Elizabeth Warren comes out against Minnesota pipeline, Boundary Waters mining

Environmentalists hope Warren will bring national attention to Minnesota's environmental threats -- and force Sen. Amy Klobuchar to take a definitive stance.

Environmentalists hope Warren will bring national attention to Minnesota's environmental threats -- and force Sen. Amy Klobuchar to take a definitive stance. Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren came to her rally at Macalester College in St. Paul well prepared.

Before she even got to Minnesota and greeted thousands Monday, she tweeted her opposition to the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline project in the Mississippi Headwaters, saying it would “threaten Minnesota’s public waters, lands, and agricultural areas important to several Tribal Nations.”

The day she arrived, the Boundary Waters Action Fund posted a clip of Warren promising to “stop all mining on federal public lands” as president, “including the Minnesota Boundary Waters.”

“’Cause it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

She was referring to a copper-nickel mine that’s supposed to be built in the wilderness area’s watershed. The Fund has been waging war against the its owner, Twin Metals Minnesota, for months. The group worries will leech pollutants into surrounding water and turn Minnesota’s crown jewel toxic.

Warren is the third presidential candidate to come out against Enbridge Line 3 (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are the others), but she’s the first to come out against Twin Metals specifically.

It’s music to the Save the Boundary Waters crowd. Director Alex Falconer said he was “thrilled,” and spokesperson Jeremy Drucker says they’re looking forward to other candidates following suit. It could be a sign that Twin Metals – like the Enbridge pipeline – is ascending from a purely Minnesota sticking point to a national one, and that more candidates will be forced to pick a side.

That’s significant, because Minnesota’s own candidate, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, is often hard to pin down on these issues. On Enbridge, her state director, Ben Hill, told MinnPost Klobuchar would support an environmental review of the project before it’s built. After some public pressure, she also returned some $5,600 in donations from Robert Kratsch, who was listed as a project manager for Enbridge.

She has voiced “serious concerns” about Twin Metals and called for the same solution – a “thorough” environmental review before building it. Her campaign added that she also didn’t trust current President Donald Trump – a big booster for the mine – to provide one.

But she didn’t respond to interview requests to clarify her stance on either, and there are a few reasons why that might be. Chief among them: Not everybody’s happy with Warren’s stance on either Enbridge or Twin Metals. As MinnPost pointed out, some state labor leaders are admittedly “pissed off” about Warren not giving Twin Metals a chance, and Democrats are actually pretty torn about Enbridge.

That’s to say nothing about the broad support for both projects among Republicans, who will also be voting in 2020.

Still, with added eyes on Twin Metals and Enbridge, it’s possible Klobuchar and the other candidates will have to offer definitive answers. CNN’s Democratic presidential town hall, which is focused exclusively on the environment and the global climate crisis, is coming up in September. If Twin Metals wasn’t an issue before Monday, it may be now.