minnesota

Thoughts on the 2018 DFL Primary

August 13, 2018, By JT Haines

It’s finally primary day tomorrow. Here’s who I’m voting for, and a few reasons why.

1. ** Erin Murphy for Governor **. She’s the best candidate in the race. She’s positive and charismatic and energizing a diverse coalition. If you’ve met her, you probably like her. She and her team were stellar at the DFL convention (and smart and respectful). She has prioritized Greater Minnesota, and any suggestions otherwise are a smear. Erin Maye Quade on the ticket is a strength and I celebrate the choice. She is the obvious choice on single payer health care, and has the support of the nurses (when in doubt, stick with the nurses). I haven’t been able to promote formal endorsement of Murphy in Duluth because she’s not publicly there on Glencore/PolyMet, but I will be voting for her as the best candidate, and count on her promise at the convention to work with us on that absolutely fundamental issue. https://murphyformn.com/

Honorable mention to Peggy Flanagan. Her running mate has some serious work to do if he’s to mobilize progressive voters in this area. He has rested on advice from Rick Nolan, and that has not served him well. If he prevails tomorrow, we hope to see better from him. The Swanson/Nolan ticket, meanwhile, is just historically awful and cynical, on all the levels. If those two come through tomorrow with Golden Retriever ads, we are going to be in a seriously bad way this Fall. C’mon Dems.

2. ** Michelle Lee for Congress -MN **. This is the easiest race for me up here in Minnesota’s 8th. Not only is Michelle Lee best on the issues, she also gives Democrats the best and maybe only chance to win in November. She draws the right contrast with Stauber (who will be strong), unlike the glossy Super PAC veneer of her primary opponent. Michelle has done the most work to build bridges and relationships around the entire district, and can help forge a better path forward. She has name recognition and people like her. Just this morning, the front desk attendant at my local USPS beamed at the sight of my Lee sticker. People LIKE her. She has evolved as a campaigner, she stands for the right things, and the 8th will be a better, more local, more Minnesotan, and more positive place this Fall if she’s our candidate. Lee is Duluth for Clean Water endorsed. https://www.michellelee.org/ 

3. ** Richard Painter **, US Senate. Richard is principled, bold, and he has the ability and willingness to fight. His (appointed) opponent refuses to debate, is corporate-backed and corporate-tied, and has subverted downstream issues and demoralized progressive voters. Richard draws the best contrast with the Republican. He will be our best advocate in the Senate. He’s solid on the issues, including on single payer health care, and calling out the real reasons we don’t have it yet. His former party affiliation does not (overly) concern me, especially in light of his opponent’s corporate backing. The Party Boss’s smear that Painter previously gave 14 grand to the GOP is, frankly, sad, and won’t play well in the long term. Elizabeth Warren was a Republican, and they’re both consistent on the issues. Painter says a woman’s body and whom one chooses to love is none of the government’s business and I believe him. He knows more about the Supreme Court and what it will take to neutralize it than the rest of us combined. His quarter million bucks is an asset in the context of his opponent’s six million — I just refuse to believe that MN Dems cannot overcome “coffee and donut” ads. Larry Jacobs, no radical himself, called this race a tossup on CBS in the Twin Cities yesterday. It’s time for a new course, not the old course. Painter is Duluth for Clean Water endorsed. https://www.painterminnesota.com/ 

4. ** Matt Pelikan for Attorney General.** Keith Ellison has been an amazing congressperson and boldly supportive on all the issues I care about. There’s no way to summarize my feeling’s about Keith’s choice to enter this race, his dancing on core enviro issues, his endorsements, and now the extremely disturbing allegations against him in a few words. So instead I will just say, Matt Pelikan was amazing at the DFL convention, is excellent on the issues, is positive and even funny. He was willing to do the dirty and necessary work of challenging Lori S. when no one else was, and earned an endorsement. I think he’d be a really refreshing change in the AG office, and have no doubt that even with his somewhat limited experience he would be a dramatic upgrade. I’m going to vote for him. I hope that if the allegations are true, Keith withdraws. https://mattpelikan.com/

There you have it. Happy voting, good people.

