Nolan walking the fine line in DC

Washington D.C. can’t be a fun place to be these days. With accounts of sexual harassment or worse coming out of the woodwork seemingly every day, even Minnesota’s Al Franken was found to have made some stupid decisions (along with an incriminating photo).
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) hasn’t had to worry about that so far but he has to be worried about an upcoming vote on mining.
Nolan has used his former image when he was in office 40 years ago when he supported the BWCAW act to pacify at times the anti-mining movement.
Nolan uses his current pro-mining stances to keep getting re-elected from an increasingly changing base in northeast Minnesota.
But now those two images are going to be blurred together. Nolan is going to have to draw a line on whether he’s for or against a bill put forth by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN).
Emmer introduced the MINER (Minnesota’s Economic Rights) Act and it’s going to come up for a vote in the full House.
The bill, cosponsored by two other Minnesotans in the U.S. House, requires Congressional approval for any federal proposal to withdraw land from mining, or establishment of national monuments in Minnesota. That power now rests with the U.S. Forest Service.
The legislation would also allow the renewal of mineral leases in the area and would ensure that future leases in the area remain valid and renewed, consistent with current law.
It marks the latest in a series of efforts in Congress that would seemingly breathe new life into the Twin Metals Minnesota project near Ely, and counters proposals that could prohibit mining on federal land in the area.
Emmer and Nolan stood side-by-side in an appearance in Ely in June at the Twin Metals Minnesota headquarters. However, Nolan did not sign on as a sponsor of the MINER Act and he’s been on the fence when questioned by local elected officials and constituents.
“I continue to have a number of concerns with Congressman Emmer’s legislation. As consideration of this proposal continues, please know I will keep your thoughts in mind as I debate and discuss these and any related measures with my colleagues as they come before the House for consideration,” Nolan wrote to a constituent who had urged him to vote for the MINER Act.
Nolan may just be holding his cards close to his vest or he may be trying to please both sides. His Democrat opponent in the primary would vote no and his Republican opponent in the general election would vote yes. Could he safely vote no if he knows the bill was going to pass with or without his vote?
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. On a side note there’s a judge weighing a decision over the government’s request to dismiss Twin Metals Minnesota’s lawsuit to have leases reinstated.
Washington D.C. can’t be a fun place to be. That’s why we live right here in Ely, Minnesota.