Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Mining Our Way to a Healthy Environment, Jobs, and Energy Independence

Feb 27, 2014
In The News

Mining Our Way to a Healthy Environment, Jobs, and Energy Independence

Common sense tells me Iron Range mining is good for our economy – achieving energy independence, creating jobs, and going green.

The Duluth Complex and the Iron Range contain one of the largest untapped deposits of iron ore, copper, nickel, and other precious metals, on Earth. 

Despite the rich deposits we have right here at home, we are still importing a third of all the copper used in America, and almost all of the nickel. That makes no sense.

Fast-growing demand for mining-based green products and technologies means thousands of permanent, good-paying new jobs.

Bloomberg News reports that annual U.S. investment in new green technologies has grown by 400% – to almost $50 billion dollars – in just eight years. And renewable energy accounted for fully half of all new capacity installed in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Trends like these mean generations of growth, jobs, and new prosperity, if we’re visionary enough to seize the opportunities.

The fact is that metals and minerals mined from our region touch and improve almost every part of our daily lives:

Every new car contains more than a ton of iron, steel, copper, nickel, and nickel-based aluminum – and new hybrid vehicles, with 75 more pounds of copper, increase our energy efficiency.

Every wind turbine contains hundreds of tons of steel and copper – and minimizes our need for fossil fuels.

Every modern catalytic converter contains platinum and palladium – and reduces air pollution.

Every cellphone contains copper and palladium – and advances our ability to communicate while conserving resources.

Every lithium-ion battery contains nickel, cobalt, manganese, to name a few – and helps save energy.

Every computer, every television, every compact-fluorescent or LED light bulb, printer, iPad, e-reader – the list goes on and on – contains copper and nickel – and these important mineral resources reduce our personal and national dependence on atmospheric-polluting, finite, fossil fuels.

Moreover, our need to expand our nation’s rail and other mass transit systems, and rebuild our bridges and infrastructure, will create jobs, promote business opportunities, strengthen our economy, and generate increased demand for iron and steel. The growing prosperity and demand for American cars in China and India will do that too. American hybrid cars in particular will help those nations address their growing pollution problems.

Mining the environmentally-responsible American way is good for all of us.

My years in business have taken me all around the world, and given me perspective. America has a choice: we can either continue to import our steel and precious metals from China – and other nations that don’t protect workers – sacrificing clean air, water, and timber resources, and moving good-paying jobs overseas. Or we can mine them here – the right way.

Of course, we must insist the mining companies protect worker health and safety as well as the environment. We have the laws and regulations in place to ensure it is done right. With those protections in place, we are on the road to several hundred years of economic growth, opportunity and prosperity, with only positive consequences for our environment and our future.