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Twin Ports Banker Weighs in on USFS Lease Renewal Question

By JT Haines — July 31, 2016

Brian Waldoch is a banker in the Twin Ports area of Minnesota and Wisconsin. He recently attended the US Forest Service listening session in Duluth on July 13, on the question of whether or not the USFS should renew federal mineral leases currently held by Twin Metals. (Twin Metals Minnesota LLC is a wholly owned operating subsidiary of the Chilean company Antofagasta PLC, “one of the top 10 copper producers in the world.” The leases concern land in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, and would be required for a proposed copper/sulfide mining project to move forward.)

After the session, Waldoch submitted his own comment to the USFS, published here with permission, edited for length.

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The famous economist Adam Smith said that we are all motivated by self interest.

I attended the public comment session held at the DECC in Duluth earlier this month and the arguments I heard boiled down to: 1.) The BWCA is a special place and we should do everything we can to protect it, and the region’s drinking water is at risk. 2.) The Range is struggling economically and we should support the people, families and their way of life. Both have merit, both are important. We could debate which one is more important until we are blue in the face but that isn’t what this is about.

This is about the likelihood of outcomes. On one end, there is the possibility that the mine returns economic stability to the Range for generations and the technologies used to develop the mine do not pollute the BWCA or Lake Superior. On the other, the mine brings jobs for one generation and does irreparable damage do the BWCA, ruining the ecosystem and polluting Lake Superior to the point that it is undrinkable. The likely outcome lies somewhere in between.

“The self interest is the same as for all companies: Profit.”

If you, like Adam Smith, believe that people and corporations are motivated by self interest, it is clear that it is more likely than not that the BWCA will end up damaged and Lake Superior polluted. We are very familiar with the interests of the people who live here. But what of the company?

At the session, I did not hear anyone representing Twin Metals that would speak about the self interest of the company. This is concerning to me because they have the most to gain from this proposal and completely control the outcome. I think it is safe to assume what their self interest is, it is the same as for all companies: Profit. Quick, painless profit. The flashiest presentation we’ve ever seen won’t change this basic reality.

What does this mean for us and the likelihood of outcomes?  What it means is that the company’s interest is to build a mine and strip it of all of its resources as fast as possible, and as cheaply as possible. That’s how their shareholders reward them. That is how they determine how successful the mine is. Sure they will boast that they did it environmentally “safe,” but really what they mean to say is “we complied with the law.” But the law doesn’t have billions of dollars studying the outcomes and does not know the true environmental impacts until it is too late.

“If there is a corner to be cut in the name of profit that sacrifices the environment, rest assured, it will be cut.”

What is perhaps the most alarming to me about this whole situation is that the Twin Metals’ self-interest is directly opposed to the miner’s self interest. The miners believe that this mine will bring economic stability for generations, when really the mine is motivated to keep it open for a short as possible. This just kicks the can down the road so that our children can have this debate 20 years from now. Twin Metals’ self interest is to pay as little as possible for a short as possible. The mine will only keep the BWCA and Lake Superior as clean and quiet as it legally has to. If there is a corner to be cut in the name of profit that sacrifices the environment, rest assured, it will be cut.

“We carry all the risk and little reward.”

All this boils down to this: if we approve this mine, we are placing our trust in a global corporation’s self interest to make the best decisions for our people and our environment. They have all reward and little risk. We carry all the risk and little reward.

All we need to do to validate Adam Smith’s assumptions is to look around the world in countries where there are fewer environmental laws — it is obvious, the mine companies’ self interest is alive and well and environmentally friendly and economically stable mines are not.

We only have one opportunity to not mess this up. Please make the right decision and do not renew the mineral leases.

