In tough economic times, should environmental protection take a back seat to job creation?

The Legislature is considering tighter requirements governing a proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Today’s Question: In tough economic times, should environmental protection take a back seat to job creation?

  1. Listen Featured Audio

  • Stephen Remer

    For most states I would say that environmental issues should never take a back seat. But in the five years that I have lived in Minnesota, it appears that no one here cares about their environment. The environment is already taking a back seat so why not make it official?

  • barb olsen

    No. These are the times we must watch that much more closely over our environment. Taking the short-term approach and destroying our environment will only deliver greater economic difficulties to not only ourselves but our children and grandchildren.

  • ray schmitz

    Of course not, public health and the environment are not luxuries to be dismissed for short term economics. It is not possible to go back and fix the problems except with the infusion of significant public dollars if at all, so how does it make sense to not avoid them from the beginning.

  • David Moe

    The question is stated unfairly to start with!

  • Kevin

    No, we can have both. With regards to sulfide mining environmental protection is not the primary concern. The biggest concern is the cost to tax payers when the mines go bankrupt. Sulfide mines can not just be shut down, they need constant mitigation to deal with their tailings. In almost every other state, even states with financial assurances, when the mine goes bankrupt; and it will, the bonds for clean up costs can be taken in court. This means the tax payer foots the bill. We need a damage deposit on these mines to make sure Minnesota taxpayers don’t get stuck pay for other peoples pollutition. All that is being asked of the mines is for them to give the money to the MPCA instead of a bond, so when the mine goes bankrupt the money is there to clean up the mine. If the mines are serious about paying for the clean up then it should not make a difference. If however, they have already factored in the state paying for clean up as part of their proposals to investor then they probably would like the system to stay they way it is. Can we really afford cleaning up more of big businesses’ mistakes in the years to come?

  • Patrick Stevens

    I think Northern Minnesotans need to remember Libby, Montana. More restriction and better guarantees are better for all of us,now and in the future.

  • bsimon

    “In tough economic times, should environmental protection take a back seat to job creation?”

    No. The economy is cyclical, there is always going to be another tough economic time. Once you trash the environment, its gone, typically for a much longer period of time.

  • Anna

    Why can’t we do both? Make green jobs and so on?

  • Garret m

    No. The long term costs will overshadow the short term gain. Dealing with water polution isn’t a short term problem.

  • jessica Sundheim

    Oh David, laxing rules and allowing companies (or their lawyers & lobbiests) free reign to make up their own policies regarding the environment is never “fair” or smart or economical. No matter how one words it. Didn’t we just let banks do that for two terms. Wow! That went well.

    Using the “let regular, everyday people (with a whole lot to gain) decide the regulations of the air/water we all breath and drink” mentality is interesting. Given that approach, why don’t we let those who need assistance decide how much and when and for how long. It just never runs both ways does it, David??? And the sad thing is that is just what government is (not your Big Brother), but your neighbors saying, “Hello. This is a democratic society. We all need to have a consensus (i.e. regulations).

  • Betsy

    Why does the media so often frame environmental protection in polarizing terms? It is like saying, “In tough economic times, should the state educate school children or balance the budget?” The answer is clearly “both.” Minnesota values its clean water and healthy economies. Our decisions should be focused on obtaining both.

  • Bud

    “The Legislature is considering tighter requirements governing a proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.”

    Good thing Polymet isn’t “near” the Boundry Waters. Enough is enough already, this is getting a little obvious and our legislators are seeing that. We wil have our mines, thank you.

  • Garitaar

    No! The health needs of the many outweigh the economic preferences of the few. Long-term costs of polution swamp any temporary local gain. And as for the economy – evolve and adapt.

  • Darla

    NO, NO, NO.

    Poisening the environment COSTS more. Talk about leaving our grandchildren with the bill.

    I am so sick of whinny companies complaining they are expected to be responsible. And then they want ‘ corporate welfare’ besides. We need tougher environmental protections ALL the time.

  • Alana A, PLHS

    No, I don’t think it should take a back seat. Jobs should be created to help the environment. That way people can have jobs and battle environmental issues at the same time.

  • Alannah F. (PLHS)

    No, I do not believe environmental protection should be pushed back because once the environment is hurt, it is hard to get it back to how it was. Plus jobs can be created while protecting the environment. For example, being a national park guide.

  • Elise K, PLHS

    I believe that environmental production should take a backseat to job creation. Yet the two could be incorporated as in education in environmental change studies and opening up more jobs through that. I believe this because job creation is the core to correcting the economic flow and if the two could be done together, we could rapidly move the world toward a better place. Let’s create jobs with a purpose!

  • Lwiseman,plhs

    yes, i think it should because with job creation in hard times it will help promote a strong econmic time and growth for the country. with this we should also kepp all of the old stuff and the organitizations being run already that are helping the environment

  • Christian F, PLHS

    No, it shouldn’t. We need to keep environmental protection a top priority. Rather than putting it in the “back seat” I think we should create more jobs in the environmental protection area’s. If now isn’t the best time to address the environmental protecton issue, then when is?

  • Darian J, PLHS

    In tough economic times, I think environmental protection should not take a back seat to job creation. I think that our environment is more important than people getting more jobs to have a little more money. If we focus on getting people more jobs other than environmental protection our earth is going to account for more problems that are going to affect more people; Rather than a “small” amount of people being cut back a little bit. Instead of jobs we should try to help our environment because we will end up with e bigger consequence in the end.

  • Sam J, PLHS

    I think that it shouldn’t take a back seat, but really, there’s not much of a decision if you ask me. The fact is that all of these environmental issues provide job opportunities. So in a way, by funding environmental projects, we’re essentially “Killing two birds with one stone” so to speak.

