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Let’s recount the DFL’s Eighth District Convention last Saturday. According to multiple tweets, Leah Phifer got the most votes in each of the 10 rounds of balloting. Still, she didn’t reach the 60% threshold needed to win the DFL’s official endorsement to run for the US House of Representatives. It was considered a fait accompli that Ms. Phifer would run in the August DFL primary. Why wouldn’t she? She was the frontrunner in each of the 10 rounds of balloting.

Late Wednesday night, though, Ms. Phifer dropped a bombshell, announcing that she wouldn’t run in the DFL primary.

In her official statement, Ms. Phifer said “My goal, since first declaring my candidacy in October 2017, has always been to win the DFL endorsement, bring new voices to the table and strengthen the party. A divisive primary season would only serve to weaken the party and distract from the issues affecting the people of the 8th District.”

This doesn’t make any sense. Phifer was the only environmental activist of the 4 candidates that were either considering running in the DFL primary or who had announced that they were running. Further, CD-8 was the only district where Rebecca Otto defeated Tim Walz. Clearly, environmental activists were activated in the Eighth. In a 4-way race, there’s no reason to think that she couldn’t have defeated her opponents.

Considering the fact that DFL Chairman Ken Martin said that a divided DFL that didn’t endorse a candidate couldn’t defeat Pete Stauber and considering the fact that the DFL was a divided shambles Saturday night after they failed to endorse a candidate, isn’t it interesting that they suddenly have 3 pro-mining candidates running in the DFL primary? What are the odds that the frontrunner, the candidate who stood between DFL unity and DFL division, unexpectedly dropped out?

It’s difficult to believe that someone who looked that energized in that picture voluntarily dropped out of the race. I think the more likely question is more nefarious. Which of Ken Martin’s inner circle forced Leah Phifer from the race?

Finally, let’s recall a little history within the CD-8 DFL. Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan have fought to prevent a fight between the pro-mining faction within the DFL and the pro-environment faction. In fact, they fought that fight for years. Why wouldn’t they fight to prevent it one last time?

Prior to Saturday’s DFL Convention, I thought that the DFL’s best chance to hold a battleground congressional district was the Eighth District. Based on Saturday’s CD-8 DFL convention outcome, I won’t predict that anymore. Based on reports like this article, it sounds like the convention ended in discord.

Sam Brodey reports that “it’ll take an August primary to determine which of these Democrats earns the chance to compete in the general election, and that primary has the potential to showcase the party’s rifts on issues like mining and immigration, which were on full display at Saturday’s convention.”

One of the early casualties was Rep. Jason Metsa. Rep. Metsa got into the race late. Still, he might run in the DFL primary. Others sure to run in the DFL primary are Joe Radinovich, Leah Phifer and Michelle Lee. Each of those candidates have flaws.

For instance, Phifer is an environmentalist who worked for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That put her at odds with “members of the Latino DFL Caucus.” Rep. Radinovich was a one-term wonder from Aitkin before losing to Dale Lueck. After that defeat, Radinovich was Nolan’s campaign manager before becoming Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s chief of staff. When Nolan endorsed Radinovich after the 6th ballot, Frey held up a sign announcing Nolan’s endorsement.

Frey, who traveled to Duluth to work the floor for Radinovich, got on top of a chair with a hand-written sign broadcasting Nolan’s endorsement to the delegates. But ultimately, Nolan’s support was not enough for Radinovich to eclipse Phifer.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin addressed the convention:

Addressing delegates earlier in the afternoon, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin urged delegates to unite behind a candidate. “If we come out of here divided, we’re not going to win,” he said.

It’s still to be decided whether the primary will split or unite the DFL but it can’t be denied that the DFL isn’t off to a good start of uniting the party. It can’t make Martin feel good that the candidates essentially ignored his exhortation to unite.

Looming large over the convention was a candidate who wasn’t even in the room: Republican Pete Stauber, who is a lock to earn the CD8 Republican Party endorsement. Democrats are concerned that a bitter and drawn-out primary will give Stauber time to raise money and consolidate support, boosting his campaign to win this seat in November.