Thank you,

Brian Waldoch

Brian Waldoch lives in Duluth with his spouse and works in Superior. He is an avid hunter, fisher, and camper, and a lifelong resident of the state. Reader note: Brian and I are friends; he attended the listening session at my invitation. The comment and decision to submit are his.

PolyMet Review Not Like Poker

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By JT Haines – December 6, 2015

I clicked the link in the above tweet this morning and took a look at Mining Minnesota’s stock comment to Governor Dayton with industry’s reasons why the Final EIS is “beyond adequate.” (Full text of the comment is below.) My purpose here is to simply offer a quick response to the first two of these “reasons,” which have been persisting in the discussion for years despite a lack of any real value.

MM’s Reason #1: “The Co-lead Agencies have spent 10 years evaluating potential project effects and alternatives.”

Yes, it has taken a long time. Simply put – having spent 10 years on something isn’t a reason to keep doing it. Really, the fact that the project has required 10 years to evaluate is no more a reason to move forward with it than it is a reason not to move forward with it. This isn’t poker, we’re not pot committed.

MM’s Reason #2:  “The Final EIS responds in detail to thousands of public comments and questions submitted during the review periods for the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft EIS.”

This is, again, simply a reiteration of the stage of the process we’re in — not a substantive point for or against anything. Comments have been submitted (a record number against, actually), and comments have been responded to –that’s the point of the process. So, again,”Lots of time has already been spent on this” is not a reason to DO anything. (By the way, remind me never to take investment advice from Mining Minnesota: “JT, you’ve lost so much money on this stock, obviously you must invest more.”)

Repeat them ad nauseum if you will, but these “the process is lengthy” arguments remain logically empty — they don’t actually mean anything other than this thing has already cost us all a lot of time and money.

At some point, if it still looks like a turkey…

Finally, @GoPolyMet’s tweet mentions bringing “hundreds of #jobs to the area,” so I’ll conclude with this: Spending millions of dollars adding 350 jobs — jobs beholden to a gigantic, foreign, anti-union mining conglomerate (Glencore XStrata) and a volatile international metals market — while in the midst of our own extremely challenging time where we’re losing far more than 350 existing mining jobs, would not on its face appear to be a sensible jobs program, if that’s what this is supposed to be. We can do better.

For the full text of the Final EIS and fact sheets, or to comment, visit DNR.
For Mining Minnesota’s full suggested comment to the Governor, click here. The text is also below.
For Mining Truth’s full suggested comment to the Governor (and response to the remainder of Mining Minnesota’s comment), click here.

 

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TELL THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES YOU SUPPORT THE FINAL EIS FOR POLYMET

Final EIS for PolyMet’s NorthMet Mine is beyond adequate
The Final EIS for PolyMet’s proposed mine concludes a thorough and independent review of the project’s potential environmental effects. After 10 years of study, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service have looked at the evidence and correctly found that the NorthMet Mine can comply with strict state and federal environmental standards.
The Final EIS for the NorthMet Mine is far beyond “adequate.” It takes a careful and comprehensive look at the project from every angle.
– The Co-lead Agencies have spent 10 years evaluating potential project effects and alternatives.
– The Final EIS responds in detail to thousands of public comments and questions submitted during the review periods for the Draft EIS and the Supplemental Draft EIS.
– The project’s water modeling—which was fully updated for the Final EIS—shows that PolyMet’s treatment and mitigation plans will prevent acid mine drainage and meet all water quality standards.
– After careful review, the Final EIS concludes that groundwater flows from the NorthMet project will not directly, indirectly, or cumulatively affect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park, and that any possible groundwater flow would be prevented.
– The Final EIS also specifically considered the project’s potential effects on air quality and water quality with respect to human health, and identified no adverse health risks.
– In short, the Final EIS meets all of the requirements of the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The time has come to move forward. The DNR should affirm the adequacy of the Final EIS so it can serve as the foundation for the state of Minnesota’s permitting process.

 

 

 

 

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:

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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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