Poll shows slipping support for PolyMet

Iron Range newsThe proposed PolyMet mine at Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, is still waiting for news about its permits with a ruling to come from federal and state regulators late this year or early next. But the effects of the long wait and ceaseless statewide debate over the merits of opening new kinds of mineral mines in important Minnesota watersheds is affecting public attitudes about the project, according to data from a recent Minnesota Poll by the Star Tribune.

The Minnesota Poll shows statewide support for the new mine has dropped to 40 percent, down 6 points from February. Opposition crept up from 21 percent to 23 percent during the same period. Support remains higher in Northern Minnesota, near where the mine would hire workers and use construction labor, but there too support has slipped some.

PolyMet won’t face a direct vote by voters across the state or even a direct local vote. At this point, the biggest indicators whether the project happens or not is A) permits and the expected legal challenges that follow (Minnesota Ojibwe bands will have a compelling treaty case to make), and B) finances — Does this international holding company have the ability to attract the billion dollars it needs to build amid the aforementioned uncertainty. Thus the discussion of poll results is a matter of conversation more than anything binding. The decline in public support, if real, is only a product of the process, not anything that will govern the process (unless opposition rises substantially).

It comes down to a simple truth. You can only argue about something for so many years before people get tired of waiting to see who’s right. The people of Northern Minnesota need to move on with our lives, and our economic future, one way or the other.

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