This is from Minnesota here thanks to the Center for Western Priorities newfeed. What is interesting to me about it is not this particular topic, but the idea of retirees weighing in by writing letters about projects. Is this common or rare? Certainly as readers of this blog can tell from just Jon Haber and I, there are probably as many opinions as retirees. It’s definitely worth talking about-when should we speak up? In different cases, would that cause retirees who think differently to also write a letter to the Secretaries? How would that work out? Certainly retirees know much stuff, and could add to the public discourse, as we do here.
The letter submitted to federal officials this week asks for the federal government to pause that process by completing the study of the proposed 20-year mining ban, and to suspend Twin Metals’ leases until legal challenges to those lease reinstatements are heard in court.
The letter does not mention the proposed PolyMet mine, which earlier this year received the final permits it needs to begin construction. The company is now trying to raise the roughly $1 billion it will need to build the state’s first ever copper-nickel mine.
Brenda Halter, who retired as Forest Supervisor for the Superior National Forest in 2016, helped draft the letter. She said all the signatories have professional experience working on projects related to the Boundary Waters.
Under her leadership, the Forest Service approved a land exchange in which it agreed to trade federal land where PolyMet intends to dig its open pit mine with privately held land elsewhere in the forest. That decision has since been challenged in federal court.
Halter acknowledged the role she played with PolyMet, which she said was to make sure the legal process and the science were followed to help inform the agency’s decision, can seem contradictory with the stance she’s taken on Twin Metals.
“[But] I feel very strongly on a personal and professional level that a copper-nickel mine adjacent to millions of acres of water-based ecosystem is simply an incompatible use,” she said.
Maybe Tony can add some information here.