Activists and citizens showed their stuff at a recent state Mining Conference in Duluth. With Governor Jesse Ventura in attendance at the conference, local citizens turned out for the rally in high number to share their concerns about the effects of mining on the environment.
Many of the expressed concerns were based on the fact that these mining operations haven’t had to adhere to the same pollution control standards of other industries and have gone unregulated in the realms of hazardous air pollutants. In recent EPA studies of mercury emissions into Lake Superior, one of the biggest holes in the data was due to the taconite industry giving little or no report on how much mercury they put into the environment.
The real peculiarity with this situation is that the taconite industry leads all other Lake Superior industries in emissions of mercury. Estimates have them assessed at cranking out around 800 pounds of mercury per year.
The good news is that the EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently held a meeting in Duluth to give an update on the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard for the taconite industry. The MACT standard will finally begin to regulate hazardous air pollutants from these facilities.