benchpolymet

Tourney15 in the Books; BenchPolyMet 2016?

Last night of outdoor puck on the Range, 2015.  Photo credit JT Haines

Franklin Rink in Eveleth. Last night of outdoor puck, 2015. Photo credit JT Haines

By JT Haines — March 8, 2015

Another Minnesota State Boys’ HS Hockey tournament is in the books, and as usual, it was a doozy. Congrats to repeat Class A Champs East Grand Forks, and to first-time Class AA Champs and undefeated Lakeville North. What an amazing run! As always, I really enjoyed watching, and as it turns out, doing so from garages and hotel rooms in between Iron Range pond hockey photo shoots ain’t a half bad way to take in the world’s greatest sporting event.*

PolyMet VP of Corporate Communications Bruce Richardson being "interviewed" by Tom Hauser between periods.

PolyMet VP of Corporate Communications Bruce Richardson being “interviewed” by Tom Hauser between periods.

A quick thanks to all who followed Newspeak Review and the #BenchPolyMet hashtag during this year’s tournament. PolyMet’s ads were just as gross and prevalent as ever — with an extra bonus this year of an “interview” by Tom Hauser of PolyMet VP Bruce Richardson in between periods of Friday’s Edina vs Duluth East thriller. Money talks, eh?

Some pretty cynical stuff, if you ask me, but the counter-narrative is alive. I appreciate all those who found their own way to say “NO” to PolyMet’s exploitative deluge during this year’s otherwise fantastic tournament. Let’s hope suffering through something similar next year becomes unnecessary for all the right reasons.

Last word goes out to John Doberstein of Duluth, with perhaps my favorite social media share of the weekend:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 6.51.25 PM

Indeed.

* For those with any doubt about the greatness of this tournament, check out this year’s “All Hockey Hair team”:

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PolyMet’s Hockey Tournament TV Ad

By JT Haines, March 4, 2015

Admittedly PolyMet is getting a lot of free airtime from Newspeak Review today, but for your easy reference (by way of KSTC45 and a camera phone), here is PolyMet’s TV ad which is playing during the Minnesota State High School Hockey tournament:

Transcript:

What does it take to play on a tournament team?
The same kind of commitment it takes to open Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine,
And protect what we all treasure: our woods water and wildlife.
Congratulations to all the tournament teams, from PolyMet Mining.

PolyMet’s motivation with this type of messaging during the state tournament is exceedingly clear, and objectionable given that it is currently in the process of seeking controversial mining permits in Minnesota.

For comparison, here is miningtruth.org‘s summary of the PolyMet proposal, one of the numerous organizations in Minnesota raising important facts and questions about this company and this type of mining:

PolyMet Mining Corporation has proposed a sulfide mine called the “NorthMet Project” between Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. This project proposes to develop an open-pit mine to extract copper, nickel and other metals.

PolyMet is a junior mining company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. The company has never operated a mine before, and is backed financially by the Swiss company Glencore. Glencore has a significant financial stake in the company, and has an exclusive agreement to sell the mine’s metals on the global commodities market.

While PolyMet doesn’t have a track record to consider, Glencore does. The company was founded by Marc Rich, the financier embroiled in scandal and pardoned by President Bill Clinton. The company has been implicated in environmental disasters, labor violations, and human rights abuses around the world.

The Chairman of the Glencore board of directors is former BP CEO Tony Hayward, the man who was in charge when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused the largest oil spill in history in the Gulf of Mexico. He was made infamous for saying how he would “like his life back” while the water was being polluted and whole communities were being devastated by the spill.

In December 2013, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) published the “Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement” for PolyMet’s proposed mine. This mine plan lays out exactly what PolyMet is proposing. The public submitted over 52,000 public comments on this document, 98% of which opposed the mine as proposed.

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“Mining the Energy of the MN Boys’ State Hockey Tourney”: A Message from PolyMet

By JT Haines — March 4, 2015

As readers of this site know, I have taken issue with PolyMet’s advertising at the Minnesota State HS Hockey tournaments, and have been promoting the hashtag #BenchPolyMet for use on social media during the tournaments for further public discourse on the matter. Traffic on Newspeak Review has reached record levels each day I have posted about this. (For earlier posts, including a sharable #BenchPolyMet image, click here and here.)

