Spring Re-information Drive For The Observation Of Land Ethics

Forrest Johnson

Well, another exciting Minnesota Boys State High School Hockey tourney has come and gone. Duluth East and Hermantown stirred emotions as they competed for state titles, and East really played out of their minds to get to the finals.
Amidst all the excitement, however, were some disturbing sponsorships for the Minnesota State High School League and the broadcast team as at least four groups vied for the title of “Most Misleading Advertising Ever During a State Hockey Tourney” according to the National Union of Friendly Americans-Media Council (NUFA-MC).
The whiz-bang suspect sponsors included PolyMet Mining (the company that’s never mined a thing), the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Coalition For A Secure Energy Future.
Back in my day in the late 1960s and early 1970s the tournament was sponsored by the Iron Mining Industry of Minnesota, with Earl Henton as chief spokesman. We all believed in Earl Henton and the dad’s of most of the guys I knew from Greenway or Hibbing or Chisholm all worked in the mines. It just made sense. When you saw Earl Henton and the Iron Mining Industry of Minnesota on the TV you knew it was tourney time.
But back to the 2015 tournament.
The whole list of major sponsors mentioned above reads almost as if they’d come out of the Koch Bros., climate change, major polluter, extractive industry handbook.
As a former journalist I can’t help but laugh and cry at how our airwaves are polluted by misinformation masquerading as some kind of public service. It was laughable to watch the Minnesota Corn Growers say that the handprint of the industrial farmer will insure a healthy future by using environmentally sound practices on the landscape.
“The Minnesota Corn Growers Association—Feeding the World, Protecting the Land.”
Wow. Coming from an industry that’s not regulated by the Clean Water Act I scrambled for my notebook and pencil to jot this stuff down. With groundwater pollution and farm runoff the largest issue facing the Minnesota farmscape environment, with about a third of the lands in the state under the plow, how could such a statement even exist? All the watersheds of SW Minnesota were recently put on the state’s impaired waters list with warnings that no fish are safe, that swimming isn’t safe due to agricultural uses on the land. All the watersheds of SW Minnesota are off limits due to industrial farming practices.
“Feeding the World, Protecting the land” should be immediately replaced by “Feeding the Cows, Polluting the Land.” And we’re not even talking about the ethanol plants and the gazillions of gallons of water they need to process that kind of fuel or the corn syrup and other corn additives that fuel the processed food industry.
How do you protect the land by draining every acre and applying millions of tons of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides? And you can’t even eat the corn. This isn’t real is it? These people can’t actually believe this can they?
Good thing the hockey game came back on.    
It didn’t take PolyMet long to blab about their attempts to open Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine, citing teamwork, it’s about team, and their pledge “Protecting what we all treasure, our woods, water, wildlife.” That from a mining company that hasn’t mined anything, anywhere. Nope, we’re going to open a massive hole in the ground, drain square miles of wetlands, store sulfide bearing waste rock and gobble up billions and billions of gallons of water and then stick around for at least 500 years to make sure that the sulfide waste doesn’t enter the Lake Superior watershed and kill off life downstream.
How can a mining company say such nonsense as they are protecting woods, water, wildlife when they are an extractive industry, one that changes the landscape over square miles of land?
Later in the tournament, some VP of the company came on in between periods and expressed heartfelt love for Minnesota and the mining communities and our way of life up north. The interviewer lobbed softball after softball his way, obviously indentured to the company, and the other aforementioned protectors of our way of life and our environment, for being such a good sport in sponsoring the tournament.
Good thing the hockey game came back on.
Next up was the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future. Again teambuilding was the symbol, a team effort of the coal industry and renewable energy to secure our energy future. This bunch will protect our pocketbook, protect our economy, protect our security and protect the environment, here, here! Everybody is protecting our environment! Our nation wins, what a deal! Coal and renewable? Well, a little check into the group showed that the coalition is a front for the Lignite Energy Council (coal, baby) and nowhere in sight was any talk of a shared relationship with any green energy consortium. Renewable is such a nice word so why not put it right in there with a non-renewable like coal?
All of the sponsors were the flim-flam man, not our trusted Earl Henton, right in the middle of my favorite time of the year, state hockey tourney time.
Good thing the hockey game came back on.          

Forrest Johnson was editor of the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors for over 20 years.