National Republicans like Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner who formerly served with the Duluth Police Department, and they view CD8 as one of their best pick-up opportunities in the entire country. President Donald Trump won here by 15 points in 2016, and Republican candidates are making inroads in places like the Iron Range, which has been a DFL stronghold for the better part of the century. Nolan’s retirement, in the eyes of the GOP, only increased their chances of flipping CD8.

The biggest advantages of not getting primaried is that the opposition doesn’t get additional ammunition against the candidate, in this case, Mr. Stauber. The other advantage is the opportunity to open some deep philosophical differences. Mining is something that the DFL, especially Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan, have worked hard at avoiding.

That’ll be difficult in the primary since Radinovich is from the ‘other’ Range, aka the Cuyuna Range. Meanwhile, Phifer is a diehard environmental activist. Those wings of the DFL mix together like the DLC wing and the MoveOn.org wing of the DNC.

At minimum, the DFL will spend this summer fighting and burning through cash while possibly dividing the party for both the congressional candidate and the gubernatorial candidate. If the DFL isn’t united this time, it will be a tough year for them up-and-down the ballot.

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According to the Cook Political Report, MN-3 is a toss-up race. People are free to believe what they want but I won’t join in with that opinion. I won’t buy that BS because Congressman Paulsen defeated State Sen. Terri Bonoff by almost 14 points. Congressman Paulsen garnered 57% of the vote while Ms. Bonoff only mustered 43%. At the time, the ‘experts’ were touting as fact what a top-tier candidate Bonoff was. I actually thought that she was a decent candidate, though I stopped short of calling her a top-tier candidate.

This time, Congressman Paulsen will likely be paired against Dean Phillips. Phillips’ grandmother through adoption was Abigail van Buren, aka Dear Abby. Other than that, Phillips is a nondescript cookie-cutter Democrat. For instance, one of his issues is Campaign Finance Reform. Phillips wrote “No matter what issue is most important to you, I believe the corrupting influence of money in politics is at the very core of congressional dysfunction. It is beyond time to reform our campaign finance system and take steps to repair our government. And while we ultimately may need a constitutional amendment to completely undo the damage done by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, there are steps we can take now that have broad support from the public and would make a meaningful difference.”

Isn’t it interesting that Phillips’ fix for political corruption is taking law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights away? Would Phillips use the same approach to gun safety? Apparently:

I will do everything possible to reduce gun violence, ensure safe streets and address international threats? through a well-resourced State Department, which would? ensure that? diplomacy is our first line of defense.

In other words, being an international wimp is Phillips’ path to international peace and being a gun grabber is the Phillips path to domestic tranquility. Ask the 14 students and 3 teachers from Parkland how well that approach works.

Of course, the DFL regurgitated the same chanting points:

Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin called the GOP’s tax bill “Robin Hood in reverse. It takes from hardworking Minnesotans to give massive tax breaks to the wealthy,” he said in a statement. “Minnesotans know a scam when they see one, and the Republican tax bill is a bad deal for our state. Mike Pence should return to Washington and join Democrats in fighting for a tax plan that puts everyday families first.”

The DFL isn’t in touch with families. If they were, they’d admit that millions of employees have gotten billions of dollars in bonuses, higher wages, better benefits or all of the above since the Trump/GOP tax cuts were enacted.

The DFL would do well to actually start listening to the people, something they don’t do currently. The DFL should listen more to the blue collar workers. They’re the ones that delivered the White House to President Trump. The DFL should ignore environmental activists more, too. They’re part of the reason why the DFL lost the Minnesota State Senate.

I’ll state this emphatically. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis will win re-election. It’s likely, IMHO, that the MNGOP will flip MN-1, too. The MNGOP is competitive in MN-8, too. In fact, there’s a strong chance that Minnesota Republicans will have a strong night this November.

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I’ll start by admitting that other publications have written about DFL candidate Leah Phifer. This MinnPost article is one such article.

