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Comments insulting miners lead to an apology from Save the Boundary Waters

'They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer.'

In northeastern Minnesota it's not unusual for people who live close together to be miles apart on the hot-button topic in the region. 

And an article published this week by The New York Times Magazine quickly deepened the rift between those who disagree on whether a proposed copper and nickel mine would be good for the region.

The story includes quotes from two leaders of the Ely-based group Save the Boundary Waters who said some not-very-nice things about their neighbors who are miners and the "pro-mining crowd."

What they said

Reid Carron told the reporter the mining crowd is driven by resentment.

"(T)hey are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company,” he said. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

The article portrays the division in the community and features a miner, Dan Forstman, who said he thinks part of the problem is a condescension from those who oppose a new mine – specifically Becky Rom, who's the national campaign chair for Save the Boundary Waters. 

Rom, who spoke to the reporter along the South Kawishiwi River, fired back: “Danny Forsman drivesto the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists.”

Reaction

Dave Lislegard, a former steelworker who serves on the Aurora city council told WDIO the remarks are disheartening for Iron Rangers. 

"We can agree to disagree. But attacking our way of life, for the Range, it's very disappointing," Lislegard said.

Republican and DFL political officials were on the same side of this issue, with denouncements of the remarks coming from both parties.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, said in a statement: "I am embarrassed to hear fellow Minnesotans speak so disparagingly about our neighbors," adding “I urge my fellow Minnesota colleagues to join me in condemning these unnecessary mean-spirted attacks on our hardworking citizens.”

Ken Martin, who chairs Minnesota's DFL party, says people on each side of the copper mining issue want better lives for their families and a better future for the state. Martin says: “Here in Minnesota, we value civility. We treat each other with respect. We must keep this debate healthy, productive, and focused on the issue at hand." 

 The apology

Later Friday Save the Boundary Waters issued its own statement, saying they can be advocates for their cause without denigrating those who disagree with them. 

The statements in the New York Times Magazine "fell far short of that standard. And for that we truly apologize."

They also said miners are some of the hardest workers in Minnesota. "That is a not a life to be mocked or derided," they said. "For any comments that did so, we are truly sorry."

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