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Tuesday Talk: Can economics and environment coexist?

August 13, 2013 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Minnesota has come to an important chapter in the state’s economic development.

The grounds in southeast Minnesota house large deposits of sand used in gas drilling. Sand is in demand and producing jobs, but will regulations now being written protect nearby waterways and quality of life for area residents?

Proposals are advancing in the Northland for copper-nickel mining, which could keep production on the Range going for another generation. If done incorrectly, however, it could come at a huge environmental costs and take down the region’s tourism industry. We’re also beginning to learn more about how some farming practices are negatively impacting waterways.

This morning, between 8 and 9:30 Andrew Slade from the Minnesota Environmental Partnership is joining us from Duluth to answer your questions about how to best balance economics and natural resource preservation.

How can we mine and farm while preserving the environment?


Post your comments or questions in the box below, scroll down to see the ongoing conversation, and use "refresh" to see new comments.

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  • Rachel says:

    August 13, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Good morning! Andrew will be joining us at 8. What questions do you have or topics you’d like addressed?

  • Carol White says:

    August 13, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Both of these proposals will, I’m sure have a deleterious effect on two of Minnesota’s most beautiful areas.
    We need to urge farmers to plant and grow crops in a sustainable way, and also to not allow them to let runoff go into our streams

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Carol, thanks for checking in. Any ideas of how we can “urge” farmers to do the right thing? Incentives? Regulations?

      • Joe says:

        August 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

        Actually Andrew, we now have smart tractors, that use GPS which help farmers only apply enough fertilizer, pesticides, etc. as necessary. Here’s the MN2020 video on it.

        • Tim Gieseke says:

          August 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

          Joe, just because farmers apply the “right” amount does not mean part of the amount does not leave the farm and enter our waterways.

          If I add the “right” amount of nitrogen in the fall or spring to grow corn (~150#/acre) it is guaranteed that an amount ranging from 20-70% will be lost depending on temperature and rainfall.

        • Andrew Slade says:

          August 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

          Technology has helped a lot over the centuries to reduce environmental damage. It still takes some incentive though to get the farmer/miner/power generator to use that technology.

        • Dan Conner says:

          August 13, 2013 at 9:51 am

          Many small farmers do not have this smart technology.  They still use old equipment.  If we are going to help small farmers, for a change, maybe there needs to be huge financial incentives for ONLY small farmers to have this technology.  Also, farmers need to become more organic.

      • Tim Gieseke says:

        August 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

        I think we can “urge” farmers to produce environmental goods in the same manner we “urge” all other people to engage within a market and community system - value.

        There are monetary and non-monetary values used throughout public and private institutions to “urge” people to do activities.  I think our main issue with ag is that the nation’s conservation delivery system from the 1930s is the model we use today.  It has kinda held progress hostage and local and state governments along with NGOs have found this money stream to be their “farm bill safety net”.

  • Andrew Slade says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Welcome folks. It’s a lovely summer morning in Duluth and I’m excited to be participating in my first-ever Tuesday Talk with Minnesota 2020. I am the Northeast Program Coordinator for Minnesota Environmental Partnership. I’ve been here for two years, and before that I worked as a naturalist and nonprofit administrator in conservation groups.

  • Andrew Slade says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:14 am

    One of the issues many people raise about the mining proposals here in NE Minnesota is that the economic benefits are questionable. Polymet, for example, is a Canadian company, and most of the profits will go overseas. Hardrock mining like this tends to be boom and bust…possibly leaving us worse off a generation from now.

  • Tim Gieseke says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Farming - or agro-ecological management - produces market and environmental goods in some proportion depending on many factors; natural and man-made.  Farmers are motivated to produce market goods by a “production signal”, basically the aggregate of private (food processors, etc) and public (gov) demands. 

    Have you seen instances where this rather ancient and successful model is being applied to generate environmental goods?  And if not, do you see instances where another model can compete and motivate farmers to produce more environmental goods?

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Tim, I’m not deeply familiar with ag issues (I can barely grow raspberries in my backyard here in Duluth), but it seems like you’re describing some of the Reinvest in Minnesota or cropland set aside programs, where farmers are paid to leave some of their fields alone. Do I have that right?

