Archive for the ‘Tony Sertich’ Category
These days, the environmentalist wing of the DFL, aka the elitist Metrocrats, seem determined to shaft miners. This time, it’s Speaker Thissen that’s giving the Iron Range the shaft:
The Minnesota House speaker will not allow any legislation to pass this year setting an amount PolyMet Mining Corp. should set aside to fix environmental damage done by its proposed copper-nickel mine.
“We are not taking up any legislation related to mining, one way or the other,” House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, told Forum News Service on Friday. “The best thing is to let the process work its way out.”
One of Thissen’s committees held a 5½-hour meeting this week dealing with how much money the state should require PolyMet to pay up front to clean up any environment issues once the mine closes. PolyMet itself has said perhaps $200 million should be available at mine closure, with a few million more a year for some time afterward.
When Yvonne Prettner-Solon announced that she’d gotten tired of being ignored by Gov. Dayton, she created an opening on the Dayton ticket. Rather than picking Tony Sertich, Gov. Dayton picked Tina Smith, creating an all-Minneapolis ticket.
This time, Speaker Thissen is saying he won’t lift a finger to help out the Iron Range. It’s worth noting that Thissen is the quintessential Minneapolis Metrocrat. He’s danced the environmentalists’ tune every time they’ve demanded it of him.
At some point, the blue collar workers of the Iron Range will have to ask whether Gov. Dayton, Speaker Thissen and Alida Messinger care about them after they’ve cast their votes for the DFL. Thus far, the Metrocrats have proven that they’re interested in the Iron Range’s support at the polls. What’s worse is that the Metrocrats have shown that they’re totally disinterested in supporting the Iron Range’s pro-mining agenda.
FOOTNOTE: During Friday night’s political roundtable, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo-Alicea said that this isn’t a big deal, that “voters don’t think in terms of geographical balance.” Andy Brehm pounced on that, saying “Spoken like someone from Minneapolis.”
It’s true voters don’t walk into a voting booth and say “I can’t vote for this ticket because it isn’t geographically balanced. That said, there’s tons of reasons for Iron Rangers to abandon the DFL, starting with the indisputable fact that Alida Messinger, the biggest funder of the DFL, hates mining.
Funding the DFL isn’t the only activism Ms. Messinger has engaged in. According to Conservation Minnesota’s website, Ms. Messinger is the Vice-Chair of CM’s Board of Directors. CM is one of the biggest supporters of MiningTruth.org:
Our goal is to provide a resource for Minnesotans to get the facts about sulfide mining and its impacts. Today, there is little awareness and even less understanding about proposed sulfide mining projects in northern Minnesota.
Our state has important choices to make that impact every Minnesotan. The more people who participate in these decisions, the better the outcome. Learn more about sulfide mining.
Founding partners of Mining Truth are Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Conservation Minnesota. See the full list of supporters.
Apparently, Thissen doesn’t want his DFL House caucus voting on anything controversial:
However, Thissen said the DNR should proceed with its studies, adding that he is confident the process will provide enough information that those in charge “can make the right decisions.”
“We do have this process in place,” the speaker said. “It feels like the information is getting out there. I feel this is going to be an extensive process.” Thissen said fellow House Democrats, who hold a majority of the votes, do not appear to be leaning “one way or the other” on the PolyMet issue.
That’s pure BS. The Twin Cities DFL want to kill the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects. The Iron Range DFL want those project built ASAP.
Politics is definitely a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately proposition. Lately Metro DFL legislators have given the Iron Range the shaft. They just didn’t give them the mine to go with it.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Alida Messinger, Tina Smith, Militant Environmentalists, Metrocrats, Yvonne Prettner-Solon, Tony Sertich, Iron Range Democrats, DFL Civil War, Javier Morillo-Alicea, Metrocrats, Election 2014
While Duluth and other media speculated that opponents and supporters were evenly split at the five-hour public hearing that included a two-hour open house session and a three-hour comment period, the numbers just don’t add up that way.
They reported that attendance was 1,300 to 1,500. But of that number, a caravan of seven buses and a passenger van journeyed from the Range with at least 500 supporters and another 100 or more arrived in advance by cars.
