ely timberjay

“Most Anti-Environment Bill in Decades”: Rally at Capitol and Related Materials

Photo (c) Newspeak Review

Photo (c) Newspeak Review

By JT Haines – June 12, 2015

A Special Session of the Minnesota Legislature starts today, and a bill Betsy Daub, Policy Director of Friends of the Boundary Waters, is calling the “most anti-environment bill in decades” is still on the table.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership echoes the sentiment, calling this “one of the most anti-clean water bills in decades.” In a letter joined by dozens of top enviro orgs, MEP offers 11 reasons why legislators should vote “no” on the Environment and Ag bill at Special Session.

The bill is clearly out of step with the demands of the moment and the needs of Minnesotans (unless one believes taking a giant dump on our environment and public resources is a fine plan). In terms of some of your options for action:

Friends of the Boundary Waters, Water Legacy, “Say No to Bakk and His Shenanigans,” and members of the new DFL Environmental Caucus are promoting a rally at the legislature today to say no to the bill. From Friends late last night:

“After months of back and forth, the Minnesota Legislature will meet TOMORROW (Friday, June 12th) in special session to pass budget bills that Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a couple of weeks ago.

The bad news is that the Environment and Agriculture bill is nearly as bad for the Boundary Waters as it was before. It would still eliminate the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizens’ Board. It would still exempt sulfide mine proposals like PolyMet and Twin Metals from Minnesota solid waste disposal laws. It would still suspend Minnesota’s rules to protect wild rice from sulfate pollution, making it easier to give a permit to sulfide mines near the BWCA.

When we showed up at the Governor’s Residence to ask him to veto this bill, it worked. Now we need to show the Legislature that Minnesota does not want and will not allow them to roll back environmental protections and threaten the Boundary Waters with pollution from copper-nickel sulfide mines.

WHAT: Rally at the Minnesota Legislature to say no to the most anti-environment bill in decades
WHO: You, your signs, your voice, and your energy
WHEN: 10 AM Friday, June 12
WHERE: South entrance of the State Office Building (location of the special session), 100 Rev. Dr. Martin King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55103
WHY: To ask the Legislature to vote no and show that we won’t stand for environmental rollbacks that threaten the Boundary Waters

The Sierra Club Northstar Chapter is also asking people to tell their legislators to vote no on the bill, providing a link to do so electronically here.

Finally, in related news, this week the Ely Timberjay asked the question “Could Sen. Tom Bakk’s tenure as state Senate Majority Leader be in doubt?” On-the-spot Minnesota Brown covered that issue yesterday, concluding “Bakk is having a make-or-break moment in his political career, and the question now is whether he still has strong enough rapport to hold sway in his own caucus. Failure here would disrupt state government, which is the worse issue, but it would also probably signal the end of the Iron Range senator’s leadership role.”

A petition is circulating at change.org calling on Bakk to resign as Senate Majority Leader:

“You have divided your caucus. After making a deal on an Environment and Agriculture budget that rolled back environmental protections, you relied on the support of nearly 100% of the Senate Republican caucus to pass it. After he vetoed HF846, Governor Dayton stated that the worst provisions in the bill “more emanated from the Senate than they did from the House.” How can that be? 29 of 38 members of your caucus voted against HF846. You are supposed to lead and represent the will of your caucus as majority leader. Instead, you’ve substituted your own agenda for the agenda of your caucus.”

There were 479 signers as of early this morning.

PolyMet E-mail Notwithstanding, NorthMet Fight Far from Over

Screenshot MNDNR Twitter Page

Screenshot MNDNR Twitter Page

By JT Haines – March 20, 2015

PolyMet Mining sent an e-mail to subscribers this week offering their preferred version of possible DNR release dates for the “NorthMet” project Final EIS — the highly controversial copper/sulfide mining proposal currently under state and federal regulatory review in Minnesota. The email reminded me that readers might appreciate a quick refresher on where we are in the process.

First, according to the email:

“PolyMet Mining is gearing up for a busy and productive few months ahead as state and federal regulators complete the environmental review process and prepare for permitting…The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been working through the 58,000 comments it received on the draft Environmental Impact Statement since the public comment period closed one year ago this month. That exhaustive work is nearly complete, and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said it is his goal to have the document “out the door” this spring. Permitting would then follow.

As we near the finish line, we will have much to share with you. And we may even need your help. If you haven’t done so yet, please update your information with us so we can keep you informed and ask for your help when it matters most.”

I’m not entirely sure what PolyMet means when they say “exhaustive work is nearly complete”, because the email doesn’t provide a source for that claim, and a claim that work is nearly complete is different than a “goal” expressed by DNR Commissioner Landwehr five months ago. Perhaps they mean they’ve understood from more recent non-public communications with the DNR that the EIS review is nearly complete, in which case that would be good for the public to know.

In any case, here’s a quick refresher on what we do know on EIS timing: Last September 24, 2014, the Ely Timberjay concluded based on an interview with DNR Commissioner Landwehr that it was “highly unlikely a final SDEIS will be issued before the second half of 2015, and possibly much later than that,” adding that company-promoted timelines had “once again, proven optimistic.” Two weeks later on October 6 — perhaps after a testy phone call or two? — Commissioner Landwehr expressed a “goal” to the Mesabi Daily News of releasing the final EIS in “early spring” 2015 (the goal presumably referenced by PolyMet’s email). The Commissioner qualified, however, that such a goal depends on a number of requirements, including that there be “no hitches” in the process.

As far as I know, we’ve not yet heard a DNR update on the EIS timeline in 2015, and it’s the DNR’s timeline that matters. Also as far as I know, no preliminary versions of the final EIS have yet been released, so at this point a final EIS from DNR in “early spring” seems unlikely.

In terms of next steps, after the final EIS is issued there is a separate public comment period, and after that, a permit application process — the results of which, as Commissioner Landwehr noted, are not guaranteed.

In other words, whatever the exact timeline, the fight is far from over. Which is exactly why in the meantime PolyMet is spending money promoting a (false) “narrative of inevitability”, an important thing to keep in mind going forward, and something the savvy readers of Newspeak Review are having no trouble with I’m sure.

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UPDATE: On June 9, 2015, the Duluth News Tribune confirmed that the PolyMet EIS is still months away, suggesting that it is “now expected by the end of 2015.” Ely Timberjay and Newspeak Review 1, MDN 0?

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