Generally when thousands gather in Minnesota it’s to see a Twins or Vikings game, but this past Tuesday, folks from all over the Land of 10,000 Lakes gathered at the River Center to weigh in on the fate of the PolyMet mine project.
PolyMet, a mining company, has been struggling to open a copper and nickel mine in Northern Minnesota for the past 10 years. The mine would bring with it over 1,000 jobs and bring numerous economic benefits to Minnesota, including:
- $720 million in wages and benefits
- $10.3 billion in economic benefit to St. Louis County (location of PolyMet project)
- $300 million (estimated) in new local and state tax revenues
- $900 million (estimated) in new federal tax revenues
Who could be against this?
Try the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and a host of shrill, anti-development “not in my backyard” groups.
These groups descended upon the River Center in hopes of convincing the Department of Natural Resources to pickaxe the environmental impact study that would give the mine the go ahead to begin operations. While their hopes were high to create a circus, they did not count on a coalition of mining supporters, including CFACT’s Collegians chapters at the University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota to rain on their parade.
Armed with fact sheets, flyers and posters with slogans like “Stop the whining, start the mining” and “We <3 jobs” the Collegians sent a contingent of over a dozen students to engage thousands of attendees pouring into the spectacle.
“The greens were handing out flyers misrepresenting facts about the mine’s impact on the environment and economy. Fortunately, we have our own flyers with the truth, and people have been really receptive to our message,” said John Mickley, a freshman from the U of MN.
After an open house forum, citizens piled into the conference center to hear 3 hours of community input. The room was split 60-40, with 60% being in favor of the mining project. On the right hand side of the room sat miners, union workers, and local residents and officials supporting the mine. On the left, sat the naysayers.
Throughout the three-hour period some comments stood out. One woman was laughed at because she credited the mine with warming MN at an alarming rate- when temperatures outside were -18 degrees. Another woman cited Native American prophesies as a reason to oppose the mine, while another gentleman broke out a guitar to lead the opponents in a song against the mine.
“It was amazing to me,” said CFACT student Hannah Thompson “that the arguments of the supporters of the mine were grounded in science and reason, while the opponents resorted to theatrics and tears.”
The DNR is hosting these community comment forums all across MN and Collegians have been at most of them including a major forum held near Duluth, MN where University of MN-Duluth students testified on behalf of CFACT.
In Duluth, CFACT student Alischa Greenlee testified, “there is a clear link between prosperity and environmental protection. Prosperous countries and regions can afford to protect their natural habitats – and this project will undeniably improve the economic conditions in Northern Minnesota.”
CFACT Collegians will continue to educate their fellow students about the PolyMet mine and the importance of mining in general to America’s prosperity and economic future in the months ahead.
“I’m glad we came tonight. It was an eye opening experience and I feel we made a difference. It was completely worth skipping Obama’s State of the Union address to come here tonight,” summed up CFACT U of MN president Rachel Jansen.