Carlton City Council Resolution in Support of a Moratorium on Copper-Nickel Sulfide Mining in the St. Louis River Watershed (2/14/18)

WHEREAS, PolyMet Mining Corporation has proposed to construct and operate an open pit mine in the St. Louis River watershed for the purpose of extracting copper, nickel, cobalt and precious minerals; and

WHEREAS, it is also proposed that the toxic sulfide waste from the PolyMet mine be stored in an unlined tailings basin that will eventually cover 21⁄2 square miles with 10 million cubic yards of toxic mine waste pumped in each year for 20 years; and

WHEREAS, The City of Carlton is not opposed to industry that operates without danger to residents and environment, copper-nickel sulfide ore mining has NEVER been accomplished in a water rich environment without polluting surface and/or groundwater with acidic runoff of mine wastes, toxic for several hundred years or longer; and

WHEREAS, the PolyMet mine would directly destroy 913 acres of peatlands and wetlands, negatively impacting thousands more acres as a result of mine drawdown and pollution, releasing an estimated 2.5 million tons of CO2, increasing total Minnesota annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2 percent due to wetlands destruction alone while simultaneously producing 15.8 million metric tons (707,342 metric tons per year) of carbon dioxide pollution — (more than one-fourth of the CO2 equivalent calculated for the entire city of Duluth’s commercial, industrial, residential, transportation and waste sectors combined) thus contributing to increased greenhouse gases that are known to exacerbate climate change and extreme weather events; and

WHEREAS, in spite of PolyMet’s repeated assurance to the people of Minnesota that its operation will “comply with all applicable state and federal standards to protect Minnesota’s water, air and other natural resources,” it is evident that the lasting consequences of both the ongoing operation of the mine and any failure, catastrophic or otherwise, of its toxic waste retention system will fall to the people of Minnesota, and to those living downstream in the St. Louis River watershed, negatively impacting the health, safety, prosperity, and general well-being of the City and people of Carlton for generations to come, as well as the ecosystem; and

WHEREAS, the 2015 City of Carlton Comprehensive Plan states that “Carlton will be a special and desirable place to live, raise a family, and run a business because... We enjoy an intimate connection with the outdoors, especially the St. Louis River and Thomson Lake Reservoir” and “Carlton is a community that... is safe... is healthy... is sustainable... (and) protects its cultural and natural resources”; and

WHEREAS, the Carlton Comprehensive Plan further identifies a Strategic Initiative to “Expand / strengthen connections to Thomson Lake Reservoir, St. Louis and Midway Rivers, Jay Cooke State Park, and regional trail systems,” defining the nature of city development by asserting that, “Carlton’s image and quality of life are rooted in its superb natural setting,” with development sensitive to “its relationship to waterways, wetlands, blocks of natural areas, and ecological systems”; then

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Carlton City Council, in order to protect its citizens from harm, as well as its natural resources, community assets and quality of life from irreparable damage now or in the future, favors a moratorium on the permitting, construction, and operation of any copper-nickel sulfide mine in the St. Louis River watershed until it is shown that similar mines in the US or Canada have operated safely for at least 20 years in a water-rich environment similar to that of the upper St. Louis River watershed, and have subsequently been closed for at least 20 years, all without resulting in acid mine drainage, pollution of, or toxic damage to, surface or groundwater, wildlife, people or communities.