Your Letters - May 29 edition
Sandpiper pipeline a bad idea
Because the Sandpiper pipeline is literally in my backyard I feel driven to write a letter to the editor. The proposed line basically crosses the wetlands of Upper Twin Lakes in Hubbard County and continues east, north of the Wadena County line. As I live on Lower Twin Lakes and if there is a leak, I could be re-located from my home just like those along the Kalamazoo River when their pipeline leaked. I could also have my drinking water contaminated. Hubbard County receives the economic benefit, Wadena County the risk.
Size and contents are a huge issue. The Sandpiper will be 30 inches in diameter, six inches larger than the widely contested Keystone. Unprocessed fracking sludge from the Balkans will flow through the line and is a highly toxic and highly explosive soup mixture of oil and fracking chemicals.
Enbridge is not going to be satisfied with just one pipeline. Enbridge has proposed an additional pipeline to a 2014 meeting of investors following the same route through Upper Twin but this time it is with a 36 inch diameter pipe that will carry the Canadian tar sand sludge which is also highly toxic and full of volatile chemicals.
There are several informational online sites starting with the Hubbard County COLA, the "Honor the Earth" sandpiper site and finally Enbridge itself. The comment period has been extended but only to May 30 and Enbridge is now contesting the extension.
Thank you WDC students
Many thanks to the students who came and raked our yard, put down fertilizer and grass seed and put mulch on my flowerbeds. They worked hard and were very courteous. Their parents can be proud of them. Thank you again.
Nick and Pat Schmitz
Boundary Waters must be protected
One of the greatest resources Minnesota has is its vast and beautiful natural beauty. The Boundary Waters in particular are famous for their clear waters and lush forests, and are perfectly suited to camping, fishing, and canoeing. This area attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists a year who come from around the world to bask in the wonderful pristine nature of the Boundary Waters. Why, then, are we allowing mining companies to put that area at risk?
Through the work I am doing this summer with the Twin Cities office of Environment Minnesota, I have learned a great deal about the dangers of the sulfide mines that companies such as PolyMet are planning for the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior area, and I am horrified. These mines would create huge piles of sulfide ores that would, after exposure to sunlight, water, or air, undergo a chemical reaction resulting in sulfuric acid that would contaminate the Boundary Waters area and sicken and kill fish and wildlife (this is in addition to mercury and other heavy metals that would leak from the mining site). This isn't simply scare tactics... no sulfide mine anywhere in the world has operated without causing significant pollution to the surrounding areas. Why should we expect PolyMet, a company with no previous mining experience, to do any better?
Of course, there have been arguments made in favor of mining, but in the long term, they don't hold water any better than the leaky tailings basins the mines plan to use for dumping their toxic waste. Everybody wants to create jobs, but the actual economic benefit to Minnesota would be minimal, or even negligible. PolyMet, remember, is a Canadian company, and a good deal of their funding has come from a Swiss company, Glencore, which has also brokered a deal to sell all of the precious metal ore harvested from the mine. So Minnesota is carrying all of the long-term environmental risk in return for a fraction of the reward.
Also, we have to look at the difference between a mine-based economy and a tourism-based economy. Ely, with an economy built around Boundary Waters tourism, has gross sales revenues of around $104 million per year. Eveleth, a similarly-sized city built around mining, has an economy of only $41 million yearly. Imagine what would happen to Ely's tourists if the Boundary Waters were contaminated by the toxic remnants of sulfide mining. It just doesn't make sense to me to compromise an already powerful tourism economy in return for a mining economy that makes considerably less.
There is a way to stop this, however. Send letters to your representatives, both in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C. Build awareness. Sign petitions. Support organizations like Environment Minnesota. This is still a country of the people, and if we continue to build public support, we can guarantee the Boundary Waters will remain a clean and beautiful natural landmark we can continue to visit for generations to come.