Posted: 08/14/16 12:59, Edited: 08/14/16 13:04
by Dave Mindeman
Speaker Kurt Daudt decided to weigh in on the DFL Party's internal decisions on party policy. He said, in an op-ed in the Mesabi Daily News, that...
"This past weekend at their State Central Committee meeting and earlier this year at their state convention, Democrats considered a resolution to officially oppose mining in Minnesota. Both times it had the support to pass, and both times they delayed passing it because they were afraid it may have political consequences."
Well, Mr. Speaker, I suppose that political parties never take political considerations into account when making policy....otherwise you might actually take action on a special session without making an issue of light rail. But let's consider your argument. Daudt tells us what the Republican position on mining is....
"Republicans want you to know about our position now; it's very simple and we are proud of it. We have and will continue to support the responsible mining of our natural resources, and will work in St. Paul and in Washington to promote the future of mining in our state, an industry that provides good-paying jobs with great benefits."
That may be true except for one word...responsible. The Republican Party is for mining alright, mining in the business sense of the word. Which means mining the way the mining corporations want it. Unregulated and unfettered.
The DFL supports a very heavy regulatory process in Minnesota. We expect mining to conform to a protection of the environment that is rock (excuse the pun) solid. It is not a simple yes or no position that fits neatly into a simple declaratory statement and thus the DFL has taken the time to get it right.
Republicans are NOT for that. They want to eliminate the regulation that work to protect environmental concerns. They want permits to be easy and unfettered. They want the State of Minnesota to take risks. Risks to our Boundary Waters, risks to our water shed, risks to our agricultural base.
Working for those protections allows Republicans to twist that position to make it look like Democrats are anti-mining. They are not. They support the mining industry. They support mining workers. They want all of that to be compatible with Minnesota's environment and protect the long term investment we have in our natural resources.
We have seen what happens when mining companies proceed without regulatory restrictions. We have seen how water tables get destroyed and how land can never be reclaimed. We do not want our long term future jeopardized for short term benefit.
That is not anti-mining. That is protecting the future of the mining industry.
The Iron Range has a long mining tradition. But that region needs to be less dependent on mining and follow a more diversified industry base. The mining plan that Republicans support only has a short term strategy. A 20 year plan that leaves Minnesota with more damage control in the aftermath.
As usual, the Democrats think ahead and want a plan. While Republicans continue the "I want it now" strategy and worry about consequences later.
Mining and the environment can work together. If Minnesota is to succeed, they have to work together.
Republicans have no plan that addresses that issue. Democrats do.