      • Tim Gieseke says:

        August 13, 2013 at 8:29 am

        Those programs may be a very small part of the solution, as they only address a very small percentage of the land.

        We need to embrace the remaining 99% of the land - the land that produces food, fiber, feed and fuels.  There are many ways to do that - so produce environmental goods as well, some degrade the environment.  Each carries risks, rewards, etc. 

        I farm in SC MN.  Basically if I don’t care and invest in production systems that produce env. goods, then no one else really does in any meaningful way.  If society says they want different outcomes from my farm, but no value is applied toward it, I think it is quite naive to think society will receive it.

  • Lark Weller says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:24 am

    We see a lot of environmental issues, especially water pollution, linked to farming practices. Farmers are doing what they do, how they do it, in response to what we as consumers and citizens have told them (with our wallets and our political processes) we’re willing to support. How can average citizens become more active in a system whose internal workings are, for the most past, so hidden? On the scale at which we need to see environmental clean-up, this means more than joining a CSA and buying organic, though both can be important pieces.

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Lark, great question. Boy, if everyone joined a CSA, that would rock the food production world. Imagine if the market for nonorganic produce just dried up.
      I think good environmental policy can’t rely on individual actions alone. What systemic issues encourage or allow water pollution from farming? Can (or should) those systemic issues be addressed on a regulation level?

  • Andrew Slade says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Tim’s concept of “Environmental goods” is fascinating. It asks us to take a big picture, ecological view on our resource activities. That’s another issue I hear about mining, whether it’s frac sands in the SE or nonferrous minerals in the NE: there is no real environmental benefit to be factored in to the discussion. Trees make oxygen for fifty years before they are harvested for paper. What possible environmental benefit does an open-pit mine leave us?

    • Jean Cole says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

      The book entitled, “101 Things To Do With A Hole In the Ground,” published by the Post-Mining Alliance, has great examples of economic development projects around the world in post-mining sites. It’s an exciting and eye-opening read.

      And as for hard-rock mining not being sustainable, it seems to me that 130 years of mining on the Iron Range, which continues today, has been pretty sustainable.

      • Andrew Slade says:

        August 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

        Jean, thanks for the suggestion. I didn’t know about that book or that alliance.

        • Nancy McReady says:

          August 13, 2013 at 10:38 am

          Andrew, you don’t appear to know much about the mining history of NE Minnesota, other than opposing it.

      • JLJ says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

        Just to be clear, sulfide ore mining is an entirely different proposition than iron ore mining.  Though iron ore mines have their own challenges, copper mines have polluted and damaged nearby resources since they began being mine.

        Here’s a quote from the Post-Mining Alliance’s website.  In my opinion this doesn’t lend itself to an image of sustainability.

        “Until recently, mine decommissioning and closure activities were not obligatory in most countries, while centuries of inadequate and non-existent mine closure practice have left a huge legacy of derelict mine sites and often impoverished communities. This legacy affects the reputation of the entire mining industry, arguably stifling debate and progress on other aspects of its environmental and social performance.”

        • Jean Cole says:

          August 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

          “Until recently” is the point.

          • Andrew Slade says:

            August 13, 2013 at 9:25 am

            Jean, if you’re still on, maybe you could clarify this. I’m pretty sure Minnesota requires mine closure plans in the DNR’s permit to mine. Is that what you’re referring to?

    • Nancy McReady says:

      August 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

      An open-pit mine becomes a lake stocked with brook trout like Miners Lake in Ely. Or the Hull Rust Open Pit Mine which is a huge tourist attraction in Hibbing. Hill Annex is a State Park.

      • Becky Rom says:

        August 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

        Nancy - You refer to taconite mine pits. Taconite mining is very different from sulfide-ore mining. Sulfide ore mining results in perpetual water pollution from sulfuric acid, heavy metals, and sulfates. There is a great deal of research on the effect of acid mine drainage on fish health and ecology as well as on human health impacts. For example, a MN Department of Health study of newborn infants in the Lake Superior Basin (2007-2011) shows that 8% of the babies had toxic levels of mercury in their blood.

