A group of several hundred people asked Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers on Thursday to oppose copper and nickel mining permits in northeastern Minnesota.
Former DFL state Rep. Frank Moe drove a team of sled dogs from Grand Marais to St. Paul to deliver 12,500 petitions urging state and federal authorities to deny any permits that would allow sulfide mining to occur in Minnesota.
Moe, who now owns an outfitting company in Grand Marais, said proposals by PolyMet and other mining companies threaten the state's natural resources because drilling into sulfide rock can release hazardous chemicals.
"This has never been done safely anywhere else, anywhere else. But they say 'We've got it figured out. We'll be fine.' You know what? I don't what, I don't want to the risk that for Minnesota's crown jewels. We're talking about Lake Superior, the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs National Park and all the lakes and rivers and streams in northeastern Minnesota that are our lifeblood up there," Moe said.
Supporters of the mining say it will increase economic development in the area, and that it can be done without harming the environment. The PolyMet proposal is in the midst of an environmental review.