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Memo: Minnesota regulators OK’d PolyMet permit over ‘serious reservations’ by EPA

The Star Tribune’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes, “Minnesota pollution regulators approved a water permit for the state’s first copper-nickel mine over serious reservations raised by their federal counterparts, according to a leaked memo obtained by the Star Tribune. The 29-page memo was written by Kevin Pierard, chief of the water quality permitting branch in the Chicago office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It documents EPA efforts to strengthen water protections in the permit and how those efforts were handled by the EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The memo could play a role in three separate inquiries that are now examining how federal and state regulators handled the critical permit for PolyMet Mining Inc. and its proposed copper mine on Minnesota’s Iron Range.”

The Pioneer Press’ Ryan Faircloth writes: “The Minnesota Department of Human Services has lost another member of its executive leadership team. Chief of staff Stacie Weeks announced her resignation on Tuesday, according to an email she sent to her colleagues. Her departure follows resignations from the agency’s three top leaders, all of which were announced in the past week. Commissioner Tony Lourey resigned Monday after just six months on the job, and Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson announced their imminent resignations on Thursday. … Weeks, who has a background in health policy, was brought on by Lourey in February.”

At MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar reports, “The number of days with a dangerously high heat index could increase dramatically in Minnesota and the rest of the United States as the effects of climate change worsen, according to a study published Tuesday. The study was conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit that advocates for science-based solutions to problems like climate change. It projected both temperature and humidity into the future under three different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. The researchers used 18 different climate models, which are used to simulate future climate conditions, and averaged the results.”

From CBS News: “After a bitter partisan brawl, House lawmakers on Tuesday approved a resolution to formally denounce President Trump’s recent tirade against four progressive congresswomen of color, with four Republicans joining Democrats to rebuke the president. The measure passed by a vote of 240 to 187, with every Democratic member voting in favor. … Before the final vote, Democrats went to extraordinary lengths to defend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who drew objections from Republicans after calling the president’s comments about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar ‘disgraceful’ and ‘racist’ from the House floor.”

For Vox, Ezra Klein writes, “in unifying House Democrats against him, Trump unified them around the Squad, and raised their profile — the four women are getting even more coverage this week than they were last week, exactly what Pelosi was trying to avoid, and exactly what conservative media has been trying to achieve. There are two ways of thinking about this outcome. One cuts American politics into the traditional Republican-Democrat divide. In this telling, Pelosi and the Democrats are Trump’s foremost antagonists, and in bridging their divides, he weakened himself. The other views American politics through the lens of demographic change and the white identity politics it triggers. In this view, by uniting Democrats in defense of the Squad and against his racist attacks, Trump rescued a narrative crucial to his political appeal and the reactionary politics he represents.”

Also at MPR, this from Catharine Richert, “First District Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn says his Minnesota office staff will no longer meet in-person with members of the local chapter of the liberal group Indivisible. In a letter addressed to the St. Peter and Greater Mankato Indivisible group, Hagedorn said the organization was taking too much of his staff’s time and that a member of the group admitted in a recent meeting that it was an intentional tactic. A Hagedorn spokesperson declined an interview but said in an email the policy applies to all Indivisible groups in any district office.”

Liz Sawyer writes for the Star Tribune: “A storm system that stalled over Minneapolis dumped more than 2 inches of rain within an hour Tuesday, causing widespread street ­flooding. The deluge triggered flash flood warnings in parts of Hennepin and Ramsey counties, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, St. Louis Park, Roseville, Golden ­Valley, Hopkins, Falcon Heights and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. In parts of Minneapolis, water rose above wheel wells of parked cars and submerged city streets, making them impassable to traffic.”

The AP reports: “A man who admitted to kidnapping Jayme Closs and killing her parents has been moved to a facility outside of Wisconsin. Twenty-two-year-old Jake Patterson is serving life without parole for the October deaths of James and Denise Closs. State records say he was moved Monday, but they do not say where. The Department of Corrections says his location is not being disclosed for his safety.”

For Finance & Commerce, Brian Johnson writes, “Six years after first putting the property on the market, the University of Minnesota finally has a buyer for a nearly 52-acre wooded site next to the U of M’s Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. The U of M Board of Regents agreed Friday to sell the property for $1.5 million to Jeff Verdoorn, who ‘anticipates building a single-family residence on the property,’ according to U of M documents. The sale works out to $28,846 per acre.”

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 07/17/2019 - 08:01 am.

    “Four progressive women of color.” Rashida Tlaib considers herself a Palestinian Arab. As I understand they are Caucasian. Please explain.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/17/2019 - 08:39 am.

    I’m glad we could provide gardens for Mr. Verdoorn’s new home.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/17/2019 - 08:41 am.

    Since his Twitter attacks on “the Squad”, Trump’s approval rating has risen 2%.

    Be proud, America. We’ve become what we once fought against.

  4. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 07/17/2019 - 08:52 am.

    Clearly the fix was in for Polymet. To suggest the MPCA acted in bad faith is to ignore that 90% of major Minnesota politicians including Dayton at the time, people from both parties, ignored the science and allowed this permitting to happen, whatever the majority of Minnesota thinks.

    It is not just ignoring that science, it is letting Minnesota be turned into a “banana republic” 2.0, letting foreign corporations remove most of the resources and profits while leaving a mess for the next ten generations to deal with.

  5. Submitted by Pat Brady on 07/17/2019 - 10:08 am.

    Did Rep. Hagedorn also ask the Indivisble Group to go back to the country they came from?

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