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My thanks to editorial writer Jill Burcum and her Star Tribune Opinion colleagues for their well-researched "teaching moment" regarding the Twin Metals' mine proposal ("Not this mine. Not this location," Nov. 24). You've changed my thinking.

Big picture: Every ore body has a predictable and guaranteed bottom. According to the statistics provided in this article, Ely has lost 9,000 jobs in the past 40 years. Two questions. First, will 700 new jobs with an additional $10 an $20 an hour make even a small dent in restoring the 2,700-person loss in Ely's population (including lost Main Street business revenue) over the past 80 to 85 years? Second, because these aforementioned 40 years of 9,000 lost mining-related jobs speak for roughly one generation's employment, why would any of us expect a second and third generation (Ely's children and grandchildren) would fare any better as employees of Twin Metals?

To Gov. Tim Walz: I know you take pride in your personal history, not only as a former teacher but as an always-engaged student. Please read this editorial two or three times, underline, make notes and exercise economic leadership. For starters, this is not about "either/or." What about a much-needed agenda of monetary commitment to "Iron Range pride" — measured in broadband and startup small-business venture? Whether yours is a four- or eight-year legacy, my dearest hope: that you be especially remembered for your stewardship of every Minnesota bur oak, calling loon, lush body of water — and, yes, for the "forever-ness" of our treasured Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Judith Monson, St. Paul
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Thank you for a splendid and informative editorial. My husband and I have been going to the BWCA for 40 years, and I have traveled to more than 100 countries. Gliding in a canoe in this place is our No. 1 travel destination.

At an American Association of University Women presentation in September, Gwen Walz, AAUW's next-door neighbor on Summit Avenue, spoke to our group. She spoke candidly about her family's first year as Minnesota's first family with great humor, intelligence and insight, and was well-received by the audience. During Q&A, I asked about her opinion on the possibility of opening up mining near the BWCA, with consideration of the all-important Eighth Congressional District. She danced around her answer a bit, and finally said, "When you are in our position [governor and first lady], you don't have the luxury of activism."

This has been like a Buddhist koan to me. A governor is not a homeroom monitor. S/he is the principal. I hope the governor will be reminded of this when he reads your editorial.

Tersenia Schuett, St. Paul
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A remarkable piece of work in the Nov. 24 paper. Burcum — and her colleagues — provided a balanced and clear-eyed assessment of the risks of copper mining and the differences between Twin Metals and PolyMet. Thank you. I hope Minnesotans, and especially those with a voice in determining the future of this project, will take the time to read the entire article.

Tom Horner, Edina

The writer was the Independence Party's candidate for governor in 2010.

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"Can Twin Metals say there's zero risk to the BWCA?" With this line in its Nov. 24 editorial opposing a not yet formally proposed mine near Ely, the Star Tribune Editorial Board forfeited its credibility.

Can any organization say that there is zero risk to the work it does or the buildings it constructs or the projects it develops?

The notion that any project of any kind anywhere be held to a standard of presenting no risks to the environment would prevent any human activity.

The BWCA is a well-protected area of public land. Commercial activities are prohibited within the wilderness except for canoe outfitters. If the outfitters were held to the Star Tribune's "no risk" standard, there would be no camping permits allowed, no paddling in the pristine waters, no fishing, no nothing.

Indeed, mining carries with it potential risks to the environment. And copper-nickel mining is something new in Minnesota. The purpose of mining regulation is to identify and reduce risks as much as possible. This project is committed to meet or exceed all existing environmental standards or it will not go forward. A zero-risk standard is neither possible nor reasonable.

Steve Giorgi, Mountain Iron, Minn.
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In reading the editorial it appears that the biggest concerns arise from processing the ore. If this is the case, why not ship the ore to a place where the chance of contaminating the environment would be lower? Northwestern Minnesota is relatively flat (so runoff would be slower), is not so densely covered with water and certainly would appreciate the jobs. It is also not that far from the mine site, so freight cost wouldn't be that large. And if the ore is so valuable, a little extra freight shouldn't be a large issue for the mining companies.

Fred Rau, Hugo
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It's great that the Star Tribune is focusing on the danger to the BWCA and Lake Superior from proposed sulfide mines. But for further reporting, don't look in Minnesota, where this kind of mining has never been done. Instead, look at the damaged, dead rivers and lakes in Colorado, in Montana, in Pennsylvania. Taxpayers (not mining companies) have paid millions and millions to try to clean up these messes. No sulfide ore mine has ever been successfully "reclaimed." Anywhere. Ever.

These mining plans shouldn't be judged on what the companies are claiming now, about this project, but on the fact that every other similar claim made in the past has turned out to be false.

Peter Borden, St. Paul

Opinion editor's note: Click here for Twin Metals' response to last weekend's editorial.


State's business leaders have a very dry way of thinking about the topic

To read on the front page Nov. 24 that an "EPA plan 'neuters' the state's water laws" was very disappointing. But to learn that our business leaders as represented by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce welcome the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed changes is sad, very sad. I can only conclude that our business leaders and their employees do not recreate in, or drink, our state waters.

Ron Sternal, St. Louis Park

There be monsters …

Some of my fellow Minnesotans are breeding genetically enhanced "Frankendeer" with racks so huge and misshapen that the poor animals can't hold their heads in a normal position ("Tainted trophies," front page, Nov. 24). The deer are trapped in an enclosed area so that hunters can pay exorbitant amounts of cash to shoot them and mount their heads on a wall. And that may be the easy way out for these tortured animals. They could die slowly from chronic wasting disease.

This is a stunning example of humanity's hubris and deep disconnect from the natural world. If we think of nature — animals, plants, soil — as simply a commodity to exploit, we will never solve climate change or stop destroying ecosystems. The monstrous antlers on those bucks look like visions from a nightmare. Unfortunately, this is no dream. There are real monsters among us, and they are not the deer. I can only hang my head in shame for my species.

Laurel Regan, Apple Valley

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