The Beloved Boundary Waters And The Battle Against Pollution

The Beloved Boundary Waters And The Battle Against Pollution

How one powerhouse mining company is threatening Minnesota's treasured area.
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If you're from Minnesota, you've either heard of the Boundary Waters or you've visited this immaculate area. Its 1 million acres contains 20 percent of all the freshwater in the entire National Forest System. "Up North," Minnesota captured my adoration as a little girl, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. However, this beautiful area is now threatened by the tempting act of mining.

This tranquil area feels like more than home. It's where the roots of my family's history stem from. It's what being a Minnesotan is all about. It's fishing along the North Shore, laughing with family and friends. It's the smell of burning wood while roasting marshmallows above the crackling campfire. It's my father shushing us children so we can hear the secret call of the loons at night. I can practically smell the fresh pine and feel the warmth of the sun radiating off the never-ending waters. There's even something about the name Boundary Waters that reminds me of Minnesota's native mystery and serenity.

Gov. Mark Dayton referred to the area as "Crown jewel in Minnesota." However, just like the rest of the Earth, this captivating area may soon be destroyed due to greed overpowering appreciation: an exhausting and devastating side to humanity. This issue concerns those who call Minnesota home. Unfortunately, that's not stopping powerhouse mining company Twin Metals from pushing for permission to perform toxic sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters, which has been notorious for destroying environments across the United States.

Sulfide mining has a history of catastrophic effects on the environment. This is because sulfuric acid is produced after it rains on sulfuric ore waste, and "sulfuric acid leaches out metals and chemicals from the waste and creates acid mine drainage which: contaminates lakes, rivers, and groundwater, harms human health, fish, wildlife, and damages entire ecosystems."

Whoa. What?

Doesn't that mean...

Destroying everything that is the Boundary Waters?

Yeah. That's right.

Mining companies have been notorious for promising environmentally-friendly methods but fail to keep those promises. In "The Reliability of Predictions in Environmental Impact Statements" by Jim Kuipers, P.E. and Ann Maest, PhD (2006), they sought to compare water-quality predictions made by mining companies to actual water-quality results. They found that "89 percent of mines that have polluted said they would not."

For example, tragedy struck when Gold King Mine in Colorado began to leak contaminated water by the millions of gallons in August 2015. The contaminated water leaked into Colorado's water supply that many people depended on for drinking and agriculture. Matters worsened as the contaminated water traveled to other states including Utah and New Mexico. The mining companies never predicted such damage.

In a state and federal document review of 14 copper sulfide mines by Bonnie Gestring at Earthworks, she found that of the 14 mines, 100 percent, experienced accidental spills. "Examples of recent pipeline spills include a 2012 spill at the 186,000 gallons of sulfuric acid along 2 miles of Chase Creek -- a tributary of the San Francisco River," reported a recent article.

Many states throughout history have had to file damage claims against mining companies. However, oftentimes taxpayers end up paying for the financial costs, while also bearing the cost of ruining their environment. This was the case for the spill in Colorado, where the EPA contractor received $381 million dollars to cover the damage, all from taxpayer dollars.

I'll never forget one day when my professor asked my philosophy class, "What is nature for?" Some students provided answers like, "for us to escape," and "for our entertainment." However, nature is not ours to use, nor ours to destroy. It belongs to all living things. Maybe it's time to readdress this question and ask how we could be serving the Earth. You wouldn't set fire to your home, so why are we allowing greed destroy the only home of humanity?

To read more and to sign the petition to stop the Boundary Waters mining, visit https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/sign-petition

You can also donate to the protection of the Boundary Waters here: http://www.friends-bwca.org/donate/

Cover Image Credit: http://loonphotos.com/assets1/loonphotos/800_20779/IMG_5540ar101.jpg

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Revival Of The Coal Industry Is Unattainable

Clean beautiful coal will never be a reality. President Trump's backing of a declining industry is misguided and will have despairing environmental impacts.

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The coal industry and its workers were placed at the forefront of American politics during the 2016 election cycle. President Trump promised a revival of the coal industry and promised to secure the jobs of coal country. The President, halfway through his first term, has so far taken measures to do just that. Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, threw out Obama's Clean Power Plan, and did away with an Obama-era regulation that would prevent coal ash from entering streams and other bodies of water.

On one hand, it's quite extraordinary for a politician to do good on his campaign promises. On the other hand, is anyone considering whether or not the President is putting all his eggs into the wrong basket? Coal has been on the decline for about a decade now. Even without environmental regulations, the energy produced by coal is expected to reduce by 20% by 2030. Renewable energy such as wind and solar are replacing coal.


For an election campaign, it's easy to see why a candidate would align with coal. States like West Virginia and Pennsylvania are key when running a national campaign. The votes are there in those counties that support the coal industry. They will vote for any candidate who sides with their industry. But from an environmental standpoint, there's more on the line than just an election. It's about our clean air and water. Climate change is real and the effects of coal will only accelerate the process.

Coal ash that finds its way into water streams can damage that water supply for good. It could also impact the wildlife within the area. Coal also pollutes the air we breathe. Clean coal is a myth. Plain and simple. Coal is anything but clean. Clean coal sounds good in a stump speech, but we all know it's a fallacy.

Mountaintop mining also has a deep environmental impact. The Appalachian mountains have been destroyed from surface mining. West Virginia residents hold their beautiful mountains in high regard. Now, some of them look very different and the destruction is permanent. If the mining continues, the mountains of the Appalachia region will be gone. It would be a shame if you went to West Virginia to admire their mountains, and none were left.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt passed the American Antiquities Act of 1906. Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of land during his presidency. Roosevelt understood the importance of conservation and preserving our nation's natural beauty. The same natural beauty that God envisioned. We should not take that for granted. We should restore our mountains, forests, and lakes so that our children's children can reside in the richness of our natural environment.

President Roosevelt also ended the coal strike in 1902. The United States was much more dependent on coal in the 20th century than it is now. Roosevelt knew the coal strike had to be resolved because the cold winter would have been fatal. The change of the Republican party over a century later is quite intriguing to ponder. The party went from a strong conservationist in Roosevelt to Trump, who is willing to move mountains for a dying industry.

All of these facts surrounding the coal debate cannot be ignored. The rest of the western world will move on to new forms of renewable energy. While the United States will be stuck in neutral, reviving coal. Renewable energy should be strongly considered if we are to protect our water, air, and lands.

Disclaimer: I understand the risks coal miners make when they show up for work. I know that safety regulations are not always up to par and that coal mining is a very dangerous profession. I also understand the viewpoint of coal miners and their reasoning for disagreeing with me. I know they want to work and provide for their families. That's what we all want to do. As I write this, I wish not to offend coal miners, I only aim to critique the President and his policies about the coal industry.

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