        • Nancy McReady says:

          August 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm

          Yes taconite is different, but Dunka Pit was for taconite and sulfide ore was found there. It has been monitored since 1977 and there has been no impact to area lakes or the Boundary Waters. The Flambeau mining is an example of copper/nickel mining and the pittance of a fine ($275) reflected non impact on area waters. Technology is far cleaner and safer than what was used 50 years ago. Projections are that deposit could last 100 years, in which time even better technology will be discovered. Ely has always had logging, mining and tourism. They all have their ups and downs, but we need them all.

          • Becky Rom says:

            August 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

            Nancy - The Flambeau Mine in Wisconsin operated for 4 years. Recently a federal judge found that the mine had 12 violations of the Clean Water Act. The Dunka Pit, which contains sulfide-bearing ore, has been in violation of its Clean Water Act permit since 1975 and has leached pollutants into the waters of No Name Creek; the owner is now under a agreement with the MN Pollution Control Agency to clean it up. Neither are what any reasonable person would call examples of clean mining. Sulfide ore mining is not taconite mining. If this form of mining damages our multiple use national forest and pollutes the waters of the Birch Lake, the White Iron chain of lakes, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park, as it inevitably will, our economy will suffer. Ely’s last mine closed in 1967; this is hardly a mining town. We support a diverse and sustainable economy, but converting a big chunk of our northwoods to the single use by the most toxic form of mining is clearly the wrong choice for our community.

            • Ginny says:

              August 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

              I’m with you on everything you have said. You are clearly well informed and really want to protect that whole area—as it should be.
              Money should not be the only issue. We need this beloved area. Everything I’ve read (that is credible) points to long-range, irreversible damage if sulfide ore morning is allowed.
              Some things ARE priceless.

  • Becky Rom says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

    As a native Ely-ite, it is clear to me that good environmental stewardship is good economics. We have a diverse and sustainable economy based on the health, enjoyment, and sustainable use of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Surrounding our community with large industrial sulfide ore mining operations will displace this economy with a polluting and term-limited use. Most of the wealth will go overseas, relatively little long term economic benefit will flow to the local towns and counties, and perpetual damage to the forested landscape and lakes, streams, and groundwater will occur. People travel to Ely and live in this community to be at the end of the road, in a healthy boreal forest, and to fish, paddle, and swim in our lakes. We will lose this, and with it our sustainable and diversified economy. We are at a crossroads with this decision, and the smart economics and the environment line up on the same side.

    • Jean Cole says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Tourism does not create enough good-paying jobs to support our local economies. In a recent Business North article, Cook County admitted such. Ely is sustained in part right now by retirees living on mining pensions and there are about 90 people living there who are employed in mines. Minimum wage jobs at resorts and in the service/retail/hospitality sectors will not keep our young people from moving away.

      • Jean Cole says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:04 am

        Not to mention the assistance all cities, townships, and school districts receive from the distribution of mining taxes for their infrastructure, water treatment plants, town halls, and various economic development projects. If residents in every town in our region woke up one day and every mining-tax-supported project vanished overnight, it would be a rude awakening.

        • Nancy McReady says:

          August 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

          Thank you Jean! Tourism is a ‘part’ of our economy, but 100-120 days of part-time, minimum wage jobs does not sustain our communities. Mining jobs, especially now with baby boomers retiring, will keep some of our kids on the Iron Range to raise families and help rebuild our failing school enrollments.

      • JLJ says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:08 am

        I haven’t heard anyone suggest that tourism alone is the answer, but we also can’t deny it has had a positive impact in Ely and the surrounding areas. 

        There are also many people who are employed with living wage jobs and/or have retired from VCC, USFS, MNDNR, and the Ely clinic and hospital.  Numerous people who could live anywhere and telecommute have chosen to locate to Ely and support local businesses, pay local taxes and support area non-profits.

        We need a diverse economy that serves the needs of the 21st century and we need to educate our young people to fill those jobs.

        • Jean Cole says:

          August 13, 2013 at 9:17 am

          I agree.

    • Bernice Vetsch says:

      August 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Becky:  I couldn’t agree more.  Politicians often take a short-term view of potentially harmful development and let it happen because it will create jobs. 

      I’d say our official governmental policy should be that the environment always comes first.  Industrial/mining/drilling development should only be allowed if the potential damage is miniscule.

