Senator Klobuchar Lets Down Her Constituents

by Laura Gauger

It’s official … and time is running out for Minnesotans who love Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters to do anything about it.

The U.S. Forest Service just signed off on transferring 6,650 acres of public lands in the Superior National Forest to PolyMet. That’s where the ore body is located that the Canadian-based company wants to mine – on public land, YOUR land.

Senator Amy Klobuchar has some explaining to do. She sits on a U.S. Senate Committee that directly oversees Forest Service actions involving land exchanges – and she was petitioned by over 350 Minnesotans this past summer to push for Congressional hearings on the matter. But nothing happened.

I was responsible for authoring the petition, and a number of small business owners in Duluth helped collect signatures (see Reader, Sep 8, 2016 for details). We wanted hearings because this particular slice of the Superior National Forest is home to lots of plants, animals, wetlands and streams. The Environmental Impact Statement for the project shows how polluted water from the mine will drain south to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. Computer modeling has also revealed that some of the contaminated water will head north to the Boundary Waters.

It gets even worse! The state and federal agencies that prepared the EIS stated repeatedly in the document:  “Modeling predicts that [water] treatment activities will be a minimum 200 years at the Mine Site and a minimum of 500 years at the Plant site.” That’s like forever!

It seemed like a reasonable request to have Congress hold hearings on a matter as serious as this. After all, it involves over 10 square miles of public lands that belong to you and me. All we wanted was for our own U.S. senator who happens to sit on a key committee to give us a fair shake.

I even took the time to hand-deliver the stack of petitions to Senator Klobuchar’s regional office in Virginia. But it was a wasted trip. The senator completely ignored the petition. She didn’t even send us a letter to explain her views. She totally blew us off, despite the large number of her constituents who signed the petition.      

It appears that Senator Klobuchar is only interested in listening to Minnesotans who are in the “U-Rah-Rah Mining” camp.

But what about the rest of us who are also her constituents? What about Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters? What about all the plants, birds and animals who deserve to live and thrive in their native environment?

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that Senator Klobuchar failed to push for the Congressional hearings we requested.  But what did surprise me was that she didn’t even have the courtesy to get back to us. After all, we’re paying her salary, right?

The U.S. Forest Service decision to transfer our forestland to PolyMet is subject to 30-day Congressional oversight requirements. The clock started ticking on January 9th, so there’s still time to request hearings.

If you care to contact Senator Klobuchar regarding this matter, her toll free number is 1-888-224-9043.