Faith Leader Letter: Polymet Mine Proposal
On Tuesday, February 11th, MNIPL and a diverse group of faith community members delivered an open letter to Gov. Walz and state regulators signed by more than 250 faith leaders. The letter highlights the serious threats the mine poses to water quality, climate, and the rights of Indigenous peoples in Minnesota, calling on officials to accept the judgement of the Court of Appeals that a fair and open contested case hearing is necessary. The story was covered by the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio and KSTP Channel 5 news. Learn more and sign the letter here.
PolyMet petitions state Supreme Court on blocked permits; groups on both sides rally at Capitol, The Star Tribune, February 11, 2020. “Meanwhile, a diverse group of religious leaders with Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light delivered an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz, state environmental regulators and lawmakers asking them to accept the judgment of the Appeals Court…”
First day of Minnesota legislative session: Guns, insulin and a cooperative tone, Minnesota Public Radio, February 11, 2020. “Minneapolis-based Interfaith Power and Light, a religious-based environmental advocacy group, handed over a petition in the governor’s office signed by more than 200 faith leaders saying the mining project represented a grave threat to water quality and the rights of Indian tribes in northern Minnesota.”
Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light advocates for a vision of abundance for future generations – clean air and clean water, safe and healthy communities, reparations for historical harm, and thriving ecosystems that sustain us.
Many of our members are concerned that this vision is threatened by sulfide mining, a dangerous type of mining proposed in Minnesota for the first time, which the EPA has called America’s most toxic industry.
The PolyMet proposal would be Minnesota’s first sulfide mine. The mine would violate Treaty rights, and the potential for a tailings dam collapse threatens the Fond du Lac Reservation, the St. Louis River, Duluth, and Lake Superior.
We invite all faith leaders – rabbis, imams, priests, pastors, deacons, elders, and others – to sign this letter. If you’re not a faith leader, please consider sharing the letter with leaders in your faith community.
We the leaders of spiritual communities across Minnesota hold deep concerns about the PolyMet sulfide copper-nickel mine proposed in northern Minnesota. We ask you and your Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to accept the judgment of the Minnesota Court of Appeals that an open, public and fair contested case is needed, rather than trying to overturn the decision requiring contested case hearings on dam safety and the permit to mine. Knowing the human health and safety risks, the ecological impacts and treaty violations, we as faith leaders cannot ignore our moral responsibility to speak out.
Across our many diverse faith traditions is a common call to care for all creation. We implore you to act according to these values by fully addressing the risks of a tailings dam failure and the financial liability for downstream communities. The PolyMet dam’s upstream design is the same as that of numerous failed dams, including a Brazilian mining dam that collapsed in January 2019, killing 270 people and contaminating water sources for hundreds of years.
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.