Minnesota Congressman and Governor at Odds Over Mine Proposals

Rep. Rick Nolan
Rep. Rick Nolan

Rep. Rick Nolan and Governor Mark Dayton have very different views on mining in northern Minnesota – even though they are both members of the DFL party.

Since Dayton came out against Twin Metals in early March, Nolan, the U.S. Representative who represents the Minnesota Congressional district that includes the Superior National Forest and locations of new copper mine proposals, has twice stated his support for Twin Metals, PolyMet and other potential mines.

When Dayton sent a letter to Twin Metals last month explaining that he would not approve new mineral leases in the Boundary Waters watershed, Nolan responded with a letter of his own, writing: “We should never be afraid of exploration and discovery, or using science and facts to dictate important decisions. That is what these initial stages of the proposed Twin Metals project are all about.”

Nolan expanded on his support yesterday at a meeting of mining conference in Duluth, telling the crowd that technological innovation makes it possible to mine and protect the environment. “The challenges are great. But the opportunities for mining (in Minnesota) are even greater,” Nolan said, reported in the Duluth News Tribune.

During a previous term in Congress in the 1970s, Nolan was a co-author of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978. He told the Duluth mining audience that industries resisted environmental regulations in the 1970s, too, but that the economy and the environment has benefitted in the long run.

For his part, Dayton is doubling down on his opposition to Twin Metals. The governor visited Ely and other communities on the Iron Range  to meet with local elected officials, listen to their concerns, and explain his position.

“A bad project for Ely, a bad project for Minnesota, and a bad project for the Boundary Waters. That’s my view,” Dayton said, as reported by WDIO TV.

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