Simply put, there are lots of Iron Rangers who badly want PolyMet to happen. They might not have sophisticated presentations but what they lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in passion and verifiable information.
The unified message of business and labor all across the Iron Range to Duluth and the Twin Cities delivered in a fact-based and civil manner was outstanding.
That paragraph indicates that Iron Rangers are tired of being told by elitist metro Democrats, aka Metrocrats, that they don’t have the right to earn a living. This has the potential of turning the relatively conservative, pro-Second Amendment, Range Democrats against the anti-mining Metrocrats. This indicates the hostility isn’t that far below the proverbial surface:
Yes, some opponents and preservation groups will continue their misinformation campaigns which are part of an excessive rhetoric fear campaign of damage to the environment.
The facts, however, will win out in the EIS and then permitting processes. And the preservationist fear mongers do not hold those cards.
The “preservationist fear mongers” that the editorial cites have this in common: they’re almost exclusively elitist Metrocrats. That’s a stark contrast with the blue collar Iron Rangers who supported Gov. Dayton in 2010. The ‘Lt. Gov. editorial’ offers a different perspective of the same potential problem:
The list of four is heavily female-metrocentric-weighted. The governor’s chief of staff, Tina Smith, state Sen. Katie Sieben and Kelliher, all of the Twin Cities area, are strongly suggested.
The other person that’s supposedly on Gov. Dayton’s short list is IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. I haven’t confirmed whether Sertich is actually on Gov. Dayton’s short of if he’s more of a ‘wishful thinking’ candidate. Still, the risks are high for Gov. Dayton. If he picks a Metrocrat, he risks alienating Iron Rangers. If Gov. Dayton picks Sertich, he’s essentially snubbing the check-writing, anti-mining Metrocrats from the Twin Cities.
The other name I’ve heard floated is former Sen. Tarryl Clark, aka Taxin’ Tarryl Clark. With Gov. Dayton’s tax increases likely to be a major campaign issue, Taxin’ Tarryl would just add fuel to that fire. That’s before talking about her responsibilities with the Blue-Green Alliance. ‘Carpetbagger’ Tarryl didn’t win many friends when she ran for the Eighth District endorsement. DFL activists rejected her, in part because she was a carpetbagger, partially because she’s as anti-mining as the Metrocrats on that short list.
The simple truth is that Gov. Dayton will have to choose. Either Gov. Dayton sides with the elitist Metrocrats and alienates Iron Range Democrats or he sides with the more conservative Iron Democrats and alienates elitist, anti-mining Metrocrats.
There’s an old, ancient really, joke about giving a chameleon a nervous breakdown. The way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put it against a plaid background. In this situation, I’d argue that Gov. Dayton is the chameleon and the DFL is the plaid background.
Good luck with that.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Yvonne Prettner-Solon, Katie Sieben, Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, Taxin’ Tarryl Clark, Tony Sertich, IRRRB, Metrocrats, Iron Rangers, Militant Environmentalists, PolyMet, DFL, Election 2014
The first thought that leaps to mind when I read this article is that Silicon Energy’s business model isn’t built on anything solid:
Silicon Energy, a Washington-based solar panel company, missed its first two loan payments.
So, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRB) restructured the deal and the new payments do not start until October 2013.
Silicon Energy opened its solar panel manufacturing plant in 2011 just outside Virginia, Minn. on the Iron Range.
The company received a $1.5 million loan from the IRRB and the IRRB also gave the Mountain Iron Economic Development Authority $3.6 million to loan Silicon Energy to help build its new plant.
Silicon Energy also owes an initial payment of $75,000 on the $3.6 million loan in October as well.
The head of the IRRB says the company’s business model had to be redone after the tsunami in Japan hurt the company’s timeline for opening up and selling its solar panels.
IRRB Commissioner, Tony Sertich, also says the company did not get into a rebate program offered by Xcel Energy, but should be able to get into that program soon, which should help Silicon Energy sell more solar panels to homeowners and businesses.
First, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is the IRRRB, not the IRRB. Second, the plethora of excuses for Silicon Energy’s failure to make its payments are rationalizations. They aren’t legitimate excuses. Blaming Silicon Energy’s failuter to make their payments on the Japanese tsunami sounds wimpy (Think President Obama blaming the economy’s poor performance on ATMs). Third, a company that needs subsidies, aka rebates, to make a profit isn’t a legitimate business model.
