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Environment

Righteous lawsuits galore vs. Twin Metals

by Dan Burns on July 6, 2018 · 0 comments

sulfideWhatever it takes, to crush the Twin Metals proposal, is justified, from any and all environmental, economic, and ethical perspectives.
 

A group of nine northeastern Minnesota businesses and an environmental group sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (June 21), seeking to overturn the reinstatement last month of two federal mineral leases to a company seeking to build a copper-nickel mine near the border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
 
The plaintiffs, which include a number of canoe outfitters and a resort around the wilderness, argue that the reinstatement of the leases to Twin Metals Minnesota was unlawful, and poses an immediate threat to their businesses, the outdoor recreation economy and the environment.
(MPR)

In addition to galvanizing our members to contact their members of Congress, The Wilderness Society filed a lawsuit June 25 challenging the Interior Department’s recent push to open the area’s fragile ecosystem to sulfide-ore copper mining.
 
We were joined by 2 other conservation groups opposed to the Interior Department’s reinstatement of two expired mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a foreign-owned mining company, on Superior National Forest lands.
(The Wilderness Society)

On June 25, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the sulfide-ore mine proposed by Twin Metals, a subsidiary of the Chilean-owned mining conglomerate Antofagasta.
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

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Enbridge begs for Line 3 approval

by Dan Burns on June 19, 2018 · 0 comments

enbridgeThey do seem to be feeling the heat.
 

Representatives for Enbridge addressed the (Minnesota Public Utilities Commission) first, adding new commitments in an effort to get a Certificate of Need from the state.
 
Enbridge said it would buy renewable energy credits to offset energy use after a new Line 3 is in service. In addition, Enbridge offered to work with those concerned about the old Line 3 to set up a trust fund to decommission all old pipelines in Minnesota.
 
Finally, Enbridge would put a guarantee in place by its parent company, Enbridge Inc., to ensure there would be cleanup money available in the event of a spill.
(MPR)

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has said (and, from the article above, is reiterating) that a new Line 3 is not needed. Tar sands oil pipelines are also opposed by Minnesotans by about 2:1. But the Public Utilities Commission generally does approve proposals like this. Which doesn’t mean it’s over. Not by a long shot.
 

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Manure_spreader_Record_2Because to not go with one final piece of petty, infantile crap – and a piece that is bad for public health, at that – just is not in Minnesota legislative Republicans’ playbook. A**holes to the end.
 

A new state rule aimed at reducing groundwater contamination by farm fertilizers could be delayed by a legislative move made formal on Monday…
 
The so-called Groundwater Protection Rule has been several years in the making and looks to reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching groundwater aquifers, which many Minnesotans rely on for their drinking water. In delaying the rule, the Legislature tapped an obscure 2001 law that appears to put a check on administrative rules by giving the next Legislature a chance to weigh in on it in 2019.
 
But Dayton said he has instructed the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to proceed as planned and has called the Legislature’s move unconstitutional.
 
It’s possible the matter will end up in court. On Monday, Dayton reiterated that he thinks the Legislature overstepped its bounds.
(MPR)

It’s important to understand that those referenced above would quite honestly view my remarks as unfair and offensive, if they saw them. Their motivated reasoning is such that they really do see themselves, in this, as heroically “combating government overreach” and “letting the markets work.” After all, Almighty Reagan would approve. So would Donald Trump.
 
My gut feeling, based on nothing specific, is that this one doesn’t really stink of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), either. I figure they did it on their own.
 

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Newly emboldened Twin Metals plows ahead

by Dan Burns on June 11, 2018 · 0 comments

bwcaTwin Metals wants to create a big sulfide mine right next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It is a truly terrible idea, in every way, and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton seemed to have more or less killed the project when he publicly agreed with that assessment. But things have changed. First, the Trump administration reversed an Obama call and renewed the leases last month. And now the planners are a hive of busy bees indeed.
 

Twin Metals, the company planning to build an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, Minn., said (May 24) it will open an office in Babbitt and wants to locate its processing facility east of Birch Lake…
 
Twin Metals officials said plans to locate the processing site east of Birch Lake differs from previous proposals. Before, the company had planned to build it south of the Ely airport and west of Birch Lake. Company officials said mine employees will access the underground mine from the processing site. The facility would be built on about 100 acres of land owned by Twin Metals.
(MPR)

The real power behind this is mining giant Antofagasta. This notes its billionaire owner’s suspicious tie to the current presidential administration, and also has more on the lease thing. The fact that it took the “election” of Trump to bring Twin Metals back from the dead should give anyone pause.
 

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enbridgeHere’s some wonderful, uplifting corporate citizenship.
 

The state of Minnesota has repeatedly overvalued Enbridge Energy’s oil pipeline system, a state Tax Court judge ruled Tuesday, possibly leaving several counties on the hook to pay tens of millions of dollars in tax refunds…
 
Enbridge’s pipelines traverse 13 northern Minnesota counties, and some of them count on Enbridge for a large portion of their tax base. At least two counties — Clearwater and Red Lake — could end up refunding more money than they raise annually from all of their taxpayers.
(Star Tribune)

Enbridge reported a 2017 pre-tax profit of $10,317 million.
 
My suggestion, and I’m sure I’m not the only one making it, is that we do all we can to turn this into a PR nightmare for Enbridge. They deserve it.
 

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The fine mess that Enbridge Line 3 has become

by Dan Burns on April 30, 2018 · 1 comment

enbridge2The saga of the highly controversial Enbridge Line 3 replacement/rerouting proposal took another turn last week.
 

