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Daudt: A Meaningless Mining Company Resolution

Category: Environment
Posted: 05/01/17 23:32

by Dave Mindeman

Kurt Daudt was proud to announce that he passed a mining resolution at the GOP central committee meeting last Saturday.

He followed up with his usual press release...

"Democrats made a pretty big mistake by ignoring the economy on the Range and the importance of mining to not only the Range economy, but the entire state," he said. "We need the Iron Range to be healthy, and that helps everyone in the state. We understand that."

Well, it took me awhile but I found the wording of this resolution:

WHEREAS, there are more than 5,000 jobs directly tied to Minnesota's mining industry; and
WHEREAS, the unemployment rate along the Iron Range is almost twice as high as the unemployment rate for the State of Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, new mining projects along the Iron Range will create 360 permanent mining-related jobs and 830 temporary construction jobs; and
WHEREAS, the Minnesota Democrat-Farm-Labor (DFL) Party has failed to pass a resolution supporting new mining projects; and
WHEREAS, the Dayton Administration has used the environmental review process to unnecessarily delay the approval of economic development projects across northern Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, Minnesota Republicans believe we can responsibly protect the environment while at the same time taking advantage of our natural resources to create jobs and grow the economy along the Iron Range and across Minnesota; and
WHEREAS, the Republican Party of Minnesota Platform states, "we should follow commonsense practices in forest, wetlands and wildlife management, and promote multiple uses of natural resources in most cases. Republicans encourage free enterprise in the agricultural economy, and support technological advances in the creation, processing and use of agricultural products and natural resources;"
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Committee affirms its commitment to support mining and finds that responsible mining of our natural resources has the ability to usher in a wave of economic development across Minnesota.

OK, yes, we can safely say that Daudt and the Republican Party support mining...they support the mining industry. But you know what two words are conspicuously missing? Mining Workers.

Republicans have always supported mining companies. They are unconditional in that support.

They support mining companies that pollute.
They support mining companies that replace jobs via robotics.
They support mining companies that bankrupt their way out of obligations.
They support mining companies that bust up unions.

Yes, the Republican support for mining companies is absolute.

But their support for everything else is not part of that resolution. The reason the Democrats have hesitated on their own resolution is that they are still looking for that compatible goal of mining jobs and environmental protection. It is a slow, painstaking process and I understand the frustration of people that are unemployed in the range.

But economic development and jobs cannot just depend on the re-emergence of mining. Just like the coal industry, those jobs are not really coming back. Mining companies have replaced workers with technology and even when they do open a mine, they bring in outside workers that may work at most 20 years at a mining site.

Here is the goods for Polymet - from their own website...

Our project will employ 360 workers directly, create more than 600 indirect jobs, and generate an estimated $515 million annually for St. Louis County.

Those are estimates and although the "resolution" gets that number right, it is not the kind of jobs sea change that is going to solve any economic problems of the range. Why risk an environmental treasure like the Boundary Waters over a few hundred jobs? Why not work to create more tourism in the area. Jobs that will be permanent and enhance the environment?

And here is more from Polymet.....

Polymet itself predicts that 55 percent of the jobs would be "non-local" and filled by individuals relocating to the area, 20 percent would be commuters from "centers such as Duluth," and only the remaining 25 percent would be local hires.

The local area, which needs the jobs the most, will only get token hires. Polymet will bring in their own trained people and commuters to take up the bulk of hiring. It is a lot of false promises.

Democrats are wary of mining companies. Those corporations have not kept their promises in the past. They have left a clean up problem which the rest of us have to pay for. And more importantly, in this case, they are risking a vital and real part of the Iron Range current economy...in the environment.

Kurt Daudt's resolution doesn't promise anything. It is a bunch of pandering words which is of little use to the Iron Range. All he is looking for is some cheap votes.

Democrats are working for a longer term solution. Not something that applies a temporary patch to an economy that really does need help. Gov. Dayton and the Democrats in the legislature will take that challenge on, but not with a bunch of meaningless words in a resolution.

They want to find good paying jobs...good union middle class jobs. They support the working people of the Iron Range, not cater to the whims and short cuts desired by mining companies.
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Our Deepest Responsibility

Category: Environment
Posted: 04/10/17 00:44

by Dave Mindeman

The current counter arguments about climate change are less about facts, and more about rigid political ideology. The climate change deniers would have you believe that a 97 percent consensus on science facts is nothing more than a liberal bias of opinion. Remember, this is about facts. Scientific study. Research. Data. Painstaking analysis.

But the deniers, and the majority are conservative, refuse to accept the scientific community's studies because they are afraid that in the short term our economy will be stunted in its growth. But that is not true. When our president says we are going to have "clean coal, really clean coal," he does not seem to even realize that coal has been priced out of the energy market. Natural gas has won the competition of the market place -- and renewable energy is rapidly gaining its own market share.

We owe it to future generations to end this ridiculous challenge of fact and find ways to make the planet as equally hospitable for the next generation as it has been for ours. It is our deepest responsibility.
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DFL Can't Shift With The Wind On Environment

Category: Environment
Posted: 12/14/16 21:39

by Dave Mindeman

When Democrats lose elections the tendency is to overreact.

In Minnesota, this phenomenon is pretty consistent. Republicans seldom change their basic message. Even when there is evidence that it is completely wrong.

But Democrats turn away from their basic core ideas and almost apologize for them....instead of defending them.

This post election example is sulfide mining.

At the state central committee meeting in Lakeville, the delegates overwhelmingly rejected a long simmering move to oppose sulfide ore mining.

This has become controversial because in the Iron Range, they still believe that they cannot exist without dominant mining interests in their economy.

And the 2016 election gave the Republicans majorities in both legislative houses because Democrats were defeated in many rural districts.

Now, the mining issue did affect a few districts. But Trump's pandering message to rural voters was the main culprit. And instead of countering that message with fact based information, the DFL Party seems to have decided that capitulation was the more prudent course.

Let's be clear. Sulfide mining challenges our environment. And mining companies want the short cuts that can put our pristine Boundary Waters and the basic water table in jeopardy.

Let's also be clear about something else. The Iron Range has a very limited future in mining operations. It is not a long term solution to employment for the region - even the Polymet proposal that is the source of these controversies promises only about 200 net jobs.

No, the future of the Iron Range is tied directly to tourism and the attractive feature that can fuel that part of the Minnesota economy is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

So while we are caving in to mining interests, the Iron Range is putting its very future in jeopardy, because mining and the BWCA are not very compatible.

The DFL didn't endorse mining interests at its Central Committee Meeting. No, they did their usual cop out and just eliminated the resolution that would put on record a more forceful stand.

Democrats are uncomfortable with strong positions on controversial topics. Even when they know it is the right thing to do. The DFL seems to think that softening these stands will garner them votes. The reality is that they jeopardize their core principles and put into question who we really are.

Losing the 2016 election was very hard. But it was a truly unusual year and Trump did not win on any kind of principle. He just promised everything to everybody - knowing he was never going to deliver.

And those principled conservative Republicans became Trump lap dogs and sold their souls to the Trump "deal maker".

This will be transient. It cannot last. So Democrats should consider standing firm on what they believe. Do not get distracted by the shiny light emanating from the orange one. It will not shine long.

Democrats need to stand for the protection of the earth. Even when it looks like it will lead to temporary unpopularity. Climate change can be denied but it will not be stopped.

Democrats need to hold fast to truth.
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