Posted: 12/09/13 03:46
by Dave Mindeman
As the PolyMet environmental mining plan opens for public comment, we will get the almost certain clash between the mining interests (coupled with the job seekers looking for the positions that will be created) vs. environmental interests which must act as the firewall that protects fragile ecosystems and water tables.
The stakes are high and in these battles, any compromise is considered a sign of weakness and exploitation -- making it all the more difficult to reach concrete and reasonable solutions.
Before the mining interests attack any critical environmental statement of mining procedures and future environmental protection, I would hope that they do so in a reasonable and fact based manner - and actually address (directly and concretely) the issues brought forward.
Environmental concerns are too often dismissed as liberal extremism and not given the due process they deserve.
Mining will get its ore - but it also needs to get it in a scientifically sound and protection oriented manner. That means extraction will cost more when done correctly - but the payoff is less enviro damage and later clean up costs along with more cooperation with the groups that can hurt the company legally or give them a very public black eye economically.
Environmentalists have to be very critical of all aspects of mining because they do not get a do over. Where mining can meet minimum standards on environmental impact and can continually work to modify and even weaken those standards, the environmental community has to get it right at the outset.
The Boundary Waters is a precious Minnesota resource. It is much more important and much more fragile than fracking for oil in North Dakota. Oil booms come and go and they will leave damage in their wake - but the Boundary Waters can be a forever resource, and we all must be willing to pay a price for its protection.
Mining interests need to be sensitive to that. Exploiting a resource is lucrative in profits and is big business, but environmental protection can only be judged by the least amount of damage done in the business aftermath.
It is a difficult balance to keep....and it would work much better if everybody could be cognizant of the needs and viewpoints of the others.