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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.

If Bill Hanna’s op-ed makes anything clear, it’s that Tina Smith likely will replace Al Franken as a shill for anti-mining environmentalists. Hanna wrote “Prettner-Solon was a strong advocate for issues so vital to the Range. Smith was a great big question mark. And Smith did little to allay my concerns during that initial meeting. She admitted to not knowing much about the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals copper/nickel mining projects and had yet to even talk or meet with officials of those two companies. But she would be doing so, she assured. Not exactly a vote of confidence for a new era of mining on the Range. Smith has since been the dutiful lieutenant governor in line with Dayton on issues, while doing what she does best, raising political funds. So on mining, Smith was in step with Dayton, eventually supporting PolyMet in the footprint of the former LTV Mining plant near Aurora and Hoyt Lakes while giving a thumbs-down to the desired Twin Metals underground copper/nickel/strategic metals venture near Ely and Babbitt.”

It’s clear that Gov. Dayton’s intention in picking Smith was to stay away from picking a Range DFLer like Tony Sertich. Sertich would’ve been qualified (from a DFL policy standpoint) with the exception that he might’ve been too pro-mining for the Metrocrats’ liking.

But the Range needs a modern-day mining/logging/land use promoter in the Senate, not a reluctant follower or, worse yet, a reliable “no” vote. Smith connects well with Twin Cities Progressives who show off their penmanship when writing checks for liberal causes. She will definitely do the same on a national level.

But Progressives don’t like mining, even though they relish their computers, vehicles, medical devices and cell phones that are only made possible by minerals extracted from below the ground. It’s all so odd; don’t you dare mine, but do make sure we’ve got plenty of tools to connect with the Internet. And you better not mess with my Facebook Page abilities. It’s like believing milk just magically appears in stores in cartons, without the aid of cows.

Come Election Day, 2018, the Iron Range, as well as the rest of the Eighth District, Sixth District and Second District, better turn out in huge numbers. Further, they’d better vote for Karin Housley. Unlike Smith, Housley will represent the entire state.

She won’t pay lip service to the Range. She’s already speaking out in favor of the Range:

Compare that with this blather from Tina Smith:

It’s clear that Smith isn’t interested in the Iron Range or the construction industries. Smith is for these unions except when they want to mine ore, precious metals or want to build pipelines. When they want that, Smith is a less-than-enthusiastic supporter of those unions.

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If there’s a message that comes from this interview of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, it’s that Secretary Zinke isn’t into one-size-fits-all governing.

That came across clearly when the article noted that Secretary “Zinke spent two days in New Mexico in late July meeting with public officials and others, and even took a horseback ride with the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators. Despite intense public skepticism about his intentions, Zinke recommended no changes to the monuments’ boundaries in New Mexico — only management changes. It was a marked contrast to his action in Utah, where he urged Trump to slash the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments. The move triggered lawsuits and a withering rebuke from the Patagonia outdoor clothing company, which took to social media to tell Americans that Trump ‘stole your land.'”

Another thing that’s apparent is that Secretary Zinke isn’t afraid to listen to people:

“The president tasked me to get the local voice,” Zinke said, explaining his decision on New Mexico’s monuments. “I talked to the governor, I talked to your two senators, I talked to (Republican Rep.) Steve Pearce and I talked to the communities.

Overwhelmingly, the communities were comfortable with the monuments. It was different in Utah where you had both senators, all the congressman and the governor supportive (of reducing the monuments).”

Actually listening to people isn’t a method used that often by the Obama administration.

What’s not to like about this type of management?

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico remain suspicious of Zinke’s intent in New Mexico, and have said they won’t be mollified until Trump makes final decisions on the two monuments. Zinke said he’s recommended management changes that protect ranchers’ rights to graze their livestock at the Rio Grande del Norte Monument and give the Border Patrol unfettered ability to disrupt drug trafficking routes near the Organ Mountains monument in southern New Mexico.

The environmentalists will always complain about any usage of public lands.

Anyone living in the western United States knows the damage that weaponized government can do to people. While this post isn’t directly related to Bears Ears or other western monuments, westerners won’t have any difficulty recognizing the players involved in this episode involving weaponized government.

According to the article, “On January 19th, 2017, the day before President Trump was sworn in, the previous administration published a 234,328-acre federal mineral withdrawal application in the Federal Register, to restrict for a 20-year moratorium, lands within the Superior National Forest in Northeast Minnesota. This action immediately placed this vast area off limits to future mineral leasing, exploration and potential development for two years while the 20-year withdrawal is being considered. The total withdrawal application boundary spans approximately 425,000 acres, including 95,000 acres of state school trust fund lands. In conjunction with this massive mineral withdrawal, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management inappropriately rejected Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to renew two hardrock mineral leases in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest – leases that were signed in 1966 and renewed without controversy in 1989 and 2004.”

Another part of the “Congressional Western Caucus (CWC)” press release stated “These bureaucratic decisions could decimate local economies, stifle job creation as well as cause significant harm to K-12 education and mining in Minnesota. These were political, anti-mining and anti-education actions taken by the Obama Administration.” Consider this proof that the Obama administration put a higher priority on weaponizing government to hurt its enemies than it put on helping people and strengthening the economy.

Nobody in their right mind thinks that decimating am entire region’s economy is wise. Nonetheless, that’s what environmentalists are pushing for. They’re pushing for it in the name of preserving pristine lakes and streams but they’re still pushing for decimating the Iron Range’s economy.

Of course, Betty McCollum is outraged:

I spoke with the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the phone yesterday and he reiterated to me directly just how precious the waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area are and the need for ongoing environmental study. Twenty-four hours later, he broke his word and issued mining leases footsteps from the BWCA to a foreign-owned mining company. Clearly, the numerous assurances I received from Secretary Zinke about protecting the BWCA were worthless and deceitful.

The Trump administration is blatantly dishonest and cannot be trusted. They are determined to sell, exploit, and destroy the American people’s natural treasures like Bears Ears National Monument, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and now our own Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park. For every Minnesotan and American who believes in conservation and values our national resources, the battle lines are drawn.

I’m betting that Zinke and Trump are quaking in their boots. Not. The truth is that the Trump administration is simply letting mining companies mine. As for anti-mining adversaries opposed to applying common sense to these situations, I’ve got this simple question: Considering the fact that environmentalists use products that use the precious metals they’re opposed to mining for, will you make up your mind? Either you’re opposed to using products using precious metals (think iPads and iPhones) or you’re a bunch of hypocrites.

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