One of the most troubling things facing Democrats this year is walking the tightrope between supporting construction unions and supporting their environmental activists on things like the Keystone XL Pipeline Project nationally and the PolyMet Mining Project in northern Minnesota. Based on this article, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar are doing the best they can in walking that delicate tightrope but still failing. Here are their responses to the PolyMet Project:
"Mining is a great Minnesota tradition, and so is protection of our environment and natural resources," he said. "There's no question that we need to take into account the environmental impact of any proposed project, but Minnesota and the federal government already have rigorous processes in place to make sure that happens. There's no reason to have an overly burdensome process. I've been talking with the Forest Service about this issue and I will continue to engage them."
Klobuchar’s emailed response was similar. “While every project must undergo a thorough environmental evaluation, I am concerned about adding this additional impact statement when there is already a process in place,” she said. “I will continue to work with the Forest Service on this issue."
It's clear that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar want nothing to do with this project. Saying that they'll continue talking with the Forest Service doesn't give Iron Rangers living below the poverty line a sense that there's any urgency on this issue with Sen. Franken or Sen. Klobuchar.
The permitting process for PolyMet started 9 years ago. PolyMet has spent upwards of $150,000,000 on meeting the EPA's and the various other federal agencies' regulations.
Meanwhile, St. Louis County continues to lag behind the rest of Minnesota in terms of median household income. Minnesota's median household income is $59,126. The median household income in St. Louis County, though, is $46,231. The percentage of Minnesotans living below the poverty line is 11.2%, compared with 16.1% in St. Louis County.
Getting PolyMet operational would be a huge boost to the Iron Range's economy. That's before talking about the shot it would give to Minnesota's economy.
It isn't a stretch to think that Sen. Franken's and Sen. Klobuchar's responses were disheartening to Iron Rangers. Likewise, it isn't a stretch to think that their responses lit a fire under the average Iron Range family. These families are living paycheck to paycheck.
They have the right to expect some urgency from their US senators. If PolyMet is approved, that essentially guarantees a generation of prosperity on the Iron Range.
Finally, these families have a right to ask why their US senators aren't taking their biggest problem more seriously. It's a question Sen. Franken should be forced to answer directly during this campaign. If he wants the Iron Range's votes, he should be expected to tell these families what he's doing to make their lives better with regard to PolyMet.
It's really that simple.