Questions Concerning Mining and Pipelines in Minnesota’s Deep North

Questions Concerning Mining and Pipelines in Minnesota’s Deep North 

  • How much water will be drawn from Lake Colby to meet Polymets needs and to control levels of the St Louis River?
  • SDEIS admits candidly presumptions were made to inform the model and therefore, as a consequence, outcomes cannot be truly assessed adequately … ongoing assessments and studies will be needed even after the permit has been granted and since models are only as good as the data provided, what of the unknowns?
  • What of the decision made to halt discharge of waste rock into Lake Superior by Reserve Mining in the 1970’s?  What of the drainage ponds that continue to leak to this day?
  • How many wolves remain in the St Louis River watershed?  How do we know that these will not run the threat of extinction by mining in the area, noise and pollution affect den habits … and since the area is a stronghold for this species, why haven’t their numbers been determined for this study ?  Wolves mate in late February and den in late April when sites are located for raising the young.  What affect will the noise and pollution of precious waters and streams, traffic do to change these habits and lower populations?
  • Wild rice has been harvested for thousands of years in this watershed.  Have studies been made to determine the extent of damage of releasing untreated contact water into the St Louis River, tributaries, lakes, wetlands and aquifers … including draw down of the water table not only at the sites but beyond the mining and processing sites?
  • Does the study model consider transportation corridors beyond the 7 mile link between mine and processing centers? or the related pipelines?  Rail, road and air traffic will increase with mines in the area, most assuredly.  Have the levels of noise been considered along with dust, light pollution and smells associated with diesel, gas, electric machinery, rigs 24/7?
  • Will the ore be smelted on site? and what of that air, noise, smell and water pollution from this factor?
  • Loss of wilderness in Lake, Cook and St Louis counties alone will be felt almost immediately through sights, sounds and smells of mining operations, 24/7, air pollution from these smells and dust….  Solitude and peace will be gone and the wilderness.  Can we afford the cost for a relatively few short-lived jobs?
  • In the long term, though, these losses will be dwarfed by loss on a greater scale than the SDEIS can model, contamination of the big stoney or the mother of waters.  No study has ever been made to determine just how much water sheds from Arrowhead aquifers.  Who will ultimately pay for the mistake of building mines and pipelines through the heart of Minnesota’s deep north?
  • Ultimately, Polymet’s mine will be a shadow of operations in the area once the precedent is set and floodgates are open.  In addition, with pipeline #3 burrowing it’s way into the aquifer, crossing the Mississippi headwaters and wetlands that support an abundance of life dependent on these waters, on its way to Duluth from Canada, who will profit?  It won’t be the residents.
  • If the NFS and BLM have no intention of allowing mining in the area of the BWCAW and the Rainy River Watershed, then why have exploratory permits and almost 2000 drilling holes been allowed into this area?
  • What will be the final amounts discharged from leaky pipelines, mines and processing sites once the resources are spent and jobs are gone?  What will be left?
  • What will be left of the wetlands, forests, streams and waterfalls … the flora and fauna … the wilderness?
  • Shouldn’t our relationship to the resources that support our lives be based on stewardship?  What profit is there in destroying our base?
  • What of the migratory foul, the wolves, the Canada Lynx … the St Louis River estuary?
  • Are the chemicals used in water treatment safe? have they been tested? have all metals, contaminants, filters from mining and pipelines proved anything less than toxic to life? 
  • How many of the wilderness activities will be altered permanently in the area through the processes of tar sands oil delivery and mining?
  • Will discharges into the St Louis River from the wetlands surrounding a tar sands oil pipeline and copper mining bring algae blooms, depleting water of oxygen and threatening already threatened aquatic plants and animals and create a dead zone at the mouth of the St Louis?  Have contaminants been estimated, modeled for the mouth of this great estuary?
  • Has possible contamination from brackish systems underground been considered as these structures are built?
  • Has climate change been factored into the model?
  • How many seasons of water data have been integrated into the models used to approve these dirty systems?
  • Drought is first noticed in the highlands.  Have the effects of a draw down been considered in our models? loss of pressure in the artesian wells?  Do we know how much water there is to take for mining?  Isn’t any water too much?  How far will the spillage of one Enbridge pipeline spread through these wetlands of Northern Minnesota?
  • The wellness of a society depends upon respect for the environment?  What respect does any foreign corporation have for the welfare of our waters in Minnesota?
  • Is any water filtration system adequate to protect these waters more than 500 years into the future … what kind of management can be expected during and after closure to manage sulfate concentrations in the effluent of a copper mine?
  • How can a tailings pond hold up indefinitely under the harsh conditions of Northern Minnesota and what of global warming and ever serious climate events?
  • What measures will be taken or are possible to reduce “fugitive” dust from construction and operations on site and on the road?
  • How big would the final basins and pits be once copper mining has been established?
  • How much can be done once pipeline #3 spills undetected or uncontrolled or mismanaged?  What kind of clean up is even possible with tar sands oil?
  • What of the pollutants from the hydrometallurgical process, smelting operations?
  • What is PGE precipitate, compositions?
  • Have possible failures been modeled? to pipeline, tailings basins, waste rock piles and pits?
  • What do we have in the words: proposed, possibility, potentials, predictions, probability …. but words.  Why have two of our governors approved of the Northmet Project and Pipeline #3?  What were they thinking and what was behind their decisions?
  • What are the 28 solutes?
  • What is a P90 level exactly?
  • What engineering controls will be used in the rivers and wetlands for the NorthMet project? and what controls for construction and operation of Enbridge’s pipeline #3?  What controls are possible in such a priceless environment?
  • How much untreated water will actually be released from the proposed Polymet mine, how much seepage from pits and tailings basins actually?  Will we never know until it is too late to do anything about it?  One reason these structures should never be built.
  • How was affected wetland acreage determined, what data concerning aquifers and underground water  flowage referenced?  were long term studies made on the effects of drought conditions and possible draw down potentials considered?
  • Has consideration been made for the open nature of the St Louis River watershed’s wetlands, the Mississippi headwaters, streams and marshes associated, and the connectivity of all these bodies to the immediate areas affected throughout Northern Minnesota in the case of the Northmet Project and Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline#3?