  • Cole B, PLHS

    Enviromental Protection is something that should be everywhere in our World today. I believe that Eviromental Protection may create more jobs for people in a bad economy; which essentially in the long run keeps the cycle of life headed in a positive direction.

  • Chris H, PLHS

    I believe that enviromental protection should take a back seat to current economic times. I think more people in this country are more interested in solving current job loss and other government issues.

  • Kalyn C., PLHS

    Environmental protection should take a back seat to job creation in tough economic times. I think it is more important for everyone to have jobs, and after that is accomplished, the environment should be taken care of.

  • Matt P, PLHS

    I believe that environmental protection should never take a back seat with any issue. Now days with the environment getting worse and worse each and every day, we cannot afford to put off the environmental protection any longer.

  • Erick J, PLHS

    I think that environmental protection should take a backseat to job creation in tough economic times. People’s main priority right now is getting a job and making money. i would hazard to guess that most people would agree, especially people who have been layed off or fired from their jobs.

  • Samm B PLHS

    Environmental protection should not take a back seat in tough economic times because even if it is for a short time period there will be problems that happen to the environment. What we should do it use environmental protection to creat jobs, whether it be cleaning garbage or creating new habitat for animals.

  • Devyn D, PLHS

    I don’t believe that in tough economic times that environmental protection should take a back seat to job creation because as we work towards new strategies to protect the environment we are able to create jobs towards protection. Also, if we put environmental protection in the back seat we are looking at protection being harded when we go back to it, because as we stop working towards protection the environment, we are losing more and more.

  • Jake G, PLHS

    No, i dont think that in tough econimic times, environmental protection should take a back seat to job creation because I know some people who are currently unemployed and I know how hard it is for them to provide for their families. I think that job opportunities should always be created, especially becasue of our rapidly increasing population.

  • Eyram T. PLHS

    Even if the economy is stuggling, jobs that newly created should stay within the envrionmentally safe boundry lines. I don’t think environmental protection should take a back seat because the environment is already in bad shape, and the last thing it needs is more and more not being environmentally safe. The earth needs as much help as possible, so having new jobs created is great for the economy, and making them environmentally safe and friendly is great as well for the earth. So it’s a two-for-one deal for sure.

  • Alex O, PLHS

    I believe so. A stable economy is required to sustain enviornmental conservation efforts.

  • David Baker

    I think this is the wrong question to ask. The right question is how do we as a society need to change to avoid doing the things that brought on the tough economic times and at the same time are destroying our environment? The bottom line is that until we address the greed, me first, and I want it now attitudes that prevail in our culture, we will continue the see-saw economy and keep on damaging the environment as well. Jim Wallis’ “Rediscovering Values” should be mandatory reading for all.

  • I believe so. A stable economy is required to sustain enviornmental covservation efforts.

  • Chelsea S., PLHS

    I think that Enviornmental Protection should take a back seat becasue we do need to save money to create new jobs. We need to use this time to bring the economy up. he percentage of people who are unemployed has increased and we need to put more time, engery, and money into creating new jobs for these people. Most people today know wbout the Enviornmental problems and don’t need a push to do it anymore. The best thing for our economy would be to use money to create new jobs.

  • Mike S PLHS

    In the eyes of the average American, job creation is far more important than the well being of the environment. If we do favor job creation over the environment, there may be no more environment left after a span of say one hundred years. We should combine these two issues and create jobs while helping the environment.

  • Blake Hendrickson

    In tough economic times, environmental protection should open up more jobs. We need to make more jobs for our economy. Environmental protection is important and we can not stop helping environment for job creation. We can pay people to help clean our environment, instead of just having volunteers. There are jobs like water pollution clean up, cleaning up highways, and many others that can help our environment and give our economy more jobs. This plan will help the earth and the people.

  • Alex S, PLHS

    I think that environmental protection should not get pushed behind job creation. If anything, there could be more protection and therefore, create jobs in the process. Environmental protection is very important; if we do not continue to help, our future could be damaged.

  • Sarah

    NO! Ignoring long-term problems is rarely a road to follow. Public health and wellbeing, along with reliability in our food and water sources are far more important than economic growth. Besides, if we took the time to figure it out, we could create jobs through environmental protection efforts, whether they are government, non-profit, or private sector positions.

  • Tom Mundahl

    NO! Earth care is simply long-term economics. We are stuck as a culture in short-term and selfish thinking. We would be well-advised to follow the Native American maxim of making decisions with a sense of how it will affect the 7th Generation. Small, light, and appropriate to the earth–there is beauty.

  • Gwen Myers

    Of course not, especially on the scale proposed. Mining is a boom and bust industry; sulfide mining has a history of permanent damage and strangely bankrupt mining companies who cannot clean up the enviro. disaster they leave behind. Taxpayers are left holding the bag. We need financial assurance up front.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Absolutely! In fact, everything should take a back seat to the Economy. Don’t people realize that the Economy is what provides everything we have and protects us from all evil? It’s the Unseen Hand that makes everything work together. It’s the glue that binds us. I have dedicated my life to serving the Holy Economy, and its Son the Free Market, as revealed by the holy Profits. Think of what a different place the world would be if everyone else did so as well!

  • Philip

    What’s the old saying? Waste not want not.

    Whatever the side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, it’s always a good idea to be a good steward of what you have and take care of it. What’s the difference between your mother telling you to go and clean your room and we, as a society, being good conservationists and ensuring our collective room is kept clean?

  • Kristin

    Our economic hard times are largely the fault of speculative and regulatory mismanagement, I do not see how adding environmental mismanagement will improve the situation.

    We hear about Toyota Corporation having problems because the regulatory body that oversaw them in Japan was also the organization that promoted their industry.

    We have the PRECISE SAME problem here in the DNR, they are charged with safeguarding the environment and promoting the marketing of the resources. The DNR has proved to be incompetent in producing the Environmental Impact Survey, and in fact hired an outside company to produce it for them The state should demand our money back for that boondoggle and we should remove the DNR from being a responsible agency on this matter.

