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Now that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has said that the Line 3 Pipeline replacement is needed, a new round of litigation is certain to follow. That’s because PUC’s findings “differs from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s opinion that Line 3 is unnecessary for the state.”

This is what’s wrong with Minnesota’s regulatory system.

According to the article, “The utilities commissioners have many options for what to do regarding Line 3. They could outright deny it, or agree with the staff conclusion and grant a certificate of need. Or they could approve Enbridge’s plan but only under certain conditions. The commissioners could choose some combination of 12 different conditions, such as requiring renewable energy to offset the pipeline’s impact or setting up a fund to remove the old line.”

Or they could choose to throw darts at the report and ignore it entirely. I’m half-kidding, of course. It isn’t surprising that these projects take 10+ years to approve. The market should determine whether a pipeline is required. The last thing we need are a bunch of political busybodies telling us what we need and what we don’t. These aren’t experts. They’re activists with different opinions. Minnesota needs layers of regulators like property owners need arsonists on their payroll.

It’s time to streamline this process so a quick decision can be made. Further, it’s time to call these environmental activists out. They’re putting themselves first instead of putting the country first. Put a different way, these environmental activists aren’t patriots. They should be ashamed of themselves. Period.

I just got off the phone with Mitch Berg, who told me that Erin Murphy has picked Erin Maye Quade to be the Lt. Gov. candidate on her ticket. I told Mitch that nothing says geographical and ideological balance like a pair of gun-grabbing Metrocrats that hate mining. BTW, you’ll want to read Mitch’s upcoming post to hear his perspective on this. Trust me when I tell you that he’s got a perspective that you won’t hear from the Twin Cities media.

Here’s a little background on EMQ: “Quade first rose to prominence in speaking out on sexual harassment at the State Capitol — a #MeToo movement that ultimately led to the resignation of two prominent state legislators. Quade also led a 24-hour sit-in on the floor of the State Capitol in April, calling for a vote on several gun control bills before the session’s end. Quade is the first openly LGBT candidate for statewide office on a ticket endorsed by a major party. At 32, she would also be one of the youngest people to serve in the office.”

In her first gubernatorial-level decision, Murphy failed miserably. The Lt. Gov. must be able to step in as governor if, God forbid, something happens to the governor. Erin Maye Quade fails that test:

Maye Quade is serving her first term in the House and previously worked for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison doing constituent services and organizing for DFL campaigns. She is a lifelong resident of Apple Valley, where she lives with her wife, Alyse, who also organizes for the DFL Party.

Basically, she’s a high profile activist. What’s funny is that Murphy doesn’t admit that this ticket won’t be well-received outside the Twin Cities metro:


Here’s the thing: Erin Murphy hates farmers almost as much as she hates miners, loggers and gun owners. The thought that Murphy and Quade will appeal to more than 12% of rural voters statewide is ridiculous. I’ve got to think that the NRA is chomping at the bit to go after this ticket. In the Eighth, I’m betting that there are tons of DFLers that can’t wait to vote against this ticket. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they vote for one of the GOP tickets.

Ken Martin won’t admit it but he’s got to be afraid of what this ticket would do to the DFL this November.

Minutes after Tim Walz withdrew from the endorsement fight, the DFL endorsed Erin Murphy to be their gubernatorial candidate.

This was an event-filled, tumultuous, convention. The first shock happened when unknown Matt Pelikan trailed DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson by just 5 points, with Swanson at 52.2% and Pelikan at 47.2% of the vote. Before they started the second ballot, Swanson pulled out, handing the endorsement to Pelikan. When Erin Murphy won the endorsement after Tim Walz withdrew from the endorsement race, rumors started swirling that Swanson might jump into the DFL gubernatorial primary instead of fighting through the DFL AG primary.

Meanwhile, another rumor has it that Ryan Winkler will run in the DFL AG primary if Swanson opts for the DFL gubernatorial primary. If AG Swanson runs in the AG’s primary, she’d probably win. If she runs in the gubernatorial primary, her chances of winning drop significantly. In both instances, though, her chances of winning the general election aren’t that great, though they’d be better if she ran for AG.

As for Murphy’s chances, they aren’t good. If she defeats Tim Walz, she’ll only do so by running far to Walz’s left. Single-payer health care isn’t popular in Minnesota. People didn’t trust MNsure. They definitely won’t trust single-payer. Further, it’s quite possible that she’ll lose to Tim Walz while pushing him farther left than Walz can afford to go to win the general election.

