed, the PolyMet and NorthMet mines and processing facilities will generate $515 million per year, according to a University of Minnesota Duluth study. The company will directly support 350 full time jobs with two spinoff positions likely to be created for each of them. Similar developments will generate a similar number of positions.
Environmentalists have strongly opposed the establishment of facilities that mine minerals that contain sulfide, contending there is no suitable way to permanently prevent the release of sulfuric acid into the water supply. PolyMet has addressed that issue through its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Supplemental Draft EIS.
As the project approaches fruition, Cherry warned that environmentalists will likely increase political pressure to stop it.
“There will be a higher noise level” in the traditional press and social media, he said. “Don’t get overly excited about that.”
Range Mayors Stand with Nolan on Mining
Reader’s View: Range Mayors Stand with Nolan on Mining
Duluth News Tribune (Daily)
April 26, 2015
This letter is in response to recent claims posited by a vocal minority about the future of mining in Northeastern Minnesota. As Iron Range mayors and township board chairmen, we represent the interests of Northeastern Minnesotans. We’re tired of people who represent the interests of St. Paul or other areas of the state pretending to know what is best for our region. We live and work in Northeastern Minnesota and take great pride in representing and preserving our Iron Range heritage. It is our responsibility to carry our respective communities into the future, to build on past successes and create opportunities for our children to thrive — and we do this unapologetically.
Rep. Betty McCollum, who recently introduced legislation designed to halt mining in Northeastern Minnesota, appears to have forgotten what district she represents. It’s St. Paul and its surrounding suburbs, not Northeastern Minnesota. Anti-mining activist Becky Rom, who made her home and living in the Twin Cities for decades and now comes back to enjoy our wilderness in her retirement, also doesn’t represent our collective communities’ interests.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, on the other hand, is doing exactly what he was elected to do: listen to us and represent our way of life. He recognizes the need to diversify our economy and embrace new mining opportunities that will preserve our rich heritage — when it can be done responsibly. We applaud his steadfastness and leadership. We appreciate his focus on issues that are important to his district.
We trust the process, and we trust the strong rules and regulations Minnesota has in place to ensure protection of the environment. And we trust Rep. Nolan to continue representing our interests.
The writer is mayor of Ely.
This letter also was signed by and is from Aurora Mayor Mary Hess, Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich, Biwabik Mayor Jim Weikum, Chisholm Mayor Mike A. Jugovich, Embarrass Township Board Chairman Gene Wright, Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich, Gilbert Mayor Rob Kutsi, Grand Rapids Mayor Dale Adams, Hibbing Mayor Rick Cannata, Hoyt Lakes Mayor Mark Skelton, Keewatin Mayor William King, Mountain Iron Mayor Gary Skalko, Nashwauk Mayor Ben DeNucci, Tower Mayor Joshua Carlson, Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe, and White Township Board Chairman Edward Kippely.
Local Legislators Blast Anti-Mining Bill
Local Legislators Blast Anti-Mining Bill
Hibbing Daily Tribune (Daily)
April 18, 2015
Fourth District U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum is getting plenty of pushback on her anti-mining bill from fellow Minnesota Democratic Party members of Congress.
McCollum’s National Park and Wilderness Waters Protection Act would take away lands in the Rainy River Basin from the federal mining leasing program and would also put conditions where current mineral leases exist.
Her measure is clearly aimed at the Twin Metals copper/nickel/precious metals project near Ely and Babbitt.
But Twin Metals Minnesota officials are seeking environmental protections that are already in place.
Eighth District U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken see the issue the same way.
“We already have strong state and federal standards in place to protect our precious resources,” said Sen. Franken on Thursday in response to a Mesabi Daily News request for comment on the issue.
“By adhering to these standards, we can develop our resources in a responsible way while also protecting the environment. I don’t believe we need new legislation to preempt the process that we have in place,” he said.
Sen. Klobuchar said in her email response, “Mining projects are already required to undergo a thorough, site-specific environmental evaluation, and this legislation would not only create unnecessary duplication at taxpayer expense but also threaten the economic future of the Iron Range.”
Rep. Nolan was even stronger in comments released Wednesday evening, calling the McCollum proposal a “regulatory scheme.”
“I will vigorously oppose Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s new proposal to ban mining projects in northeastern Minnesota. The simple truth is, this bill is a duplicative, overlapping regulatory scheme designed to prohibit mining on the Iron Range.
“The fact is, we have the brains, technology and regulations to both mine and protect the environment. The permitting and environmental review process required for new mining projects is already thorough, rigorous and effective in protecting the environment and the public interest. It can take years — even decades to complete,” the congressman said.
Nolan praised the nonferrous mineral initiatives on the Iron Range.
“Mining is what we do on the Range and is at the heart of our regional and national economy. This is truly a “Made in America” industry — with 140 prosperous years of quality products and thousands of good-paying jobs.