    They produced an EIS of such marginal quality that the US Environmental Protection Agency – which we by law require to evaluate these EIS’s (produced by some company hired by the DNR who was also incapable of doing it right) that in only two tenths of one percent of those statements reviewed by the EPA were this bad. They not only got an F they got an F minus. U -3 is that rare! The EPA evaluated every bit of the information the company hired by the DNR to do the EIS put out – every bit of it. And what they found was the project the DNR and the company they hired to do the Draft Environmental statement cannot go forth.

    It’s like your kid comes home with an F on his report card and tells you the kid he hired to do the work for him this quarter really screwed up and by the way you need to fork out a few more (hundred) thousand dollars to pay that kid he hired.

    What would you tell that child?

    Listen to the Senators when they vote – they will be telling us what they would do when they tell the DNR and Polymet what they think – will it be “how much money do you need” or “change your ways and live right?”

    _________

    When a person is going through times of struggle we remind them to take care of themselves, to eat right and rest. Thus it is with our State, we need to remind our leaders that during this time of trial for our state and nation economically, we MUST care for the body of our state – we must protect the waters for future generations.

  • Daniel Jones

    Of course not. But we all need to be aware of how our lifestyles and material desires create the demand for copper-nickel/polymetallic mining. Got a Blackberry? iPhone? iPod? Laptop? PC? More than one of each? You are contributing to the creation of demand for these mineral resources. There’s a deeply sad irony in gauging people’s support for environmental protection via an on-line poll.

  • Kristin

    Wetlands function to filter the water much like our kidneys. When we destroy wetlands in one watershed and flood areas in another or buy wetlands in another watershed and call them replacement wetlands, we are mistaken.

    It is like taking your kidneys out, putting them in your dog and saying look, you two beings have 4 fine kidneys!

    It doesn’t work like that.

    Wetlands are complex. The headwaters of the St. Louis River lie in the area impacted by Polymet. They were set aside, protected by the Weeks Act purposely to protect the waters of the river.

    We are trading the long term health of our state for short term promises by a corporation.

    When will we learn?

  • John

    Of course not. We have to start acting like we are intending on staying on this planet.

    Allowing more environmental degradation in exchange for temporary jobs is like not fixing the broken window. All jobs are temporary when compared to our perpetual need for a healthy environment.

  • Julie Viken – Duluth

    NO. The Polymet project has the potential of polluting the St Louis River basin with sulfuric acid, mercury and other toxics which eventually will drain into Lake Superior. These freshwater areas supply drinking water to many in MN and WI. The Flambaugh River of Ladysmith WI had one of these sulfide mines pollute its river just a few years after opening, so the mine was shut down and WI law was passed where no other copper mine company can get a permit. MN needs to be as strict or stricter than WI, esp when it comes to polluting Lake Superior and the BWCA.

  • Bob Seidel

    This is what economists call a Hobson’s choice. There are many other programs that one might choose to reduce or eliminate but the one that is nearest at hand is the environment. Sports and recreation, which create low-quality jobs, aren’t subject to scrutiny. We have built two stadiums and are contemplating a third, so as to provide useful employment for hot-dog vendors, ushers, janitors and others who have not benefitted from a decent education and are therefore on the dole or, increasingly, in our prisons, which we also plan to build so as to meet the mandatory sentencing and child-offender isolation needs that the governor and his cronies consider far more important than education and politics as usual. Why ar ewe asked to choose between these alternatives? Is the head of MPR sweating new taxes? He should with his salary.

  • Bruce D Chambers

    Never! Just ask the people of Libby Montana about the trade-off between jobs and health/environmental safety! The entire city has essentially been condemned because of asbestos contamination from asbestos mining. Even after Grace mining-who also polluted northeast Minneapolis by having people take home processing tailings for yard use-knew of the dangers, the company did nothing to warn or protect the miners or their families. Now everybody who has lived there for more than a few months over the last 50 years or so has some form of asbestos related cancer.

    Is this what we want to allow here in Minnesota?

  • Lawrence

    No. I think it is important to remember just why this tough economic time occurred – overspeculation in the housing and banking industry thanks largely to de-regulation. Moreover, if we contaminate the environment and that contamination negatively affects Minnesota’s human population, we will have potentially caused two new problems–areas where development can not happen because of huge environmental clean up costs and more sick people on our already expensive health care insurance plans.

  • Kyle Milz

    I think in tough economic times, we should focus on improving the economy. Then once its stable, focus on the environment. Another solution might be creating more “environmentally friendly” jobs for people who lost their jobs. That way one solution can fix both problems.

  • Mike Mello

    I think that the job creation should be centered around environmental protection. Jobs are usually associated with opposing the environment, but maybe the solution is to combine the two. create jobs that support the environment.

  • Tom B.

    We as a nation should be concerned with both the enviroment and the economy. There should be more focus on how to create “green” career paths that would not only benifit the enviroment but also the economy. In this way our country will be able to revive the economy while promoting sustainability.

  • Jacquelyn Rupp

    In times of tough economies, jobs are usually the first priority of all parties of the struggling work force. Other issues like education and environmental protection do have a tendency to take a “back burner” position on the political agenda. With these truths in mind, however, I think we should be challenging our current and upcoming work force to be combining issues–fields such as environmental protection and green technology host a hidden myriad of jobs: civil and mechanical engineers, architects, all kinds of agricultural exploration, etc. Giving every American a stable job is extremely important, and perhaps more specified or isolated environmental projects, like the saving of an obscure species, should be saved for a more stable economic age. I maintain, however, that the great balancing act will be to combine the environment and the economy with the creation of pioneering jobs in fields such as resource use and green living.