Well, we need not speculate any further about PolyMet’s own thoughts about their ad campaign at the state tournament. Minutes ago, PolyMet delivered this message concerning its involvement — with the fairly remarkable title “Mining the Energy of the MN Boys’ State Hockey Tourney” — reprinted here in full (emphasis mine):

From: PolyMet Mining [mailto:info@polymetmining.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2015 11:42 AM
To: [Redacted]
Subject: Mining the Energy of MN Boys’ State Hockey Tourney

polymet

It’s tournament time!

Like many of you, we’re eager for Minnesota Boys’ State High School Hockey Tournament action this week.

We’re proud to be a major supporter of the Minnesota State High School League State Tournaments, allowing statewide live broadcasts and online streaming of tournament games. Follow those live streams here.

We’re also looking forward to the Environmental Impact Statement for the PolyMet Project being completed, with permitting to follow this year. We’d enjoy your support, too.

Follow us on social media. @GoPolyMet #PolyMet

At the games? Visit us at the PolyMet Mining booth on the concourse. We’ll have more information on the project and other materials on hand, and some giveaways too—all while we celebrate this season of hard work, long hours and possibly a few good puck bounces.

There you have it. PolyMet would like to mine your energy, would enjoy your support, and would like you to associate PolyMet and the upcoming EIS completion with our fair state hockey tournament. Public lobbying concerning their controversial mine proposal will be taking place right there in the concourse at the games for your convenience, to complement the friendly voice you will hear from time to time in the arena and on TV with messages about how much PolyMet cares about you and your community.

Responses to this propaganda campaign — particularly in light of the key moment we’re in for regulatory review — are certainly in order, whether directed to the league, the company, or elected officials, and I hope some take a little time to make sure their positions about this are heard. In the meantime, enjoy some great hockey this weekend folks, and remember to use the hashtag #BenchPolyMet.

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#BenchPolyMet Round Two: Boys’ Tourney Starts Tomorrow!

#BenchPolyMet, share freely

#BenchPolyMet, please download and use freely

By JT Haines — March 3, 2015

Good people of Minnesota and beyond! The Minnesota State Boys’ High School Hockey Tournament starts tomorrow — happy, happy, happy day. Except for one thing — PolyMet Mining Corp will once again be plastering advertisements all over our tournament, at the arena and on TV. That’s not okay. (For more details as to why, check out my original post launching the #BenchPolyMet hashtag here.)

A friend asked me recently — What’s the big deal? Isn’t this the same as any other company advertising?

This unsuspecting goal scorer has an unpaid sponsorship from a controversial international mining company!

This unsuspecting goal scorer has an unpaid sponsorship from a controversial international mining company!

Indeed, just how is this different from McDonald’s advertising during the state tournament? Great question, friend. To be fair, this is a actually a little bit like the Amazon-deforesting purveyors of childhood obesity at McDonald’s pretending they have kids’ health in mind during a kids’ hockey tournament. We shouldn’t allow that either. But there’s yet an additional problem here: PolyMet is currently seeking controversial mining permits in Minnesota, a process involving no fewer than six state and federal agencies, the next EIS for which is evidently expected this spring. In other words, PolyMet’s ad dollars and fabricated images are being tossed around right during this crucial democratic moment for Minnesota. Think that doesn’t have an impact? Clearly PolyMet’s Mad Men don’t agree. Meanwhile, proponents of the project keep insisting that we “let the process work.” Is public bribery and tournament propaganda “letting the process work”? PolyMet is a dangerous company. What they’re doing here is wrong, and it’s just subtle enough to fly under many people’s radar. I think it’s very much worth our attention, and based on the Newspeak Review and #BenchPolyMet traffic during the girls tournament, it looks like I’m not alone. Hoping to see an even greater response from the community during the boys’ tourney.

If you’re into it, here are some options:

  • Use the #BenchPolyMet image (above) for your cover photo on Twitter and Facebook during the tourney.
  • Tweet and post using the #BenchPolyMet.
  • Tweet @MSHSL if you have a message for the league (which ultimately has a lot do with sponsors).
  • Tweet @KSTC45 if you have a message for the TV station carrying the ads.
  • If you’re feeling saucy, tweet @GoPolyMet if you have a message for the permit seeker.
  • If you’re really feeling saucy, how cool would it be to see a #BenchPolyMet sign at the games?

If you agree that PolyMet’s behavior at the tournament is abhorrent, help call foul on this blatant insult to our intelligence and affront to our democracy. (Heads up, I will be up North taking photos for our pondhockeybook.com photo project on the Range this weekend, so won’t be as available to snag photos and create shareable images, but I will be checking for Retweet opportunities.) Feel free to tag @NewpeakReview, @JTH2020, and please use the hashtag #BenchPolyMet. And, best of luck to all the tournament teams this weekend. PolyMet or no, this is a proud proud annual moment for our state, and one that I feel very lucky to be a part of. Happy hockey watching!

