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Letter to the editor: Mining has consequences

From Louise Thureen

Two Harbors

As the pros and cons of the proposed copper mining in Northeast Minnesota are bandied about, it has become quite the conundrum. Effectively, the discussion amounts to a “you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t” situation.

0 Talk about it

It would appear that on the economic side, copper mining would be a boon to our society … jobs for people and profits for the mining industry, and for all the new businesses that would sprout up with the influx of people that it would engender. The copper in northeastern Minnesota is said to be the third-largest deposit in the world, according to some news reports.

However, on the environmental side, it would become a disaster taking as many as 500 years to mitigate the pollution that copper mining would create. This would be the case here on the shores of Lake Superior and for the rest of the Great Lakes, since all their waterways are connected to one another.

Everyone who wants, or needs, a good-paying job will no doubt rejoice at the prospect of earning a good living wage from copper mining, or from other businesses that would sprout up in its wake. Carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, accountants, and a host of other jobs would be in great demand and not only for the mining industry, but for the new homes, new businesses, new schools, new medical facilities, and other enterprises that would follow.

On the other hand, when the reality of the pollution and environmental costs becomes a fact, when the Great Lakes and all the rivers that emanate from this vast waterway are contaminated by the processes of copper miming, the health issues and economic collapse will be devastating.

It may be difficult for us humans to consider the future, for we live in a “here and now” society. But it is to our peril and to our children’s and grandchildren’s peril if we do not.

To those who see jobs and economic salvation in the prospects of this copper mining proposal, I feel compassion and empathy. I know what it’s like to struggle. It may not be possible for you to see the long-term consequences right now. But I implore you to try.

Scientific fact and reality ought to trump wishful thinking.