Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mining and Minnesota need more reciprocity

I know, I know, yesterday was all full of doom and gloom, fire and brimstone. Even though the sky outside has clouded up this morning, today I want to share some bright news.

St. Louis River, discharge mine waste here?
St. Louis River, discharge mine waste here?
Photo by J. Harrington

First, by way of background and full disclosure, the Daughter Person graduated from Forest Lake High School about a decade ago. During the time she was in attendance, I don't remember her mentioning any projects similar to the one I came across online this morning: Minnesota Student Studies “Best-Case Scenario” for Proposed Copper Mine. In fact, dredging back into recollections of my time in high school, I recall a very heavy emphasis on "book learning" with very limited encouragement to relate what I was learning from books to the real world.

Lake Superior, discharge mine waste here?
Lake Superior, discharge mine waste here?
Photo by J. Harrington

Thanks to Greg Seitz' posting on the Wilderness News Blog, we can read about Jessica Haines' practical demonstrations of learning and really renew our hopes for Minnesota's future. In my dreams, our "Boundary Waters" state is full of students like Jessica, residents like the Daughter Person, and politicians like Bernie Sanders. Now, if the rest of Minnesota can get behind the idea that, in order for mining in Minnesota to retain its social license, mine development, operations, closure and post-closure care will need to be sustainable and to do more than meet fundamental legal requirements, we may be able to keep both the Boundary Waters and those 350 or so prospective jobs, at least some of which may go to Iron Rangers. For that to happen, I believe it's imperative that mining be able to return to Minnesota at least as much as it takes. Minnesotans are the ones who will have to live with a degraded environment. Should the idea of reciprocity prompt Minnesota to insist on community benefit agreements as part of mining's social license? The world has alternative ore deposits that mining companies can exploit, but Minnesota, including the Iron Range, has alternative, and perhaps preferable, economic development paths it can follow. Plus, how long do we think it will be before the electrical industry, led by companies likeApple, follows the jewelry industry and insists on "eco-friendly" mining?

Ex Libris

By Eleanor Wilner 
By the stream, where the ground is soft
and gives, under the slightest pressure—even   
the fly would leave its footprint here   
and the paw of the shrew the crescent   
of its claws like the strokes of a chisel   
in clay; where the lightest chill, lighter   
than the least rumor of winter, sets the reeds   
to a kind of speaking, and a single drop of rain   
leaves a crater to catch the first silver   
glint of sun when the clouds slide away   
from each other like two tired lovers,   
and the light returns, pale, though brightened   
by the last chapter of late autumn:   
copper, rusted oak, gold aspen, and the red
pages of maple, the wind leafing through to the end   
the annals of beech, the slim volumes   
of birch, the elegant script of the ferns ...

for the birds, it is all
notations for a coda, for the otter   
an invitation to the river,
and for the deer—a dream
in which to disappear, light-footed   
on the still open book of earth,   
adding the marks of their passage,   
adding it all in, waiting only
for the first thick flurry of snowflakes   
for cover, soft cover that carries   
no title, no name.

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