WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is embracing the fight against climate change in Congress even as he faces criticism from environmentalists back home for his support of local mining interests.
In a congressional hearing on Friday, the northeastern Minnesota DFLer will tout his bill to complete a land swap that would benefit the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. Nolan also recently joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers called the Climate Solutions Caucus, and he maintains that there’s no contradiction between reducing carbon emissions and championing a mining project that has drawn opposition from a range of environmental groups.
“I am convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that 21st-century state-of-the-art mining which is compliant with strong environmental rules and regulations, unlike the mining of the past, is part of a foundation to address global warming and reduce the carbon footprint,” Nolan said in an interview.
The three-term congressman, who previously served in Congress in the 1970s, is balancing an increasingly delicate position between environmental and industrial interests in a sprawling congressional district that includes the Iron Range and other of Minnesota’s most important natural resources and public land.
The region has a strong legacy of valuing pristine wilderness and clean air and water alongside a tradition of mining activity that brings much-needed jobs. Nolan narrowly won re-election last year, and his district also backed President Donald Trump.
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