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daudtThis is from a couple of days ago. There’s been no change that I know of.

Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t playing along with House Republicans’ call to link a PolyMet project pledge to a special session for unemployed steelworkers.
Dayton is aiming to call a special session to extend unemployment benefits for miners in northeastern Minnesota. A tide of closures at Iron Range mines mean some those benefits may expire soon as this month. Minnesota’s Legislature isn’t set to return until early March.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt says Dayton should vow not to interfere in the PolyMet mine review and an oil pipeline in planning.
(CBS Minnesota)

That language is finessing the matter pretty flagrantly. What Daudt wants is blanket, no-conditions approval for both PolyMet and Sandpiper, and if he doesn’t get it, miners can become destitute for all he cares. To be precise, what the Kochtopus’s American Legislative Exchange Council wants is Daudt’s agenda, without significant exception.
Well, next election will be a very good time to make him wish that he had cared. We need strong DFL turnout statewide, to take back the House and depose this wretched pr*ck. Moreover, we already have a candidate in Daudt’s district, Sarah Udvig. Check it out here.


The politics of Keystone in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on November 12, 2015 · 2 comments

Tar Sands by Garth Lenz_0Last week, President Obama denied TransCanada permission to build the proposed northern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The intent of the line was to transport fossil fuels from northern North America, especially from tar sands in Canada, to refineries in the southern U.S. Refined products would then mostly be shipped overseas.
The reason that there is a political dimension to this is that public approval of the project was generally high. Most people with opinions were basing them on widely disseminated claims from the line’s backers. Opponents did not have the same kinds of resources, to get the word out in the corporate media that unfortunately is still most people‘s primary source for information on the issues of the day. So activists should be aware of counterarguments.

We can start with what the White House had to say. The President gave three primary reasons for denying the permit, in his statement.

– The project would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.
– The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers.
– Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.
(The White House)

I would emphasize two more that I think are potentially more effective than the above:


clown carThe next GOP presidential debate starts tonight at 8PM central time. Yes, once again I’m skipping the “undercard” debate because it just doesn’t matter. This debate is on Fox Business, which will be the first time that channel has been watched by pretty much anyone. Fox Business: because the Wall Street shills on CNBC just aren’t conservative enough! So I’ll be simultaneously noting what the candidates say, doing some instant fact checking (no time for linking, so your own fact checking of my fact checking is advised), and maybe even providing some instant yet clever commentary.
So click the “read more” link if you’re reading this on the home page, and hit your browser reload button once in a while. Feel free to comment, but do understand that I may not have time to get it posted right away. Please excuse me if I miss something visual, because my eyes are on the editing page, which means essentially the debate is radio for me.


stoppolymetThe final EIS for the proposed PolyMet mine in northern Minnesota was released on Friday. I’m waiting on those who are more expert than I am in reviewing something like that from a progressive, environmentalist perspective – and who get paid, though probably not enough, to plow through it – to produce a comprehensive critique. Today, I’m talking public opinion. Polling I’ve seen:

– From February 2013, by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz, and Associates and Public Opinion Strategies for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, had the public opposed by 48-37.

– From September 2014, by Mason-Dixon for the Star Tribune, the public supported the project by 40-23. That was down from 46-21 earlier in the year.

– A week or so ago, SurveyUSA for KSTP showed public support at a barely-above-water 37/35.

The difference between the first of those polls and the others is obvious at a glance. The first included the word “sulfide” in the question. It’s a great example of how apparently small differences in question wording can swing responses.
One thing, that same KSTP/SUSA poll has Ben Carson beating Hillary Clinton by 9 points in the state that has gone longest (43 years) since handing a Republican its electoral votes, and with a state Republican party that can be generally characterized as inept and flailing, for some time now. In reality SUSA is a pollster that is very good in its polling just before elections, but when there’s a while to go will give its clients, mostly conservative media “news” outlets like KSTP, the kind of, er, unlikely, numbers that they’re looking to pimp on their broadcasts. But I have to say that I have not seen anything so flagrantly outlandish as this, from SUSA in Minnesota, before now. Not even, as you may recall, Mills+8 in MN-08, a few weeks before election day, in 2014. Yet they nailed MN-Sen and MN-Gov, a week or so before that election.


So you have to take that into account, when looking at SUSA’s polling on PolyMet. But these numbers do seem to make some sense. PolyMet has the resources for a big media advertising push, and they’ve been doing precisely that, off and on, for years now. (I’ve already steeled myself to endure another big fat dose of their drivel, during the upcoming high school football Prep Bowl.) But we opponents have ways of getting our views out there, too. And the state’s popular governor is clearly very unsure about this, and corporate media has to report that, like it or not. The what some would call repugnant political antics of some of PolyMet’s backers could also be souring some views.

Timberjay has a great article about where Governor Dayton is at on this, and the major factors influencing that.


spillIt’s a ploy, and people saw through it immediately. But it does show that Keystone’s backers are feeling unconfident. Even cowed.

