An item that wasn’t even on the agenda stirred some of the most passionate discussion at Monday’s sit-down with area legislators and other key officials.
One of the area’s leading opponents of copper-nickel mining, Ely business owner Steve Piragis, declared that he’d continue to oppose the Twin Metals Minnesota project even if federal regulators conclude it would “meet or exceed” current environmental standards.
That came during a mini-debate with Aurora Mayor-Elect Dave Lislegard and was spawned by discussion of the MINER Act, legislation approved just days earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives. As the bill advanced by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) awaits action in the Senate, Elyite Becky Rom railed against it in an appeal to aides of both U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D), and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Rom, who heads the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, called Emmer’s legislation “toxic” and a “rural job-killing bill” that stands only to benefit Twin Metals Minnesota, which is proposing to develop an underground mine south of Ely.
Last month, the Ely council went on record in support of the MINER Act, and most elected officials in northeastern Minnesota are in favor of copper-nickel mining development and its promise of hundreds of new, high-paying jobs.