  • Zach Prior Lake High School

    I believe that a focus and public exposure to environmental problems could actually be helpful during these tough economic times. Employment rates are at an all time low and we can take advantage of this and our environmental problems with one solution: create more jobs concerning environmental problems. Whether it’s an engineer at a wind energy plant or planting trees and other manual labor, both can help the environment and employ Americans. Instead of seperating these two problems, make it easier and turn it into one.

  • Tom B.

    We as a nation should be concerned with both the enviroment and the economy. There should be more focus on how to create “green” career paths that would not only benifit the enviroment but also the economy. In this way our country will be able to revive the economy while promoting sustainability.

  • Abby Banks

    During these tough time in the economy, I think people should still stay involved in the environment. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. The earth is where we live and what we deal with everyday, so we should not ruin it.

  • billy gross

    i think since we are in tough economic times, i believe to a certain point we need to worry about peoples job because without the jobs people dont have money to donate in some way, shape or form towards the environment. the environment is at a couple levels higher of importance. this world is where we live and will keep living. we destroy this world with the stuff we do, what will happen if our world is destroyed? i can tell you we wont have to worry about jobs anymore because we wont be here. the economy will fix itself and the environment wont, and the environment plays a role with jobs, we need to find a happy medium.

  • Abby Banks

    During these tough time in the economy, I think people should still stay involved in the environment. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. The earth is where we live and what we deal with everyday, so we should not ruin it.

  • Trevor Cain

    I believe that through expansionary fiscal policies, we can increase government spending (both locally and federally) as a way to create new jobs through environmental protection (as well as prevention) programs.

  • Abby Banks

    During these tough time in the economy, I think people should still stay involved in the environment. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. The earth is where we live and what we deal with everyday, so we should not ruin it.

  • billy gross

    i think since we are in tough economic times, i believe to a certain point we need to worry about peoples job because without the jobs people dont have money to donate in some way, shape or form towards the environment. the environment is at a couple levels higher of importance. this world is where we live and will keep living. we destroy this world with the stuff we do, what will happen if our world is destroyed? i can tell you we wont have to worry about jobs anymore because we wont be here. the economy will fix itself and the environment wont, and the environment plays a role with jobs, we need to find a happy medium.

  • Abby Banks

    During these tough time in the economy, I think people should still stay involved in the environment. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. The earth is where we live and what we deal with everyday, so we should not ruin it.

  • Summer Schneider

    In my opinion during the tough econmic times, we need to focus more on ways to bring the environmental and economic issues together. We need to find ways to make envrionmental jobs that will benifit the economy and benefit mother earth as well. If we can find a way to make the environment stimulate the econmomy then we will be better off.

  • I wonder why such artificial dichotomies are even posed. Jobs versus environment is an artificial, arbitrary construct, but one that is easily jumped on by political entities that seek to simplify and polarize issues. Environmental improvement and caretaking could create jobs, not eliminate them. Why aren’t we asking how to create jobs and provide metals by an environmentally beneficial process such as recycling electronics? Or how can we have what we need using something other than metals that can only be provided by degrading the environment? And, while we’re asking good questions, how about how can we improve education so our future citizens can see through these polarizing issues to what is really important and learn how to seek common ground to benefit the earth and its people?

  • Marie

    The environment and how we treat it has everything to do with the jobs we have today. Over the years our environment has provided us with multiple job oppurtunities, therefore it is our duty to treat it with the same respect. This will help our economy as a whole.

  • Jared S. PLHS

    I believe that the environment as a whole is crucial on a long-term basis in a way that economics trends and shortfalls are not. If we are willing to sacrifice what our children will need to live just so we can change a temporary situation, then what would we have done had our parents done the same?

  • Cynthia Hagley

    Absolutely not. Much research has shown that they are not mutually exclusive. Good environmental management makes good economic sense. The hidden costs to the environment and our quality of life that come from short-sighted decisions to allow environmental degradation for short-term economic gain are far higher than our current system of tracking these things recognizes.

  • Sue

    Absolutely not. When we take care of our things (in this case our world) we save in the long run. In the case of the proposed sulfide mining this is magnified many times. If we do not protect our water resources, what’s next for our children and grandchildren? Besides unsafe water and resources that have been left to chance…we will leave them in an even tougher economic situation than we are in now. PolyMet may claim to have a really great plan for treatment and cleanup and the financial resources to make it happen — but when will our leaders learn from other’s mistakes? Similar projects in other states (begun after similar promises were made by similar mining companies) have resulted in miles of streams impaired, water quality compromised and hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars in cleanup costs. These costs were NOT picked up by the mining companies — because they went bankrupt and weren’t ordered to pay clean up costs. Who paid? The taxpayers. And they still are. These costs do not go away after a few years…they are ongoing. The effects of acid runoff from sulfide mining in the Roman Empire are still happening! Our leaders need to consider an issue such as this an economic one — yes, it is an environmental issue — but the economic impact is enormous. We cannot continue to sacrifice the health of ourselves, children, grandchildren, natural resources, etc. in order to save money. It is saving us nothing and costing us way too much. More and more our resources are being taxed by increased population and demand — and this isn’t going to get better, only worse. Stand up, Minnesotans! We live here because we enjoy a bounty of resources and beauty right outside out back door. Protect it, don’t leave it to chance!

  • billy gross

    i think since we are in tough economic times, i believe to a certain point we need to worry about peoples job because without the jobs people dont have money to donate in some way, shape or form towards the environment. the environment is at a couple levels higher of importance. this world is where we live and will keep living. we destroy this world with the stuff we do, what will happen if our world is destroyed? i can tell you we wont have to worry about jobs anymore because we wont be here. the economy will fix itself and the environment wont, and the environment plays a role with jobs, we need to find a happy medium.

