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fracking-infographic_webWith President-”elect” Donald Trump’s administration clearly preparing not only to allow, but to actively encourage, fracking always and everywhere, this has added significance.

U.S. EPA (Dec. 13) abandoned its contentious assertion that hydraulic fracturing hasn’t caused “widespread, systemic” problems with drinking water as it released the final draft of its study on the practice.
The agency’s multiyear research instead made the less-sweeping conclusion that “hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources in the United States under some circumstances.”
…The change from the draft drew swift condemnation from industry groups this morning. The American Petroleum Institute called the change “beyond absurd” and said the Obama administration had decided to “reverse course” on the way out the door.
Environmental groups, which had seethed over the draft conclusion, said the report confirmed their long-standing accusations that oil and gas activity is dangerous.
(E&E News)

Also, this. I won’t venture to guess, at this time, how far Trump & Co. will go to actively try to undermine green energy. Green initiatives are in fact politically popular: in Florida, for example, voters rejected an amendment that would have screwed up efforts to install more solar.

And the good news is that NRDC’s Fourth Annual Energy Report reaffirms that, regardless of partisan ideological differences and even the possibility of climate naysayers in prominent federal roles, our clean energy transition is unstoppable for all the right reasons: lower bills, more jobs, and cleaner air.
(National Resources Defense Council)


Group seeks to righteously crush Twin Metals

by Dan Burns on November 30, 2016 · 0 comments

sulfideGov. Mark Dayton opposes the Twin Metals proposal, and because of that and other factors it is essentially on life support. We hope.

The environmental group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness has asked a federal judge to let them intervene in a lawsuit that could decide mineral leases under the proposed Twin Metals copper mine near Ely.
The group filed paperwork Tuesday, Nov. 22, in federal district court in St. Paul in hopes it can intervene in the suit filed by Twin Metals against the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness also filed notice that it plans to ask that the case be dismissed, although that can’t happen until the first hearing scheduled in the suit on April 28.

If you’re not familiar with the issue, here is a quick primer from Save the Boundary Waters.


prairieThis article may seem a little bizarre if you’re progressive and you remember David Strom‘s “legacy“ in Minnesota politics, but nonetheless it is worthwhile and I’m passing it along on that basis.

A new report says proposed renewable energy investments in Minnesota could create more than 5,000 construction jobs and $7 billion in economic activity, largely in conservative, rural parts of the state.
“We are clearly seeing a bigger (political) divide in Minnesota and clean energy is a way to bridge that divide,” said Chris Kunkle, Wind on the Wires regional policy manager for Minnesota. “You’re talking about advancing policies and investments from the Twin Cities that benefit rural Minnesota and create new jobs and tax revenue.”
And Minnesota is not the only place where wind development is happening in Republican districts.
(Midwest Energy News)


FYI: A Grand Forks Herald editorial

by JeffStrate on October 30, 2016 · 0 comments


 The Unicorn Riot video was posted on YouTube on October 27.


The October 28 editorial stand of the Grand Forks Herald about the protestors and law enforcement initiatives at the Dakota Access pipeline should spark some ruminating.

Our opinion: False claims hurt Dakota Access

Pipeline protesters’ credibility


They started as protesters. They prefer to be called protectors.

But a better word is pretenders, because the claims being made by the people trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction are based more on pretense than in fact.

That ruins the protesters’ credibility, and makes it very unlikely that they’ll gain majority support from the voters they need to convince.

The activists near Cannon Ball, N.D., say they’re peacefully protesting. But that’s not the whole truth, at least not at the key moments over the past few weeks, including Thursday.

When the protesters step onto private property, they’re trespassing. They’re breaking the law—the very law they want everyone else, including law enforcement, to respect.

That’s why the police respond: It’s not the protesting that’s causing the arrests. It’s the trespassing. There’s a difference.

Activists say police are responding “violently.” But that’s not true either. The only reason police are responding at all is that protesters are first, breaking the law, and second, resisting arrest.

In such circumstances in America, police are authorized to use necessary force. That’s what’s been happening at the trespassing sites.

