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Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson Voices PolyMet Concerns

Brandon Weathers
Created: September 23, 2019 05:06 PM

Former Republican Governor Arne Carlson was in Duluth Monday to speak out against PolyMet. Carlson highlighted concerns as Duluth for Clean Water launches their new campaign to stop the mine.

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"For those who think it's a good project, say so publicly, and then answer the questions. Answer the questions like why there's no health study," Governor Carlson said.

Carlson believes the public has not had a proper seat at the table in the permitting process. His suggested solution is more public hearings. PolyMet responded in a statement saying, "The lengthy, thorough and very public environmental review and permitting processes speak for themselves."

Governor Carlson is also challenging the transparency of Governor Walz's administration saying that there is conflict of interest and alleging that several members of Walz's staff have direct connections to PolyMet.

Carlson said, "I sat as governor for 8 years, and I can tell you there were four major players. On this list, three of them would have had connections to PolyMet."

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness executive director Chris Knopf added, "The current Governor Walz is not getting information from a broad array of people that also express concerns about the environment as well as, in this case, the interests of PolyMet."

In his argument against transparency, Carlson also points to previous allegations of the DNR covering up the concerns presented by an EPA scientist.

Knopf said the DNR has conflicting interests that have led to the environment being short-changed. “On the one hand, it has a mission to protect natural resources, on the other hand, it has a mission to maximize revenue from mineral extraction,” Knopf said.

The DNR responded with the following statement:

"The DNR has a long and successful history of managing the state’s natural resources for both economic and environmental protection purposes.  We fulfill a dual mission in many aspects of our work such as forest management, recreation, game and fish regulation, and minerals management.  Regardless of the area of responsibility, we always conduct state business with the highest level of professionalism and integrity."

Duluth City Councilor Gary Anderson and at-large candidate Mike Mayou also spoke against the copper nickel mine. Carlson said, "To have these younger people say, 'we want our day in the governing process and here's what we stand for,' that was heartening. It meant a lot to me."

WDIO reached out to the Walz administration for a response and has not heard back at this time.

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Brandon Weathers

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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