  • Kevin from PLHS

    In this modern living, getting a job and keeping it is harder said than done. The environment and the planet we live on is slowly dying. So which one do we put on high priority? I would that even if we can help the environmental programs and protect Earth, it would actually give people jobs to live. Like a win win situation where you can have jobs that promote environmental protection. Later when the planet becomes more and more hazardous, jobs will become “stable” so you don’t get fired like a day after or something. It’s sort of like a doctor, they are in high demand because of the important role they play.

  • Abby Banks PLHS

    During these tough times in the economy, I think people should still focus on the enviornement. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. We deal with earth everyday and it should not be ruined.

  • Andrew Roberts, PLHS

    I don’t think environmental protection should take a back seat to job creation because environmental problems cannot be moved to the back seat, and ignoring them will only make matters worse. One thing we can do is to use environmental protection as a tool for creating new jobs, which would decrease unemployment while increasing environmental protection at the same time.

  • Taylor V. from PLHS

    Environmental protection shouldn’t just take the back seat, but rather be the back seat driver. They can talk and tell us where to go all they want, and we’ll usually listen, especially if they want to stop at Burger King 🙂

    But! The fact of the matter is that we should still take concern about the environment while balancing our concern for the economy.

  • Luke PLHS

    I believe that jobs are more of priority in tough economic times. Without jobs, not much money is going into circulation through consumption. This hurts different individuals income. Environmental cost, or full cost pricing, will stagnate the economy even more and make it harder to come out of this recession. People are scared of the future and raising prices does not help calm their fears.

  • Sam Howard

    I believe we should never let environmental protection take a backseat to anything for any reason. In the case of environmental protection and job protection, I do not see a reason to differentiate between the two. Environmental protection should be used to create new jobs for people. it isn’t an outlandish idea-it has been used before by President Roosevelt to help bring an end to the Great Depression, who created New Deal programs such as the CCC to provide jobs and environmental protection, and so push the nation out of the Great Depression.

  • Abby B. PLHS

    During these tough times in the economy, I think people should still focus on the enviornement. People should seek out jobs that will help protect the enviornment. We deal with earth everyday and it should not be ruined.

  • Ceymione H.

    Jobs help us to survive and support our families, earth sustains all life.

    So when it comes down to it, the environment wins hands down, but in these trying times we can hardly have one without the other.

    There should be median that combines the two efficiently, such as providing jobs that help the environment…. planting trees, cleaning up outside, environmental organizations, etc…

    Earths clock is ticking and it could use all the help it can get^_^

  • Jeff S

    No, the environment should not take the back seat because saving the environment can create new / different jobs. Without the environment there would be no economy, all our resources come from earth. Destroying our environment can create loss of natural resources such as trees etc. Overplowed and over farmed areas destroy land used to create food. More jobs would increase consumption and our need for goods. Yes it will help the economy but it would put more demand and impact on the environment. Society will be to caught up in job creation, that the environment will be ignored.

  • Jared Sinkula

    I believe that it is important to attempt to create job opportunities that cover both the economic and environmental aspects of our current crisis. We cannot sacrifice long-term assets in order to offset a short term problem. Economy relies on ebb and flow, and if we destroy something truly vital to humanity as a whole, the resulting panic will hurt far more than our current recession has.

  • Ceymione H., PLHS

    Jobs help us to survive and support our families, earth sustains all life.

    So when it comes down to it, the environment wins hands down, but in these trying times we can hardly have one without the other.

    There should be median that combines the two efficiently, such as providing jobs that help the environment…. planting trees, cleaning up outside, environmental organizations, etc…

    Earths clock is ticking and it could use all the help it can get^_^

  • Mark

    Polymet provides jobs, BWCA will be polluted because the runoff will flow north. EIS states that runoff will pollute for 2000 years. Mine will close in 20 years. The benefits are there, but because Polymet did a poor job planning and executing, the risks and disadvantages are also there. These are facts that both sides seem to claim irrelevant to their arguments.

    I would not give Polymet the right to mine without significant bonding on potential pollution cleanup. However, I hate to see the hacks at the EPA drain the plants efficiency as they claim to be protecting the environment (same agency that claimed ground zero was OK, now thousands of brave rescue workers are dead because of the pollutants the EPA said were safe!).

    All-in-all Polymet approached this project with strategic incompetence. The EIS should have been done first so millions wasn’t sunk in construction and final approval and permits released after that was done! What a moronic logical sequence. Let’s invest millions then we’ll see if we can get approved! The whole thing is a blunder for both sides. They have been pitted against one another on equally important issues and presented with a binary option of one or the other.

  • Darrell Gerber

    This question perpetuates the false zero-sum story used by polluting interests for decades…it’s jobs or the environment. The reality has been shown over and over that communities need, and can have, both. For example, industries that pollute local waters may collect more profits but shift that burden onto the local communities. These communities are less robust and don’t provide as good of a place for people to live. They have to shift tax dollars to cleaning up drinking water or restoring water fronts or performing clean-up 20 years later after the company closes the plant. Schools suffer, infrastructure suffers, job creation suffers. Then, there are the communities downstream that don’t benefit at all from the few jobs at the plant but have to bare the burden of pollution. In this case, it is everyone around Lake Superior and the Great Lakes.

    In the case of sulfide mining, the economy of the area has become more diverse than during the 80’s. The ‘economic engine’ relies much more heavily on having clean water and healthy forests and healthy lakes. Sacrificing any of these will have a detrimental impact on the area’s economy. People live there because of the lakes and forests. They will leave when the lakes are too polluted to support fish. Vibrant businesses locate there because of tourism. They will leave when the steams run red from sulfide mine runoff and the forests are damaged.