Most importantly, the reality is that the IRRRB’s existence is tied to their dispensing massive amounts of pork to hide the DFL’s unwillingness to let the Iron Range develop a real economy based on mining rather than scraps of pork from the IRRRB.
That isn’t the way to build a real economy. The way to build a healthy, prospering economy is by letting companies create things of value. Do thoughtful people think that a company that fails without massive government subsidies adds anything of value to the Iron Range economy? If it isn’t adding anything to the Iron Range economy, it isn’t adding anything to Minnesota’s economy.
The DFL keeps insisting that solar and wind power are the future. Where’s their proof of that? The only thing on the record thus far are their allegations that wind and solar are the future. That’s anything but proof that they’re the future.
MNGOP Chairman Tony Sutton has called on Hibbing County Clerk Pat Garrity to recuse himself because of his open support for Carly Melin, the DFL-endorsed candidate for the seat formerly held by Tony Sertich:
St. Paul- Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton today called on Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity to recuse himself from his official duties in the February 15, 2011 House District 5B special election due to his political support for Democrat Carly Melin.
“Given Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity’s vocal political support for Democrat Carly Melin, I believe it is only appropriate that he recuse himself from administering the February 15th special election. To avoid any appearance of impropriety and to ensure election integrity, it is essential that this Melin supporter step aside as city clerk for Tuesday’s election in favor of a non-partisan city official. The voters of House District 5B deserve no less.”
Hibbing City Clerk Pat Garrity’s Conflict Of Interest
“The Clerk’s Office In City Hall Coordinates The Elections For All City, County, State And Federal Elections That Are Held In Hibbing.” (City of Hibbing Website, Accessed February 10, 2011)
Pat Garrity Is The Hibbing City Clerk And Is Openly Supporting Democrat Carly Melin In Tuesday’s Special Election In House District 5B. “It is important to have someone who understands how law affects our communities. …That is why I decided to join the Melin for Representative Campaign Committee. I have served Hibbing for 29 years as City Clerk and know she’d make a great contribution to our communities.” (Carly Melin for State Representative Website, Accessed February 10, 2011)
First things first. Carly voted in the August 10th DFL primary in St. Paul. How would Mr. Garrity know whether she’d “make a great contribution” to the district? Is that opinion solely based on the fact that she’s got a D behind her name?
Mr. Garrity’s enthusiastic endorsement of Melin calls into question whether he’d be an unbiased election official in this special election.
Still, that’s only part of the story. A faithful reader of this blog attended the debate last night. This faithful reader called me and said that Aaron Brown of Minnesota Brown introduced the moderator of the event. This reader said that there were supposed to be 8 questions for the event.
At the end of the event, Brown was able to get a ninth question to the moderator. My contact didn’t say that it was a softball but I suspect it was. Brown certainly wouldn’t rush a difficult question to the moderator to make his candidate look bad.
This special election has all the feel of a fair fight as defined by Richard Daley machine politics rules.
We aren’t sure that Melin is qualified as a resident. The city clerk, who supervises elections in Hibbing, has endorsed the DFL candidate even though she hasn’t lived in Hibbing in years. Now we find out that the agreed-to format was altered by the event moderator.
Thank goodness there’s no hint of corruption in this special election.
After Friday’s joint Senate hearing at Hibbing Junior College, the next question is whether this will motivate senators to reform the permitting process, including litigation reform.
Without reforming the litigation system, all the administrative reforms won’t have much impact. Organizations like MCEA will still be able to tie important projects up in courts for years.
Gov. Dayton’s PR stunt last Monday wasn’t a serious proposal because of what wasn’t in his EO.
One of the issues talked on by several of the speakers was the need to speed up the permitting process in the state of Minnesota.
“If we have an organization that wants to hire people and they’re waiting five years for answers; that is too long. We need to find a way to shorten that. That doesn’t mean we always say yes; that means let’s get the answers that we can on a more consistent basis,” said Vice Chair of the Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, Ted Lillie.
Polymet has been in the environmental review process for their proposed open pit mine for several years now.
Once open it looks to bring several hundred jobs to the range area.
