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REGIONAL— Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson is calling for a temporary moratorium on all mining projects in the state that threaten human health. Carlson, a Republican who has been an …
REGIONAL— Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson is calling for a temporary moratorium on all mining projects in the state that threaten human health.
Carlson, a Republican who has been an outspoken critic of copper-nickel mining and the influence of big money in state decision-making, has been a frequent critic of state officials and their permitting of the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.
The former governor’s request came in a letter to current Gov. Tim Walz sent on Monday, the same day that contested cast proceedings got underway in St. Paul over PolyMet’s plan to contain mine waste should the proposal eventually move forward.
Carlson said the state needs a wholesale rewriting of its mine permitting laws, which he described as “archaic.” He said the state’s laws, as written, do not consider the impact on public health, quality of life, or the negative economic impacts mining projects may entail.
Carlson also took issue with the involvement of Glencore in the PolyMet project. Glencore, an international commodities trader that now owns some of its own mining operations, is the primary financial backer and majority owner of the PolyMet project.
“Glencore is clearly one of the most corrupt companies in the world,” Carlson wrote, noting the company’s recent prosecution and fines for bribery on an international scale, including a $1.5 billion fine in a U.S. Federal District Court ruling. “The scope of the criminal bribery scheme is staggering,” Carlson wrote in his letter, calling Glencore’s actions a “criminal enterprise.”
Carlson warned against complacency on the part of Minnesotans. “We, in Minnesota, must never assume that there is a wall of virtue surrounding and protecting our state,” Carlson wrote, adding that “this comes about only with a vigilant and caring public and media.”
Carlson offers three recommendations in his letter to Walz, including:
A complete review of current mining laws and their applicability to today’s standards as they relate to sulfide mining.
The imposition of an immediate and broad temporary moratorium on all permits that place human health in jeopardy until new and more appropriate laws are in place.
A non-negotiable insistence that the parent company of PolyMet be on the mining permit and that it assume full and complete liability.
Carlson acknowledged that any progress on his proposals is unlikely in the current legislative session but he indicated his intent to bring his concerns to a broader constituency in the state by holding a series of events around the state this summer. “We are open to public debates, public forums, public question and answer news conferences and anything that will open the door to a broader public understanding,” Carlson wrote.
“After all,” wrote Carlson, “it is the public that is being placed at risk. They will suffer the loss of the BWCA, Lake Superior, and so much of the ‘Great Outdoors’ which provides them with fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and recreational opportunities. But, above all, it places so much of the state’s healthy drinking water in serious jeopardy.”
In addition to serving two terms as Minnesota governor, Carlson served 12 years as the state auditor.
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