What’s interesting is how strident Ms. Phifer is in her environmentalism. It started with this:

Fresh tensions over mining in CD8 began at the end of 2016, when the outgoing Barack Obama administration moved to deny the company Twin Metals a renewal of leases it held on a valuable trove of copper, nickel, and other metals in the Superior National Forest, a few miles from the protected Boundary Waters Area Canoe Wilderness.

That also set in motion a process to potentially impose a 20-year moratorium on any mining exploration or activity in a quarter-million acres of land. The U.S. Forest Service stated that the kind of technique that would be used to extract these metals, sulfide mining, is unlikely to be conducted in a way that does not seriously pollute the water and soil of the surrounding area.

Nolan, fresh off another close election victory, condemned this move harshly, and framed it as a “slap in the face and a punch in the gut” to the Iron Range and its economy. The Democrat joined 6th District GOP Rep. Tom Emmer in sending a letter to Trump, asking him to reverse the Obama decisions; the duo has met with the relevant Cabinet secretaries, Agriculture Department chief Sonny Perdue and Interior Department boss Ryan Zinke, to urge them to reverse the decisions as well.

It quickly transitions to this:

The Timberjay newspaper of Ely, in a recent editorial, pointed out a notable moment from May, in which Nolan appeared at the Twin Metals office on the Iron Range alongside Emmer and a handful of Republican congressmen from the so-called Western Caucus, a group that pushes strident right-wing views on resource extraction and public lands, to advocate for action to reverse the Obama decisions on the Twin Metals leases.

“His recent alignment with some of the Republican Party’s most radical anti-environment and anti-public lands members of Congress has left Nolan incongruously positioned to the right of the Trump administration on the environment,” the Timberjay wrote.

That didn’t sit well with Ms. Phifer:

“Certainly,” Phifer says, “the legislation the congressman has pushed forward, especially throughout the summer, that has been the last straw for a lot of folks willing to overlook militant, pro-mining stances that could put the regulatory process in jeopardy. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve lost quite a few people,” Phifer says of Nolan’s stance.

For her part, Phifer believes the Obama decisions should stand, and she is against defunding the U.S. Forest Service’s two-year study evaluating whether or not to place a lengthy mining moratorium on the swath of Superior National Forest identified by the government. Nolan supported an amendment onto a spending bill that would have defunded the Forest Service’s study, effectively killing it.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Ms. Phifer is a strident anti-mining environmentalist. She isn’t a bashful politician, either:

Phifer said she was “disappointed” in the characterization of the mining communities on the Iron Range, but that she has a broad perspective of life in the 8th District since growing up in Two Harbors and now living and working in Isanti. She hopes the two sides warring over the proposed copper-nickel projects can come together to talk about what is best for the 8th District.

“Really, acknowledging the divide and then moving on is a good plan because we need to start looking at this in a broader perspective and not letting these wedge issues completely suck the oxygen out of the room,” Phifer said.

Though she isn’t a typical politician, she is a politician nonetheless.

Anyone thinking that environmental organizations care about public opinion or common sense should read this article.

I took notice when it said “The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals announced Tuesday it will hear an oral argument in March over the lawsuit, brought by the Western Organization of Resource Councils and Friends of the Earth against Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke. The suit challenges that the federal government is underplaying the impact of mining coal on the land it leases.”

I was especially stunned when Interior replied “In a response to the request for appeal, the defendant said, “Although the Plaintiffs’ brief, in this case, goes into great detail about the science of global climate change, plaintiffs do not challenge any substantive agency action or allege a failure to carry out.”

This lawsuit shouldn’t get taken seriously. Here’s why:

Interior added: “This case, therefore, is like any other in which a plaintiff claims to identify a new environmental impact that the agency must take into account in its decision making.”

The lawsuit against the Interior Department was initially dismissed by a federal court in 2015.

In other words, organizations like the Western Organization of Resource Councils and Friends of the Earth apparently exist to file trivial lawsuits. This video explains Friends of the Earth International’s mission:

One of my favorite things to read each week is Harold Hamilton’s Friday commentary. Suffice it to say that Hamilton isn’t into repeating conventional wisdom mumbo jumbo. This week, Hamilton devoted a portion of this week’s commentary to a section titled “The DFL crack up.” The important point that Hamilton highlighted was a quote from Ann Manning, identified as “the director of Women’s Congress for Future Generations and associate director of the Science & Environmental Health Network.” Manning is quoted as saying “The workers have no connection to the community, get paid large sums of money and have little to do in their free time. Some will bring trouble, attracting the drug trade, sex trafficking or both. They will pollute the land by day, and women and children by night.”

