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Setbacks for the MN sulfide mining crowd

by Dan Burns on June 8, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideI did not expect this first one. Maybe Trump has some kind of personal beef with Twin Metals’s owner, the ecological disaster-monger Antofagasta. Whatever the motivation is, here, it looks good to me.

 

The U.S. Department of Justice late Monday filed a motion asking a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit by Twin Metals that seeks renewal of federal mining leases that had been withdrawn by the Obama administration.
 
The move is a blow for copper mining supporters who had hoped the Trump administration would drop opposition to the lawsuit and re-issue the permits to allow the mine to advance…
 
Twin Metals sued to get the leases back. Now, the Justice Department is fighting that effort, a sign that the Interior Department under Trump may be sticking with the moratorium.
(Duluth News Tribune)

Minnesota’s mining regulators at the Land and Minerals Division of the Department of Natural Resources face a stiff test of fidelity to the citizens of Minnesota as described in an article by Josephine Marcotty in the Strib’s paper edition on May 14th. The issue is: what are the financial reserves that must be set aside to assure the state that PolyMet’s proposed mine will be cleaned up and closed properly, maintenance free, with no losses to the state?
 
Two sets of experts have looked at the cost of pre-planning PolyMet Mining Corp.’s funeral, so to speak, and the numbers are grim. The state’s own retained experts say it’s in the neighborhood of $650 million, while an independent expert, who delivered a presentation at the University of Minnesota recently, said it was more like $934 million, up front. That is just shy of a billion dollars, people. That is three or four times PolyMet’s market capitalization, let alone book value.
(Left.mn)

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Trump looks to screw farmers

by Dan Burns on June 7, 2017 · 0 comments

cornTo be a farmer you have to have a lot of common sense. So it doesn’t add up that farmers tend to be politically conservative. Until, that is, you look at the other factors at play, like the (among many others) socio-political attitudes with which they were raised, a tendency to still get their “information” from corporate media, and the pervasive influence of old, bad habits.
 

U.S. farm groups on (May 23) pushed back against President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash agriculture spending, viewing it as a fresh threat to a struggling farm economy.
 
The White House on (May 22) proposed $46.54 billion in cuts to federal government funding for the agriculture sector over the next 10 years, including limits on federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums. Congress has the final say on the government’s budget and lawmakers said the president’s plan stands little chance of passing…
 
Farmers in the U.S. agricultural heartland overwhelmingly supported Trump last November and are struggling with low crop prices that are hurting incomes.
 
“This budget seems to really go after the people that got the president elected,” said Zack Clark, director of government relations for the National Farmers Union.
(Reuters)

This next article is a few weeks old. I looked around a little, and the information on who is being picked seems to have not changed.
 

President Donald Trump and his agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, are finally getting around to staffing key positions at the US Department of Agriculture, reports the trade journal AgWeb. Surprising no one who watched the chaotic process that finally ended with Trump settling on Perdue as USDA chief, the rumored picks to fill top USDA roles are a bunch of agribiz flacks and political hacks.
(Mother Jones)

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trump17Be aware that if you do click and read this one, it verges on being literally, physically nauseating. An adjective like “scummy” barely begins to describe the repugnant reality.
 

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
 
All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.
 
Especially since the person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.
(Forbes)

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oilspillClick here to find a map with meeting dates and locations.
 

June is your chance to speak out against tar sands in Minnesota!
 
Between June 6 and June 22, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is hosting 22 public meetings across the state about Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion.

The website from which I got the following is packed with info on the issue.
 

Line 3 is a disaster waiting to happen. This Enbridge oil pipeline was built in 1961 and despite having hundreds of thousands of structural anomalies, Line 3 continues to ship crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. This aging pipe as ten times as many corrosion anomalies per mile than any other Enbridge pipeline in the same corridor. Enbridge wants to abandon this legacy of contamination in the ground, walk away, and build an entirely new corridor, through the heart of Minnesota’s best lakes and wild rice beds, and through Anishinaabeg treaty territories.
(Stop Line 3)

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trump16This looks at some of the theories as to why Trump diehards are hanging on, and why many will likely continue to do so no matter what.
 

