Faith leaders asking for more scrutiny of the PolyMet mine proposal in northern Minnesota

Our friends at  Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light are asking faith leaders of all traditions to add their names to a sign-on letter asking for better scrutiny of the PolyMet mine proposal in northern Minnesota.

Specifically, the letter asks Gov. Tim Walz and key agency heads to “accept the Court of Appeals decision that a fair and open contested case process is needed now for the PolyMet sulfide mine.”

Some 200 faith leaders already have signed the letter and it will be delivered to Gov. Walz’s office tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light will continue gathering faith leader signatures in the coming months, so it’s not too late to sign.

The PolyMet mine proposal hit a major setback recently, when a mine opponents won a successful legal challenge to the state’s permitting process at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The court’s decision sends the proposal back to state regulators for further review, according to a Jan. 14 article in the Star Tribune.

Chief Judge Edward Cleary said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) erred in not holding so-called contested case hearings on the permits to fully vet objections by environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In a decision released Monday, he ordered the DNR to hold such a hearing.

The sign-on letter asks the Governor and state agency heads not to appeal the Court of Appeals’ decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court and let the contested case hearing proceed.

If you are a leader of a religious or spiritual community, please consider signing this letter. If you are a member of a faith or spiritual community, please consider asking your leaders to sign it. If you are not religious at all, please consider sharing this with your friends who are!

Any faith community whose denomination has repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery should be signing this letter in support of Minnesota’s Indigenous communities. Here is one key passage from the sign-on letter:

The PolyMet mine site would be upstream from the Fond du Lac reservation and located on 1854 Treaty lands, where Lake Superior Chippewa retain rights to hunt, fish, and gather. Minnesota has a long history of injustice and environmental racism towards Native Americans, and we are beginning to make strides in restoring relationships and honoring justice. This mine would go completely counter to those burgeoning efforts, directly violating Treaty rights. Honoring existing treaties is foundational to restoring relationships and promoting justice – it’s the bare minimum.

Here are some of the environmental concerns raised in the sign-on letter:

PolyMet would be the first sulfide mine in Minnesota, a particularly damaging type of mining that the EPA has called America’s most toxic industry. … The proposed PolyMet mine will contaminate streams and rivers in the Lake Superior watersheds with toxic arsenic and methylmercury and injure the developing brains of Minnesota fetuses, babies and children. Whatever short-term economic advantage this mine may bring is not worth the enormous long-term threat and costs to human health and safety.

Thanks for your consideration.

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