At right, taconite mine tailings of the kind used in roadbed and paving experiments during Elwyn's Tinklenberg's stewardship as head of MnDOT.
A cliche is, "It's not in my district." It is not in Minnesota's Sixth District where the two DFL hopefuls are Bob Olson from the St. Cloud area, and Elwyn Tinklenberg, from Anoka County.
But it is in Minnesota, and it is a concern that reaches beyond traditional taconite and taconite tailings use in roadways, iron from and jobs in the Iron Range, and such.
It is in the Eight District, and it is a concern to environmentalists there.
Potential New and Different Mining in the Iron Range. I ask and would want to see the press asking too, not only for the Sixth District but for the other districts besides the Eighth, what position, if any, do the candidates have.
In particular, El Tinklenberg might have his views influenced by James Oberstar; and it would be something Sixth District voters should want to know - what is the Oberstar-Tinklenberg view of potential nickel and copper mining, its aspects, its problems, its impacts, and its worries?
And to whatever extent there is not a joint Oberstar-Tinklenberg opinion, and candidate Tinklenberg is not in lockstep with incumbent Oberstar; that is news and mining related questions are something candidate Olson should also be asked. My expectation would be that differences would be minor but telling. I expect Olson would have a more detached view, apart from jobs-for-the-Iron-Range being a myopic and governing concern. However, his advocacy of energy independence and energy alternatives - such as wind energy's potential for weaning foreign oil dependence and for creating manufacturing job potentials in Minnesota, is an advocacy that has to realize that copper and nickel are important for plant and equipment bearings, stainless and other specialty steels, and for equiping wind turbine generation sites and for arranging transmission grid access and management expansions. Any wind turbine, even a single small scale site, would involve clutching and control, generator internals where nickel might be a permanent magnet alloy component, and copper is the element of choice for coil windings. Without mining, recycling alone would be relied upon, and with an expanding world and competing nations, growth of the metals in use and available would be necessary. From that practical perspective, Olson would more likely be in favor of a studied and cautious approach - with minimized long term environmental downside, whereas Tinklenberg would want more jobs in Oberstar's district yesterday with myopia toward downside risks.
Sierra Club has scant reporting of details, online here. I do not pretend to have expertise on these issues, nor do I suggest that a broad perspective can be attained only by reading what Sierra Club, and environmental advocacy group, has to say. Nor is the Daily an unimpeachable source, particularly with only a precursory article on the question that I am aware of.
At right, roadbed filling and grading work on Highway 53, using taconite tailings as gravel aggregate for the project, again work done during the Tinklenberg leadership of MnDOT, a time when engineers and contract personnel were involved in road work and experimentation effort aimed at solving the tailings problems in mining regions of the Eighth Congressional District.
It is a matter of statewide concern, and mining is part of interstate commerce - meaning the federal hand holds sway, regardless of what our state legislature and state officials might think or prefer.
All of us should be concerned enough to ask Strib and PiPress - what are the candidates for federal office saying about expansion of mining beyond iron-from-taconite, with all its asbestos fiber worries, which has been a question that has been off-and-on a front burner issue in Minnesota, while always at least stewing on the backburner when not a headline grabber statewide.
What do the candidates think? What questions are the mainstream media asking?
This is where mainstream media could shine. People return their phone calls. People take their inquiries seriously.
The home network work station I have been using malfunctioned, to the extent I could not, (without a reboot that would be a problem with other items being worked on), open three downloaded and saved MnDOT documents in order to review them intending to cite actual photo credits, dates, etc. There shall be a second update paragraph here, once I access the items. It is possible I misattributed the photographs, and if so, I shall clearly correct any error.