Letters to the Editor: April 6Letters to the Editor: Open dialogue needed about mining proposals; Don't skew facts in mining debate; We need a government that works for America's own people; and EPA's new rules regulating mercury protect God's creation.
Open dialogue needed about mining proposals
From Phill Arnold, Two Harbors
Last week’s News-Chronicle had an article about the proposed mining project near Birch Lake. Imbedded in that article was a brief account of the assembly held by the North Shore Good Neighbors in Two Harbors on the topic. I attended that meeting and was disappointed that there was not space in the paper for more of the information presented and discussed at that event. Obviously, the mining issue is complex and controversial. It will have great impact on our area. It is important to know ahead of time what are the potential problems and what are the proposed solutions to those problems. At the meeting, several excellent points were raised.
For example, at the meeting presenters claimed that the state is not enforcing current water quality standards relating to existing mining activities. Is this true? And, if so, what confidence should the public have that rules will be enforced for new mines? It helps neither the mining industry nor the public to negotiate ground rules for a project and then have them ignored. This situation leaves a mining company vulnerable to future law suits and the public with little confidence that their interests will be protected. A lose–lose situation.
Another question raised concerns job creation. At the meeting, a spokesman for the mining company indicated that jobs created would pay $70,000 annually with $30,000 benefits. This was challenged by one of the presenters. This topic is complicated by many variables. Are these construction jobs or long term jobs? How long will the operation exist? Polymet is described as a 20 year project, and the Duluth Metals operation was described in your article as a 50 year project, and on a mining web page (MineWeb.com) as having a 100 year span. Jobs are important to the area, but what will the various jobs pay and how many jobs will there really be? There are indications that mining operations around the world are becoming more automated. If that trend is followed here, then the jobs may be very well paying, but fewer. It would be good to know the details. My understanding is that Duluth Metals has just contracted with Bechtel to conduct a prefeasibility study of the project.
It is apparent that there is considerable momentum behind this project. I just hope that we all take the time (especially state officials and politicians) to get the details right to protect the environment and the existing regional economy. Duluth Metals has been quoted as saying that they recognize the challenges of maintaining water quality and protecting the Boundary Waters area. I hope for the sake of our area and future generations that we have an honest and open dialog about all of the mining proposals that result in satisfactory solutions that address concerns. People in the area have lived with mining for over 100 years. Unfortunately, because of some past actions by mining companies, there is skepticism about the new proposals that will need to be overcome.
Don’t skew facts in mining debate
From Mary Tome, Fall Lake Township
I would like to correct a statement made by the MN chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) made in last week’s edition.
In their “Guest Commentary” they stated that metal “mining was responsible for 41 percent of all pollution in our country.” They based this statement on the recently released Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). This is not true.
I would strongly suggest that people look at the EPA’s “Factors to Consider When Using the TRI.” Here they will find that according to the EPA, “on-and off-site disposal or other releases reported represent only a portion of all toxic chemical disposal or other releases nationwide.” “The TRI does not include data on toxic emissions from cars and trucks, nor from the majority of sources of releases of pesticides, volatile organic compounds, fertilizers or from many other non-industrial sources.” And that “the data are generally not sufficient by themselves to determine exposure or to calculate potential adverse effects on human health and the environment.”
It also should be noted that according to the EPA, the TRI program does not “mandate” monitoring and that “various estimation techniques can be used when monitoring.”
Finally it should be noted that according the TRI, the “greatest decrease (of TRI chemicals) between 2001 and 2010 was observed in the metal mining industry with a decrease of 652 million pounds (29 percent) from 2001...”
I feel that the partial information provided by the BHA (and most likely by those who spoke at the Northshore Good Neighbors meeting) is really a disservice to those of us who live here and want to know the facts when it comes to copper mining.
If you are against the mines, then have your say, but don’t skew the facts to achieve your goals.
We need a government that works for America’s own people
From Rena Carey, Silver Bay
This is a “why” letter.
Why is it when the government talks about making cuts, it always seems to be cuts to things that help low-income people?
Why don’t government officials make more cuts to their own incomes, retirement, travel pay, etc.?
Why is the American Civil Liberties Union getting away with taking our rights away with regard to worshiping God in public? What right does the ACLU have to tell us we can’t? I thought this was a free country!
Why do some Muslims kill innocent people? They claim to be a peaceful people. Why do some of them seem to hate Americans so much? Is it because we try our best to be a peaceful nation and because we believe in God?
Why can’t countries tend to their own people and leave other countries alone?
Why can’t America use its own resources like we did so long ago? I believe this country would be so better off and lots of jobs would be created for American people.
We need people in government who work for America’s own people, not for other countries. Let’s take America back!
EPA’s new rules regulating mercury protect God’s creation
From Gwin Pratt of Wayzata, Minn. and Chuck Dayton of St. Paul
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Department of Health released a study, the first of its kind, showing that one in 10 babies of 1,465 tested in the area around Minnesota’s North Shore had unhealthy levels of mercury in their blood; some had unnervingly high levels. And babies don’t eat fish.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited rule regulating mercury already is being challenged in Congress, primarily by people supporting the coal industry.
In response, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, a coalition of congregations working to increase care for the natural world, urges all Minnesotans and elected representatives from both parties to support the agency’s legal authority to regulate the discharge of mercury, which comes mainly from coal-fired power plants.
Although the larger, coal-burning power plants in Minnesota (about half of the emissions), including Minnesota Power’s, are regulated, more than 90 percent of Minnesota’s mercury pollution comes from outside the state, so federal authority is critical. More than 1,300 of Minnesota’s favorite fishing lakes have been tested; 90 percent have been found to be impaired because of unsafe mercury levels in fish. Adults should not eat more than one meal of fish a week from those lakes. The danger is greatest for women of child-bearing age, children and unborn children. Eating mercury-contaminated fish can cause neurological defects such as brain deficiencies (thinking, memory, attention and language) and fine-motor-skills deficiencies.
According to EPA economic studies, the cost of implementing the rule nationally is about $10 billion per year, a cost more than offset by the health and economic benefits, which are estimated to be as high as
$140 billion a year by 2016.
What could be more important to protecting God’s gifts of creation than avoiding the contamination of the blood of our unborn children?
Pratt is pastor of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Wayzata. Dayton is a member of the board of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.
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