DFL committee delays anti-mining resolution

Published 9:56 am Monday, August 8, 2016

SAUK RAPIDS — The DFL’s governing committee has delayed a vote on a resolution opposing all mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

A coalition of union leaders and Iron Range legislators, including U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, convinced the DFL Central Committee to hold off on voting on the resolution during a meeting Saturday

Delegates instead voted unanimously to form an ad hoc committee made up of the Iron Range legislative delegation, labor representatives, the central committee’s environmental caucus and American Indian tribes to work out compromise wording. That wording will be presented at a December meeting.

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The delay marked a win for DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin, who said last week he was frustrated with the issue and that it was jeopardizing party unity heading into the November election. Nolan told the newspaper delaying the issue was critical to his re-election campaign against Republican Stewart Mills.

“This was essential,” Nolan said. “You don’t win elections by being divided.”

The resolution was clearly targeting copper, nickel and other strategic metals projects on the Iron Range, but the wording encompassed all mining. It declared that sulfide ore mining poses unacceptable environmental risks and shouldn’t be allowed in Minnesota’s sulfur-bearing rock. All rock mined in the range is sulfur-bearing, including rock mined for iron.

“Now we’ve got to get this right,” said state Rep. Jason Metsa of Virginia, Minnesota. “We can’t single out an industry the way the resolution was worded.”