Recently the word “inevitable” has been bandied about in Ely when referring to sulfide mining. In 1990, “inevitable” made national news. Then it was linked to rape. “Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams was leading his Democratic opponent, Ann Richards, by 11 points with less than three months to go before Election Day. Williams then uttered a campaign-changing wisecrack comparing bad weather and rape: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.’’(CNN)
Those who say sulfide mining is inevitable are saying the same thing to the people of Minnesota, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Enjoy another kind of assault, on our water, our land and on our health, by international mining corporations using their power to tell us they have the right, and we have no choice.
No choice if our lake country is exchanged for tailings basins, waste rock and lean ore piles, inadequate wastewater treatment plants, an open pit mine likely to rival the toxicity of Berkeley Pit, underground mines complete with subsidence issues tunneled under our lakes through fractures, faults, and into our aquifers. We are told we have no choice if toxic chemicals, heavy metals and sulfates impact our irreplaceable waters. No choice if our sustainable future is sold out.
They say we have no choice if forest and lake lands of the Arrowhead, lands which have never been mined, would be left with a landscape of 99 percent waste for less than 1 percent metals.
No choice if generation after generation of newborns in the Lake Superior basin continue to build on the legacy of taconite mining with toxic levels of mercury in their blood. No choice if water tests from area wells continue to show dangerous amounts of the neurotoxin manganese, no choice if our school districts continue to record higher autism prevalence rates, no choice if deaths from mesothelioma or silicosis continue to occur.
We are told we have no choice when, compared to all of the rural regions of the state, northeastern Minnesota has “the highest rate for asthma hospitalization and emergency department visits, the highest Alzheimer’s rate over age 65, the highest mortality rates for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; and the highest overall mortality rate.” (Minnesota Department of Health) And that is just the beginning now that sulfide mining is “inevitable.”
Relax and enjoy it.