DFL Candidate Nolan Proposes Mining Institute
DFL congressional candidate Rick Nolan proposed Wednesday developing a new federal institute on mining and the environment, an idea that one of his rivals dismissed as expensive and ineffective.
Nolan said at a Duluth news conference the institute could help the industry overcome production and environmental issues to create more jobs.
He also said that not only could it promote research to help mining companies overcome technical issues, such as how to extract more mineral from the same rock, but also environmental issues, such as how to reduce waste rock and make sure mine runoff doesn't damage waterways.
Nolan said the institute should be built on Minnesota's Iron Range and would create hundreds of jobs on its campus as well as attract mining research investment to the region.
"The U.S. Bureau of Mines was closed by Congress in 1996," Nolan said. "Since that time we have done little to help our domestic mining industry, or the environmental community, solve the difficult issues we face as a nation developing our strategic minerals resources."
But rival DFL candidate Jeff Anderson called the Nolan plan wasteful federal spending that would create no immediate mining jobs.
"While I support the idea of doing more research into evolving mining technologies, the people seeking jobs in this district cannot feed their families with studies," Anderson said. "They need jobs. They need good, livable-wages jobs."
Anderson said he would support recently passed U.S. House legislation that would roll back regulations on mining projects. He also said he supports incumbent Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack's amendment that would extend the new rules to projects already in the works, such as the proposed PolyMet copper mine near Hoyt Lakes, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Nolan said he wouldn't support the Republican-sponsored House legislation.
Anderson challenged Nolan to support immediate regulation reduction such as changing Minnesota's longstanding sulfate standard for wild rice lakes and rivers. That standard currently is being upheld by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the federal Clean Water Act. Sulfate often is a byproduct of mining.
Anderson said the standard threatens several taconite and copper mining projects if not changed. Nolan said successful mining can occur with thorough environmental review and safety regulations.
A spokesman for Tarryl Clark, another 8th District DFL congressional candidate, said she has been consistent in her support for reduced regulations. In a statement Wednesday, Clark noted she has the endorsement of the United Steelworkers.
"They know I'll fight for them and their jobs in Congress," she said. "I have always supported an efficient and effective permitting process which guarantees protections for our workers, our water and our air. In Congress, I will continue to work on improving this process."
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge accused Nolan of failing to address issues that are keeping the mining industry from growing in northern Minnesota.
"Rather than create jobs now in actual mines, Rick Nolan wants to instead give taxpayer dollars to college professors to study how to create mining jobs someday ... maybe. Very strange," Shortridge said in a statement Wednesday.
Clark, Anderson and Nolan will battle in a DFL primary on Aug. 14 for the right to take on Cravaack in November.
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