Right before that, Hamilton wrote “The second example comes from the pen of Ann Manning, who wrote a scathing hit piece on construction trade workers this week, warning that pipeline work inevitable invites violent crime, as she believes these workers to be violent criminals inclined to engage in drug use and sexual assault.”

It isn’t just Hillary Clinton that thinks blue collar workers are deplorables. It’s painfully obvious that Ms. Manning thinks blue collar workers are deplorables, too. The DFL, like the Democratic Party nationally, is turning into an elitist party.

One of the things blue collar workers should learn from my previous post about refugee resettlement is that the Democrats’ policies are making income inequality worse because the Democrats’ policies are hurting the middle class. The DFL hasn’t implemented pro-growth tax and regulatory policies that help the middle class thrive. Instead, the DFL has been the anti-mining, anti-pipeline political party. With policies that eliminate high-paying blue collar jobs or, at minimum, make them virtually impossible to find, Democrats have made life difficult for the middle class and the blue collar workers.

This year, when people see that their paychecks are bigger as a result of the Trump/GOP tax cuts and that the DFL is still the anti-mining political party, it won’t take a genius to figure out that Republicans will fight for blue collar construction jobs, mining jobs and middle class tax cuts. It won’t take a genius because Republicans have been fighting for those things the last 5+ years. Check out this video, then ask yourself if Ms. Manning sounds like a mainstream type of person:

If that’s your definition of mainstream, I suspect that you think Howard Dean is a little too moderate for your liking.

The DFL has sold out to the environmental activists. It’s taken awhile but the DFL’s anti-mining policies have turned miners off. The most underreported story in Minnesota politics is that the DFL split on mining/the environment isn’t subsiding. It’s getting bigger.

Friday morning, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources “released a draft permit to mine Friday morning for PolyMet Mining” in what’s being called “a major step forward for what’s poised to be the first copper-nickel mine in the state.” While this isn’t the final step needed to mine, “the draft permit, which includes conditions the state would place on the Canadian mining company, signals the state is comfortable the mine, as proposed, can meet environmental standards and provide significant financial assurances to pay for any needed mine cleanup.”

While that’s a major step forward, the project still faces additional hurdles before construction can start. The next step allows the public “to weigh in on the draft permit, including at two public hearings scheduled Feb. 7 in Aurora, on the Iron Range, and Feb. 8 in Duluth. The DNR will also accept formal objections and petitions for special contested case hearings on the permit before a state administrative law judge.” After that, the MPCA “also plans to release draft water quality and air quality permits, two additional major permits PolyMet needs to obtain before it could open its proposed mine and processing plant near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes.” That still isn’t enough to open the mine:

Environmental groups have already filed four lawsuits, most challenging a proposed land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service, and more suits are expected if the state eventually grants PolyMet permits. If the DNR calls for evidentiary hearings before an administrative law judge to gather testimony on aspects of the mining plan that are disputed by environmental groups and Indian tribes, that could tack on another 6 to 9 months to the regulatory process.

A vote for a DFL governor is a vote for continuing the status quo. In this instance, this process started in 2004 with the “Initial Environmental Review.”

According to this article, which was written on “Dec. 16, 2015”, PolyMet spent $249,708,000 in its attempt to get the mine operational:

Anyone that thinks spending $250,000,000 is reasonable to get approval for a mine hates mining and miners. The DFL and their front groups (think Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters) might think that’s reasonable but sane people don’t. If anyone wants to know why entrepreneurs are leaving Minnesota, the regulatory climate is a major reason. There’s nothing reasonable about it.

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Earlier this week, Rebecca Otto was endorsed by the DFL Environmental Caucus. Veda Kanitz, the chairwoman of the DFL Environmental Caucus, said “Rebecca Otto is a powerful voice for the environment and for a better Minnesota economy. We wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for governor of Minnesota.”

