It’s time to #BenchPolymet at the @MSHSL Hockey Tourneys

Tourney 2014 KSTC 45. Big day for this high schooler, getting interviewed on TV by Tom Hauser! Unbeknownst to him, he has a non-paying endorsement deal with a corporate mining company.

Big day for this high schooler, getting interviewed on TV by Tom Hauser! Unbeknownst to him, he has a non-paying endorsement deal with a corporate mining company. (Tourney 2014, KSTC 45)

By JT Haines — February 18, 2015

It’s that time of year. Every year since forever, hockey teams from across Minnesota participate in the greatest tournament of all time: The Minnesota state high school hockey tourney. The 2015 girls’ tourney starts today and runs through Feb 21. The boys’ tourney dates are March 4-7. You can watch the action in person at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul (tickets here) or on TV on KSTC45. I can’t wait.

Also happening right now in Minnesota is agency review of perhaps the most controversial permit application in the history of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As readers of this site well know, a Canadian corporation called PolyMet (owned substantially by an even larger foreign corporation called Glencore) is in a multi-year permit application process seeking to conduct nonferrous (sulfide) mining in Northern Minnesota.

Trouble is, this would be a new type of mining in Minnesota, more dangerous than taconite/ferrous mining we are more used to. Briefly, instead of producing rust when exposed to air and water like iron ore, sulfide ores produce acid, creating all sorts of habitat risks like the leeching of heavy metals such as mercury into watersheds. Levels of attention to this issue during agency review may be unprecedented. Public comments last winter numbered 58,000, smashing the previous record by a factor of ten. This is a major public moment for Minnesota. (Here is DNR info. See gopolymet.com for the project’s corporate narrative, and miningtruth.org for responses.)

How does this relate to high school hockey, you ask? Well, frankly, that’s a helluva good question. I have the same question for PolyMet.

You see, for at least the past two boys’ tournaments (2013 and 2014), PolyMet has used our public tournament for its own propaganda, placing ads everywhere. Here are two more pictures from last year:

Scoreboard at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Scoreboard at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Boards at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Boards at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Wherever you stand on the underlying issue — misappropriating an unsuspecting high school kid’s big day, while the controversial public decision is pending, is simply unethical. Leave these kids alone, and let’m play.

As for the 2015 tourneys, I’m not aware of PolyMet’s plans (they don’t generally consult me), but this banner on http://www.prep45.com from today suggests we can expect more of the same:

PolyMet Banner Ad on KSTC Prep45 Tournament Info page from Feb 18, 2015

PolyMet Banner Ad on KSTC Prep45 Tournament Info page from Feb 18, 2015

So. When we see ads again at our public tournaments, whether the boys’ hockey tournament, girls’ hockey tournament, or other (I noticed them at football this year too), I say it’s time for a response. Let’s #BenchPolyMet.

I invite you to join in:

  • Tweeting and posting on social media using the hashtag #BenchPolyMet. Tag @MSHSL and @KSTC45 for maximum effect. Tag @newspeakreview for retweets.
  • Make a #BenchPolyMet sign. Display it at the tourney — (mega bonus points if you can get it on TV!)

Most of us who care about the integrity of our democracy and public decision making processes in Minnesota don’t have the big bucks that PolyMet does to spread our message, but we have our Minnesota voices. Let’s use ‘em. Attention to PolyMet’s corporate propaganda at the hockey tourneys is growing, and several organizations have already indicated interest in the #BenchPolyMet social media campaign. It’s time to #BenchPolyMet, @MSHSL @KSTC45.

FAQ:

What’s the big deal? I promise you the ad agents for PolyMet think it’s a big deal – why else are they there. The goal of their ads, of course, is to steadily place soft images of PolyMet as a friendly corporate citizen in our collective subconscious, hoping to weaken resolve and our focus on the danger they present to our environment and to their ultimate motive, which is profit. It’s insidious. Pretending to ignore it is not the right response.

Is #BenchPolymet political? Yes. You’re dern right it is – just as PolyMet’s ads are. PolyMet proponents and industry reps are constantly instructing the public to “let the process work” in response to the voicing of legit concerns. Yet, at this key moment of review, PolyMet exploits our tournaments for their ads, seeking to impact our political process. It’s not appropriate.

#BenchPolyMet @MSHSL @KSTC45

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