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PolyMet mine proposal clears major hurdle

PolyMet Mining logo

PolyMet’s copper nickel mining plans are moving ahead. Says Ricardo Lopez in the Strib, “PolyMet Mining Corporation’s proposal for a copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota cleared one of its biggest hurdles Tuesday, with the release of a preliminary report that appears to lay a path for the controversial project. The report, a massive document tallying more than 3,000 pages, shows that with proper engineering controls, the open pit mine would not significantly affect water quality in the region or cumulatively affect endangered or threatened plant or animal species.”

You were expecting maybe Wally the Beer Man or Bob Lurtsema? Rochelle Olson of the Strib says of the new Super Bowl host committee: “[Maureen] Bausch said she needs a ‘bold team’ to showcase ‘Minnesota and the Bold North to the world.’ The hirings mark her first significant staffing moves since taking the job at the end of last year. David Haselman will be chief operating officer, the strategist behind all logistics from permits and police to traffic management. Wendy Williams Blackshaw was hired as senior vice president of marketing and sales. And Dana Nelson will be executive director of the 2018 Legacy Fund, a charitable fund that will have a lasting impact on the state.”

Ol’ Sooch thinks we should go easy on John C. Calhoun and this name-changing thing. In the PiPress, Joe Soucheray says, “ … Calhoun was a proponent of slavery, which probably did not distinguish him from very many of his contemporaries. But we have no evidence that Calhoun ever shot up a church or otherwise mistreated anybody given the norms of his day. Of course, it would be grand to look back at our history and find only the purest of hearts and intentions. But that introduces a litmus test of applying modern sensibilities to politicians who roamed the Earth 200 years ago. Never mind that changing the name of Lake Calhoun is tantamount to letting mass murderers decide the fate of the names of places and things. The self-appointed guardians of our virtue would not be satisfied to limit their challenges to things named for slaveholders.” And how do feel about Henry Sibley, Joe?

The City Administrator of Austin states what is now the obvious in a Strib commentary. Says Craig Clark: “ … while Gov. Mark Dayton made a decisive push for LGA in 2014 that provided relief for the deferred needs of many rural communities, we continue to be below the program’s 2002 non-inflationary authorized levels. Local government aid recognizes the difficulties that low-tax-base cities have providing resources for core services and it continues to prove its effectiveness every day that LGA works. Imagine Austin needing to increase taxes 284 percent to replace its partnership with the state. While we still have challenges, the LGA program ensures that all Minnesota communities have a similar ability to provide basic services.”

Another water-related issue.  Stribber Doug Smith says, “This spring, the Department of Natural Resources collected 582 million walleye eggs that produced about 411 million mosquito-size walleye fry. Nearly 300 million were dumped into 272 lakes; the rest went into DNR rearing ponds, where they will grow to 4- to 6-inch fingerlings before they are stocked into other lakes this fall.” Do we have to throw them all back?

Like, you can wear it, man. The AP says, “A once-banished crop could soon sprout legally again in select Minnesota farm fields: hemp plants that lead to oils, lotions, seeds, rope fibers and other industrial uses. Minnesota lawmakers approved the ‘Industrial Hemp Development Act’ this month, making theirs the latest among an expanding network of states to reconsider the commodity potential of the cannabis cousin to marijuana. But don’t bet on a sudden hemp boom because federal restrictions on cultivation and sales are prompting a cautious approach from Minnesota regulators.”

What next, they’ll accept evolution and a round Earth? MPR’s Catharine Richert says, “When the Republican-controlled Minnesota House debated an energy bill earlier this year, Democrats offered an amendment that would have had the Legislature state on the record that climate change is real and caused by human activity. The amendment failed, but the debate revealed how a national trend among Republicans is playing out in Minnesota: As public opinion on climate change shifts, the ways Republicans are talking about it are too.”

And now … the Boy Scouts. Brandt Williams at MPR reports, “Ramsey County Board Chair Jim McDonough filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Boy Scouts of America and a local affiliate, alleging that a scoutmaster sexually abused him more than 40 years ago. With his wife sitting on his right and his lawyer on his left, during a press conference McDonough made public a very private part of his life. If not for a state law that allows adult victims of childhood abuse to sue in civil court, he said he may not have come forward.”

What!? So no jail time!? MPR’s Riham Feshir says, “Minneapolis prosecutors dismissed charges against four of the five men charged in last month’s pedal pub water balloon attack. City Attorney Susan Segal said after the Tuesday hearing in Hennepin County District Court there wasn’t enough evidence to continue with the cases against those four men. ‘We could not match up individual actors with the conduct that was witnessed,’ she said. ‘That’s not to say that we approve or condone the kind of conduct that was involved here.’”

