Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mining And Environmental Groups Need To Partner - Nancy McReady

Our communities around the Boundary Waters are dying, or at best hanging on with life support. As proof, look at the empty storefronts, decreased school enrollments, decaying buildings and infrastructure due to a low tax base. We need good paying jobs and young families on the Iron Range.

Wouldn’t it be great if so-called environmental groups worked with mining companies to bring good paying jobs to the Iron Range rather than working against them?

Out in Montana, three local environmental groups have signed an agreement to work out their differences in the open and also apply strict environmental practices to the mining operation in North Stillwater. They have recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Stillwater Good Neighbor Agreement that keeps disputes out of the courts while protecting Montana’s watersheds.

There is a similar alliance in Pennsylvania between gas and oil companies working together with national and regional environmental groups to create tough new standards for fracking. 

This agreement has been criticized by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. Yet the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have no problem partnering with labor unions with the BlueGreen Alliance. 

In Minnesota, the BlueGreen Alliance is working to expand solar capacity and retrofit public schools, libraries and state-owned buildings, all with a goal of improving the state's competitiveness and creating good Minnesota jobs. But what are they doing to help taconite plants or to move the precious metal mining forward? Nothing!

No one denies tourism is good for Minnesota, and the Boundary Waters is a big reason why. But, tourism isn't enough to provide good paying jobs to support a family.

Mining is very important to northeastern Minnesota, too. Environmental groups would be wise to work with the mining companies to assure all mining is done safely and protects the Boundary Waters rather than constantly delaying mining project by going to the courts. With new technology, we can mine responsibly and protect our environment.

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