“Moreover, mining and precious metals are the foundation of all our modern technologies — transportation, communications, health, environment and advancements in energy-saving vehicles, solar and wind energy that reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.
Nolan also referred to his personal history in Congress, which includes being there when both the Voyageurs National Park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness were created.
“…. I was in Congress when the BWCA and Voyageurs National Park were established. The agreement at that time was clear — both written and unwritten. More than a million acres of federal lands were set aside for national parks and wilderness areas. In exchange, the remaining federal lands would be reserved for multiple use purpose outside those boundaries, including forestry and mining. That was the agreement. It was heralded as a good deal then, and we are duty-bound to honor it now.
“I am reasonably confident we can defeat this newly proposed regulation and legislation that would prohibit mining on the Range,” the congressman concluded.
Nolan Leading on Jobs and Environment
Reader’s View: Nolan Leading on Jobs and the Environment
Duluth News Tribune (Daily)
April 16, 2015
Reading the News Tribune’s April 7 editorial (Our View: “No apologies from Nolan on environment”) reminded me that Congressman Rick Nolan always has stated that we do not need to choose between jobs or the environment. This is a false choice, and Nolan’s leadership demonstrates his understanding of the complex issues we face.
He understands that there is a need for and wide use of oil, iron ore, copper and other metals, and he pursues the most responsible way to meet this public need. Without his leadership, and without raising the level of dialogue about these issues, we would be left two unrealistic choices: get these products from countries that have harmful or nonexistent environmental and worker regulations or go back to a time before refrigerators, phones, transportation, wind turbines, modern homes and countless other products.
Nolan operates in reality and seeks out solutions that have the best environmental and worker protections along the way.
No Apologies from Nolan on Environment
Our View: No Apologies from Nolan on Environment
Duluth News Tribune (Daily)
April 6, 2015
He may have described himself as “moderate” last fall, but U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s liberal-left rep is long-established and well-earned over two stints in Congress. He’s an “extreme liberal,” critics repeated during his 2014 re-election bid. He’s even “dangerously liberal,” in the view of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
But not liberal enough for some.
Last month when he attended a fundraiser in Canal Park, Nolan was met by pickets blasting him for his anti-environment and pro-development record, criticisms usually associated with those on the right side of the aisle. Specifically, protesters challenged Nolan on his support for Keystone XL and other oil pipelines, his vote for a carbon tax and his push to permit PolyMet Mining.
“Apparently I’m not radical enough,” Nolan told members of the News Tribune editorial board late last week during an exclusive interview.
“I don’t apologize to anybody for supporting the Keystone pipeline,” he said. “The primary argument against it is that (if it’s not built, that) will stop the development of the tar sands oil fields of Alberta. Well, guess what? That horse left the barn years ago. There are 198,000 barrels a day coming over from that, not to mention all the oil coming through from the Bakken fields.
“You’ve got to play with the hand that’s been dealt to you,” Nolan continued. “The oil is there. So then the question becomes, ‘What is the safest and most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally appropriate way to transport that?’ My argument is every study we have seen has said clearly that pipelines are less costly, they’re more efficient, they’re safer and they have a lower carbon footprint.
“Environmentalists ought to be championing the Keystone,” he said.
Nolan made no apologies, either, for his longstanding support of PolyMet Mining. Like his predecessor, former Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, did, Nolan has been hosting regular meetings with the players attempting to get metals mining off the ground in Northeastern Minnesota, including the company, the DNR, the PCA, the Army Corps and more.
Metals mining can help Minnesota’s Iron Range rebound from the more than 1,100 layoffs announced in the past month, Nolan said.
“That’s been going on very nicely,” he said of the meetings’ role in keeping the permitting and environmental-review processes for metals mining moving forward. “I think we’re going to get PolyMet approved before the end of the year. And that is something to be optimistic about.”
Not if you’re opposed to metals mining over environmental concerns. In that case, you may be more apt to be among those blasting Nolan.
He has received plenty of heat for his support of a carbon tax, which is oft-criticized as a jobs killer and as potentially devastating to manufacturers and the steel industry in Minnesota and elsewhere.
“I’m open to talking about it,” Nolan acknowledged Thursday. “The (carbon tax) that was proposed in one of the budget proposals that I voted for (was) on energy production, with all the money going into a trust fund and every penny of it being reimbursed to the citizens. So the idea behind it was that if it increased your energy cost for gas and heating and air conditioning, you would get that money back through the citizens’ reimbursement. … Meanwhile, the energy producers would be incentivized to find alternative sources of energy that have a lower carbon footprint. So that’s the idea, and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s take a look at that; that makes sense.’ ”
Maybe not to those protesting Nolan last month in Duluth. Will they feel differently after reading the congressman’s responses?