In the Pioneer Press Rachel Stassen-Berger says nice things about House Speaker Kurt Daudt. “ … as Democrats question wins this session by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Dayton, the speaker, just five years into his legislative career, is widely acknowledged to have had a successful session. In negotiations, Daudt maintained faith within his caucus and still ended up respected by DFLers. Meanwhile, Bakk’s hold on leadership is tenuous and Dayton had to accept several policy measures he swore he would not. Like Daudt, who acknowledged earlier this year that he is ‘more of a political mind than a policy wonk,’ the speaker’s successes in his first year are built more on style and personality than policy.”

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/24/2015 - 06:30 am.

    A question occurs to me

    Why is it A-OK for the DNR to artificially re-stock Minnesota lakes with walleye, and yet the idea of intervening to bring more wolves to Isle Royale to boost the lagging population is the source of so much controversy?

    This seems to me to be inconsistent.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/24/2015 - 09:18 am.


      Because fish bring tourism dollars. Wolves? Not so much.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/24/2015 - 11:42 am.

        ding ding ding

        We’ve got a winner here. Deer hunting also brings in big money and is affected by wolf populations.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/24/2015 - 02:51 pm.

          Close, but no cigar

          Isle Royale is a national park, so no hunting is allowed there. There are no deer on the island (although the NPS calls moose “deer”).

          • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/24/2015 - 03:44 pm.


            I am well aware of that. Hunting of is allowed in other areas of MN where wolves are though.

            • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/24/2015 - 04:47 pm.

              However . . .

              If you’ll re-read my initial comment, you will see it was specifically referring to the declining wolf population on Isle Royale.

              • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 06/25/2015 - 11:37 am.


                I wasn’t replying directly to your comment initially either. I was replying to the one about where the DNR gets it’s money from.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/24/2015 - 12:40 pm.


        The controversy over what to do about the wolf population on Isle Royale is rooted in ethical and philosophical concerns over whether humans should artificially intervene to replenish a diminishing population in the wild. It’s an argument over what is the right thing to do.

        Good to see that when it comes to a different population (walleye) where $$$ is concerned, all that ethical hand-wringing goes right out the window.

        Yeah – really gives me a lot of faith in the priorities of our natural resources decision-makers (not).

    • Submitted by Tom Clark on 06/24/2015 - 12:45 pm.

      Geographically speaking

      Isle Royale is part of the state of Michigan.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/24/2015 - 03:10 pm.


        Well, the basic question still stands – why is one the source of ethical angst while the other is just done without batting an eye? (And yes – I acknowledge the $$$ answer above – that still doesn’t address the philosophical underpinnings of the whole question.)

        • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 06/25/2015 - 08:31 am.


          It’s because Isle Royale is a national park/preserve and we’ve learned over the years that letting nature do what it will do is typically best. Our public lakes are managed resources, not preserves.

  2. Submitted by Wes Davey on 06/24/2015 - 08:19 am.

    Ol’ Sooch is wrong again

    “Calhoun was a proponent of slavery, which probably did not distinguish him from very many of his contemporaries.”

    That was true of his Southern political contemporaries (John C. Calhoun hailed from South Carolina), but being a proponent of slavery and actually being a slaveholder DID distinguish Calhoun from virtually all of his Northern political contemporaries of that era.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/24/2015 - 09:23 am.

      So we need to change the name

      of Washington avenue too? I’m not following you. All this reminds me of the time Coon Rapids thought they might want to change their name. So they had a new name contest. The winning entry was Coon City. They kept the current name.

  3. Submitted by richard owens on 06/24/2015 - 08:54 am.

    Polymet will leave tailings

    …the consistency of talcum powder. Hard rock mining is permanent destruction of creation.

    Sulfide mining leaves sulfuric acid in the waste- Polymet admits it will leach that poison into Minnesota’s most pristine surface waters for 200 years.

    The Flambeau mine in Wisconsin closed after only 5 years of employment. The mess they left is permanent.

    This damage is forever. The water cannot be returned to its same level of purity, and all the life that depends on that water is at risk.

    Polymet’s 3,000 pages cannot assuage these insurmountable problems- they can only try to make them seem manageable.

    Knowing what we already do about the pros and cons of the Polymet proposal, Minnesota’s trade-off of jobs for polluted land and water is just plain crazy.

    We are blessed with two thoughtful Senators, but neither of them seems to be willing to stop Polymet because of the (few) jobs they promise to the Range.

    Call them.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/24/2015 - 01:38 pm.

