Commissioner’s statements are not accurate

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 11:24:16 AM


At the Jan. 23 meeting of the Itasca County Commissioners, Rusty Eichorn stated that he supports the Mesaba Energy Project because the steel mill planned for Nashwauk will rely on Mesaba for baseload electricity. This is not accurate and Commissioner Eichorn ought to know it.

In September 2006, after learning that Senator Saxhaug had publicly said that the two projects were “a marriage of convenience”, I wrote to Howard Hilshorst, executive vice president of Minnesota Steel Industries. He replied: “There is no connection between Mesabi (sic) Energy’s output and our need. We are not looking to them for anything…. there is no connection between Mesabi Energy and Minnesota Steel at all, except for the possible common infrastructure of the rail line and part of the gas pipeline.”

Mr. Hilshorst repeated this at a public meeting in Lone Pine Township, and again in an e-mail that he wrote on Dec. 12th: “Minnesota Steel does not need the Mesaba Energy project to operate and we have no connection to them. We will be operating long before they are constructed. Obviously I cannot control what other people say or what they may try to lead people to think, but I can assure you that we are not dependent on them in any shape, form or for kilowatts.”

Despite Minnesota Steel’s clear and consistent position, at the public hearing in Taconite on Dec. 20, Ron Dicklich, who is paid $5,000/month by Itasca County to coordinate infrastructure planning for the two projects, again suggested that Mesaba was needed to support Minnesota Steel. Ironically, the subject of this hearing was Excelsior Energy’s attempt to force NSP/Xcel Energy to purchase the entire output of Mesaba I.

Such repetition of erroneous information is a feature of the “big lie” theory of propaganda: people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. This explains why numerous people around the county have expressed confusion about a connection between Minnesota Steel and Mesaba at informational presentations by CAMP (Citizens Against the Mesaba Project).

It is not clear whether Commissioner Eichorn has been duped or is deliberately spreading this misinformation. Either way, he owes a higher degree of diligence and accuracy to the people of Itasca County.

Charlotte Neigh
CAMP Co-Chair

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