“We don’t just have a budget deficit, we have a jobs deficit so we need to get this part of Minnesota thriving and growing again; this could be a great economic engine,” said Michel.
Environmental groups are determined to prevent job creation anywhere they deem pristine. They’re famous for making wild claims about the destruction that surely will happen if projects are approved.
To be certain, many of their claims are valid. The unfortunate part is weeding through the tons of wild allegations contained in their lawsuits. It’s much like the story of the kid who cried wolf 2,859 times too often. After awhile, you just tune those cries out.
The bad part is that families are hurt while environmental organizations like MCEA file lawsuit after lawsuit. MCEA has tacitly admitted that their lawsuits are frivolous:
We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.
Even though MCEA kept losing, their attrition litigation kept hundreds of construction workers unemployed. Had MCEA not kept filing frivolous lawsuits, Big Stone II would’ve provided a year’s worth of work for construction workers. It also would’ve created a couple hundred high paying permanent jobs for people running the plant. Those jobs, which MCEA prevented through its attrition litigation, would’ve stabilized Minnesota’s economy.
Because Paul Aasen spearheaded MCEA’s attrition litigation agenda, he’s personally responsible for killing hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Mr. Aasen hasn’t shown any concern for jobs, nor has MCEA. The good news is that Rangers, like Tony Sertich, are fighting for jobs:
As the hearing began, former state Rep. Tony Sertich, now commissioner of Iron Range Resources, asked those in the room to raise their hands if they, their spouses, parents or grandparents worked in the mines. Nearly everyone in the audience had an arm raised.
“This is our life up here,” Sertich said, as he thanked the legislators for moving the hearing north for the day. “We’re a resource-based economy.”
Saying that their economy is “a resource-based economy” lays things out for MCEA. They’re either sympathetic to the plight of Iron Rangers or they’re more inclined to damage the Range’s economy. It doesn’t help that Aasen hasn’t publicly disagreed with his former organization.
Should senators who have the responsibility of either confirming or rejecting his nomination take that to mean that he won’t be a neutral arbiter of Minnesota environmental law? We haven’t seen proof that he isn’t still a strong-willed environmental activist.
That likely means he won’t faithfully fulfill his responsibilities as commissioner of the MPCA.
If Gov. Dayton wants to be a jobs governor, then he must get everyone moving quickly in the right direction. Mr. Aasen doesn’t fit that mold. In his position, he can thwart all the great work these legislators might accomplish. That isn’t acceptable.
The Red Wing Republican-Eagle knows what’s at stake:
The goal is to speed up a business’s ability to expand or build a new facility. Dayton rightly states: “Time is money.”
And that’s not just money for businesses. Ask around in any community, especially border cities like ours, and you’ll hear stories about lost opportunities and therefore lost jobs because a manufacturer or business found expansion easier and quicker elsewhere.
Gov. Dayton has said a number of things about creating jobs. Now let’s see if he lives up to what he’s said. The jury is still out on that, just like it’s still out on a possible Commissioner Aasen.
I’ve had a conversation with a loyal reader of this blog over whether the MNGOP can flip the seat that Tony Sertich just retired from. From what I’m told, flipping Sertich’s seat is a distinct possibility.
Paul Jacobson, the candidate this past fall against Sertich, already has lit pieces ready to go, signs ready to be put up and already qualifies for public subsidy. That’s a huge boost in what’s essentially a month-long race.
It’s important to note that the bench isn’t particularly deep in the district. In November, voters were voting for the possible next Speaker of the House. This time, they’ll be voting for a freshman in the minority. I’m betting that the enthusiasm won’t be deep for Sertich’s replacement.
Another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is that, prior to this election, Jim Oberstar didn’t have to work at re-election. He’d run a few ads, remind people that he’s running again, walk in a parade or two, then cruise to victory.
This fall, all that changed. During Chip’s race, the CD-8 GOP activists got fired up, did the work and got major re-inforcements from the unions. I won’t predict that Mr. Jacobson will get the union support that Chip got but I’ll bet that he’ll have alot of fired up volunteers working hard for him.
I’m told that Al Franken got 3,700 more votes in HD-5B than Oberstar and Sertich got this year. While it must be noted that there’s an expected difference between a presidential election and a midterm, that’s still bigger than the usual difference.
