The copper sirens call

MinnPost published an interesting commentary on copper and other nonferrous mineral mining on the Iron Range Monday, written by geologist Rolf Westgard. True Range insiders know that the human story of the Iron Range may largely be explained by geology. Westgard makes some notable observations in his piece. Simply put, global demand for copper will make it harder and harder for companies to resist mining the vast but hard-to-reach minerals available below the Iron Range, despite environmental and economic barriers that exist today.

I’ve already written a column slated to run this Sunday in the Hibbing Daily Tribune that mentions copper mining, among other things. Not to give away the store, but it builds upon my developing worldview that “miners gonna’ mine, but leaders need to lead.” Specifically public spending should focus on public good and sustainable development, instead of relying on large outside-controlled projects to “save us,” all while spending unwisely on projects with low return.

I’ve been called cautious. I’ve been called naive or idealistic. I’ve been incorrectly identified as a liberal who reflexively adopts environmental stands. You have to understand my point of view. These sorts of economic development hope-and-dream strategies have been going on literally my entire life, which began as the Iron Range economy collapsed and never fully recovered.

I deeply respect the progressive traditions of the region, especially regarding education. This is, in part, why I have become an educator myself and have thus far aligned with the DFL. I understand the conservative counterarguments. Many Range institutions badly need reform. Few from either party seem to deliver anything but subservient leadership or partisan talking points. Wait until the Republicans are in charge, say the Republicans. Wait until the DFL is charge, say the Democrats. Wait until the Blah Blah Blah Voldemort is built, say the developers.

Wait. Wait. Wait. For what?

More on this Sunday. My book where I first developed some of these themes (along with a lot of regional humor) is “Overburden Modern Life on the Iron Range.”

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