      If the president would really look at the Keystone Pipeline from this viewpoint, he would be reminded that pipelines always rupture sooner or later, that this oil will not benefit the US but only the companies that build the pipeline and export the oil (either refined in Texas or unrefined) to China. It will create very few permanent jobs—not the 20,000 claimed by its supporters. This is an obvious case, but there may be others, like sulfide ore mining, that come close.

    • Ginny says:

      August 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Becky, my husband and I spent a lot of time in the
      Boundary Waters and in Ely. Some of our adventures were totally irreplaceable and unrepeatable. There is nothing quite like it in the United States. The beauty and silence of this area are priceless. Being able to get to a remote island and camp and see the stars (you really cannot see them in the city), Aurora Borealis, seeing deer, moose and the occasional bear, and even the occasional downpour or even accident (and getting out of it and back safely) just restores the body and soul. This is not all about money and jobs. We need these wilderness places.
      Tourism is a year ‘round business. It employs a lot of residents. Mining is temporary and part time. The jobs will go away. The wilderness, if we care and preserve it, is there forever.

      • Nancy McReady says:

        August 14, 2013 at 1:13 am

        Mining is temporary and part time??? Wilderness is there forever??? I’ll pose the same question someone asked at a recent Tuesday lunch group meeting. What if a meteor hits the Boundary Waters? It would disappear.

    • Nancy McReady says:

      August 14, 2013 at 12:55 am

      Fewer and fewer are coming to Ely and the Boundary Waters every year. There are more canoes sitting in outfitters lots than are on the lakes. 100 years of the next generation of mining is not short term. Smart economics is mining with new, safer technology and caring for our environment.

    • Nancy McReady says:

      August 14, 2013 at 1:06 am

      I also am an Elyite who has lived here all my life. My husband and I have stuck it out here in bad economic times, like when the ‘78 BWCA Wilderness Act was passed (it took many years to turn Ely’s economy around with the reduction of motorboats in the Boundary Waters). We didn’t leave Ely, only to return in retirement like you Becky. Why didn’t you make your living here in Ely all those years you spent in the cities? Diverse & sustainable economy based on the health, enjoyment, and sustainable use of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters! Since the ‘78 Act our school enrollment has declined continually, Ely’s tax base has decreased, and Ely infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, buildings, sewer system) have all deteriorated. Our community is NOT healthy!

      • Ginny says:

        August 14, 2013 at 11:17 am

        Well, I suppose a metereorite could change things.
        I don’t see that you have provided statistics that fewer and fewer people are going to the Boundary Waters. I think your challenge to Becky is way out of line.
        Ely has only intermittently been healthy. It needs to find more sources for business besides mining. Cities and town cannot rely on a single source of income. Ruining the wilderness is not going to help.
        Leave things alone. We need wilderness. Once gone, it’s gone.

      • Elanne says:

        August 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Nancy—I think you need to check out the school enrollment and infrastructure of the Iron Range towns.  If we are in the middle of the Iron Range, then why aren’t we prospering?

  • Jerritt says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Isn’t a better way of posing this quest, “How can healthy economies and a healthy environment coexist?”  We don’t really have a choice of one or the other.  We need both, don’t we?

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Jerritt, thanks for posting. You’re right, they have to co-exist. If it’s just about extracting the resource as fast as you can sell it, the economy loses too. I think of the California gold rush, and just can’t even imagine the scale of environmental damage that caused to the streams and hillsides of the Sierras.

      • JLJ says:

        August 13, 2013 at 8:50 am

        Agreed. There is a lot of economic development, in particular for rural, natural resource rich communities, that can improve the community while leveraging those resources without depleting them.
        It requires local and state leaders to think long-term.  A 20 year, or even a 100 year view, with regards to resource extraction—with no guarantees that those operations will actually be open that long—does not benefit the local economy in the short or long run.

        • Jean Cole says:

          August 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

          What would be an example of “leveraging” resources?

          • JLJ says:

            August 13, 2013 at 9:38 am

            Sorry.  I had to step away for a minute. 