Here’s something else: It wasn’t the police who set fires on Thursday to get what they wanted. It was the protesters, who thereby turned civil disobedience into something looking very much like violent resistance.

Tribal officials say the pipeline will cross sacred ground. But no one raised that claim back in the 1980s, when the route was dug up for an earlier pipeline. No one raised it in the years since then, either.

Moreover, no one has presented any evidence in support of that claim at all. To the contrary, the evidence that’s been presented contradicts the claim. Notably, it comes from professional archaeologists, who’ve walked the route a number of times and not found artifacts or human remains.

And on and on.

On Thursday, something else happened besides police arresting protesters who’d defiantly camped on private property. The governors of the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa wrote the Army Corps of Engineers, asking that the final stretch of pipeline be permitted.

The letter means that in some key sense, the protesters have lost the battle of public opinion.

Clearly, the people of three states that the pipeline will cross have considered the issue. (That includes the people of Des Moines, a city of 200,000 that sits only a few miles downstream from a pipeline crossing.)

They’ve considered it—and accepted it, as declared by their duly elected representatives.

“We strongly support” the pipeline project, say the governors, who also note that “further delay in issuing the easement will negatively impact our states and our citizens.”

If there’s a case for changing the pipeline-approval and tribal-consultation processes, America stands ready to listen. The activists’ energy and commitment can almost certainly influence that outcome.

But on the issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline itself, the facts are much more on the pipeline’s side. The protesters should recognize that reality and stop alienating would-be supporters by making false and exaggerated claims.

— Tom Dennis for the Herald

This sentence is a live link to the Herald’s website with this editorial.


Big questions about PolyMet and climate change

by Dan Burns on October 11, 2016 · 0 comments

sulfideFrom last week:

Environmental groups have asked the federal government to do a more thorough analysis of potential climate change impacts from the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.
While most of the debate has centered on potential water pollution from the mine, new federal guidelines finalized in August instruct agencies to fully account for a project’s greenhouse gas emissions and societal costs associated with those emissions.
“We’re talking about the equivalent of putting over 150,000 new vehicles on Minnesota roads,” Aaron Klemz, advocacy director for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, said of PolyMet’s potential impact.

It’s not very likely that PolyMet’s permits will be denied. But that is only the least of the righteous obstacles yet to be overcome. Court challenges, public pressure, and continued soft markets for copper and nickel will all be more daunting.


paulsen2You can help our candidate, Terri Bonoff, here.

Let’s look at the record.
Erik Paulsen has been in the pocket of medical device companies throughout his career. He has successfully advocated for a moratorium on the device task that helps fund Obamacare….creating a windfall for companies like Medtronic.
Of course, not satisfied with that tax break, Medtronic changes their corporate address to Ireland so that they can avoid more taxes. All the while, building up offshore bank accounts, hiding their profits – and forcing the rest of us to pay their bills.
Although Paulsen voted against the Dream Act and voted for many of the Trump like immigration bills that came from this Congress, Paulsen managed to vote in favor of special visas that business wanted so that they can bring in high-tech workers from other countries…at the expense of American workers.
And how about energy corporations? Paulsen was right there for them as well. He voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. He voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. And he voted to bar greenhouse gases from Clean Air Act rules, and to declare that nothing in the Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming…
Paulsen could easily fit into the Trump camp, except for one clear difference. Paulsen’s corporate masters need him to support the TPP.

Paulsen is all over the place on whether he supports Donald Trump for POTUS. And he’s a total NRA stooge. And he’s big on handouts for corrupt war contractors.
Voters need to understand that Rep. Paulsen is most definitely not a “moderate.” And that the essential first step to making things better for everyone is getting right-wingers like him out of power.


There were a number of fact check failures for Trump, most notably that he was wrong on ISIS controlling oil in Libya, he was wrong on blaming Obama for the way we left Iraq, and he was especially wrong about Clinton and her campaign starting birtherism.

