You can leave comments on LeftMN, sort of (
by Steve Timmer
Sep 4, 2013, 2:30 PM

On comments – defending Brimstone Mountain edition

We rarely ever hear from detractors here at LeftMN; perhaps we don’t have many. [chortle] But we got a critical comment to The forces of grievance and resentment weigh in. Aaron from Duluth (to distinguish him from our, or formerly our, Aaron) writes:

Hmmmm, the Shebandowan mine opened in 1972, CEPA was enacted in 1988. Great comparison for a modern mine in the US under NEPA.

NEPA is the federal law that requires environmental impact statements.

Aaron from Duluth followed up the comment with an email to me:

I suppose the nuances of changes in environmental regulation and industry practice over time are too complex for scare tactics.

Aaron from Duluth apparently believes that NEPA repealed the laws of geology, chemistry, biology, and gravity. And economics, too.

The mine at Lake Shebandowan, described in the linked post, is a perfectly apt metaphor for what Twin Metals and PolyMet want to do. The existence of waste rock and tailings, and the hazards they create, are a reality that no amount of regulation can wish away.

And let us assume, even for the moment, that the mining companies manage to control and contain every bit of waste rock and every drop of contaminated water — which is impossible, but remember, we assuming here — the moment the mine closes, it becomes a ticking time bomb. Why is that you say?

Because there will be no more revenue coming in from mining operations, and the operator, or rather its parent corporation, will tire of the job of perpetual care, and walk away. Guaranteed. The mining companies are in the business of making money — nothing inherently wrong with that — but they are not in the non-profit cemetery business.

So, after a decent interval, they’ll put a bullet in the subsidiary and leave us, or our children, holding the bag. Remember LTV, Armco, and Reserve Mining? That one left us sadder; we’ll see if it left us any wiser.

The country is littered with mines, abandoned after a decent interval, that became Super Fund sites. There are stories on the site about some of them, if you want to search using super fund, or superfund, or EPA.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.