Survey Says… Don’t Mine the Boundary Waters!
Earlier this year, American Rivers highlighted concerns over introducing sulfide mines to the Boundary Waters region in Minnesota with our list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®. Two new polls show that Minnesotans are becoming more aware of the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals mines, and as the amount of information increases, support for the projects decreases.
In a statewide poll of Minnesota residents, more people opposed the proposed mines (32%) than supported them (28%), with the rest unsure. In the Eighth Congressional District where the mines would be located, the support outpaces the opposition, by a 40% (support) to 27% (oppose) margin, with the rest unsure.
However, when respondents were given key facts about the PolyMet proposal, which would operate for 20 years, but require hundreds of years of water treatment and monitoring after closure, regional differences of opinion disappear. These facts mirror what is known about PolyMet’s proposed mine life and requirements at closure. With this additional information, 45% of voters in the Eighth District rejected the proposal, while 29% remained supportive. Similarly, opposition jumped to 48% in the statewide poll with 25% still supporting the proposal.
Respondents in both polls were also unified when asked if mining should be prohibited in areas where the runoff could enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 75 percent of the statewide respondents and 62% of the Eighth Congressional District respondents agreed with that statement. A strong majority in each poll also agreed that efforts to create needed jobs in the region should not include relaxing or repealing Minnesota’s current environmental laws.
“These results show that the more Minnesotans learn about proposed sulfide mines like Twin Metals and PolyMet, the more concerned they become,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and one of our partners for America’s Most Endangered Rivers. “Minnesotans are dead set against any sulfide mine that could pollute the Boundary Waters, and they oppose rolling back environmental laws. We know that it’s a bad deal to exchange short-term mines for long-term water pollution in cherished areas.”
The polls were conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina on September 11th and 12th, and paid for by Mining Truth. Both surveyed Minnesotans who voted in two of the last three elections. The statewide poll surveyed 587 Minnesota voters, and the 8th Congressional District poll surveyed 569 voters in the district. Go here to see a copy of the polling questions.