Murphy’s victory makes life difficult for Chairman Martin because it’s dragging the supposed frontrunner farther left than Martin wanted. Next, whoever wins will have gotten dragged so far left that it’ll be virtually impossible to win in November, mostly because Murphy is a hostile environmental activist. To win, she’ll have to alienate miners and union construction workers like pipefitters. Think heavy equipment operators, too.

This isn’t the script the DFL wanted written at convention-end. Most likely, they’ll have primaries in Tina Smith’s seat, the open Nolan seat, the possibly open State AG seat and the governor’s race. It’s the exact opposite of what Chairman Martin hoped for.

Finally, this situation virtually guarantees a Republican governor in November. Add to that the likelihood of Republicans winning the auditor’s race and the definite possibility of Republicans winning the AG race, coupled with the strong likelihood of maintaining their majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate and you’re looking at a pretty difficult year if you’re Chairman Martin. That’s before mentioning the likelihood of winning the First and Eighth U.S. Congressional districts.

This year, Minnesota has none of the makings of a blue wave.

The Trump administration is considering a rule change to something called “the blanket rule.” According to the article, it’s “probably an esoteric issue to most Americans, but to landowners and businesses, primarily in the Western U.S., the ‘blanket’ extension of ESA protections to “threatened” species has punished them for decades. A ‘take’ of a protected species can bring massive civil and criminal penalties. ‘Private property owners’ incentives are key because most endangered species depend on private land for most of their habitat,’ Wood said. ‘This reform will improve those incentives and make it easier for states, property owners, and environmentalists to work together on innovative conservation plans.’ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended “take” protections to species listed as ‘threatened’ under the ESA, despite Congress wanting federal agents to regulate “threatened” species different from those classified as ‘endangered.'”

When the ESA was enacted, Congress’s intent was to protect endangered species, which is defined as “any species in danger of extinction.” Meanwhile, threatened species are defined as “on the brink of becoming endangered.”

Its provisions give the Interior Department the power to determine what species are endangered and then to list them publicly. It makes it illegal to capture, kill, transport, sell, buy, possess, import or export any of the listed plants or animals. There is a separate category for “threatened” species, those organisms that are on the brink of becoming endangered. They are equally protected, except that scientists may take specimens when necessary for vital research.

In the United States the Office of Endangered Species currently lists 51 plants and 143 animals as endangered and 7 plants and 38 animals as threatened. To prevent the import or trade of endangered species native to foreign countries, the office lists 402 foreign animals as endangered and 16 animals and a plant as threatened.

The goal of the ESA is to properly manage plant and animal species so they’re no longer endangered or threatened.

Here in Minnesota, the ESA was critical in turning around the timber wolf population. At one point (the late 1960s and early 1970s), only a few families of timber wolves existed in Minnesota. After proper management, the timber wolf population, through cautious management, was rejuvenated to the point where there were open hunting seasons on the great grey wolf. That’s a legitimate success story. That should be the goal of management policies for all endangered or threatened species.

Instead, the ESA has been used as a weapon against developers. It’s time to de-weaponized the ESA and return sanity to development projects. That will be a difficult task. Environmental activist organizations like the Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and others have used the ESA to throttle projects. They won’t give up without a lengthy court fight.

Rejecting the blanket rule won’t fix the law but it’s a positive first step.

If Democrats want to have a chance at winning back the US House, they’ll need to prove that they won’t consistently side with Big Environment, aka Big Green. During the Obama administration, Big Mining got the shaft without getting the mining project. Salena Zito’s latest article suggests that Democrats are rebuilding their relationship with Big Labor.

The union voters I talked to said they didn’t feel that Democrats in Washington had their back; that they were too progressive, too strident, and way out of touch with their lives and needs. “I think there were two factors at play with how union members, many union members turned away from the Democratic Party,” said Mike Mikus, a western Pennsylvania Democratic strategist who does campaign work for several unions. One is that they didn’t feel their economic issues needed to be addressed and pretty frankly it was in the Democratic playbook to play to the center meant taking on organized labor rather than any other Democratic constituency,” he said.

I’m not convinced that Democrats have figured it out yet, though. I don’t doubt that some Democrats have made the decision to support mining. That will give those Democrats a fighting chance in some districts. The problem is that they’re still part of a Democratic Party that’s dominated by environmental activists.

The Democratic Party won’t part ways with the environmental activists. The miners still remember this:

or this:

Tom Steyer and Alita Messenger won’t tolerate a significant shift back to mining, which is where most union workers are employed. The other industry where lots of union workers are employed is construction. Democrats still fight tooth-and-nail against pipeline projects. If I ran the NRCC, I’d remind voters in the heartland that Democrats are still funded by environmental activists. As long as that’s the case, labor will get shafted by the Democrats.

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: