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As an Iron Ranger, former miner and constituent of U.S. Rick Nolan, I must object to his deceptive Aug. 9 commentary (“Indeed, the green economy needs our mining”).

While it’s true that electric cars and wind turbines use steel and copper, it’s not true that we benefit by using Minnesota’s ore for those purposes. Our iron and copper ore bodies are low-grade. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are more than 150 countervailing and anti-dumping duties on steel imports. While some of those duties may have subsidized my paychecks, they also made steel more expensive.

If we insist on destroying national forest wetlands to open up a low-grade copper mine, there’s not much doubt that the copper-mining corporations, like iron-mining corporations, will be demanding protective duties to shelter their industries from foreign competitors with higher-grade ore. We’ll all be paying more for cars, windmills and, of course, cellphones. More mining in Minnesota means fewer windmills.

Nolan’s claim that “mining is done the right way” is just plain false. The taconite tailings ponds on the Range are all leaking. There’s a more-than-100-mile dead zone for wild rice in the St. Louis River.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, mining is less than 1 percent of Minnesota’s economy. Instead of destroying our wetlands, we should diversify our Range economy.

Robert Tammen, Soudan, Minn.

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Before more land is mined for the minerals needed for green technology, the vacated mine area should be turned into a recycling center not seen before. Every cellphone, compact fluorescent bulb, personal computer, iPad, television, scanner, computer keyboard, computer mouse and monitor should be reclaimed for the metals they contain. By recycling the worn-out or unused gadget, the demand for the rare-earths would be minimized. Why don’t we get the concept of “no waste”?

David Lick, Grand Rapids, Minn.

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This letter is in response to a misleading piece of information included in an Aug. 2 commentary by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer regarding his proposed bill to allow sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters.

A photo originally published with his article online had the following caption: “The Superior National Forest comprises 3 million acres in northeastern Minnesota. When it was established in 1909 — and later when the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was established in 1978 — there was an express agreement between the federal government and the state of Minnesota that certain activities like mining and logging could continue.”

This caption is incorrect on two key facts. First, the Boundary Waters was established as wilderness in 1964, not 1978. The 1978 Boundary Waters Wilderness Act amended the 1964 Wilderness Act to remove incompatible uses from the wilderness, specifically logging, mining and motorized use.

Second, the 1978 act did not expressly or implicitly address mining outside the wilderness or the 220,000-acre mining protection area. The only use it addressed outside these areas was logging. There was no promise or compromise made about mining on Superior National Forest lands. The 1978 act does not make any mention of encouraging mining outside of the Boundary Waters or the mining protection area.

This second point is especially key because Emmer included this false information as a way to make his case that sulfide-ore copper mining should be allowed near the Boundary Waters. It’s fine for Emmer to make his case, but as an elected official he has a responsibility to use the facts while doing so.

Doug Niemela, Minneapolis

The writer is national campaign manager for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.


Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ threat is fully precedented in its message

In an Aug. 10 editorial (“Trump’s reckless rant on North Korea”), the Star Tribune Editorial Board characterizes President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” threat as being “unpresidential and unprecedented.” You are correct about the former, but not the latter. What you should have accused the president of is having plagiarized President Bill Clinton, who in 1994 said in a speech in Seoul, if North Korea gains and uses a nuclear weapon, “we would quickly and overwhelmingly retaliate” in such a way that “it would mean the end of their country as they know it.” Even President Barack Obama, ever the diplomat, said, following a North Korea nuclear test in 2014, the U.S. will not hesitate to use military might to defend our allies and our way of life, because “there are consequences to [such] illegal and dangerous actions.”

Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park

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To quote the Editorial Board: “Those words — literally and figuratively inflammatory — are unpresidential and unprecedented in the context of nuclear weapons.”

Harry Truman used very similar words in 1945 before Japan was bombed.

Donald Brown, Bloomington

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The reason for Trump’s bellicose response to the nut case in North Korea is easily explained in the Aug. 9 article “New arms race possible as neighbors rethink arsenal.” Suddenly, South Korea is seriously considering upping its armaments and now — new sales market alert — Japan! And which country is the No. 1 arms exporter in the world? USA! USA! Trump’s reckless, saber-rattling plan to open new Asian markets to American weapons exports is indeed an act of evil brilliance.

Bruce Hughes, Brooklyn Park


I’ll address head-on what state senator avoided: It’s the union

State Sen. Carla Nelson (“Education brass should show a little humility, listen to parents,” Aug. 10) delicately broaches the necessity of parental choice in public education options for Minnesota’s children — “let’s focus on doing what it takes to make sure all children have access to a great education.”

Transparently avoided is the teachers’ union factor. Education Minnesota has been absolutely opposed to any potential change that might interfere with its monopolistic modus operandi — aided and abetted by its client DFL Party and Gov. Mark Dayton.

So, until Education Minnesota is legislatively coerced to put children first, it remains somewhat of a fantasy to expect Minnesota’s “education brass” to even marginally cooperate.

Gene Delaune, New Brighton

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Math is best learned when it is useful and interesting. The stagnation of math test scores, and in particular in minority communities, is a failure to deliver math education in an interesting and compelling way. I learned my sevens table because I loved football. Math can be fun and interesting once you realize it can represent the real world. Rather, it is a representational language that helps us understand the world we live in. One single plus one walk equals one at bat, not two. By volume, one ounce of water plus one ounce of sulfuric acid does not equal two ounces of liquid. Before the Civil War, one white voter and one slave equaled one and three-fifths votes, not two. One school in north Minneapolis plus one school in Edina do not add up to two equal schools.

The current math education curriculum is failing our kids. It is cheating minority kids of an essential tool for escaping poverty. The tragedy is that unlike dividing by zero, improving math education is a solvable problem that should not require infinite resources, only the will to change and imagination.

Steven M. Pine, Hopkins