Detroit – The Green movement trumpets a hybrid-electric auto future as a jobs engine — particularly for struggling industrial states in the Midwest. And in Northern Michigan, anyway, that claim seems to hold some promise. Mining companies are once again looking to the state’s Upper Peninsula for a “new era in mining,” spurred by a rise in commodities prices for nickel — which is in demand for use in battery technologies for the Toyota Prius, Chevy Silverado, and other hybrid models.
Kennecott Minerals has proposed a new mine near Marquette to harvest an estimated $6 billion nickel deposit, and other mining companies are scouring the region, buying and leasing mineral rights with the promise of jobs, investment, and an infusion of tax dollars for schools and strapped local governments (the Kennecott mine alone promises 500 construction jobs, 200 permanent mining jobs, and $100 million in tax revenue).
But the new nickel rush has run into a wall of opposition from . . . the Green movement.
“Environmental groups find the rush to bring in mining projects alarming,” reports the Detroit News’s Jim Lynch. “Mining can harm streams and groundwater and the effects could be felt for decades. The risk of long-term damage, they say, is not worth the short-term economic gains.”
The National Wildlife Federation has gone to court to challenge the state permits issued to Kennecott. “(The) Kennecott people have been challenged under oath to guarantee that the mine will not pollute” says NWF attorney Michelle Halley. “And they won’t guarantee it.”
“Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing . . . batteries for hybrid cars — projects that are creating new jobs and new industries,” President Obama said at the U.N. Tuesday.
And Greens will be fighting those Green jobs every step of the way.