Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Groups file suit to stop increase in crude oil transported through Minnesota

Plus: Hubbard may face protesters at Augsburg event; UnitedHealth announces executive shake-up; Minnesota’s deer-hunt numbers are down; and more.

The GOP believes Keystone XL and other pipelines have a better shot after the election. There are a few who beg to differElizabeth Dunbar at MPR writes, “Environmental advocates are challenging a workaround by Enbridge Energy to transport additional Canadian crude oil into the United States while waiting for a federal permit. The Sierra Club, the White Earth Nation and several other groups filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. State Department. The suit alleges that the department approved an Enbridge plan to construct and operate a crude oil pipeline that crosses the U.S.-Canada border without first reviewing the environmental impacts of the project as required by federal law. Such a review would include an assessment of whether the project would increase greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.” Uh, I think I know the answer to that one. Also, there was this from the AP. (Here is MinnPost’s take.)

The latest on #pointergate? Stanley Hubbard may get picketed. Says Molly Bloom at MPR, “The chairman of Hubbard Broadcasting, the company that owns KSTP, is speaking this week at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and plans for a protest are already underway. As chairman, Stanley Hubbard oversees local radio and television stations across the country, including KSTP. Augsburg’s Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, a chapter of a nationwide community organizing group, are organizing a #pointergate rally to take place before Hubbard’s speech on Thursday. The group is also encouraging people to reserve tickets for the speech itself.”

Speaking of executives, you gotta know there’s some juicy high-level politics in the story behind the “restructuring” at UnitedHealth. Say Christopher Snowbeck and Joe Carlson in the Strib, “The managed care giant said Executive Vice President Gail Boudreaux, 54, will leave effective Feb. 27. Other changes include the promotions of three other executives and the creation of a five-member Office of the Chief Executive that will manage the company over the next five years. Boudreaux, who has been with the company since 2008 and heads UnitedHealth’s insurance division, is due a severance of up to $23 million as part of the change, according to securities filings and company statements.” 

The winners get to gloat. In the conservative Weekly Standard Barry Casselman, who knows Minnesota, writes about comedian Bill Maher’s failed attempt to oust Rep. John Kline. “Kline’s reelection was not in any doubt, but TV comedian Bill Maher thought he could intervene in the election and defeat him. It was a pathetic and uninformed effort (Maher didn’t even know who Kline’s Democratic opponent was). Kline reacted accordingly, raising campaign funds from Maher’s hapless folly and publicizing the comedian’s intrusion into the race. Kline won in a 17-point landslide, and I don’t doubt that Maher’s efforts actually increased his margin of victory. Along with former U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Kline is one of the most respected and well-liked political figures in the state.”

Article continues after advertisement

The GleanKevin Smith staying on at the Minnesota Orchestra is kind of a big deal. The New York Times’s Allan Kozinn writes, “Mr. Smith was elected to the position by a unanimous vote of the board, in effect confirming him in the role in which he has been acting in an interim capacity since Sept. 1, … Mr. Smith, 63, joined the orchestra’s management in July. He was president and chief executive of the Minnesota Opera for 25 years before he retired from that company in 2011. Osmo Vanska, the orchestra’s music director, said in a statement: I have been very impressed by Kevin’s ability to listen and to bring people together, qualities which make him the right leader to guide the organization.’”

In the Strib, Graydon Royce says, “Smith quickly won the trust of all constituencies at the orchestra when he arrived in August. Significantly, Dianne Brennan also was hired as head of development, bringing with her 15 years of experience and contacts as the Guthrie Theater’s chief fundraiser. The organization announced in August the receipt of $13 million in donations that were targeted for endowment.”

The deer have been keeping their heads down. The St. Cloud Times story says, “Minnesota hunters registered 54,000 deer during the first three days of the gun-deer season — down 30,000 compared with the same period in 2013, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday.” Their best friend is the lousy weather.

For all the cynical noise raised during the Ebola freak-out there has been a heartening response. Dan Browning and Jeremy Olson of the Strib report, “The American Refugee Committee, based in Minneapolis, was already in talks with U.S. government officials this fall about providing medical aid in Liberia when it contacted local Liberian leaders and discovered there were already 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals eager to volunteer. When the charity started posting jobs and volunteer positions on its website for the treatment center, it received 400 applications in the first two days. ‘People will amaze you at their willingness to go into the most difficult situations,’ said Daniel Wordsworth, president and chief executive of the American Refugee Committee, or ARC, on Wednesday.”

Also positive news: John Enger of MPR reports, “Pregnant women in northern Minnesota who are addicted to drugs or alcohol will get more medical support, thanks to a $1.6 million grant announced Wednesday at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. The grant will pay for a collaborative drug education and screening program for at-risk mothers in Beltrami County and the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Jim Przybilla, CEO of PrimeWest Health, the health plan provider funding the grant, said substance abuse among expectant mothers is a particular problem in and around Beltrami County.”