5 questions for Governor Walz
By Arne Carlson
Last week, MinnPost did a very solid piece on the issue of copper-sulfide mining, Should we mine copper and Nickel in Minnesota…to help defeat climate change?, which was largely focused on the value these metals have, particularly as it pertains to environmental usage.
However, like all stories I have read about this topic, it did not deal with the issue of silence from Governor Walz, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, and House Speaker Hortman. Nor have I come across an editorial expressing outrage at this obvious breach of public service.
The purpose of journalism is to inform the public. Toward that end, the Fourth Estate receives special protection in our nation’s Constitution.
Yet, time and again, we read stories where Governor Walz is interviewed on PolyMet and mining and is never asked why he refuses to answer the public’s questions. This neglect allows political stonewalling to succeed.
In the hope that this may change, allow me to suggest several very basic questions that should be part of any intelligent debate:
Why do our leaders refuse to permit an independent health study? After all, we know that the mining debris will leach at least 3 percent of its toxic waste — including arsenic and mercury — into Lake Superior and, likely, the BWCA. These waters serve the drinking needs of Native American tribes as well as the people of Duluth. The Minnesota medical community strongly petitioned Governor Dayton for such a study and he refused. Governor Walz has taken the same position. The public is entitled to know why.
Why has the Governor and Legislative leaders refused to hold a single public hearing? They are all pushing hard for public hearings on increasing access to marijuana but steadfastly refuse to allow public input when it comes to protecting our waters , our health, and our purse.
Why have these leaders failed to answer any questions about the contract with PolyMet? We know that PolyMet has no discernible assets and does not have the financial wherewithal to insure a bicycle. How can they possibly indemnify the taxpayers of Minnesota against the possibility of billions of dollars in damages? Now Governor Walz is “hoping” that Glencore will assume that responsibility.
Two thoughts occur here: 1) “Hoping “ is not leadership. 2) Why should the people of Minnesota enter into any kind of agreement with a company that has an international reputation as an outlaw? Glencore has engaged in everything from abusive child labor, bribery, and breach of contract to causing and leaving behind endless environmental harm. Currently, Glencore is under investigation by the governments of United Kingdom and the United States.
If Walz chooses to continue down this path, he must make certain that any contract with Glencore receives the maximum public review and comment, and that our finest legal and environmental minds are brought into the discussion.
Why has there been no comment or concern relative to the enormous campaign contributions the mining companies have made? Thanks to the solid research of Steve Timmer and former DFL Representative Janet Entzel, we know that one legislative advocate for the industry received over $50,000 in contributions from the industry. The public is fully entitled to know exactly how much all our leaders have received, and that means a full examination of the finances of the companies petitioning the State of Minnesota for mining opportunities. We are entitled to know the extent to which our leaders may have been compromised. Open public discussion and complete transparency are essential in a democratic society.
Why has the Governor refused to investigate the growing scandal in his own Pollution Control Agency and why has the legislature not held hearings as part of its oversight responsibilities? This question speaks for itself.
Open public discussion and transparency are key in making a sound decision in a democratic society and quality professional journalism is vital in achieving that success.