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New York Times report details mining debate in northern Minnesota

An abandoned open pit iron ore mine near Virginia, Minnesota.
An abandoned open pit iron ore mine near Virginia, Minnesota.

The New York Times heads up to northern Minnesota for a big report on the mining debate. Reid Forgrave reports: “… [T]here’s a generations-long rift in Ely — between those who believe minerals are the region’s greatest asset and those who believe clean waters are — that has been laid bare recently. In December the Obama administration denied a renewal of Twin Metals’ mining leases and put in place a moratorium while a two-year comprehensive federal study is being conducted on mining near the Boundary Waters. Depending on its findings, the stoppage could be a prelude to what conservationist groups here hope for most: a 20-year prohibition on mining in a 230,000-acre portion of the Rainy River Watershed that includes land surrounding the Boundary Waters. That could lead to a permanent end to mining around the Boundary Waters.” Great photos, too.

It’s (still) Hammer’s time. The Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh reports: “An arbitrator has reversed the firing a year ago of Stillwater prison's warden for sending sexually graphic e-mails from his official account and other troubling behavior, but the state Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is weighing its options for how to respond. … Steve Hammer lost his job running one of the state's largest prisons for what the department said was violation of various policies. Prison officials haven't provided further explanation, but a cache of documents obtained by the Star Tribune revealed lewd e-mails, bullying and other improper behavior preceded his ouster.”

Hmm, not the right direction for this trend. The Duluth News Tribune’s John Myers reports: “Another 618 waterways in Minnesota — both lakes and segments of streams — are being added to the state list of officially impaired waters for specific problems, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Wednesday. … The PCA updates the list every two years and reports to the federal government on progress being made cleaning up the state's waterways — things like mercury contamination; excess phosphorus and nitrogen; fish habitat; and sedimentation.”

Tough situation. MPR’s John Enger reports: “Jim and Gail Hinkemeyer just retired and they had their future all worked out. They'd dodge Minnesota's cold winters with a cheap apartment in Belize, then spend their summers at their small family cabin on Leech Lake. … After 30 years at the local Potlatch lumber mill, Jim saw it as the perfect place to rest. But while the couple owned the cabin, they did not own the land beneath it. They'd been leasing the waterfront lot from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. … Now the tribe wants it back. The Hinkemeyers received a letter a few months ago from the Leech Lake band telling the couple they had to leave the northern Minnesota lake property at the end of the lease, which will happen in a few weeks.

In other news…

Oh, no: “After 46-year run, Pepitos in south Mpls. could close following string of hardships” [Star Tribune]

It was the Stras that broke the camel’s back: “McConnell to end practice that Franken used to block Stras judicial nomination” [Star Tribune]

What a monster! “Two Minnesota hockey players take day trip ... and catch a massive fish” [Star Tribune]

Catalog companies have been doing this for years: “Target joins other retailers in offering voice shopping” [MPR]

Seems like the whole country is going this way: “Forum reporter again kicked out of flood diversion meeting” [Fargo Forum]

Not really that funny anywhere honestly: “In Jordan, toilet paper isn’t funny” [MPR]

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