Be careful what you wish for

Recent criticisms of the request for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement should have addressed a couple critical points. First, Chip Cravaack, the occasional Minnesotan, has stated that he would like to see Northern Minnesota become another Bakken oil field.

Pat and I recently visited the Bakken in North Dakota at Watford City and Williston. The Bakken is a sacrifice zone. The development has overwhelmed local communities with man camps which are little more than holding pens for temporary workers. People who propose development at any cost should realize that development in the Bakken includes sex trafficking and game law violations.

Another point mining promoters like to ignore is that geologists have estimated that the Duluth Complex is actually a ten billion ton ore body. Considering that drilling to date documents that the ore body is less than one percent valuable minerals and that there will be overburden, we will have at least 10 billion tons of waste in our watersheds. It’s perfectly legitimate to ask the industry how many square miles of tailings ponds and waste dumps they will generate as the ore body is fully developed. We should demand a PEIS to do exactly that.

Unscrupulous promoters of underground mining like to say that they will put their waste back in the mine without telling you that solid rock expands when it’s crushed so that it’s impossible to put it all back in the mine. It’s unusual for a mining operation to put more than half its waste back in the mine and they usually do that so they can go back in and mine out their pillars.

The modern mining industry has become skilled at stripping mineral assets without creating healthy communities. My challenge to mining promoters to give us a list of thriving mining communities has generated little more than Cravaack’s Bakken death wish.

Bob Tammen

Soudan, Minn.

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