The most popular theory in the mainstream media is that Trumpists think that Trump will bring jobs back. The hypothesis here is that their support for Trump derives entirely from economic anxiety over globalization, loss of manufacturing, the supposed failures of Obamacare, wage stagnation, income inequality, trade deficits, and soaring national debt. But economic angst does not really explain Trumpists’ unwavering devotion to Trump, whose cabinet appointments, executive orders, and legislative proposals generally do not help them or even pretend to help them.
 
…why Trumpists love Trump: he shares their bitterness and resentment. As long as he keeps giving all those self-righteous, contemptuous “elitists” the finger, a gesture that started with his Birtherism, it doesn’t matter what else he says or does, how many lies he tells, how many mistakes he makes, or how many detrimental policies he advocates or enacts. All that matters is that he keep disrupting and subverting the arrogant, oppressive establishment – or “deconstruct[ing] the administrative state,” as Trump’s white nationalist advisor Steve Bannon put it.
 
Trumpists’ politics, then, are ultimately rooted in raw emotion, not principles or thoughtful ideology.
(CounterPunch)

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State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016.  (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Professor Michael Mann, the famous climate scientist who produced the Hockey Stick Graph demonstrating that recent anthropogenic global warming is a big deal when viewed in the context of deep time, has endorsed State Auditor Rebecca Otto for governor.

 
This is a national level figure noticing the importance of the Minnesota governor’s race and carefully choosing among the candidates, picking the one that has the best record on climate policy.
 
Here is Dr. Mann’s endorsement:
 

Rebecca Otto is a shining example of the kind of integrity and leadership we hope for in our elected leaders but too rarely see: someone who puts their money where their mouth is.
 
I’m proud to support Rebecca Otto for Governor of Minnesota, and urge everyone who is concerned about climate change and clean energy to join me in supporting her.
 

Michael E. Mann, director of Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, shared with his colleagues the honor of receiving the Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC and its team for its work on climate science.  Mann and his colleagues Malcolm Hughes and Raymond Bradley produced the famous Hockey Stick Graph in 1998.

Michael E. Mann, director of Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, shared with his colleagues the honor of receiving the Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC and its team for its work on climate science. Mann and his colleagues Malcolm Hughes and Raymond Bradley produced the famous Hockey Stick Graph in 1998.

After studying the evidence, Rebecca and her husband Shawn became national leaders in charting ways for governments to reduce fossil fuel energy use, and in combating industry propaganda campaigns that sow doubt about the billions of points of evidence that all point in the same direction. As the Minnesota State Auditor, Rebecca issued a nationally award-winning report on how local governments can reduce energy costs dramatically by switching to clean, carbon-free energy sources. Shawn has authored two books on the War on Science, on what the evidence says about climate change, and on how we can combat the disinformation and move forward; he also co-founded the US presidential science debate initiative and was involved in planning the March for Science. The couple built and live in a solar and wind-powered home and drive electric vehicles.

 

Rebecca wants to make Minnesota a national leader in tackling climate change and creating well-paying new jobs in the clean energy economy, and I’m confident she will achieve her goal with our support. We need her leadership to help move the ball forward globally on this pressing issue.

 
This is an appropriate endorsement given Otto’s long term commitment to doing something about global warming. Note that they first built the house decades ago, so this is not a recent short term commitment, but a long term passion.
 
I asked Professor Mann why a climate scientist working in Pennsylvania would worry about a governor’s race in Minnesota. “In climate change, we face a threat that knows no boundaries—continental boundaries, national boundaries, or state boundaries,” he told me. “We must support politicians everywhere who are willing to act on climate. Rebecca Otto has demonstrated that she places great priority on science-based policymaking on climate change and I am happy to support her candidacy.”
 

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MN lege: The court battle over defunding

by Dan Burns on June 5, 2017 · 0 comments

mncapitol2Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has defunded the Minnesota legislature, using a line-item veto, in response to “poison-pill” tactics used by legislative Republican majorities. The GOP is taking the matter to the state Supreme Court.
 

Mary Jane Morrison, professor emeritus at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said a lawsuit against Dayton could be followed by another suit challenging the Legislature and whether its budget bills violated the clause of the state constitution that says bills must be limited to a single subject.
 
