It’s no surprise that the Star Tribune Editorial Board supports U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill banning copper-nickel mining (“Bill offers vital BWCA protections,” Jan 19).
Unfortunately, McCollum’s bill is a desperate attempt to pre-emptively sidestep rigorous review processes already well-established under federal and state statutes to determine the feasibility and safety of mining projects on public lands.
All mining projects in our state — including taconite, iron ore and other extractive industry developments that power our economy and were explicitly left out of this bill — must undergo extensive environmental and feasibility studies. The statutes were enacted to assure a fair, predictable process built on scientific and technical evidence, not the shifting winds of politics.
It makes no sense to argue that legal, science-based studies should be entrusted to determine impacts associated with all types of mining except for copper-nickel. As in every other area of public life, we must follow the rule of law in order for industry and the public to have trust in regulatory outcomes.
While acknowledging existing law prohibits degradation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, McCollum assumes without evidence that a mine could move forward in violation of those standards. She also concedes that scientific methods exist to determine whether mining would be detrimental to the environment and allows the mining of certain minerals.