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Sandpiper oil pipeline may face a ‘snail darter’ moment over bats

Plus: Mayo fights feds over proposed rules; background on Apple Valley murders/suicide; nurses mentor new moms in west-central Minnesota; and more.

Proposed Sandpiper pipeline project

The Sandpiper (cute little bird) pipeline may face a “snail darter” moment. John Enger at MPR says, “As the snail darter did decades ago, a species of bat in northern Minnesota may pose a major obstacle to a controversial construction project. … If the federal government were to declare the bat species endangered — which may happen soon — the pipeline project could be postponed or forced to adopt a different route. (In the snail darter case, a tiny threatened fish postponed a federal dam in Tennessee for years.) To head off that possibility, the company building the pipeline is conducting its own research and looking for ways to minimize the project’s effect on bats.” There must be an expert out there somewhere who will say that bats can tolerate hundreds of gallons of crude oil before facing extinction.

At the conservative site, Tom Steward bemoans the slog for the pipeline. “It has all the hallmarks of the Keystone XL pipeline controversy, except it’s in Minnesota  and the national media doesn’t seem to care. The proposed Sandpiper pipeline for newly found shale oil flows with promises of thousands of construction jobs and millions in tax revenue. But Sandpiper is up against vocal environmental opposition and regulators slow-walking the approval process. … Pipeline work, [Matt Duncombe, an East Grand Forks pipeline worker and union steward with Laborer’s Local 563] said … gave me purpose, it taught me discipline, it introduced me to brotherhood, and it has allowed me to provide for my family. I want to see other people get that same opportunity.”

Mayo is fighting the Feds. Jim Spencer of the Strib says, “Proposed federal rules to require new government approval of certain tests developed in medical schools and private business laboratories have drawn cries of protest from the Mayo Clinic. The proposed rules would for the first time make labs designing the tests prove their effectiveness to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Test developers also would have to formally report to the government problems that occur with the tests after they become available.”

Doing good work. Carolyn Lange of the Forum News Service tells us, “Comprised of 20 west-central Minnesota counties, [Supporting Hands Nurse-Family Partnership] brings together specially trained public health nurses with vulnerable, low-income, first-time mothers and their babies for about 60 voluntary home visits. The goal is to improve the health, education and economic self-sufficiency of mother and baby. … In Minnesota, the fast-growing program is offered in more than 40 counties. Nationwide, it’s provided in 43 states.”

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Speaking of motherhood. Joe Mazan of KSTP-TV reports, “This month, the Minnesota Birth Center in Minneapolis started offering laughing gas for pain relief during childbirth. Nitrous oxide has been used around the world for labor pain, but is relatively new to the U.S. and certainly to Minnesota. The Minnesota Birth Center says the woman controls how much laughing gas she receives making it a safe pain relief.” Mom used to say she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she first set eyes on me.

Good background on that Apple Valley triple murder-suicide from Bob Shaw at the PiPress. “According to David Crowley’s LinkedIn profile, he served in the U.S. Army. ‘After five years I had had enough, and left to pursue filmmaking,’ the profile says. Crowley, who attended the Minnesota School of Business, wrote and directed a movie, ‘Gray State.’ The trailer for the film shows FEMA agents spying on and killing hundreds of Americans. The tagline for the film is ‘The Second American Revolution may not be remembered.’ YouTube videos show him promoting the film at several events, including at a Ron Paul rally in Florida in 2012. … [Twin Cities director and filmmaker Paul] Von Stoetzel said people liked and respected Crowley and his business partner, Mitch Heil, who ran a video production company with David Crowley and also co-owned with Crowley the Bullet Exchange, a company that trained actors to use weapons and military and police gear in film.’ “

There’s a “stopped clock” and City Hall joke in here somewhere. Says Stribber Paul Walsh, “The historic clock atop City Hall stopped shortly after 6:30 a.m. Monday to allow crew members to get inside the tower and clamber outside to gussy up the late 19th-century landmark downtown. The hands on the four-sided clock should be moving again come Friday. The four faces rival London’s Big Ben in diameter at more than 23 feet. Along with time standing still these many days, the clock’s bells that chime throughout the week are silenced, and its lights are turned off.”

For DL-Online, Jessica Sly reports, “It was just a routine walk. Taryn Flolid and her husband, Chuck, took one every day on the west side of Lake Ida. But on one of their walks last summer, a discovery disrupted their routine. Flolid noticed a strange object peeking out of the dirt. An oblong gray rock lay buried up to its flat surface, a curved notch visible in its side. … Flolid took it home and cleaned it up. Crystalline edges sparkled in the scooped cavity where someone might have once tied a rope or attached a branch. It was a Native American axe head.”

Kind of a return engagement.  The AP says, “A Minnesota woman who was highlighted last summer by President Barack Obama is getting another turn in the spotlight. The White House announced Monday that Rebekah Erler is among 22 invited guests who will sit with first lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The St. Anthony woman had one-on-one time with the president in June when he shared her story during a Minnesota visit used to focus on struggles of the middle class.” 

My apologies for not linking to this one earlier. City Pages’ Cory Zurowski applies friction to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s on-going fight against that medical device tax. “Brigit Helgen, communications director for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, wasn’t jazzed about a story from earlier this week, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken Are Paid Well to Shill for the Medical Industry, which intimated the Minnesota Democrat was pimping for corporate interests who’d flooded her campaign coffers. … Helgen also supplied a 2011 story, which reported that medical device maker Stryker Corp. had plans to nix 1,000 jobs, largely to offset costs ‘related to the scheduled implementation of the new Medical Device Excise Tax in 2013.’ But by the end of 2013, the company reported a 4.2 percent uptick in annual net sales to $9 billion. Stryker’s fourth quarter profit margin was a stunning 65.5 percent.”