            I think the development of the bio-mass heating system is a perfect example.  It uses lower grade timber—often it can use the limbs and tops that loggers don’t usually pull out of the woods—while providing some energy security, a more environmentally friendly energy source and a few jobs.
            It also creates a market for our logging industry that has been struggling of late.  I also see potential that if we go to this option other nearby local local governments may look into it, creating a larger market for locally grown and harvested lumber.

  • KJC says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Hope you’ve all see the movie “The Promised Land.”

  • tony says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Last session we had a good bill going thru the legislature to protect SE MN, but it was killed by the Hard Rock mining Senators from NE MN who worried it would affect them. Another issue is SE MN county governments dumping regulatory enforcement on the local township governments & the township members have told me as a county planning commissioner that they do not have the time or the desire to enforce these existing laws. Big Ag can basically do anything in southern MN with virtually no penalties. Look at the TMDL studies. As the state looks to improve our waters, you will see virtually all the new rules only pertain to cities & townships with nothing pertaining to AG. I work with state agencies weekly & if you bring up Ag, the blood drains our of their faces & it goes nowhere.

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Tony, I’m afraid you’re right that, in general, we can’t rely on government agencies to always be doing the right thing. It takes constant vigilance on the part of citizens. Many people say that the DNR is internally conflicted on minerals issues, for example, charged with both promoting mining and protecting our wetlands at the same time.

  • Bob Tammen says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

    The November 2012 economic report from UMD’s Labovitz School of Business claims that the mining industry had about $150 million taxes payable to the State of Minnesota in 2011.  They shipped about $5 billion worth of ore that year.  That calculates to be about 3 percent.  Considering that they’re stripping nonrenewable assets, doesn’t that indicate that mining is a net liability to our state?

  • Kyle says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Hi Andrew,

    It seems that no matter the industry, that the environment always takes a hit. Tourism, mining, entertainment and industrialization all appear to reduce the quality of our natural resources here in MN.

    The mining/gas boom in the Midwest is providing the bust situation you suggest could take place on the iron range. What is it that you are hoping to do with a society that depends on everything these booms provide?

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Kyle, I fall back on the concept of sustainable development. I wish there were such a thing as sustainable mining, but there’s not. In the old days of the Iron Range, you could basically take a shovel or maybe a steam shovel and pull nearly pure iron out of the ground. Now the ore bodies are so low-grade, 99% of the stuff pulled out of the ground is waste rock, and often laden with polluting chemicals. The massive machinery required to process that requires huge capital investments.

    • Jean Cole says:

      August 13, 2013 at 9:29 am


      Your question hits the nail on the head. Our modern global society requires these metals: for wind turbines, solar panels, electric/hybrid cars, joint replacements and other life-saving medical devices, cellphones (60 different metals), computers, etc., etc. Do we try to reverse society to pre-industrial, pre-high-technology days? This can’t happen. There must be more research and development (private and public) so that these projects are less damaging to the environment and post-mining plans are sound.

      • Becky Rom says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

        We need to be smart in how we address society’s need for metals. There is an abundance of copper. Enough deposits of copper are located within 1 mile of the earth’s surface to serve world demand, at current consumption rates, for a million years. Copper mining is highly destructive. Therefore, to meet world demand, let’s not allow copper mining in the most sensitive regions of our world, which are those regions that are water-intensive. Bristol Bay headwaters and Boundary Waters watershed are two such areas that are too precious to expose to this toxic form of mining.

  • Jane says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

    We were in Ely last week—saw the area where they want to have a copper-nickel mine.  I fail to see how, in such a pristine area, they can mine without damaging water and air quality.  I understand that jobs are at issue.  Can’t we Minnesotans find a way to provide jobs without endangering the environment?

    • Jean Cole says:

      August 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Polymet is located at the site of the former LTV Mine. It is not pristine.

      • Andrew Slade says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

        True, that’s where they plan to process the ore. The mine site is basically undisturbed, high-quality wetland.

      • Becky Rom says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:32 am

        The proposed site for the 3 Polymet open pit mines is on Superior National Forest land, in an area identified by the State DNR and the federal government as a rare wetland. It is not a brownfield site but rather a healthy wetland that was acquired by the US Forest Service for watershed purposes.  Polymet would utterly destroy this site, if it is successfull in acquiring it through a land exchange. Jean refers to the processing plant, which is located elsewhere and has been used in taconite operations.

