MCEA Staff blog regularly about current environmental issues and how they relate to MCEA's work.
Governor Dayton has made news with comments on the two proposed sulfide mining projects that are the furthest along in the process--PolyMet and Twin Metals. In the last several days, he has refused to allow Twin Metals to conduct exploratory activities on state lands, and endorsed the decision of the US Bureau of Land Management not to automatically renew their federal leases. In so doing, the governor has made it clear that he thinks the Twin Metals project is a bad idea for Minnesota, too risky being located right next to the BWCA.
At the same time, he has said he will not "block" or "delay" the PolyMet project, which is located on the other side of the continental divide from Twin Metals. Some have cynically derided this as a split-the-baby decision--let PolyMet go through, but draw the line at Twin Metals.
I suppose the cynics may be right, but I think the governor understands exactly what the role for his Administration is. For PolyMet, which does not involve state lands, his job is to make sure the regulatory bar is set in the right place under the law and the company's job is to see if they can get over it. If they cannot, or it is too expensive to do so, then no project. I see little in the governor's comments that he is inclined to negotiate away the law's requirements to ensure that the PolyMet project opens at some distant future date. I think he also understands that, with current copper prices and mining contractions happening globally, there is not that great a prospect of copper mining in Minnesota in the near term.