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Sep 28, 2021

Press Release: New poll shows majority of Minnesotans want Governor Tim Walz to Move on From PolyMet

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Press Release: 9/27/21

Contact: Sarah Horner, MCEA Communications Manager, 612-868-3024


ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- A majority of Minnesotans want Governor Tim Walz to move on from PolyMet and offer a better economic development plan for the region, with less than a quarter saying he should stay the course on the proposed copper-nickel mine and continue to defend the company’s application, according to a recent poll that surveyed residents from across the state on a variety of environmental issues. 

Respondents were asked to weigh in on what Walz should do given the fact that all four of PolyMet’s main permits have been either rejected or suspended by the courts. Fifty-one percent said Walz should abandon the current mining proposal compared to only 21 percent who said he should stay the course. Twenty nine percent said they weren’t sure what the Governor should do. 

The poll results coincide with a growing public campaign led by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) that calls on Walz to Move on from PolyMet amid the mounting legal problems facing the proposal. 

So far, more than 3,000 Minnesotans have signed the petition, as well as a growing list of state lawmakers and more than two dozen organizations, including MN350, Take Action Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Sierra Club and the MN DFL Environmental Caucus. 

While the poll found Minnesotans to be unsure when initially asked about their position on PolyMet’s proposal for northeastern Minnesota near Hoyt Lakes -- with about a third saying they either supported, opposed or were unsure of the project -- their opposition jumped significantly when respondents were provided more information about what the proposal would do and who backs it. 

For example, two-thirds of respondents, or 67 percent, said Minnesota should not give a permit for a copper-nickel mine to a global corporation whose employees have been convicted of bribery and corruption in other countries, as is the case for PolyMet’s parent company, Glencore

Forty-six percent said Minnesota should ban upstream mine dams after learning that Brazil, Chile and Peru all banned the dam design following the fatal collapses of several upstream dams in South America. Comparatively, 22 percent of respondents said Minnesota shouldn’t ban the design while 33 percent said they were undecided.  

PolyMet’s mining proposal includes an upstream mine waste dam. 

Finally, when asked how they felt about a copper-nickel mining proposal that would operate for 20-years but require treatment of polluted water and maintenance on the site for hundreds of years after it closed, 44 percent said they were opposed. Thirty four percent said they still supported such a proposal while 22 percent said they were undecided. 

According to the Supreme Court opinion issued in the case this past April, “PolyMet’s own modeling [indicates] post-closure [pollution] maintenance is likely necessary for at least 200 years.”

The poll was paid for by MCEA and conducted by Public Policy Polling, a reputable pollster given an “A-” grade by FiveThirtyEight, a well known online platform that focuses on opinion poll analysis. The company sampled 662 Minnesotans from across the state using both landlines and text messages. It includes a +/- 3.8% margin of sampling error. 

The five questions detailed in this release were part of a larger questionnaire that asked Minnesotans to weigh in on a range of environmental issues. In addition to PolyMet, respondents were surveyed about the Twin Metals mining proposal near the Boundary Waters, climate change, road salt and large-scale dairy operations. 

The results of the rest of the questions will be rolled out over the next week, with a full release of the polling questionnaire and cross-tabs for all questions available at the end. Click here to view the results and click here to view the cross tabs.