Poll shows mixed opinions for northern MN mining

politics_mn.jpgA poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) commissioned by the Mining Truth campaign shows mixed opinions of new northern MN mining. Projects like PolyMet in Hoyt Lakes enjoy support from locals in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, but mixed opinions and a lot of uncertainty statewide. Mining Truth also posed follow-up questions that show where support of new mining is limited to certain conditions.

From the Mining Truth statement:

In the statewide poll, more people oppose proposed mines (32%) than support them (28%) with the rest unsure. In the Eighth Congressional District where the mines would be located, the support outpaces the opposition, by a 40% – 27% margin with the rest unsure.

But when given key facts about the PolyMet proposal, which would operate for 20 years but would require hundreds of years of water treatment and monitoring after closure, regional differences of opinion disappear. These facts mirror what is known about PolyMet’s proposed mine life and requirements at closure. In the Eighth District, 45 percent of voters reject the proposal, while 29 percent remain supportive. Similarly, opposition jumped to 48 percent in the statewide poll with 25 percent still supporting the proposal.

Respondents in both polls were also unified when asked if mining should be prohibited in areas where the runoff could enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 75 percent of the statewide respondents, and 62 percent of the Eighth Congressional District respondents agreed with that statement. A strong majority in each poll also agreed that efforts to create needed jobs in the region should not include relaxing or repealing Minnesota’s current environmental laws.

The Mining Truth campaign is a coalition of Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. Obviously, they’ve been staunch opponents of new nonferrous mining projects. PPP is left-leaning house pollster, but was recognized for above-average accuracy in the 2012 polling cycle. The top-line numbers seem the most interesting because they are the least conditional: Noticeable local support (I’d venture most of that 40 percent came from the Range) and slight opposition statewide, underscored by a vast number of people uncertain what to think.

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