Guest commentary: What are we getting in backing mining?My great love for the mining industry does not blind me to its faults.
By: Bob Tammen, Soudan , Lake County News Chronicle
My great love for the mining industry does not blind me to its faults.
A few weeks ago I sat in on a meeting of a lake association writing up a statement of their goals. When it was mentioned that they wanted to meet or exceed Minnesota’s water quality standards, a mining industry representative objected to exceeding the standards. The word “exceed” was dropped.
It was an egregious example of mining industry power and contempt for our natural resources. Minnesota’s standards are not a desired goal of purity. They are just a statement of the maximum amount of pollution we can tolerate. The mining industry wants to use our watersheds to dilute their discharges and any attempt to exceed minimum decency is a threat to their profits. They are pretty blunt about letting us know that they intend to force us to choose between clean water or jobs.
It’s time for Minnesota citizens to study the Resource Curse. Wikipedia defines that as the theory that economies that depend on selling off natural resources tend to be poorer than entrepreneurial economies.
Almost any Iron Range community could be a poster child for that theory. Our schools and towns are all struggling because the mining companies pay a pitiful minimum of taxes locally and a large amount of the taxes they pay to the state is rebated right back to the polluters by the IRRRB.
The problem is not just that taxes are being rebated to the mining industry. The problem is that viable sustainable alternatives are being starved for funds and our civic leaders who really care about our communities have been sidetracked from any activity that doesn’t involve mining or logging.
I know that economic development is not easy but when I read about the millions we’ve rebated to our local mining companies and then read about the millions they’ve invested in Canadian mining operations, I have to wonder who our politicians are representing.