    One last point is that it is also much less expensive to fix problems early rather than putting them off. We must have full and adequate environmental review in order to identify problems before a project is built. The projects most likely will continue but these problems can be fixed in design before anything is built. The upfront costs are small compared to the expense of fixing problems after they happen. Usually, that cost is borne by tax payers and communities but also falls on companies that have to pay fines and do retrofits. The examples of where this has gone wrong are numerous.

  • Aaron Klemz

    What level of environmental damage are we willing to accept in exchange for a specific number of jobs? There’s certainly a middle ground between “drill, baby, drill” or “mine, baby, mine” and “no resource extraction, ever.” However, those who argue that bad economic times justify more environmental damage in exchange for jobs are usually the same people who think that environmental regulations are unnecessarily onerous at all other times as well.

    When it comes to environmental protection, our decisions ought to be determined by our enduring values, not the vicissitudes of the economy. For example, if the PolyMet mine is approved, it will supposedly operate for 20 years. Does that mean that once the economy recovers, we should shut it down?

  • David R

    This is a poorly written question (hey, MPR what research methods course did you take in school?). The question implies that jobs need to be sacrificed to simply maintain the status quo on current approaches to natural resource management. It’s not even worth answering at this point, and only fuels debate over the wrong issue.

  • Sue de Nim

    Why are we so worried about the environment? If we let Polymet go ahead with their mines, the economy gets a twofer. First, there are all the jobs created by the mining operations. Then, when the ore is all gone, there are all the jobs created by the cleanup operations. What’s not to like?

    (The above is sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.)

  • Bob Birnstengel

    I can only repeat what has already been stated so well many times above. No, the environment, i.e., our long term health and safety, should not be sacrificed for short-term job creation.

  • Jamie Kaiser

    Case in point, the Polymet mining operation that is being debated for NE Minnesota. Jobs would be created short-term but the water pollution and other negative environmental externalities will be present for eons. Foolish. When are we going to learn that the quick fix isn’t compatible with long-term prosperity and health?

  • John Jelatis

    Sure. Also, during economic downturns, de-fund education, and after terrorist bombings suspend civil liberties. Our system of governance, law, services and regulation is so costly and inconvenient, we should take advantage of every opportunity to dismantle it.

    (No.)

  • George

    Environmental protection and economics do not have to be played out against one another. Protecting our environment, which we depend on and is also responsible for a great deal of our economic prosperity in MN is essential for BOTH an environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable future.

    Seperating economics and taking care of the environment is an old way of thinking. The environment already controls economics in MN a great deal and will have a increasingly greater impact as more pressures are put on resources in the future.

    The environment has been what sustained us from the begining and will continue to be. The thought that economic health is what makes the world function is only supported by an environment that supports an economic system. As people are increasingly more removed from the environment they depend on, the connection is not as clear as seeing a failing economy but this does not diminish its emmense importance.

  • Brian A

    I would have to say that the economy should come first. I mean I’m all for the env. and all, but theres two probs I see with people losing jobs over env issues. 1, the more people that lose jobs, there might be a major increase in hunting due to the price/demand for animal parts on the open market. I can see anyone desperate resorting to this. And 2, even if it wasn’t the case, we’d still need jobs first because without the money we collect from the jobs, we wouldn’t be able to collect funding for agencies or protections for the environment, so it’s important to keep the economy up first, in order to then help the environment.

  • Brian Aikey

    I would have to say that the economy should come first. I mean I’m all for the env. and all, but theres two probs I see with people losing jobs over env issues. 1, the more people that lose jobs, there might be a major increase in hunting due to the price/demand for animal parts on the open market. I can see anyone desperate resorting to this. And 2, even if it wasn’t the case, we’d still need jobs first because without the money we collect from the jobs, we wouldn’t be able to collect funding for agencies or protections for the environment, so it’s important to keep the economy up first, in order to then help the environment.

  • Erin

    There’s no reason we should have to choose one or the other. We need good jobs AND clean air and water.

  • Comments texted to MPR:

    No. We must hold the courage of our convictions and laws. We cannot forsake our natural resources. -Rod, Lakeland

    No, jobs should NOT trump environment. Without clean water, there is no economy, no health, no trout or walleye. -Paul, St. Paul

    No! Environmental protection should never take a back seat. We need to protect the world for future generations. They can go together it does not have to be only one. -Roseanne, Columbia Heights

    Under FDR’s New Deal programs, jobs were created for millions of people and they helped wildlife and the environment! That sounds like something we could use. -anonymous

    We often take short-term approaches; ie our current investments in infrastructure and education, plus our debt. Trading the environment for resource extraction jobs is another horrible legacy. -anonymous

    No and its not what the mining companies are asking for. -anonymous

    We often take short-term approaches; ie our current investments in infrastructure and education, plus our debt. Trading the environment for resource extraction jobs is another horrible legacy. -anonymous

    Absolutely not. Environmental protection is too important and can create jobs in and of itself. -anonymous

    No. Never. Man is but a user & custodian of this earth. -anonymous

  • Ken Jackson

    False dichotomy. In a state as creative as Minnesota, we can both have jobs and a clean environment.

    Beware anyone who suggests it must be one or the other.

  • Sara

    The recent win of SEIU Local 26 janitors shows that we can have both good jobs and a green future. The janitors won key provisions that make their jobs more stable, improve wages and health care benefits as well as provisions that protect their health and the environment with a preference for non-toxic cleaning products.

  • kates

    HECK NO!

  • Colton Day from PLHS

    No. Environmental protection is so much more important than jobs. Because if we let our environment fall apart now we won’t have anywhere to live, let alone work. Especially with the condition of our current environment. Jobs are important I’m not denying that, I just believe that our environment is a bigger necessity

  • nancy

    What about the job loss when the tourism industry of the NE has to outfit fewer trips, shops close etc.? In the long run, clean water is a far better commodity to bet on. Why would Minnesota let Polymet, a company with no mining experience, be the first company to try non-ferrous open-pit mining in Minnesota?. An iron-clad pre-financial agreement that is protected from bankruptcy and litigation is the least we should do. Wisconsin bans these types of mines.

