Letter to Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan

Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan July 26, 2019
130 State Capitol
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Honorable Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan,

There is a siege underway in our region – one that is attempting to prevent forward momentum of PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet project. The population in St. Louis County, and many Iron Range communities, continues to decline while our property taxes continue to rise. This declining population has created a gap in how public health and education services are paid for and deployed. Good-paying, private sector jobs are the answer to this challenge – they support both families and communities.   

PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet project and the associated jobs are critical to Iron Range citizens and communities. PolyMet has proved time and time again the project will meet the rigorous environmental standards put in place by the State of Minnesota. We have waited nearly 14 years to see it come to life. The company has gone through more agency review than any other project in the State – maybe even the Country.

Once operating, the NorthMet project is expected to employ 350+ permanent jobs, create 600 spin-off jobs and add a $515 million annual boost to St. Louis County. The jobs, many in the trades, will support families and help drive an economy that has slowly declined for nearly 40 years. 

Construction alone is estimated to inject nearly $1 billion into the region. This will transform small Iron Range communities like Virginia, Hoyt Lakes, Aurora, Hibbing, and Gilbert whom are hungry for growth. These communities are counting on PolyMet.

We ask that you hold firm on the permits issued to the company. 

We do not oppose continuous improvement in the permitting process. In fact, we’ve often been the engineers, project managers, laborers, and scientists on the job providing recommendations to improving the process throughout the years. 

Claims by the metro legislators and opposition groups are another attempt to halt development in rural Minnesota and divide our state. The request to stop the project is based on incomplete information and sensationalism. We ask you this on behalf of the members of Better In Our Back Yard – men and women who work, live and recreate in the communities impacted by PolyMet.  

These claims conveniently overlook one critical factor – here, in Minnesota – in our own back yard – industry operates under some of the world’s most stringent safety and environmental regulations. Glencore has been part of the equation for more than 10 years, supporting and sharing PolyMet’s and Minnesota’s dedication to protecting the local people, communities and environment. 

PolyMet was awarded permits with strict conditions and hefty financial assurance requirements that must be met by the company, by the project, regardless of ownership. PolyMet will operate the NorthMet project within those conditions because they must do so. Period.

We ask you to see these recent requests of your office by environmental groups for what they are – just more attempts to draw out a process that is already complete. Help northern Minnesotans strengthen our economy and work in the communities we live in. We believe that moving forward with the project is in the best interest of Minnesotans because we know we can mine responsibly here, better – in our back yard. 

As a grassroots organization Better In Our Back Yard would like to provide a new perspective on issues that affect our industries and region. On behalf of our members, and the Board of Directors of our organization, we thank you in advance for consideration of our comments.

Respectfully,

Kurt Doran, NTS, Inc.
Board Chair, Better In Our Back Yard

And in unison with the Better in Our Back Yard Board of Directors:
Nik Bayuk, Minnesota Power
Adam Christensen, GPM, Inc.
Joni Dahl, Iracore International
Rachel Johnson, Precision Pipeline
Derek Pederson, Laborers Local 1091
Lisa Rudstrom, Virginia Minnesota Public Schools 

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