The Canadian firm proposing the massive Keystone XL pipeline said Monday it was asking the U.S. State Department to halt its review of the project as it waits out a separate process at the state level…
After TransCanada’s statement, anti-Keystone groups cast the decision as a last-ditch ploy to avoid what appears would be an unfavorable decision on the pipeline.
“After nearly seven years of trying to force the President’s hand to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada is now desperately trying to block President Obama from even making a decision at all,” Elijah Zarlin, director of the CREDO Climate Campaigns, said in a statement. “This is yet another victory for the overwhelming grassroots opposition along the route and across the country.”

Comments below fold.


miningHow dare he?! In the past week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has called for an independent review of PolyMet’s finances, and announced that he will personally visit sulfide mines in other states, to see what’s gone down. (Both of those linked articles are from MPR.) Essentially, Gov. Dayton is looking to gather evidence before making a decision, which is what intelligent people do. It’s little wonder that pro-mining types instantly started to whine.

Kurt Daudt, Speaker of the Minnesota House, made remarks for the linked article that I could have written for him, without even seeing the article:

“I have not heard from Governor Dayton about this and would need to see a formal proposal,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a written statement. “I look forward to a discussion about making PolyMet a reality so we can bring good-paying, long-lasting jobs to the Iron Range.”

Governor Dayton sounds like a prudent executive trying to make an informed decision, considering the risks to the state and to all its citizens, while Kurt Daudt sounds like a log-rolling boxhead, heedless of anyone but mining interests.
( also has must-read commentary about Dayton’s impending tour. And check out this letter from the Downstream Business Coalition. Not all business owners up north are gung-ho for PolyMet. Not by a long shot.


Requiem for a Dead Planet

by Invenium Viam on October 21, 2015 · 2 comments


What global climate catastrophe looks like ….

“When all the great galactic systems
Sigh to a frozen halt in space,
Do you think there will be some remnant
Of beauty of the human race?
Do you think there will be a vestige,
Or a sniffle, or a cosmic tear?
Do you think a greater thinking thing
Will give a damn that man was here?”

When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow, Chicago (Transit Authority), 1970



Last week, I sent a letter to President Obama asking him to petition the UN to undertake a Manhattan Project-type worldwide effort to combat global warming. “Our planet is sick with fever,” I wrote. “It is heating up at a rate never before experienced, at a rate not seen in nature’s historical records going back hundreds of thousands of years. A sick planet not recovering is a dying planet.” My objective was to convince him to take the problem out of the hands of lawyers and put it into the hands of engineers.


No doubt some will consider that act of letter-writing naïve. Probably it is. I fully expect a form letter in response. That’s all I ever get from elected leaders above the level of the state house.


The truth is that I feel helpless, which is not an emotion that is all that familiar to me. Like most men, I was raised to support my family, to protect and defend my loved ones, to participate in the life of my community. But the enemy who stands before me now like some towering Goliath is far too powerful for my poor mettle. Nothing I can do will prevent its depredations. And I dread the world that my children and grandchildren will have to live in when I’m gone. So I felt that I had to do something, no matter how impotent an action it might be … it didn’t make me feel any better.


There can be no doubt that the Earth, our home, is dying. The reasons are simple: We do not know how hot the planet is going to get; we do not know how long it will take for the planet to become so hot that the web of life is destroyed, or can no longer be sustained; and we do not know in what ways a fevered planet will affect life on Earth in the meantime.


Scientists, our secular priests, are unable to tell us what will happen to the only place in the entire universe that we know will sustain life. That is the terrifying subtext in this statement from the report that first put us all on notice about global warming twenty-five years ago: “Scientific evidence and theory indicate that as a result of such activities, the global environment is undergoing profound changes. In essence, we are conducting an uncontrolled experiment with the planet.” One Earth, One Future: Our Changing Global Environment; Cheryl Simon Silver; Ruth S. DeFries; National Academy of Sciences, 1990.


In an uncontrolled experiment, there simply is no way to know what the final outcome of experimentation might be. Absent any data to the contrary, any rational observer will have to conclude that the Earth is a dying planet. And any data to the contrary is fully absent.


But there are signs and portents of the shape of things to come. The fact that the planet is currently undergoing a mass extinction (Book Review: The Sixth Extinction) should be proof enough that the final outcome won’t be benign. And for some of our fellow human beings on the planet, the outcome has already been catastrophic. Accordingly, we need to stop arguing semantics — whether we should call it “global warming” or “climate change.” We need to start calling it exactly what it is: Global Climate Catastrophe.


I’m not alone in this opinion. In a recent article last March on DisasterMap.Net, Turmoil Around the Mediterranean Shores Illustrates Urgency of Climate Change Impacts, Dr. Ezra Boyd argues that — rather than view climate change as some remote future trend which will impact our national security, as current political leaders are doing — climate change is a threat to world stability, and to US national security, NOW.