  • Alan Hoffman

    The answer is no. This is known as a “fool’s choice”. We should protect the environment and by doing this we can have new green jobs. Irreparable harm to the environment will hurt both the economy and health.

    Has anybody noticed how many Air Quality Alerts we have had lately? The MPCA states that in Rochester, “the pollution is a a mix of auto emissions power plant emissions, particles created from chemical reactions in the atmosphere and pollution brought in with wind from other states” (Rochester Post-Bulletin, March 9, 2010). Do we want to continue in this direction??

  • Kate

    No it shouldn’t. Environmental protection is one of the main ways to CREATE more jobs. America needs to realize we are in dire need of blue collar, labor intensive jobs.

  • Willow Kreibich

    This is based on a the false premise that you must choose on or the other. Many, many jobs can be created through environmental protection and they are not all field biologist or green technology jobs. Wetland reclamation and riparian restoration done through BOWSR and the Soil and Water folks around the state hire local contractors to do the work including heavy equipment operators and laborers.

  • Clint Jurgens

    NO. Sulfide mining companies have a long established track record of starting out with the idea of being environmentally responsible and still end up polluting despite extensive engineering. Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: A Failure of Science, Oversight, and Good Practice, Alan Septoff, Earthworks, December 2006 is an excellent white paper summarizing papers by Jim Kuipers and Ann Maest. Kuipers and Maest studies show:

    • 85% of the mines near surface water with elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant leaching exceeded water quality standards

    • 93% of the mines near groundwater with elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant leaching exceeded water quality standards.

    • Of the sites that did develop acid drainage, 89% predicted that they would not.

    Sulfide mining is just too risky for Minnesota. The relatively few jobs that only last for 20 years is not worth this risk to our environment and precious water.

  • Katy Lowery

    Posing the question in that way is misleading.

    The two are not exclusive. In fact, Environmental protection can be and often is, the driver of new technologies and new jobs. Similarly, a degraded environment can be, and often is, a drag on the economy.

  • August M., PLHS

    No, environmental protection should not be put aside for job creation. We should be making jobs to help our environment, that would also boost our economy. If we put the environment on hold we won’t see the effects right away. Then when our economy is good again it will go down the drain again on all the money, taxes will pay for, that go into fixing our planet.

  • Kate Holton

    The fact that this is even a question is appalling. The earth that we live on, the air that we breath, and the natural resources we boldly claim as our own will continue to sustain us beyond any economic failures we bring upon ourselves.

    If environmental protection is in fact a “choice” it is up to us to ensure that natural systems thrive.

  • Ted Schlosser

    This project has been heavily researched for years. It uses the most advanced technology to ever be used in the world. The base materials are low in sulphur.

    Yet there are organizations that will keep throwing wrenches into the plan in last minute desperation acts to keep it from happening. No matter how clean or efficient it is, the not in my … See Moreplayground philosophy will always be the dominant factor.

    Minnesota has the opportunity to be the world leader in clean technology, while we import these minerals from highly polluting nations around the world.

    It’s time to let Minnesota do it properly.

  • Taylor Olesen

    I think that it’s important to continue to focus on environmental protection no matter the circumstances. I feel this way because no matter how hard the economic times are, we will still need to continue protecting the environment because that is a main component of our lives. Without the environment it would be difficult to survive.

  • Andrea Zander

    Putting environmental protection in the “back seat” to put people into jobs right now is only plugging a hole in a dam that will sooner or later burst and drown us all. People can’t afford to stay in their homes or feed their families, but trying to solve those issues by compromising the health of our state and our planet is shortsighted. Instead, efforts to increase jobs in environmentally responsible and sustainable ways should hold sway over ways that, regardless of their purported safety, deplete finite resources. We need to look beyond the immediate needs of our citizens to provide for future generations AS WELL AS those in need right now.

  • stevenG PLHS

    i feel in tough economomical times that the environment should not be pushed back to a lower priority. I feel that the environment has been a big problem, that we push back and avoid. i feel that we should make it are main priority and work eveything else out around that. Are economy can offord to loss a few jobs, but not are animals, and habitat, and are earth. I feel that losing a few jobs is worth the risk of saving are environment because it will help us in the long run.

  • Khatti

    This is a proposed mine? My experience has been that most proposed businesses never see the light of day. Ten years ago the New Ulm area was supposed to get a railway switching station that was supposed to provide hundreds of good-paying jobs to the locals. It aint there. I wouldn’t be changing any regulations for a business that hasn’t even started building yet!

    I don’t know what to do about employment in outstate Minnesota. This is troubling because I live, and wish to continue to live, in outstate Minnesota. Every little prairie town in the southern part of the state could use some sort of industry. That’s undoubtedly true in the rest of the state. But attracting industry always seems to involve giving the prospective business everything they want for free — and then getting the Godfather speech (It’s just business Babe, it’s not personal) when they pack up and leave five years later. Our well-educated fellow Minnesotans are apperently not well-educated enough come up with starting ventures here. I don’t know what to do about this. I wish someone did.

    I know what I’m not ready or willing to do, change environmental laws to accomodate prospective, business ventures. I have my problems with environmentalists (I always thought the people who demonstrated most fiercely to save the ancient forests of Idaho should have had to go through the bars in Idaho and tell drunken lumberjacks that their jobs were gone) but I have to agree that saving the environment is a necessity. Don’t change the laws — particularly for a business that isn’t even there yet.

  • Joe Grant

    As discussed on the radio show, this is a false dichotomy. A state like MN with extremely valuable resources like the BWCAW cannot afford to trade those for jobs. Jobs and economic growth are great, but they generally give you short term benefit at the risk of very long term (50-100 years or more) of environmental damage. Once the company reaps the short term profit, or finds that there really is no profit and goes belly up, they will leave the state, localities and the environment itself holding the bag. Environmental remediation from an abandoned project like this would be enormous.