      The consistency of talcum powder

      Stand in your kitchen. Shake a little talcum powder into the palm of your hand. Add a pinch of “nickel and cobalt hydroxide and precious metal precipitate” and blow on it hard as you can…

      “Ore will be transported from the mine to the mill in side-dump rail cars. At the Rail Transfer Hopper haul trucks dump run-of-mine ore into the hopper, where it is loaded by conveyor onto the rail cars. Each 100-ton rail car can be loaded in one minute. There is no mention of an enclosed building, so it is assumed that this is being done in the open. Since this is run-of-mine ore there will be a fraction of the ore that is dust-sized material. The high transfer rate both with the haul trucks dumping to the hopper, and the conveyor loading the rail cars, will generate a significant amount of dust in the vicinity, and in the predominant downwind direction of the Rail Transfer Hopper. And, since the rail cars are open-top, there will be an accumulation of dust along the rail corridor between the mine and mill.”

      (An exerpt from an expert report/response to the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement)

      Do you suppose those rails cross any rivers or streams on the way to the grinders at the mill? And I wonder if it will be dusty inside the mill. If it is, some of the people lucky enough to land one of those 300 jobs will get to breath it in all day and take a little of it home to the family each night on the bottom of their boots.

      Your talcum powder description is great, Robert.

      And who are those two Senators?

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/24/2015 - 09:13 am.

    When we finish scrubbing our history of all that

    we now consider evil, what will he have left? Most historical figures have feet of clay, even by the standards of their own times.

    If Lake Calhoun is to be renamed, perhaps it’s best given its Dakota name, Mde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake). But then, that’s not particularly racially sensitive either, is it?

    Change it if you must, but know that it’s only the beginning in a nation based on violence against so many of its own people.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/24/2015 - 09:27 am.

    Soucheray Does it Again

    John C. Calhoun was more than a “proponent” of slavery. He advocated territorial expansion specifically to ensure the political clout of slaveholding states (thus giving us Texas). He also promoted the Fugitive Slave Act in Congress, and said that slavery was a “positive good,” rather than the “necessary evil” many of his contemporaries called it. In addition, Calhoun was a vocal advocate of nullification.

    Maybe Ol’ Sooch should confine his writing to topics he knows something about, like . . . Okay, there must be something.

  6. Submitted by steve carlson on 06/24/2015 - 11:23 am.

    Change name of Lake “Calhoun”

    RB Holbrook is entirely correct.
    Calhoun was an extremist: anti-USA through his leadership of South Carolina’s nullification efforts (compare President Andrew Jackson); and racist as a proponent of slavery and its extension (compare John Quincy Adams).
    It would have been appropriate to change the name of the lake more than 50 years ago.
    Let’s get on with it now.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 06/24/2015 - 02:49 pm.

      Slave holder names – A modest Proposal

      Ok. I propose that we should abstain from Caeser salad because the “Holy” Roman Empire had a plethora of slaves regardless of race or ethnic heritage. Who dares to disagree?

      Is Tommy Jefferson next?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/24/2015 - 03:52 pm.

        Too Cute

        Where to begin? John C. Calhoun is singled out because he was not just a slaveholder, but a vocal advocate of protecting and expanding slavery. Instead of waffling on the morality of slavery as Washington and Jefferson did, he believed slavery was essential to a civilized society (he learned from his father that a man’s worth should be measured by the number of slaves he owned). There is also the whole issue of him being the inspiration for southern secession.

        As for your other points, none of the emperors called “Caesar” had anything to do with the Holy Roman Empire. Caesar salad is named for a Mexican restaurateur.

  7. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 06/24/2015 - 01:44 pm.


    “…with proper engineering controls, the open pit mine would not significantly affect water quality in the region or cumulatively affect endangered or threatened plant or animal species.”

    Look at the weasel words here: “not significantly”, “cumulatively affect.” Is this truly worth the small number of jobs that this project’s backers claim it’s making? Is it not true that the ecological damage can never be revesed?

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/24/2015 - 03:23 pm.

      Is this worth the jobs?

      No. Not anywhere near worth it. The whole thing is an amazingly bad “business proposition” that no sane business person would enter into or sign off on (from the most liberal or progressive environmentalist Democrat to the shrewdest free market conservative Republican).

      There’s more to it than what real business world Chief Financial Officer John Grappa had to say in the Community Voices piece he wrote last April (, but he puts the basics of the “bad business” involved as simply and clearly as anyone I’m aware of has so far.

      Anyone interested in getting a REALLY good look at how little business sense it actually makes – – for anyone but the weasels behind Polymet – – just needs to do a search on “Polymet Financial Assurances” and take a good look at some of the things that pop up.

  8. Submitted by Tom Clark on 06/24/2015 - 03:12 pm.

    Rename Lake Calhoun

    to Lake Wobegon. What’s not to like? Well, except St. Paul would have a fit about it.

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