“One impact of human-induced climate change has been a major drought around the Mediterranean Sea. This drought has sparked protests in Europe and contributed to civil wars in Africa and the Middle East. It has been a major factor fueling the war in Syria, which has created 11 million involuntary migrants and spilled over into neighboring countries, including U.S. allies. It also provided the ungoverned territory that propelled Islamic State into one of the top current geopolitical risks. On the Mediterranean’s southern shore, Libya and Egypt are two more drought-stricken states that have experienced civil conflict. In Libya, Gadaffi’s army was poised to inflict a massacre upon the city of Benghazi, which compelled a NATO intervention to prevent a flood of refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea toward France and Italy. But European countries have not escaped this turmoil caused by the drought. Indeed, the Mediterranean Sea is ringed by societies that are grappling with the migration and security threats caused, in part, by this impact of human-induced climate change.”

Read More / Click Here


desertThey’re scheduled to start on November 30. This first item is on the pessimistic side, but highly informative.

There are only 5 negotiating days left before the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From October 19-23, 2015, the UNFCCC is supposed to hammer out the modalities of the Paris deal. At this point, we should have a good sense of what the Paris deal will be. After all, since the COP17 in Durban, South Africa, where the mandate to draft a new climate agreement until 2030 was adopted, there have already been a total of 85 negotiating days, a carbon filled amount of flights for 193 parties to the convention, and at the wayside thousands of dead and displaced from destructively intense typhoons, hurricanes, floods or droughts. In the Philippines alone, the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, killed 6,000 and left thousands more homeless and without livelihood.
However, at this point, there is no agreed text yet for a Paris deal. Instead, there are a number of documents. First you have a “Co-Chairs Tool”(1) that lays out the possible scenario. At the last intersessional in Bonn in September, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) presented a tool for the negotiations that has three parts: The first part includes the issues that can be included in a potential Paris agreement, the second part those issues that will be listed in a decision and the third part includes those issues that need further negotiation and will neither be in the COP21 agreement nor decision. In the Co-Chairs tool, the elements of a Paris deal are clear: emission cuts will be voluntary, flexibility mechanisms will be continued, more market mechanisms will be proposed and accounting loopholes and techno-fixes will abound. Already, the term “net zero” emissions indicates an accounting trick because “net zero” is a term to mean you’ve balanced your accounting columns out. “Net zero” emissions therefore does not translate to zero emissions, which is what the climate urgently needs.
(Global Forest Coalition)



Xcel to retire coal units in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on October 15, 2015 · 0 comments

coalFrom October 8:

Only one day after Sierra Club Minnesota and numerous partner organizations delivered more than 11,000 public comments to the state public utilities commission calling for less coal and more clean energy, Xcel Energy announced that it will retire two coal units and accelerate its investments in solar and wind power, retiring 1,200 megawatts (MW) of coal and adding 3,500 MW of wind and solar!
“Minnesota Beyond Coal has more work to do to make sure the strongest version of this plan that includes a just worker transition is approved, but the announcement was a major step in the right direction,” said Michelle Rosier, senior campaign and organizing manager for the Minnesota Beyond Coal Campaign. “To put it in perspective, today’s announcement nearly doubles the amount of coal burning megawatts announced for retirement in the state over the past decade.”
(Sierra Club North Star)

The public pressure is grounded in the reality that coal is an enemy of all humanity. Coal plant closings nationwide are accelerating.


Unfortunately, much of that is due primarily to gluts of fracked natural gas. But there are grounds for greater optimism in the longer term. Lifelong science nerd that I am, a couple of times a week I visit the Science Daily website to see what’s going on in various areas. One is energy technology, and almost every time there’s a new article or two about advances in solar – cheaper and/or more efficient. Most of those won’t get beyond the laboratory to large-scale production and use, but some will. It’s not too optimistic to envision the world’s electricity needs being powered almost entirely by solar and other renewables, by around 2050. Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, led by the Kochtopus, will do all that they can to undermine that, but they won’t succeed. People know.


Stop PolyMet rally Tuesday in St. Paul

by Dan Burns on October 13, 2015 · 0 comments

stoppolymetFrom the Facebook event page.

It’s time to join together and tell the DNR our final answer is “no.” The time to #StopPolyMet is now! Join MEP, MPIRG, and many others in a rally and walk to the DNR building to kick off the #StopPolyMet campaign.
We will gather at Weida Park starting at 3:00 PM. A rally with headline speaker Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth begins at 3:30 PM. At 4:15 PM, people will walk to the DNR Headquarters to deliver petitions asking them to #StopPolyMet. There will be great speakers, music, and your chance to be among the first people to tell the DNR your final answer on PolyMet.

I’m adding a couple of recent, relevant items. First, you may have seen that PolyMet and Glencore are tanking. You know it’s serious when company execs are frantically trying to hold up prices with their own money, to try to keep other investors from really freaking out. From Oct. 2: