RAMS VISITS DC
RANGE ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES & SCHOOLS VISITS THE CAPITOL
When Governor Dayton met with our board and the city of Ely on April 1st, he made it clear that other than the PolyMet project, he did not want any additional mineral mining in northeastern Minnesota. The Governor went so far as to contact officials at the federal level at the Bureau of Land Management. This agency is responsible for reviewing and issuing federal mineral leases on any federal land located in the State of Minnesota. RAMS representing over 72,000 residents living and working in the Taconite Assistance Area were motivated by the Governor to take our message to Congress and the BLM to assure that they heard from the people who live, work and raise families in this region, not just Governor Dayton who we believe, does not speak for northeastern Minnesota on this issue.
Mayors Mark Skelton – Hoyt Lakes; Chuck Novak – Ely; Andrea Zupacich – Babbitt, as well as Dave Lislegard councilor from Aurora and Nancy Norr from MN Power all agreed, without hesitation, to be members of the RAMS delegation to DC. Congressman Nolan went out of his way to arrange for a meeting with the Deputy Director of the BLM, Linda Lance, at his office and we had the pleasure of discussing many aspects of the sensitive issue of mineral mining in northeastern Minnesota in the vicinity of the BWCA, certainly within the Rainy River Watershed Basin. Deputy Director Lance, was cordial and sincere in listening to our concerns regarding our economic challenges, our desire to diversify the economy by tapping into the largest known deposit of copper/nickel in the world found in the Duluth Complex. The main message of the delegation was that there are legal and environmental review processes in place for any and all mining explorations/operations. Let the process do the job of making a fact based determination on any potential mining operation. The people who live and raise families in this region have put their faith and trust in the EPA, MPCA, DNR, US Forest Service and Army Corp of Engineers. No one is asking for special favors or short cuts, we are simply asking that the process be followed, the rules aren’t changed and whatever the determination is, we will accept it.
Nancy Norr summed up the visit with this statement: “Our visit to Washington DC proved the importance of having strong relationships with the federal delegation. Clearly Congressman Nolan, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken are engaged and informed about the importance of a predictable, transparent, science-based process for accessing federal mineral leases. Congressman Nolan deserves a special thank you for his tireless advocacy on mining issues with the Bureau of Land Management and the Obama Administration.”
My thanks goes out to the members of the delegation who volunteered their time to travel to DC, put up with one delayed flight after another, to represent the members of RAMS. They did a great job for our region and we are all confident that our message was well received and heard.