Administrative law judge Ann O’Reilly issued a non-binding recommendation on (April 23) that Minnesota regulators should approve the pipeline, but only if it runs along the current route and not Enbridge Energy’s preferred new path.
(MPR)

 
– Also from that article, Gov. Mark Dayton says that is not feasible. (Dayton is not opposed to the project. Though he has, bless his heart, said he’ll veto a bill from the GOP-controlled Minnesota legislature that would allow Enbridge to basically bypass the rest of the review process and start whenever they want to.)
 

– The ruling would likely strengthen the positions of affected Native Americans.

 
– Enbridge very much wants to stick with its plan.

 
So we’ll see.
 
Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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Some recent Enbridge pipeline stuff

by Dan Burns on March 23, 2018 · 0 comments

enbridge– People get fed up, and I don’t blame them.
 

Leaders of the Red Lake Nation are formally calling for the removal of oil pipelines from their reservation in northern Minnesota.
 
The tribal council in January pulled out of a deal with Canadian energy firm Enbridge that would have allowed the pipelines to stay in place. Leaders now want the infrastructure removed altogether.
 
“We just want them to move their lines and clean up the pollution and the damages they’ve done the past 70 years,” Chairman told The Bemidji Pioneer after the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to remove the pipelines.
(Indianz.com)

– Enbridge spent more than $5 million lobbying Minnesota state officials, last year.

 

– A result in a closely watched “necessity defense” protest case:

 

Tuesday’s sentencing hearing tested a Montana court’s willingness to apply the severe penalties already available for use against pipeline protesters. For halting the flow of oil through Enbridge’s Express pipeline for several hours, Leonard Higgins, a 66-year-old retired information technology manager for the state of Oregon, faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for charges of misdemeanor trespass and felony criminal mischief. Higgins was sentenced to three years’ probation and $3,755 in restitution to the pipeline company…
 
Although the sentence is lenient in light of the possible penalties Higgins faced, it does not represent a full win for the activists. Higgins’s legal team had hoped Judge Daniel Boucher would allow them to argue that, given the severity of the climate threat, he had no choice but to act — a strategy known as a necessity defense. But Boucher said that since Higgins appeared to fear harm to his children and grandchildren, rather than an imminent threat to his own life, the defense could not apply. In his denial, Boucher wrote, “The energy policy of the United States is not on trial, nor will this court allow Higgins to attempt to put it on trial.”
(The Intercept)

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frackingFrom March 13:
 

“Our examination…uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health,” states a blistering 266-page report released today by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, Physicians for Social Responsibility. Drawing on news investigations, government assessments and more than 1,200 peer-reviewed research articles, the study finds that fracking – shooting chemical-laden fluid into deep rock layers to release oil and gas – is poisoning the air, contaminating the water and imperiling the health of Americans across the country. “Fracking is the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” says Dr. Sandra Steingraber, one of the report’s eight co-authors, a biologist who has worked as a public health advocate on issues like breast cancer and toxic incinerators. “Those of us in the public health sector started to realize years ago that there were potential risks, then the industry rolled out faster than we could do our science.” In recent years, the practice has expanded from rural lands to backyards, farms, and within sight of schools and sources of drinking water. “Now we see those risks have turned into human harms and people are getting sick,” says Steingraber. “And we in this field have a moral imperative to raise the alarm.”
(Rolling Stone)

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A partial win on PolyMet, for now

by Dan Burns on March 8, 2018 · 0 comments

sulfide2A win as far as the judge refusing to dismiss the lawsuits, that is. There is no question that the proposed land swap is an atrocious giveaway, but whether courts will see that in the long run is another matter. You know how plenty of judges are.
 

A federal judge has put on hold four lawsuits filed by eight environmental groups to block a land swap that the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota needs to move forward.
 
U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen stayed the lawsuits while Congress considers legislation to force completion of the land exchange between PolyMet and the U.S. Forest Service. The bill passed the House last November and is pending in a Senate committee…
 
In her order Tuesday, Ericksen denied PolyMet’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits.
(MPR)

Groups have filed for a contested case hearing on PolyMet with the Minnesota DNR.
 

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To say the least.
 

Final permit decisions on PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet Mining Project are approaching, and for all the celebration of the process by politicians and company promoters here in Minnesota, we have grave concerns. We bring this message from Duluth, where we live downstream of the proposed PolyMet mine.
 
Last week we welcomed a delegation from Amnesty International to discuss their experience with a British Columbia copper sulfide mine upstream of their own communities. This is a group that has heard it all before: promises of safety from mining companies, claims of new technology that isn’t, guarantees of zero discharge, and assurances from government officials that it will all be fine.
 
Unfortunately, in 2014, the dam upstream of them collapsed, sending toxic water and tailings into nearby Quesnel Lake, effectively turning the pristine lake into a waste pit. The Mount Polley dam breach is the worst environmental disaster in Canadian history, and it is ongoing.
(MinnPost)

A related and similarly enlightening item:
 

The outdoor recreational industry contributed toward two percent of the U.S. GDP in 2016, according to a preliminary report the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released (on February 14). It’s the bureau’s first attempt to analyze this economic sector, and it points to the surprisingly large contribution of hunting, festivals, and countless other outdoor activities to the American economy.
 
Indeed, 2 percent amounted to nearly $374 billion in 2016. That’s enough money to fund the Department of Interior 27 times over. And this economy is growing at a faster rate than the general U.S. economy. It grew 3.8 percent in 2016 whereas the overall economy saw just a 2.8 percent rise…
 
With data on this industry available, lawmakers should have no excuse for not measuring the impacts of extraction and other land use on public lands, said Matt Lee-Ashley, senior director of environmental strategy and communications at the Center for American Progress, to Earther. After all, as he pointed out, the mining industry (which includes oil and gas) amounted to just $260 billion in 2016. Outdoor recreation wins in that aspect.
(Earther)

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