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PolyMet/copper mining plan opens for public comment

Mankato leads in personal-income growth; WCCO Radio’s Steve Murphy retiring; MSU Moorhead merging departments; impound lots filling up; and more.

Ready, set … comment. At the Strib, Josephine Marcotty says: “The state today will reveal its best forecast of how a copper mine proposed for northeastern Minnesota would affect the air, water and lives of the people who live in the region, the result of millions of dollars and five years of review. And now, the public gets it say. The release of the environmental impact statement on PolyMet Mining Corporation’s proposed open pit mine near Hoyt Lakes — what would be the state’s first copper mine — launches what is expected to be a 45- to 90-day public comment period on the project. … PolyMet, which promises a $650 million investment expected to generate 300 to 360 jobs over 20 years, is just the first of many mining companies lining up to tap into one of the largest undeveloped copper and precious metal deposits in the world. It promises a new era of mining the region, replacing some of the thousands of jobs that have been lost in the taconite industry.”

In the Duluth News Tribune, John Myers says: “At some point in 2014 the agencies will make a decision on whether the environmental review is ‘adequate’ or not — whether it has covered all potential environmental impacts. If so, the company then will move into the permitting stage, seeking about a dozen different permits for state and federal agencies to start mining, drain wetlands and other actions. PolyMet hopes to get those permits late in 2014, then quickly secure loans from banks to start construction. The Toronto-based company hopes to begin mining in 2016. The project would at first employ about 300 people but at some point could add another 60 jobs if a hydrometallurgical processing plant is built in later years.”

For Al Jazeera Amerca, Jeff Severns Guntzel says: “Minnesotans are sitting on one of the largest copper-nickel deposits in the world. Mining companies have known this since the 1940s. They’ve been exploring and buying up mineral rights ever since. The fruit of their labors? So far, nothing. Instead, mining companies and their opponents have been engaged for more than six decades in a staring contest that continues today as executives of the Canadian mining company PolyMet watch from their St. Paul office suite, trying not to blink. PolyMet is closer than any such operation has ever been to mining copper and nickel in the state. … the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in October that the PolyMet project, even in its revised form, ‘would generate water pollution for up to 500 years.’ It’s a staggering number, but it’s not quite right. A copy of the document, obtained by Al Jazeera America in November, declares that treatment at the mine site after mining operations have ceased could be required not ‘up to’ but rather ‘for a minimum of’ 500 years.”

Want to feel flush? Move to Mankato. Tim Krohn of the Free Press writes: “Personal income grew faster in the Mankato region than in any other metropolitan area in the state. From 2010 to 2012, per-capita personal income grew 13 percent in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, a growth of $4,639 per person. The St. Cloud area saw an 11 percent increase, Rochester a 6.6 percent increase, Duluth a 9 percent increase and the Twin Cities a 9 percent increase in the same period.”

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The GleanWCCO Radio’s Steve Murphy is hanging it up. WCCO’s Adam Carter writes: “Steve Murphy says he’s looking forward to staying up past 7:30 p.m. As morning anchor and managing editor for WCCO Radio, Murphy’s day begins long before the sun comes up. He arrives to work at 3 a.m., preparing the morning’s news for WCCO Radio listeners. But that comes to an end with 2013. Murphy has informed WCCO Radio management that he will retire at the end of the year. … As the longest tenured newsperson at WCCO Radio, Murphy has seen a lot, and accomplished even more. In 1984, he received a George Foster Peabody Award for his report on organ donation.” It was a good run, Steve.

The obvious answer to a college’s budget problems? Less of that pesky academic stuff. The AP reports: “Administrators at Minnesota State University Moorhead on Thursday outlined plans to eliminate majors, merge several departments and lay off six faculty members to help solve a $4.9 million budget deficit. Administrators detailed the cuts in a meeting with the Faculty Association. The plan is projected to save $2 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $919,000 in fiscal year 2016. The plan calls for a reduction of 16 temporary faculty positions and six layoffs of tenured or tenure-track faculty in the community health, elementary and early childhood education, English, history, theater arts and special education graduate programs. Five majors with relatively few students would be eliminated — American multicultural studies, medical laboratory technician, master of fine arts in creative writing, music composition and community health.” Do they still offer a major in Wal-Mart greeting?

This kind of weather is a sweet, sweet time for impound revenue … Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “Minneapolis appears to be nearing the usual number of vehicles towed for violating snow emergency rules, this despite intense communications campaigns by both cities. Since the Minneapolis emergency was declared Wednesday evening, which requires vehicles to be moved from streets that needed plowing, there have been 949 vehicles towed so far, the city reported Friday morning. ‘This seems fairly typical,’ a city spokesman said of the towing pace in Minneapolis, where the current snow emergency remains in effect until 8 p.m. Friday. St. Paul is reporting a more encouraging tally, with a below-pace 643 tows as of late Friday morning. Towings in each city range from 1,200 to 1,500 during a typical snow emergency. With each one comes a stinging fine and towing fee.”

Poet/author Olivia Cole gets into the Shannon Gibney controversy with a piece on The Huffington Post.  Directed at the white students who complained about the professor, Cole writes: “American education has long been under fire by people who use their brains over the continued teaching that Christopher Columbus was a great dude and a hero and someone we should all celebrate year after year. … I imagine college courses might have been a bit of a shock for you, with discussions that maybe didn’t valorize violent colonization and actually shone a light on the perspective of people who weren’t white. Is this where things started to get uncomfortable for you? I imagine the first lecture on America’s legacy of brutality and oppression left you in shock. Maybe you thought that particular professor was just a wayward nut job. But then another class discussed institutional racism, and another. And you began to squirm in your seat because whoa this wasn’t just one time where your whiteness … is being criticized, not just once by one random professor who your privilege enables you to ignore, but more than once.”

I know, it’s like rolling a drunk … but can you take another update/shot at e-pulltabs? Doug Belden at the PiPress reports: “The new Minnesota Vikings stadium got a bump from charitable gaming tax revenues last year, it turns out, but it wasn’t much. State officials said Thursday that $89,000 in taxes from electronic and paper forms of charitable gaming flowed to the stadium account in fiscal year 2013. That’s 0.03 percent of the state’s $348 million stadium share. Revenue Department officials said they don’t know how much of the $89,000 was from electronic gaming and how much came from the paper forms. But paper is clearly the dominant format: Figures from the state Gambling Control Board show e-games were responsible for less than 2 percent of charitable gaming receipts in FY 2013.” Uh … wait a minute … where’s my calculator app? 2 percent of $89,000 is … $1,780? Someone please tell me I’m wrong.