Iron Range Delegation legislators, including myself, sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton this week, urging him to go ahead with what should be routine approval of an access agreement so a proposed mining project in northeastern Minnesota may continue.
Twin Metals Minnesota is in the early stages of developing a proposal for mining copper, nickel and other metals southeast of Ely. Approval of an "Authorization Access Agreement" reached between the Minnesota DNR and Twin Metals Minnesota is necessary for the project to continue.
My signature was among those of seven other legislators from northeastern Minnesota who requested that Gov. Dayton clear another bureaucratic road block to putting more people to work in the mining industry. This time it’s an unwarranted six-month delay in approving a routine access agreement with Twin Metals Minnesota.
The access agreement simply outlines the process for the DNR to grant limited access to state lands to allow Twin Metals to conduct non-intrusive environmental testing. The DNR and Twin Metals negotiated in good faith and, as we said in our letter, it is a "relatively routine step in the state's regulatory process."
This is not a case of DNR staff dragging their feet on a routine matter, rather it’s a new level of micro-management that is costing jobs in an industry that is already suffering. Workers are sitting idle waiting for a decision from the governor’s office on a matter that should have been dealt with last summer.
Gov. Dayton is holding up work that was intended to take place with frost in the ground to best protect the environment. His failure to act could result in the work being shelved until next winter. That parlays this into an 18-month delay that does not help the difficult unemployment situation workers are facing in Northeast Minnesota.
You can click here to see a full digital copy of the letter we sent the governor.
In other news, Sen. Carrie Ruud of Breezy Point and I held informal listening sessions at Crosby, Deerwood and Aitkin last Wednesday. We received input on a wide variety of topics that will help us prepare for the 2016 legislative session
Topics included continuing to press to end Minnesota’s practice of taxing seniors social security retirement benefits, reduction of the state business property tax, the need for better mental health services in particular addressing early on mental health issues with children, and the need to allow schools to consolidate recent changes in school funding and education standards before there is consideration of adding any additional new education mandates, just to mention a few.