Northland Craft Beer

Big business bullies local craft brewery with a call to boycott.

Marissa Saurer - Saturday, January 23, 2016



Fresh water is essential for a healthy life, and of course brewing great beer. Currently, there is a boycott by a group of Iron Range businesses targeting the local craft brewery, Bent Paddle Brewing, and the rest of the Downwstream Business Coalition, a concerned group of small local businesses.


What’s this all about? A few at the helm of a big international corporation are counting on most of us to be confused or unaware that their plan to make millions is at the expense of the vast majority of us. This corporate entity is using the typical weapons of choice; lobbyists, lawyers, and playing on the desperation of the Iron Rangers who are hungry for jobs. It’s them against anyone who gets in their way, which includes everyone that understands the importance of our clean water resources. In this case they’ve focused on Bend Paddle Brewing. This boycott, and tactic of pitting small businesses against small businesses alienates customers on both sides.


The above mentioned corporation, Polymet, wants to open a sulfide mine on the Minnesota Iron Range, on and near some very pristine public lands and popular outdoor recreational areas. Concerned citizens who live and play in the area as well as a number of local businesses who rely on the clean water resources in the area, including abundant fish and wildlife, are asking some hard questions and expressing concerns over how a mining process that is known to pose a serious risk of contaminating waterways is going to impact them and their quality of life. The Boycott is meant to apply pressure to the targeted companies in hopes they will change their position.


While it is true the Polymet project would create a few hundred short-term jobs on the Range, leading some to say it will have a positive impact on the local economy, it is also true that a major spill from the mine could lead to a vastly greater negative impact on the local and regional economies. Leaking toxins from the PolyMet project could end up in underground aquifers and the St. Louis River — and eventually Lake Superior which is world famous for it’s water quality for brewing. A failure like the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014 would have a catastrophic impact on the region. It would devastate the fish population in the waterways around the mine, including the Embarrass River that feeds into the St. Louis River that feeds into Lake Superior. How much the fish population will be impacted will depend on how much contaminated water escapes the site. This is not a question of if the mine will releases toxic chemicals into the watershed, but a question of how much pollution will enter the water ways. All agree, including Polymet and the MNDNR, that contaminated water will flow from the site.


Bent Paddle Brewing has built their brand around the outdoor lifestyle, and how that way of life is better with great beer, and how the water of Lake Superior and it’s tributaries are instrumental in the brewing process. In contrast, the short-sightedness of a few, are playing Russian Roulette with this precious resource shared by all.


Some of the risks:

Contaminated drinking/brewing water

Destruction of fish and wildlife habitat from polluted lakes and rivers.

Pollution that remains for decades after the jobs are gone, even centuries after a mine closure.

Taxpayers left holding the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up costs

You can see more at: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.



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