Unless I miss my guess, I’d bet that apathy is the DFL’s biggest foe in this special election.
Let’s remember that Loren Solberg, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee during the 2009-2010 session was defeated by Carolyn McElfatrick in HD-3B.
Combined, these aren’t encouraging indicators for the DFL. Rather, I’d say they suggest that this seat will flip on Feb. 15.
If someone had told me a year ago that Jim Oberstar would be defeated by someone who’d never run for office before, I would’ve bet the proverbial house on that opportunity. If that same someone said that Jim Oberstar would be defeated by someone who’d never run for office before, Tony Sertich would take a position with the IRRB in a Dayton administration, I would’ve laughed my head off while betting the proverbial ranch against that.
If that same someone had said that those things would happen and that a Republican had a shot at flipping Rep. Sertich’s seat…well, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have believed a word that someone had said.
Yet here we are on January 14, 2011 and that’s precisely where we’re at.
First, I smile just thinking about Chip Cravaack’s amazing victory. Chip didn’t listen to the conventional wisdom. That’s why he won. He went into places that were thought to be Oberstar’s strongholds, the places where he ran up the margin of victory.
I had a hunch in late August that something might be happening in CD-8. By Oct. 14, I was the only pundit predicting Chip’s victory. Chip ran an amazing campaign, which is why he deserved the victory.
Almost immediately after Election Day 2010, the DCCC announced that they’d be targeting Chip in 2012. Thanks to Rep. Sertich declaring that he won’t run against Chip, I’d argue that the DCCC has its work cut out for itself if they hope to flip Rep. Oberstar’s seat back into their control.
The same scenario might be playing out in Rep. Sertich’s state legislative district. Paul Jacobson still has a strong organization after running last fall against Rep. Sertich. While I’m not predicting Jacobson’s victory, I’ve seen too much this year to say it can’t happen.
After all, this is the year when what can’t happen has happened again and again.
It’ll be fun watching this special election shape up, with the primary being on Feb. 1 and the special election happening just 2 weeks later.
Who would’ve thunk it that CD-8 would be the place where the highest profile races happened? I wouldn’t have been on that.
According to MPR, Tony Sertich is retiring from the House to become the commissioner of the IRRRB:
Gov. Dayton has appointed DFL Rep. Tony Sertich to be the next commissioner of Iron Range Resources according to a person with knowledge of the hire. Sertich will meet with the media in Chisholm to discuss the hire on Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment tonight but told MPR News earlier today that he applied for the job.
Sertich will be tasked with crafting a vision to help revitalize northeastern Minnesota. The Board gives business financing, low interest business loans and economic development grants to businesses.
Sertich is the first state lawmaker to be appointed to a position within the Dayton Administration. He was in line to be Minnesota Speaker of the House but lost that position when Republicans won control of the House.
This appointment had been rumored since the DFL lost control of the legislature. Now it appears that it’s going from rumor to reality.
MPR’s Tom Scheck is reporting that “the tentative plan for a special election will be a primary on February 1st and the general election on February 15th.” I don’t know how deep the DFL bench is in Sertich’s district but I’ve heard positive things about Sertich’s opponent. Depending on who the DFL candidate is, I could see the GOP flipping this seat.
That isn’t a prediction. Instead, it’s saying that this is a GOP year and the GOP has another quality candidate.
As IRRRB commissioner, Sertich’s responsibilities change dramatically. His accepting this position seems to eliminate him from challenging Chip Cravaack for the CD-8 seat, though I’m not willing to rule Sertich’s running for the seat.
It’s no secret that Sertich has seen himself as the heir apparent to Rep. Oberstar for some time.
Whatever happens, it’s bound to be an interesting next month and an interesting next couple years.
It isn’t often that I respond to liberal bloggers’ posts about me but I’ll make an exception this time since this post presents a teaching opportunity. Eric Austin is accusing me of being a hypocrite. I’ll quote him as he lays out his case against me:
One of the interesting things about this session will be to find out what were once horrible no good activities by a horrible no good DFL majority but are now just standard operating procedures with a Republican majority. In fact, it took less than 24 hours to come up with our first example. Gary Gross, whose views of right and wrong governing are strictly dependent upon that little letter behind your name, comes in with the first example of the season.
