President Biden’s calls for a full-frontal assault on the looming climate crisis just got hamstrung by, well, his own administration.

The government’s move this week launching a two-year study and possible moratorium on mining on nearly a quarter-million acres of land in northeast Minnesota effectively takes out of play critical resources essential to addressing the mounting climate crisis and achieving the administration’s aggressive timetable to reach 50 percent vehicle electrification by 2030 and obtain nearly half of our electricity from solar by 2050.

These minerals—copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals—abundant in northeast Minnesota, are key raw materials for green energy solutions like solar, wind, electric vehicles and the batteries that power them.

The self-contradictory maneuvering to demand these green technologies, yet slam the door on a vast cache of the minerals to bring them to fruition is like being in the middle of a pandemic and cutting off the vaccine supply.

It’s illogical.

Rather than relying on mining companies, such as Twin Metals and PolyMet, that can mine responsibly under some of the most stringent environmental and labor standards on the planet, the opposition would rather we continue to get our raw materials from overseas, in places like China or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where unethical companies contribute to the exploitation of child labor or ecological destruction.

Isn’t it ironic that the environmentalists, and the politicians they have under their spell, can’t see the forest for the trees?

Preventing resource extraction here doesn’t stop those activities. It simply shifts them to someone else’s backyard.

The opposition has all but demonized local mining companies that plan to use the most innovative, sustainable technologies and practices available, yet turns a blind eye to the irreparable harm done elsewhere. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

Their primary argument rests on the incorrect and baseless assumption that Twin Metals’ proposed job-creating, clean-energy minerals producing mine can’t coexist with environmental protections.

That claim is irrational and insulting, especially to those of us who have lived in northeast Minnesota our entire lives.

For more than 135 years, the mining industry has supported generations of families in this region while successfully coexisting with the environment. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has never been more pristine nor more beloved and treasured by the people who live, work and play here every day.

Allow me to point out one final contradiction with the government’s actions. Biden wants more jobs for Americans to create more products that are Made in America — preferably by Union Labor.

Yet, the politicians calling the shots in the metro and Washington D.C. are turning their backs on a project that promises to bring a couple of thousand direct mining and spin off jobs to folks in small-town America who desperately need them, in a region with a strong union presence. These are good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.

It’s clear by this decision that the well-being and livelihoods of the people who live in northeast Minnesota are not on the radar of Washington’s environmental elites. Our hope then is that they at least won’t continue to deprive the rest of the nation of the strategic minerals that will help secure our national interests, strengthen domestic supply chains, and fuel our transition to the green economy future we all desire.


Ryan Sistad is executive director of Better in our Backyard, a coalition of dedicated young professionals and emerging leaders in the region who understand that responsible industry creates a thriving economy in northern Minnesota while protecting the region’s pristine environment.​ Lives and livelihoods in northern Minnesota depend on mining, manufacturing and pipeline industries to be successful. Better In Our Back Yard understands that when these industries are thriving, so are the Union Building Trades, the tourism industry and small businesses across the region.


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