Former Minnesota Governor Launches Series of Water Forums

Detailing Threats to Minnesota Water
Arne Carlson says threat is real and time is no longer an ally.
“Change is coming much faster than anyone anticipated”

For Immediate Release
July 1, 2023

Former Minnesota Governor Launches Series of Forums

Detailing Threats to Minnesota Water
Arne Carlson says threat is real and time is no longer an ally.
“Change is coming much faster than anyone anticipated”

In the first of what will be a series of forums across Minnesota, former governor Arne Carlson sounded an alarm about the future safety and supply of fresh water in Minnesota. “Government overall is very, very unprepared for the water crisis in our country and our state,” Carlson said, in opening the online forum that focused on two proposed mining projects near Tamarack and Emily in the lakes area of central Minnesota.

Representatives of the Tamarack Water Alliance and the Emily Mine Information Group participated in the online forum along with a former state legislator, a mining engineer and a market research professional.

The representatives of the two citizen groups and the mining engineer outlined the dangers and threats they believe will occur from the mining of nickel and manganese in their region to lakes, wells, the Pine River Watershed and the Mississippi River. Exploration at both locations has already begun while the State of Minnesota considers leases that would allow actual mining to begin.

At a state level, Governor Tim Walz has indicated he would favor a moratorium on all new mining until current mining laws have been updated. Recently, 17 Minnesota state senators have indicated they also support a mining moratorium. “Once the waters are polluted, it’s too late,” said Carlson. A moratorium, he said, will allow time to reform current law and “identify the types of concerns that are going to be putting all of the drinking waters at risk.”

During the almost two-hour forum, the group also discussed the actions of local officials who have been hesitant to engage in any decision-making that would jeopardize any possible economic expansion brought about by new mining ventures. As one panel member said, “You’d like to think of them as a backstop. They aren’t. They’re more green light than red light.”

The issue of public accountability also surfaced during a brief discussion of an investigation undertaken by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office into the actions of Crow Wing Power detailed in a series of news articles in statewide media.

Carlson began his planned statewide meetings with the representatives from Aitkin and Crow Wing County partly because of federal action that could see millions of dollars pour into the region as an investment in an extraction-based strategy for transitioning to electric vehicles.

As one of the group representatives noted, “They’re using the climate crisis to justify a renewed push for domestic mines. They want supply chains to be domesticated as much as possible. Talon Metals and Rio Tinto (two of the mining companies engaged in the exploration) are aligning themselves with the Democrats, with people who support climate and clean energy policy, as a way to justify their mines.”

Shortly after the conclusion of the Carlson water forum, Talon Metals Corp. filed papers with Minnesota regulators to launch the environmental review process for its proposed underground nickel mine near the Tamarack, which would supply nickel to Tesla for electric car batteries.

As the Associated Press reported, the Department of Energy has already given the project a $114 million grant to build an ore processing plant in North Dakota, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to boost domestic production of nickel, lithium and other toxic metals needed for electric vehicles and the fight against climate change.

That funding contrasts with the administration’s efforts to kill another proposed mining project in northern Minnesota, the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely, which is just upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. And the federal government in early June raised a new obstacle to the separate NewRange Copper Nickel mine near Babbitt when the Army Corps of Engineers revoked a crucial water quality permit.

In ending this first water forum, Carlson noted that “all drinking water in Minnesota, without exception, is in peril. I don’t think we realize how deep this problem is and how it’s rooted in money. Money is the biggest obstacle we have,” Carlson claimed, referring to the corporate and special interest money that funds political campaigns at both local and state levels. “I can guarantee you one thing,” Carlson noted. “In the 2024 elections there will not be a single legislator, not one, that will come and say ‘Elect me and I’m going to give my vote to special interests.’ Our job is to make sure we pin them to their promises.”

Additional forums on Minnesota’s water supply and the dangers confronting it are being planned and will be announced as plans are finalized.