Mr. Austin didn’t notice several noteworthy things that impacted my thinking but I digress. Here’s the heart of Austin’s ‘case’ against me. Here’s what I said in 2007:
The biggest thing I came away with was that Tony Sertich, though knew he had the votes to defeat the measures, which they did time and time again, he chose to defeat them procedurally by referring them to his committee, where they’ll likely never see the light of day again. The reason he’s doing this is because (a) he wants the GOP to know who’s in charge and (b) because he doesn’t want DFL legislators being held accountable for voting against governmental transparency.
This is what I said today:
Newly-elected Majority Leader Matt Dean moved that Rep. Thissen’s amendment be moved to the House Rules Committee, saying that the large incoming class of freshmen should have time to consider the rule.
Based on those things, Austin asserts that I’m being hypocritical. Actually, there’s a number of noteworthy differences that Austin didn’t take into account. Here’s what I see as major differences:
1. Today’s amendment by Rep. Thissen was to the House Temporary Rules. They’re the rules they’ll use until the Rules Committee can meet to debate what should or shouldn’t be part of the House Permanent Rules debate.
Rep. Thissen’s rule will be debated in committee and it will be part of the debate on the House Permanent Rules.
2. What I said in 2007 is entirely different because Sertich’s referring the GOP’s frequent amendments happened during the debate on the House’s Permanent Rules. It was an attempt to eliminate the GOP’s common sense amendments without the DFL’s freshmen having to vote against them.
3. Then Majority Leader Sertich made these motions before there was debate or discussion on the GOP’s amendments. They weren’t discussed in committee, which, BTW, he chaired. They vanished into a black hole essentially. (I’d consider that a significant difference. Hopefully Mr. Austin will, too, now that he’s got the additional information.)
I can’t emphasize the key distinction between what happened in today’s debate and what happened in 2007. In 2007, debate on the GOP’s amendments ended with Rep. Sertich’s tactic. They ended without discussion, without the entire body voting on the amendments.
This year, Rep. Thissen’s amendment will get a hearing in the Rules Committee and an up or down vote during the House Permanent Rules debate.
Perhaps that isn’t significant to Austin but I’m betting most level-headed people will notice the distinction. That’s who I’m writing this for, not for lefty bloggers.
As Gov.-Elect Dayton starts picking his cabinet, it’ll be interesting to see what his highest priorities are vs. his second-tier priorities are. Based on what I’m seeing, I don’t get the impression that regulatory reform and jobs are his top priorities. Part of what I’m basing this on is this article, in which Rep. Hausman made this very foolish statement:
After unsuccessful efforts in two recent sessions to push legislation toughening regulations related to the PolyMet mining project near Hoyt Lakes, DFL Rep. Alice Hausman now has a simpler strategy for 2011: Play defense on any front that presents itself.
The nonferrous mining project has been in regulatory limbo for half a decade as environmental considerations butted up against the promise of jobs during the project’s movement through state and federal bureaucracies. Given the new Republican majorities in the Legislature, the project will likely move through the remainder of the review process without any clear roadblocks left in its path.
But supporters are anxious to get PolyMet finalized. And with the new governing and political realities in Minnesota and Washington, it seems unlikely there will be policy changes to stop or delay the project. Some say the new balance of power in both places could move the project forward more quickly than before, and in the process create precedents with long-term implications for mining in Minnesota’s Arrowhead.
Under the new order, said Hausman, “Not only would they not hear a bill like mine, I fear they’ll do the opposite: They’ll fast-track this in law. They’re going to put it in the context of jobs and the economy.”
Rep. Hausman makes it clear that her first priority with regard to environmental regulation reform is obstructing, even if it costs Iron Range residents high-paying jobs. What else would explain her saying that the incoming GOP majority will probably fast-track reform legislation in the context of helping to create jobs and improve Minnesota’s economy?
That’s pretty straightforward to me. That mindset is also inexplicable, especially considering the condition our economy is in.
How will the Iron Range delegation feel about Rep. Hausman’s obstructionism? I’m betting folks like Tom Bakk, Tommie Ruckavina, Tony Sertich and the rest of the bunch won’t be too pleased with Rep. Hausman’s ill-informed priority.
