Talking resource politics

The former LTV Steel mine near Hoyt Lakes, site of one of several new mining proposals in northeastern Minnesota. (PHOTO: Chad Davis, Flickr CC-BY)

Last week I spoke via Zoom to the Tamarack Water Alliance, an environmental group that formed recently in Aitkin County. As I explain in the introduction, I don’t take aggressive positions in these mining proposal debates because I’m trying to learn more and generate productive conversation. But this group asked me to speak and I thought it was a good opportunity to compose a cohesive talk about some of the ideas I’ve been writing about lately.

The talk covers three broad ideas. The first is to establish the concept of the Iron Range as a symbolic and contested border between development and wilderness. The second is that new technology is rapidly changing the mining and steel industries. Northern Minnesota can benefit from those changes, but won’t do so automatically. We have choices to make. Finally, I talk about e-waste recycling, and the fact that American consumption habits will have to change to meaningfully improve our environmental outlook.

If you’ve enjoyed some of the essays I wrote for the Minnesota Reformer this year, you might enjoy this conversation. I get into some of my historical research, too.

Here’s the talk:

I reference three recent columns. “The troubled border between consumption and conservation” and “Hope for the Iron Range, but we must put the past behind us,” ran in the Minnesota Reformer. “Minnesota can lead and prosper in e-recycling” ran in the Mesabi Tribune.

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