According to the article, “The caucus is made up of about 400 members from across the state who are trying to promote an environmental protection agenda among the state’s Democrats.” Further, “The caucus, which has been around about four years, made headlines in 2016 during the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention when it succeeded in advancing an anti-copper mining item in the party platform.” That platform plank was removed but the division between the environmental activists and the miners still exists.

This isn’t new. Otto has fought against mining for years. In Oct., 2013, Otto voted against approving 31 mining leases:

The council’s lone “no” vote, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, stated that she had had “a revelation” early the morning of the meeting that informed her vote. “We have not done copper sulfide mining in this state yet,” said Otto. She expressed concerns about potential fiscal burdens associated with copper sulfide mining that might be placed on future generations.

Let’s be clear about something. Otto is the most anti-mining gubernatorial candidate in the race on either side. By far. The chances of her winning the Iron Range vote are microscopic if not non-existent.

If Otto is the gubernatorial candidate and Tina Smith is the Senate candidate, expect a huge anti-DFL turnout in CD-8. This is personal to them. Shortly after her anti-mining vote, “Dump Otto” signs popped up virtually overnight. Rangers view Otto as a carpetbagger. Saying they don’t like her is understatement.

Ms. Otto has a history of not representing her constituents. She’s filed a lawsuit to get a signed law declared unconstitutional. The law gives counties the option of hiring a private auditing firm instead of having her office audit the county. Otto’s office often doesn’t meet the deadline for these audits. Further, the OSA’s audits are more expensive than audits by private auditing firms.

In summation, Ms. Otto is anti-mining and wastes the taxpayers’ money to finish her sole responsibility (auditing) late. God help us if that’s the type of ineptitude we pick as our next governor.

This past fall, I wrote a ton of articles about the importance of building or replacing the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. I wish I’d had this information when I wrote those articles.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been good friends with Terry Stone for quite some time. He’s a top researcher and writer. When it comes to energy and transportation issues, Terry’s on a par with Mike Beard and other expert former legislators. Simply put, when Terry talks about transportation or energy, I listen.

One of the first things that caught my attention was when Terry wrote “Moving oil by train can have consequences to human life that are almost never seen in pipelines. A 2013 crash of 72 oil cars in Quebec left 47 dead.
Moving oil by barge or tanker ship can be costly to clean up if something goes wrong and is environmentally unattractive. The total cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ended up costing $630 per gallon. The average cost of an oil-spill cleanup in the U.S. is $18.11 per gallon. Pipeline spills cost even less because they are not typically driven miles by wind, and they don’t kill clusters of riparian marine life. Pipeline leaks are small, fast to find, and seldom involve a risk to human life.”

Here’s a question for the environmentalists that sit on the board of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that they won’t like: why are you opposed to efficiently transporting oil from the well to the refinery? Anything other than ratifying the Line 3 replacement is unacceptable. We don’t need to figure out whether the additional crude oil is needed. It is, especially with a growing economy. These statistics definitely caught my attention:

We have been hearing a lot about oil-train derailments, crashes, and fires since 2013. This is because from 2009 to 2012 the volume of oil shipped by rail increased from 11,000 to 230,000 railcars — up 2,200 percent. According to Forbes, more crude was spilled from rail cars in 2013 than in all the 37 previous years combined.

That’s astonishing. What’s the environmentalists’ argument for saying no to replacing the Line 3 pipeline? It certainly can’t be to protect the environment. That ‘ship’ sailed with these statistics. These statistics, too:

According to Enbridge, the replaced pipeline will be able to take 10,000 rail cars off the tracks or 24,000 tanker trucks off the highways — daily. Enbridge is a bit generous with its figures. Actually, since both the trains of railcars and the trucks hauling oil need to drive back across the country empty, burning diesel, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project would equal a total of 20,000 rail cars off the road daily or 48,000 tanker trucks daily. That should sound like Christmas every day to every environmentalist.