I can’t imagine the construction unions will agree with Rep. Hausman’s priorities either. Construction on PolyMet is sure to generate lots of construction jobs. In fact, this article states the impact construction of the PolyMet Mine will have:
The PolyMet mine itself is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and require more than 1.5 million hours of construction labor. The project is also seen as a harbinger of sorts: A number of similar projects have lined up behind it, holding out the prospect of still more jobs on the perpetually challenged Iron Range and throughout the Arrowhead region.
In this economy, a project that creates 1,500,000 hours of construction labor is gigantic, especially if that project doesn’t require a bonding bill.
This exposes a potential division between the Metro DFL, who are totally committed to the environmental movement, and the Iron Range DFL, who frequently agree with environmental extremists like the MCEA but have to walk a fine line to maintain the support of the Iron Range unions.
If it ever got out that they’re really committed to the environmental movement, the Iron Range DFL would be history for a generation. Here’s what’s potentially at stake:
“There are several companies that are exploring and have discovered a number of nonferrous metals,” said Mike Robertson, environmental policy consultant to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “That’s the major issue in moving forward with the review of the rules and determining what the proper rules could be.”
Let’s put this in its original context. Rep. Hausman is opposed to streamlining the regulatory rules even if it costs Iron Range residents jobs. We now know that this isn’t just about PolyMet. It’s about a group of mining opportunities that could potentially transform the Iron Range and Duluth into one of the most prosperous parts of the state.
That isn’t inconsequential. In fact, I’d argue that it’s something that deserves a high priority in the upcoming legislative session.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be everyone’s first priority:
But general opposition to the project – and its particular brand of open-pit, copper-nickel mining, has not subsided regardless of its improved political outlook. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership has called protecting the state’s water from the effects of mining pollution one of its top priorities for the coming session.
As for enacting policy changes related to the mine, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s Paul Aasen said he’s still hopeful a proposal to ensure mining companies are held financially responsible, if need be, will gain traction. Outside of that, he said, a lot of his attention is now on Washington, where regulators will also be tasked with evaluating the proposal, a process that could consume most of 2011.
Aasen is worried about the fight that lies ahead and the companies presently queuing up for more of the action. “If and when PolyMet occurs,” he said, “there are other projects very similar to it. The issues faced with them are the same or even more difficult. The precedents that will potentially be set by the PolyMet decisions become that much more critical.”
This isn’t something Minnesotans should take lightly. Fighting against organizations like MCEA requires commitment, grit and finances. A friend at the Capitol told me the best way to think of MCEA is to think of them “as the ACLU of the environmental movement.” This friend said that MCEA does the fighting in court, the heavy lifting, if you will, so other environmental organizations can do the puff piece PR events.
If the permitting process is streamlined, that means that there’d be fewer opportunities for the MCEA to stop via attrition-style litigation. That won’t play well with their organization. It would, however, give job-seeking Minnesotans and expansion-minded businesses reason to rejoice.
I’m betting that the vast majority of Minnesotans wouldn’t side with the MCEA’s and Rep. Hausmans of the state. I’m betting that they’d want the permitting process streamlined, jobs created and prosperity returned to the state.
Anyone standing in the way of that in the legislature should either represent a safe district or start preparing their resume because if they’re in a moderately swing district and they’re voting for the MCEA’s obstructionist tactics, they’ll be defeated in 2012.
I’d bet the proverbial ranch on that.
It’s time for these obstructionist special interest groups to be put in their place. They’re holding Minnesota back from being a prosperous state. They’re needlessly keeping too many Minnesotans on the unemployment rolls.
It’s time, too, for the Iron Range DFL and for the construction unions to step forward and tell these special interest groups that their obstructionist tactics aren’t welcome anymore.
These groups need to either declare that they’re for prosperity or obstructionism. Now isn’t the time for sitting on the proverbial fence.
Technorati: MCEA, Environment, Litigation, PolyMet, Alice Hausman, Tom Ruckavina, Tony Sertich, Tom Bakk, Iron Range, Mining, Mark Dayton, Paul Aasen, Unions, Construction, DFL, Permitting, Reforms, Prosperity, MNGOP