    How may touted “jobs and economic growth” projects either never panned out or now stand idle, especially on the iron range and the north shore? Remember the other big mines? Remember the chop sticks factory? Remember the big Northwest Airlines maintenance facility?

    Failing to account for adequate environmental protection and fiscal guarantees such as a deposit or bond against long-term destruction simply allows a company like this to produce a product at a price below the true (fully loaded) cost. Why should the state and its citizens support that? If the product cannot be competitive at its full, true cost, then let consumers or industrial buyers purchase the lower cost product. If the proponent cannot come up with a business plan that wins in this “environment” (no pun intended), then they just don’t have a viable business plan and should stop acting like they do.

    Let’s not use the current short-term economic distress as an excuse to move forward a project that within a few years we will live to seriously regret for many, many more years due to both its environmental and financial costs.

  • lindsey H / PLHS

    Environmental protection should not take a back seat in tough economic times because helping to protect the environment is also creating thousands of jobs. People think that if we just stop worrying about the environment that we will be saving alot of money but really we are losing alot and it will hurt us in the long run.

  • Ashley L. PLHS

    Environmental issues should not take a back seat to job creation. I think this because, it’s not like there are other problems going on in this world. Just because there are other problems doesn’t mean species are going to stop going extinct. It doesn’t mean our pollution will suddenly go,”Oh, they are having other problems, I better go away.” The world keeps on turning and life goes on regardless what issues are going on. If anything, it should be a top priority during times where we should be creating jobs, because there are many jobs that could possibly be created with people taking care of the environment and trying to help preserve our earth and everything in it.

  • Matt F. PLHS

    I think there should be a balance between eviromental protection and job creation because both are equaly important. We only have one earth to on and we need to save whats left of the enviroment while we still can. In turn we cant allow the economy to collapse completely due to protecting the enviroment or there wont be any money to continue protecting the enviroment.

  • Mike S, PLHS

    In the eyes of the average American, job creation is far more important than the well being of the environment. If we do favor job creation over the environment, there may be no more wildlife in a span of say one hundred years. We should combine the two issues and create jobs which help the environment.

  • Cassie PLHS

    If people are losing their jobs then how can we expect the environment to get any better. With the cost of conserving the environment so high, it would be tough to get people to splurge on solar panels, organic foods, composers and a new garden when they just lost their job. Now if the economy were to open up more jobs that are set up to help the environment then the environment could ride front seat!

  • Reuben Koutal

    Environmental Protection, isn’t something, in my opinion, to be scheduled as a session, for discourse and discussion, to reach a consensus of some sort, to decide what to do with it, a nagging subject for most. And deciding which seat to place it on. I think, it should be taken as a personal responsibility of everyone, like making sure one takes the car for regular maintenance and tuneup, or oil change, or anything like that. What more can be said? As a matter of fact, it is the personal health, by the individual, mature and educated, at least not totally unaware or unimformed, that is traditionally, and in a socially acceptable and conventional mood, has been taking the back seat, along with censequences.

  • Tom

    Absolutely not. Environmental protection is about our health. If we contaminate our air, water and the land we grow food on, we’re just setting ourselves up for higher health care costs later and more time spent not working because of sickness. The best economic decision is to make sure there will continue to be a strong healthy workforce!

  • CJ Beacham

    I think in these tough economic times we could put some environment protection on hold. I know the earth will be around a lot longer then us, therefor it’s more important then we are. However, since the job security is currently becoming less stable i think we need to find a peaceful in between.

    Maybe we could lower the expectations of how much the average person is doing to protect the environment for a little, until our economy becomes a little more stable.

  • Brooke B, PLHS

    I think that environmental protection shouldn’t take a back seat to job creation. We can use this opportunity to help create more jobs and help the environment at the same time, that way people have jobs and we are doing something to try and save our planet.

  • Kirsten PLHS

    In my opinion, environmental protection should NOT take a back seat to job creation. By focusing on environmental protection, we can create jobs. These jobs would focus on createing a cleaner and more sustainable earth. Focusing on environmental protection solves both the lack of jobs and environmental problems.

  • Nate S,Prior lake high school

    i think it’s more important to protect the enviroment becase by doing so it will create more jobs for people and will keep the enviroment healthy.

  • Jeff Brand

    No, I think that environmental protection is important to Minnesota. A May 2010 Pew Charitable Trust study suggested that Clean Energy economy grew 6 times faster than any other sector.

    I would like to see more wind and solar installations in Minnesota – and I would like to see more politicians take their environmental responsibilities more seriously.

    We have a state mandate of a 15% reduction in carbon emissions by 2015 and it’s time to ask the tough question – which Governor will take us there and which is skeptical of climate change?

  • Patience

    Our health and our water should not take a backseat. I want to drink clean water, breath clean air, and enjoy Minnesota’s wilderness. We need a leader who will work to diversify jobs on the Iron Range so we are not in the constant battle between jobs and protecting our water.

  • Jen Lynch

    No way. We can and should create jobs that protect our natural resources. Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams, forests and natural lands are what make this such a great place to live. If we give in to corporate pressures that would destroy these great resources we’re selling out the opportunities for our children and grandchildren to grow up with clean water and healthy lands. By creating jobs that embrace a clean energy economy we can protect the environment while creating good, well paying jobs.

  • Genevieve Brand

    This is not an either or question – jobs and the environment are vital to each other. Environmental issues have pushed technological development and created new job sectors throughout the world. Ideally we would all realize that we need a planet with fully functioning ecosystems to survive, but in light of the immediate need for income, we can look to healing our environment to spur economic development.