Join us Thursday, April 19, 6–9 p.m. at Summit Beer Hall as the Friends teams up with Summit Brewing for a few rounds of Boundary Waters Bingo. Taste a new release from Summit and win Summit and Friends swag — all while noshing on offerings from El Burrito Mercado.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Friends.

Aaron Klemz from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy delivers two boxes of petitions from numerous environmental groups to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Aaron Klemz from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy delivers two boxes of petitions from numerous environmental groups to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

On March 6, after a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol, Aaron Klemz from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA; that’s JT Haines from Duluth for Clean Water at left) delivered a collective 10,000 petition signatures plus comments opposing PolyMet from MCEA, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Duluth for Clean Water, Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest, Izaak Walton League, League of Women Voters, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Sierra Club North Star Chapter and WaterLegacy to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Senator John Marty speaks at a podium in the capitol press conference room during the petition delivery rally March 6.
Sen. John Marty speaks a the petition delivery rally at the capitol March 6 while Rep. David Bly and MCEA’s Aaron Klemz (in striped tie) look on.

This afternoon conservation, good government and clean-water groups held a press event at the Minnesota State Capitol to mark the final day of public input on the PolyMet draft permit to mine. Speakers at the event included Aaron Klemz from MCEA, Rep. David Bly, Sen. John Marty, Friends board member John Gappa, and JT Heinz from Duluth for Clean Water. They shared their concerns that the draft permit to mine does not protect Minnesota’s water, Minnesota taxpayers and the people who live downstream from PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine.  

Immediately following the press event, a coalition of nonprofit groups — including Duluth for Clean Water, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest, Izaak Walton League, League of Women Voters, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and WaterLegacy — delivered some 10,000 petition signatures plus comments to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters in Saint Paul. The petitions urge the DNR to reject PolyMet’s application to mine in Minnesota.

This afternoon Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness submitted comments supporting the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) proposed moratorium on new mineral leases in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and in a separate move delivered its own comments opposing PolyMet’s draft permit to mine to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The mineral lease withdrawal pertains to more than 234,000 acres near the BWCAW, and the USFS’s moratorium will prevent toxic sulfide mining in the area. “Sulfide mining has never been done in Minnesota, and the industry has a terrible track record of environmental destruction across the United States and around the globe,” says Chris Knopf, executive director of the Friends.

The Friends has long seen the PolyMet sulfide mine as a dire threat to the region, and most recently helped organize the strong pro-clean water showing at a public hearing on February 8 in Duluth. “PolyMet is a clear and present danger to the taxpayers of Minnesota,” explains Knopf. “Under the draft permit, PolyMet has to contribute little cash for the first 10 years of the mine to cover the estimated $1 billion in potential clean-up costs.

“If a clean-up is needed during the first 10 years, without the cash set aside it’s the taxpayers who will pay for this staggering liability,” he adds.

The Friends also will submit additional pro-clean water, PolyMet-related comments from its 3,000-plus members on the March 6 submission deadline.

With more than a quarter million visitors each year, the BWCAW is the most visited wilderness area in the United States, and the Friends has been the leading voice for protecting the pristine area for more than 40 years.

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“The PolyMet permit would make Minnesotans … on the hook for more than $1 billion in cleanup costs if the mine fails,” writes Friends board member John Gappa in an opinion piece he co-authored for the Duluth News Tribune.

“First, the DNR should listen to the sharks and implement their recommendations to maximize the amount of cash, minimize the amount of bonds, and require an updated financial analysis. If PolyMet is permitted, outside experts should continue to be used to annually review PolyMet’s financial assurance. This annual review process should be open and transparent so the public knows the risk we are taking on and what is being done to minimize it.”