“When the court has to deal with one of them, they’ll take up both of them,” Morrison said. “The solution won’t necessarily be one that the Legislature will ever be happy about, because the single-subject clause is really clear.”
(MPR)

While Dayton’s line-item veto is the immediate cause of the constitutional crisis, flagrant violation of the single subject rule by the legislature is the real culprit…
 
The stripping away of the State Auditor’s powers was attached to a larger unrelated bill under the cloak of darkness. The same can be said about the legislature’s poison pill in the tax bill. But even if they were not hidden as the Republican legislative leaders contend, they still violated the letter if not the spirit of the single-subject rule. They also point to how leadership has failed to enforce germaneness rules that would keep policy and appropriation bills separate. Viewed in this context, the governor’s line-item veto was constitutionally under-minded. Yes, Dayton could have vetoed entire omnibus budget bills, but that would have triggered another political and constitutional crisis in terms of another governmental shutdown. No matter the choice Dayton faced, there was a constitutional problem.
 
Viewed in isolation Dayton’s line-item vetoing of the legislature’s funding is constitutionally wrong. He cannot use that veto to negate or undermine the authority of another constitutionally-explicit branch of the government—this is a major separation of powers issue. Yet if the only lawsuit filed is one by the legislature then that may be the decision the Minnesota Supreme Court is forced to bring. However, there needs also to be a lawsuit brought by legislators—and Senator John Marty is contemplating one—raising the single-subject rule to many of the omnibus bills passed this term. They should also join the State Auditor in her appeal to the Supreme Court. Why? If the Court is given the opportunity to rule on both the line-item veto and the single-subject rule then it would perhaps be able either to join the cases or resolve them in a way that defines the proper limits on what the legislature can do, thereby also drawing lines regarding what the governor can do. Defining the limits of the single-subject rule and the line-item veto would then also clarify the separation of powers issue.
(Schultz’s Take)

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Class Warfare – Republican Style!

by Bill Prendergast on June 1, 2017 · 0 comments

IMG_0089

Script: Bill Prendergast Art: Dan Murphy

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minnesota_state_capitolI didn’t foresee this. If you ask me it’s brilliant.
 

Dayton added that, by signing the (tax cut) bill, he was protecting funding for the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Earlier he chastised Republican lawmakers for adding what he called a “poison pill” provision to a bill that would have eliminated all Minnesota Department of Revenue funding if it were killed, a move the governor described as a “reprehensible sneak attack.”
 
In response, Dayton used his power to eliminate spending for the House and Senate.
 
The gravity of that move wasn’t immediately clear but it’s certain to trigger a confrontation with GOP legislative leaders.
 
When asked about slashing legislative funding, Dayton told reporters, “Well, they can come back and get it restored …. we’ll find out how much money they have stashed away” in reserve accounts.
 
The governor said he would be willing to call a special session but only if lawmakers agreed to cut out provisions he still finds distasteful, including tax relief on tobacco products.
(MPR)

Actually, the worst thing in the bill in my estimation is the long term tax cut welfare for the rich inherent in the property tax changes for businesses.
 

The state revenue loss resulting from changes to the state business property tax in the tax conference committee report are likely to increase rapidly over time—for reasons described in a recent North Star article—and ultimately surpass the revenue loss associated with other tax cuts in the report. As the magnitude of that tax break swells in future years, the relief will shift from low-value to high-value businesses, and from Greater Minnesota to the seven-county metropolitan area.
(North Star Policy Institute)

Though the estate tax changes are loathsome giveaways to those least deserving, as well. And cutting taxes on tobacco products, despite those taxes’ demonstrated effect in reducing teen, and adult, smoking, is unconscionable.
 
I suspect that MN Party of Trump legislative leadership is on the phone, or videoconferencing or whatever, with ALEC as I’m typing this (7AM Wednesday), getting their instructions on what to do. There are a lot of wild cards here, and I’m not going to speculate on the outcome.
 

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523366_637975359561312_1313347915_nHere are a couple of things that I intellectually believe are true. But I just can’t bring myself to be confident, yet, that they will manifest by the next election as they should.
 

But the theory isn’t supported by the evidence. To the contrary, Trump’s base seems to be eroding. There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump’s strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support. And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an “enthusiasm gap” that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP’s initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters.
(FiveThirtyEight)

As Americans learn how policies put into effect by the politicians they elect directly affect their personal economies and as everyday citizens are emboldened to believe in their self-worth, they will slowly awaken into action as they did in decades past. We made a big mistake in 1980 by allowing a smooth-talking politician to bring the final pieces inspired by the Powell Memo to fruition. Now it’s time to rid America of that cancer once and for all.
(Daily Kos)

Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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