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It’s time to #BenchPolymet at the @MSHSL Hockey Tourneys

Tourney 2014 KSTC 45. Big day for this high schooler, getting interviewed on TV by Tom Hauser! Unbeknownst to him, he has a non-paying endorsement deal with a corporate mining company.

Big day for this high schooler, getting interviewed on TV by Tom Hauser! Unbeknownst to him, he has a non-paying endorsement deal with a corporate mining company. (Tourney 2014, KSTC 45)

By JT Haines — February 18, 2015

It’s that time of year. Every year since forever, hockey teams from across Minnesota participate in the greatest tournament of all time: The Minnesota state high school hockey tourney. The 2015 girls’ tourney starts today and runs through Feb 21. The boys’ tourney dates are March 4-7. You can watch the action in person at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul (tickets here) or on TV on KSTC45. I can’t wait.

Also happening right now in Minnesota is agency review of perhaps the most controversial permit application in the history of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As readers of this site well know, a Canadian corporation called PolyMet (owned substantially by an even larger foreign corporation called Glencore) is in a multi-year permit application process seeking to conduct nonferrous (sulfide) mining in Northern Minnesota.

Trouble is, this would be a new type of mining in Minnesota, more dangerous than taconite/ferrous mining we are more used to. Briefly, instead of producing rust when exposed to air and water like iron ore, sulfide ores produce acid, creating all sorts of habitat risks like the leeching of heavy metals such as mercury into watersheds. Levels of attention to this issue during agency review may be unprecedented. Public comments last winter numbered 58,000, smashing the previous record by a factor of ten. This is a major public moment for Minnesota. (Here is DNR info. See gopolymet.com for the project’s corporate narrative, and miningtruth.org for responses.)

How does this relate to high school hockey, you ask? Well, frankly, that’s a helluva good question. I have the same question for PolyMet.

You see, for at least the past two boys’ tournaments (2013 and 2014), PolyMet has used our public tournament for its own propaganda, placing ads everywhere. Here are two more pictures from last year:

Scoreboard at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Scoreboard at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Boards at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Boards at the X, 2014 State HS Tourney

Wherever you stand on the underlying issue — misappropriating an unsuspecting high school kid’s big day, while the controversial public decision is pending, is simply unethical. Leave these kids alone, and let’m play.

As for the 2015 tourneys, I’m not aware of PolyMet’s plans (they don’t generally consult me), but this banner on http://www.prep45.com from today suggests we can expect more of the same:

PolyMet Banner Ad on KSTC Prep45 Tournament Info page from Feb 18, 2015

PolyMet Banner Ad on KSTC Prep45 Tournament Info page from Feb 18, 2015

So. When we see ads again at our public tournaments, whether the boys’ hockey tournament, girls’ hockey tournament, or other (I noticed them at football this year too), I say it’s time for a response. Let’s #BenchPolyMet.

I invite you to join in:

  • Tweeting and posting on social media using the hashtag #BenchPolyMet. Tag @MSHSL and @KSTC45 for maximum effect. Tag @newspeakreview for retweets.
  • Make a #BenchPolyMet sign. Display it at the tourney — (mega bonus points if you can get it on TV!)

Most of us who care about the integrity of our democracy and public decision making processes in Minnesota don’t have the big bucks that PolyMet does to spread our message, but we have our Minnesota voices. Let’s use ‘em. Attention to PolyMet’s corporate propaganda at the hockey tourneys is growing, and several organizations have already indicated interest in the #BenchPolyMet social media campaign. It’s time to #BenchPolyMet, @MSHSL @KSTC45.

FAQ:

What’s the big deal? I promise you the ad agents for PolyMet think it’s a big deal – why else are they there. The goal of their ads, of course, is to steadily place soft images of PolyMet as a friendly corporate citizen in our collective subconscious, hoping to weaken resolve and our focus on the danger they present to our environment and to their ultimate motive, which is profit. It’s insidious. Pretending to ignore it is not the right response.

Is #BenchPolymet political? Yes. You’re dern right it is – just as PolyMet’s ads are. PolyMet proponents and industry reps are constantly instructing the public to “let the process work” in response to the voicing of legit concerns. Yet, at this key moment of review, PolyMet exploits our tournaments for their ads, seeking to impact our political process. It’s not appropriate.

#BenchPolyMet @MSHSL @KSTC45