June 29, 2017 03:47 PM
Mining advocates are "sick and tired" of going to numerous hearings around the state of Minnesota to speak about project proposals. So a group of Iron Rangers is boycotting a St. Paul public hearing about withdrawing federal mineral leases needed for the proposed Twin Metals project and other future mining exploration. The proposed ban of mineral exploration includes 234,000 acres.
"We're tired of the attack on our way of life," St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina said at a press conference Wednesday.
The U.S. Forest Service scheduled one listening session in St. Paul on July 18 and one in Virginia July 25.
"Why are they having a hearing in Ramsey County about a project in northeastern Minnesota?" Steve Giorgi with the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools said. "Did they invite us to have a hearing in Virginia when they want to do the Ford reclamation project in St. Paul? I don't think so."
The Range delegation has said they are "going big and staying home" and will not make the four-hour trip to the Twin Cities on July 18.
"We don't think that people that come up for one weekend a month should be telling us how to live our lives," USW 1938 Vice President John Arbogast said.
Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe said no one cares more about keeping Northeastern Minnesota's air and water clean than the people who live here.
"We're all environmentalists here. But we are reasonable environmentalists," Cuffe said. "We can do this cleanly, we can do this safely, and we can provide opportunities for the future. What's the downside? There isn't one."
Cuffe said the exploratory phase of a mining project is important, and other geological things can be discovered through that process too.
"If the science says it's not good, then it's not good. But you have to have the opportunity to explore," Cuffe said.
They hope the boycott makes a statement - let the Range do what it does best.
"This is the epicenter of mining excellence in the entire country," Giorgi said. "Nobody does it better, nobody does it cleaner, nobody does it safer."
"We live here, we go to the boundary waters, we fish, we hunt. We would not allow the companies we work for to do anything that would harm the environment," Arbogast said.
"Give us a chance. We've done this right for 135 years," Rukavina said. "We know what we're doing up here."
While the lawmakers, businesspeople and trades workers won't be in St. Paul in a few weeks, they said they will be out in full force for the Virginia meeting.
"I'm saying to all the people of the state, come up to Virginia. Come to our hearing," Rukavina challenged. "Look us in the eye and tell us what we do for a living is no good."
The Forest Service declined to comment on the boycott.
Updated: June 29, 2017 03:47 PM
Created: June 28, 2017 10:11 PM
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