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Pawlenty signs cancer study bill

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislation today funding a study of cancer found at an abnormally high rate among Iron Range mine workers.

Pawlenty approved the bill paying for a $4.9 million study of mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer believed to have caused the deaths of 58 northeastern Minnesota mine workers.

"I'm pleased we were able to work with the Legislature to reach a compromise that ensured these important studies will move forward," Pawlenty said in a statement. "We're hopeful the answers they reveal will help protect current and future mine workers and bring some measure of closure to the families of those whose lives were taken by this disease."

The University of Minnesota will lead the multi-year study. Iron Rangers -- and researchers -- do not know if mesothelioma is caused by the mining of iron ore or a different factor.

Democratic lawmakers from the Iron Range fought for the study this year and initially proposed a different funding source, which Pawlenty opposed.

They agreed to fund the study with a workers' compensation fund.