Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thomas Power to speak on economic impacts of renewed Western UP copper mining Nov. 5, 6

At the Lake Superior Binational Forum on Mining Impacts in the Lake Superior Watershed held March 23, 2012, in Ashland, Wis., Thomas Power, noted authority on natural resource and regional economic issues, who was unable to be present, spoke to the audience by phone while presenting his Power Point talk, "Thinking about the Costs and Benefits of Mining: A Holistic Approach." This is one of the slides from that talk. Since then, he has done a detailed report -- specific to the Western Upper Peninsula -- on economic impacts of renewed mining. He will discuss that report during his visit to the Copper Country Nov. 5 and 6, hosted by Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK). (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Thomas M. Power, noted authority on natural resource and regional economic issues, will speak at several events in the Copper Country Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 5 and 6.

Power recently completed a report for FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw) titled "The Economic Impacts of Renewed Copper Mining in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan." FOLK is sponsoring his visit.

The purpose of Power’s visit is to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations and to foster a community dialogue about the future development of the Western UP economy. 

According to Linda Rulison, FOLK President, "The significance of Dr. Power’s report and visit for our region cannot be overstated. ‘Economic gardening,’ which the report stresses, holds great promise for a sustainable and ecologically healthy future for our economy. We are grateful to Dr. Power for coming here to present his report’s findings in person."

In his report, Power draws these conclusions:

1.There are significant costs associated with mining activities that tend to offset the positive impacts of the high pay associated with mining jobs.

2.The economies of the Western Upper Peninsula have been successfully transitioning away from past reliance on unstable land-based, extraction-oriented economic activities.

3.The attractiveness of the Western Upper Peninsula’s social and natural amenities is an important part of its economic base and future economic vitality. Economic activities that damage those attractive local characteristics are incompatible with the current sources of economic vitality.

In this video clip from Power's 2012 presentation in Ashland, Wis., he lists environmental costs of mining and points out how destruction of landscape affects the local economy:

In this excerpt from Thomas Power's presentation at the March 23, 2012, Lake Superior Binational Forum in Ashland, Wis., he explains why landscape intensive mining can negatively affect an economy that relies on the attractive natural amenities of the region. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

4.The Upper Peninsula has begun to develop a cluster of entrepreneurial manufacturing firms and other firms built around social and cultural assets, high tech knowledge workers, attractive small urban areas, and high quality recreational amenities.

5.If mining is allowed to resume, it will displace other important economic activities in the region.

In the executive summary of Power's report, he states, "The public should carefully study both the costs and benefits of new metal mining, but from a public interest point of view rather than from a commercial business point of view. If the costs appear to exceed the benefits, the public should reject the proposed mine just as a mining company would if the private costs exceeded the private value produced."*

This slide from Thomas Power's 2012 presentation in Ashland offers ways the public can evaluate the costs and benefits of copper mining. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The report states the following:

"For all of these reasons, it is our (Power Consulting’s) professional judgment that a return to metal ore mining and processing in the Western Upper Peninsula would damage, not improve, regional economic well-being and vitality. Instead, the economic development focus should continue to be on local 'economic gardening' and further developing the positive economic trends already under way."**

Here is Schedule for Power's visit:

Tuesday, Nov. 5 -- He will spend the day at Michigan Tech meeting with faculty and students.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, in 135 Fisher Hall, as part of  the Michigan Tech Green Lecture Series, Power will give a talk titled  "The Anomaly of Mining: Treasure and Tears." This lecture is open to the public.

Wednesday, Nov. 6 -- Power will speak in Copper Harbor, Houghton and Baraga.

From 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, in the Copper Harbor Community Center,  FOLK will host a public reception for Power. He will give a brief talk and respond to questions about his report.

From 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the Super 8 Motel in Houghton, FOLK will host another public reception for Power. He will make a brief presentation and lead a discussion about his report.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, at the Ojibwa Senior Citizens Center in Baraga, Power will give the keynote address at the FOLK Annual Meeting, which is open to the public. The title of his talk is "The Western UP Quality of Life Economy: Choices for its Future."  The Annual Meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

During his Baraga visit, he will meet with members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Tribal Council and other tribal members and employees.

Thomas Michael Power received his PhD in Economics from Princeton University. From 1968 to 2008 he taught in the Economics Department at the University of Montana. From 1978 to 2008 he served as Chair of the Economics Department. In 2008 he retired from teaching and administration and now serves as a Research Professor and Professor Emeritus. He is the Principal of Power Consulting.

Power is the author of six books, a dozen and a half book chapters, and numerous articles and reports in the field of Natural Resource and Regional Economics and the relationship between those two fields. He has regularly testified before state and federal regulatory agencies.

Power's report is one of a series of action research projects that FOLK is sponsoring under its grassroots Mining Education and Citizen Empowerment Campaign. The Campaign’s focus is on citizens and private and public institutions working together to assess the risks and benefits of a renewal of mining in our region.***

* Click here to read the Executive Summary of Power's report.

** Click here to read the full report.

*** Learn more on FOLK's Mining Education and Empowerment Web site.

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