Saturday, May 03, 2008

Letter to the editor: County commissioners make powerful mining decisions

St. Louis County is bigger than the state of Rhode Island, and it is blessed with much of the natural resource treasure of the state of Minnesota. Our county commissioners are stewards of those resources. So when you visit with your county commissioner, keep in mind that he or she is a powerful person when it comes to how important mining decisions are made.
We are faced with new industries and new uses for our resources. One new industry is non ferrous (not iron) mining; Polymet is a company that is proposing to mine for precious metals. The problem is the soil that holds these minerals reacts to air and water to form sulfuric acid. Where this kind of mining has been done in the past it has created impossible to clean “superfund” pollution sites.

As a community, we in Northern Minnesota want the folks on the Iron Range to prosper, have jobs, and enjoy long and healthy lives. As we have recently heard there are health threats that go with mining and which sadly are often left to AFTER the damage has been done to even research. Mesothelioma (lung cancer unique to the mining industry) is just the most recent example.

Now legislators like Minnesota State Representative David Dill and County Commissioner Dennis Fink are pushing for non ferrous mining projects, we hear of boom times on the range. We must make certain the headlines in 20 years are not about expensive and tragic damage to the waters of our lakes and streams. It only takes a little sulfuric acid to change lakes so that they do not support the tiny life forms that the whole chain of life depends upon.

Dennis Fink is a county commissioner who is supposed to represent the will and needs of those living in his district in the city of Duluth, it would be good for his constituents to look at why he is pushing for a radically anti environmentally sound agenda.

Study the issue and the next time you see your county commissioner tell him you want St. Louis County to be clean; free of waters polluted with sulfuric acid and free from tragic health consequences like mesothelioma.

An excellent source of information on this topic is the website

Kristin Larsen