Our health and well being depends on wetlands and wildernesses, apex predators and all manner of life.  We cannot survive without clean water or the flora and fauna, all living things that depend on water as we do.  What will be our legacy to the 7th generation?

For love of wilderness.

Wild Turkey

 

wild turkey

Wild Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us and, what has become one of the most celebrated holidays in America, will be spent alone in many homes.  For over a quarter of a million have died in this country from a pandemic that could have been mitigated with the right leadership, and so many left without the resources to see them through the year.  A time of thanks giving has become a time of grief for the great many.

The Senate, under the auspices of Mitch McConnell, has left the relief package presented to him from the people’s House of Representatives in a graveyard of legislation he has personally tabled and prevented from becoming law.  No one person should have this kind of power in a democracy; and the shame of his leadership will haunt the rest of us for years to come.  

While Senator McConnell is on vacation for the holidays, it will not be much of a holiday for the masses in this country who trusted in our congressional leadership to do the right thing.  The senator has, after all, been employed by the electorate and should be working for the electorate.  Is this what Mitch McConnell does when he holds up vital legislation single-handedly, legislation that was created to help the majority of taxpayers in these trying times?  He facilitated the passing of the cares act in March of this year with tax cuts for the richest and less for the poorest, with support from the rest of congress based on a promise that another more comprehensive bill could be guaranteed later in the year.  Remember your promise, Mitch?  Do you think that your promise was forgotten?   

So what went wrong and why are there so many willing to vote for a man who profits from his office and leaves the great majority who elected him to suffer?  Words, as Senator Mitch McConnell proves, are only words.  It is the action behind them that reveals much more.

McConnell Releases Revised COVID-19 Bill …March 22, 2020

https://www.steptoe.com/en/news-publications/mcconnell-releases-revised-covid-19-bill.html

Cares Act bill 3548

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text

McConnell calls for five-year lawsuit shield for businesses as part of next coronavirus bill

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/07/06/congress-departed-two-week-recess-without-addressing-coronavirus-spikes-economic-strains/

Mitch McConnell pledges to scrap $600 boost in unemployment benefits

https://www.businessinsider.com/mitch-mcconnell-pledges-scrap-600-boost-coronavirus-unemployment-benefits-2020-5

Second stimulus check updates: GOP, ….

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/mitch-mcconnell-coronavirus-states.html

Introduction of Senate version under Mitch McConnell on March 19, 2020 outlining some of that bill’s shortcomings (Senate Republicans Reveal New Coronavirus  Relief Package)

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818253789/congress-awaits-gop-relief-plan-as-first-lawmakers-test-positive-for-coronavirus