  • Cathy says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Out here in SW Minnesota, farmers are plowing up wetlands and planting to the edge of waterways. Because of profits and the almighty dollar, our whole eco-system is under threat. Unfortunately, I think that it won’t hit reality until we don’t have enough drinking water. I also worry about our wildlife.

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Apparently that’s happening in Texas right now, with gas wells drying up the drinking water wells.

      • tony says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:14 am

        In Dakota County nearly 2/3rds of the water drawn from wells is used for either Ag or mining. Our rules governing water usage are 140 years old. You pay your $150 for a permit & take as much as you want. There are no protections as to what percentage of an aquifier you can take. Look at White Bear Lake. That is a prime example of the future of clean water in MN for us all. The sand mines in SE MN will use millions of gallons of water to wash the sand & to de-water the pits as they dig. Think it’s far away? There is a mine in Woodbury & a new one scheduled for Jordan that is a 1000 acres..

        • Andrew Slade says:

          August 13, 2013 at 9:18 am

          Tony, this is out of my comfort range, but the water extraction permits seem like a failure to incorporate true costs into resource use. Would adding a charge per acre-foot help?

          • tony says:

            August 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

            A better way is to set limits on how much can be used by ag or industrial users. we have set limits on residential users, low flow toilets & sprinkling limits or bans. It’s time business had to follow that same kind of restriction..

  • Ellen says:

    August 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I say we can easily manage both economics and the environment if we take that management out of the hands of corporations and put it into the hands of the community (and it’s agent - government)  Reasoned management that is not driven by personal gain will solve the problem.
    Observation - though there are many good ideas, there is no fix unless we fix the system.

    What do you say?

    • Joe says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Ellen, I think strong community input, through a public agent, is important and can produce better environmental outcomes. The one concern I have is when individual community members begin to hold their own property interests above what’s best for the community. What’s our check on that?

      • Andrew Slade says:

        August 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

        Private property rights standing in the way of community benefits of environmental protection! Send in the black helicopters, of course! (Just kidding)

        Whether it’s watershed protection or shoreline conservation, private landowners have a HUGE role to play. Incentives help, education too.

    • Andrew Slade says:

      August 13, 2013 at 8:56 am

      I’d say you’re right in the broad terms, but in application it’s not that simple. Government is the community’s agent, but not everyone has an equal voice in that system.

  • Andrew Slade says:

    August 13, 2013 at 9:05 am

    It’s amazing to me how much historic mining and logging in NE Minnesota has affected the landscape we know today. I think of the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, built at the behest of industry to get their iron ore safely to market. Or even the ski trails I use in winter, mostly following old logging roads.

  • Andrew Slade says:

    August 13, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thanks everyone for a spirited and respectful dialogue. The more we can listen and be heard on issues like mining and farming, the better environmental protection we’ll have. It’s not a matter of jobs versus the environment, it’s finding the ways to have both. Keep talking and stay involved, everyone.

  • Elaine says:

    August 13, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Gosh, as a Mississippian whose family regularly vacations in northern Minnesota (for the woods, the lakes, the loons, the dog-sledding, the wonderful people), I am learning from this fantastic, civil exchange of ideas.  Communication is essential—keep it up!

    • Jean Cole says:

      August 13, 2013 at 11:20 am


      As a Mississippian vacationing regularly in northern Minnesota, does the impact of mining on our landscape appear in-your-face, distasteful, ugly, or otherwise disturbing to you? Or is it something you don’t really notice? Curious…

  • Mike Downing says:

    August 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

    3M has received many awards from the EPA over the years for its 3P (PPP-Pollution Prevention Pays) program. Preventing pollution at its source makes great economic sense.

    For example, 3M used solvent based adhesives in all their adhesives. Most 3M adhesives are now water based and save the cost of solvents. This is a win:win for the environment and for 3M P&Ls;.

    Another 3M example and EPA award was for being the first company to develop, obtain FDA approval and launch a non-CFC metered dose inhaler for asthmatic patients. It was a costly development but very good for the ozone layer.

  • Tim Gieseke says:

    August 14, 2013 at 8:24 am