From fact checking:


TRUMP STATEMENT: ISIS has “oil all over the place, including the oil, a lot of the oil, in Libya.”
FACT CHECK: According to a Bloomberg analysis, Libyan oil fields and pipelines are controlled by a combination of the Government of National Accord, allies of the Tripoli Petroleum Facilities Guard, and the Libyan National Army (and groups aligned with them).
Claudia Gazzini, a Tripoli-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, told the Washington Post that it was simply not true that the Islamic State has control of any Libyan oil.
“While it is true that ISIS has attacked oil fields in the Sirte basin area and destroyed key equipment there, they have not sought to keep control of the oil fields,” Gazzini said.


Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, told Wolf Blitzer a volunteer forwarded an email promoting “birtherism” and that that person was fired. “The campaign nor Hillary did not start the ‘birther’ movement, period, end of story,” Solis Doyle told CNN, saying the volunteer’s actions were “beyond the pale” and that Clinton called Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to apologize.

Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton confidante but not a current campaign staffer, denies ever contacting McClatchy; the former McClatchy bureau chief, James Asher, recently said he clearly recalled the conversation with Blumenthal.

What CBS either omitted or did not know is that James Asher no longer is making the claim of recalling the Blumenthal conversation, and that the investigatory mission to Kenya by McClatchy news was the result of multiple stories being published at the time.


Trump fat out LIED when he claimed he only filed for bankruptcy four times — which is a LOT of bankruptcies. Four bankruptcies argues being very bad at business. It was not four it was six bankruptcies.  Perhaps Trump is engaging in “Republican Math” which doesn’t regard numbers as quantifiers, but rather subverts them as ideology without numeric meaning.


Again per CBS and politifact (because it is important to multisource):


FACT CHECK: Clinton is correct. When Politifact looked into this issue, they found six times that Trump has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection: The Trump Taj Mahal in 1991; Trump Castle in 1992; Trump Plaza and Casino in 1992; the Plaza Hotel in 1992; Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts in 2004; and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009.

I think my greatest outrage is that Trump believes he is in some way more presidential APPEARING than Clinton. Ms. Clinton was elegantly groomed and very presentable. Trump in contrast, has demanded that his appearance NOT be an issue, while he has repeatedly demeaned his women opponents from Carly Fiorina to Clinton, and has demeaned women more broadly, including those in his employ. Women are not qualified or unqualified from office on the basis of appearance. But if we were going to assess ability on the basis of appearance, Trump is a fat, jowly, puffy-eyed, badly spray-tanned smirking swine with an unattractive piece of roadkill on his head, like a tacky version of a Daniel Boone hat. He is in no position to criticize anyone’s appearance, other than he clearly believes this view of women as sexual objects and male accessories, sometimes called the demeaning term eye candy, is the exclusive prerogative of men.


The hypocrisy in this, the obscene double standard, is that Trump behaved badly, interrupting Clinton repeatedly – in the first 26 minutes of the debate, Trump interrupted Hillary 25 times, per Vox.


Huff Po referred to this an manterupting:


Manterrupting, defined by journalist and author Feminist Fight Club Jessica Bennett as “unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man,” is a phenomenon that many professional women are (unfortunately) familiar with.
A 2014 study found that women are significantly more likely to be interrupted than men are, and research has shown that when women do speak up, their words are given less weight and treated as less valid than men’s. This phenomenon is especially problematic in fields ― like politics ― which are dominated by men’s voices just by virtue of the numbers.
Women who want to circumvent these professional obstacles have to learn to play the game, and part of that game means dealing with the frustrating habits of one’s male colleagues ― or in the case of a presidential race, one’s political opponents. As Clinton well knows, in order to avoid having her words dismissed, she has to modulate the way she presents her ideas in a way that male candidates simply don’t.
To Clinton’s credit, she appeared unperturbed by Trump’s attempts to verbally bulldoze over her. Each and every time, she kept speaking, often with a sly smile. Because as any professional woman knows, the best way to shut down a manterrupter is to simply refuse to acknowledge him.

Although to be fair, Trump also talked over the moderator, and Hillary Clinton in the second half of the debate did interrupt Trump a few times as well, 17 times in total to Trump interrupting her 51 times. I hope this was not a drinking game exercise for the good folks over at Vox.


