Sunday, January 21, 2018

How safe from pollution are Northern Minnesota's "community values?"

As Minnesota processes draft permits for the proposed PolyMet mine, Canada and Mexico are, no doubt, following up on their recently negotiated bilateral mining Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). Meanwhile, the federal government in the US is "shut down," as the current administration dithers and dawdles about what to do to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The "MOU on the sustainable development of mineral resources"... focuses on "the development of clean mining technology, more direct engagement with indigenous communities, corporate social responsibility, and issues pertaining to broader competitiveness in global markets."

are clean air and clean water "community values?"
are clean air and clean water "community values?"
Photo by J. Harrington

Since Canada and Mexico have already moved ahead to make development of mineral resources in their countries more sustainable, while the current administration in Washington appears to be doing everything possible to minimize environmental protection required of mining activities, it becomes easier to understand the potential attractiveness to foreign owners and investors of proposed projects such as PolyMet's NorthMet and the Twin Metals' mine. Concerns about diminished environmental protections are enhanced when NAFTA outcomes, such as a recent tribunal decision that overturned a Canadian government decision to reject a mining proposal based on the findings of an environmental assessment, are taken into account.

Does Minnesota need to revise its out-dated mining laws to keep from ending up in a position similar to Canada's on the Bilcon project? "Externalities," such as NAFTA, lead us to believe our environmental regulatory and protection system is insufficient for today's business. No amount of financial assurance will be able to restore the effects of a tailings dam failure. Some messes are better prevented than cleaned up.


Money changed hands. It’s how we came to be
Came to be planted here in the mortar
In the miniature cash forest
Aster greenwood ficus hemlock
Taproot stipe calyx anther in the
Mortal hereafter
Hearing hands making money change.

Speak up. I can’t hear you.
There’s something wrong with your voice.
You’re speaking too fast. Slow up.
Speak into the currency.
It wants to bone you. It wants to receive
Your warmth in its coffers.
Listen up. I’ve a fee to see to
A toll-man a drawbridge. Open up.
Close up. You have a cross bite
In your crown, palate-ax.
Bite down. Bite my ball
Bearing interest.

I’m a businessman. I own a plant.
I bid for it, bought it, soiled it, drowned it
Tilled it, scolded it, heaved into it, stole from it
Wept unto it
A token in its behalf, suffered a stem

                                 To rise in it
                                 To market, to market
                                 In my dirty jumpsuit

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