Do environmentalists think that we’ll replace fossil fuels sometime soon? If they’re thinking that, they’d better find better researchers. Further, with technology improving virtually monthly, there’s no reason to think that fossil fuels won’t become cleaner, more efficient and more reliable.

We won’t stop using fossil fuels anytime soon so the environmentalists should just deal with that fact. Next, the environmentalists should accept the fact that pipelines will be a necessity for at least the next 20-30 years. Hating fossil fuels won’t make the pipelines disappear. It’s time to put an end to this stupidity:

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When the American Mining Rights Association, aka AMRA, tried planning an event near Barstow, Calif., the BLM posted Route Closed signs on the trail event participants were scheduled to take. When “AMRA President Shannon Poe caught wind of the BLM scheme”, he called “the BLM office in Barstow and spoke to a guy by the name of Jeff Childers. And Childers, while he presented himself as the manager of the BLM office, was not … but he told me that they put the signs in the roads there and that the roads were now closed as part of the WEMO Plan.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Childers, a multitude of laws were against him. For instance, “the Mining Law of 1872 as amended” makes “blocking access to an active mining claim … illegal.” That isn’t the only statute that the BLM ignored. When Poe spoke with Childers, Poe “explained to Mr. Childers in a rather lengthy—probably a 45-minute call—that they cannot lock and block mining claim owners for a variety of reasons, the first being the Americans with Disabilities Act. Making a 70-year-old man with a fake knee and a fake hip pack in and walk two miles through the Mojave Desert to access his mining claim isn’t just immoral; it is illegal under the ADA as well as under the RS 2477 or Revised Statue 2477 law which states that all roads prior to 1976 must remain open.”

The night before the event, Katrina Symons, the “field manager of the Barstow District Office” of the BLM, met with Mr. Poe:

Symons agreed to meet Poe at his campsite at the Slash X Ranch on Friday, Oct. 13, preceding the outing. When Symons arrived about 5:30 p.m., she met with Poe and two senior members of the AMRA board of directors, Jere and Connie Clements, at a picnic table. “She had Jeff Childers with her and we talked for about 15 minutes about the desert tortoise and how we could protect them — just common sense stuff, and she had a big stack of pamphlets,” Poe said. According to Poe, Symons said the BLM would go a step further and check the roads the miners planned to use for tortoises on the Saturday morning of the outing. “I said, ‘Great. We’ll be out there at 9 o’clock. That’s fantastic! We’ll wait until you guys clear the road, and then we’ll go in.’”

Problem solved. Or, so he thought.

Then, in a shocking turn of events according to Poe, Symons threatened Poe with criminal prosecution, adding she would take photos of his vehicle and license plate once he had driven past the BLM road closure signs.
Poe then asked Symons to explain her sudden about-face change in position, he said. “She said: ‘I’m going to take picture of your truck, fill out an affidavit and send it to our law enforcement division for criminal prosecution,'” Poe said. “So, I said: ‘Last night, Katrina, you told me on the phone—and I have a witness—that you were going to give us unrestricted access,'” Poe said.

Predictably, Symons insists that there’s been a misunderstanding:

Federal misdirection?

“Well, I believe that Mr. Poe misunderstood,” said Symons. “Because, as I understand it, Mr. Poe had sent Mr. Childers a Utah Supreme Court ruling. Mr. Childers had informed him that it was basically a state ruling; it’s not federal—and that BLM will and does comply with the 1872 Mining Law and the associated mining regulations. So, I think that was more of a miscommunication or misunderstanding.” In a follow-up interview Dec. 1, Poe responded that the Utah case involving RS 2477 laws on rights-of-way and the Hicks case are two separate cases, and that the United States v. Steve A. Hicks case is obviously federal.

AMRA appears to know its rights based on federal law. It’s difficult to believe that they’d highlight a tangential state court ruling as the centerpiece of their argument. A state court case might or might not be applicable. The U.S. v. Steve Hicks isn’t just important. It’s on point, too.

Based on AMRA’s detailed understanding of the laws applicable to their mining claims, it’s difficult to believe the BLM’s statements. I’m inclined to believe AMRA’s statements because the BLM’s statements seem to be federal misdirection.