Counting the interruptions of both candidates by moderator Lester Holt, Clinton was interrupted a total of 70 times, and Trump was interrupted 47 times.
Some of Trump’s interruptions of Clinton featured outright lies, like insisting that he never said climate change was a Chinese conspiracy, or denying that he ever said some of the offensive things about women that Clinton called him out on saying.
Some of his interruptions were petulant asides; at one point he even threw in a one-word, schoolboy-like “Not.”

Other interruptions turned into loud, insistent filibusters, with Trump barreling over Clinton until she finally smiled and relented to let him keep talking — or until Holt interjected to insist that Trump give Clinton her allotted two minutes to talk.

If anything renders someone “unpresidential” it would be this Trump failure to control his mouth and his toxic attitudes of special privilege or entitlement towards others.


New developments on Minnesota sulfide mining

by Dan Burns on September 14, 2016 · 0 comments

Tailings Pond Breach 20140805Twin Metals is going to court to try to get old mineral leases renewed.

Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness issued this statement in response:
“We’re deeply disappointed that Twin Metals is suing to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from conducting a diligent and comprehensive review of their mineral lease application.
Over 65,000 public comments were submitted this summer opposing renewal of these leases near the Boundary Waters. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service have heard from thousands of people that sulfide mining on the edge of the wilderness is an unacceptable risk. Twin Metals’ lawsuit seeks to silence them…

(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

The Duluth City Council shot down proposed PolyMet hearings.

Backers of the proposal argued that a contested case hearing — as this process is also known — would add something new to the regulatory process. J.T. Haines of Duluth said such a hearing would weigh competing claims of whether PolyMet can mine safely.
“Unlike public meetings … where much of the time people simply state their opinion without scrutiny, a contested case hearing would provide a more rigorous forum, including subjecting testimony to cross-examination, a key distinction,” Haines said. “That’s something both sides should welcome.”
But after lengthy debate, the City Council voted against the resolution. Councilor Barb Russ said it was the job of the Minnesota DNR to decide whether evidentary hearings on PolyMet are needed.

You have your good days and your not-so-good ones. The saga is ongoing.


Enbridge punts on Sandpiper pipeline

by Dan Burns on September 2, 2016 · 0 comments

spillHere’s what I’ve blogged about this thing over the years. I don’t flatter myself that that specifically had anything whatsoever to do with yesterday’s decision. But righteous public pressure in general certainly did.

Enbridge Energy Partners has essentially pulled the plug on the controversial Sandpiper pipeline in northern Minnesota, just a few weeks after announcing it’s buying a stake in a different pipeline that doesn’t cross the state.
Calgary-based Enbridge is withdrawing its state application for the $2.6 billion Sandpiper. It’s asking for an end to regulatory proceedings, including work on an environmental-impact statement, according to documents filed Thursday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The Sandpiper pipeline would run from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields through Minnesota — including pristine lake country — to a terminal in Superior, Wis. The project has drawn fire from environmentalists and American Indian tribes and has been mired in the state’s regulatory process for 2 ½ years.
(Star Tribune)

If you read the article you’ll see that this does not mean an end to proposals for, or construction of, oil pipelines through Minnesota in general.


Citizen activism on PolyMet sulfide mining

by Dan Burns on August 25, 2016 · 0 comments

sulfideThis is a very good idea.

A group of Duluth citizens is asking for evidence-based hearings before state regulators decide whether to approve the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.
The so-called “contested case hearing” would take place before an administrative law judge with evidence, testimony and cross-examination.
The judge would then issue a recommendation to the Department of Natural Resources, before the DNR commissioner decides whether to grant PolyMet its Permit to Mine.
“As Duluthians we have significant concerns about the PolyMet proposal and its likely impacts on our watershed,” said Duluth resident John Dobertstein, “And believe the DNR and citizens of this state should hear all evidence before making a decision.”

The article goes on to note that PolyMet has begun applying for permits. The most likely scenario at this time seems to be that they will get those and then sit on things until there is evidence of a sustained recovery in copper and nickel prices. Which are still down, down, down.