Archive for the ‘Mining’ Category
It isn’t a secret that Hillary Clinton made a mistake by not campaigning in Wisconsin. People of all political persuasions have criticized her. IMO, those criticisms are justified … to a point. Let’s first stipulate that Hillary campaigning there would’ve helped. The question remaining is how much it would’ve helped. After spending this past weekend in the hospital thinking about that question, I’m not certain it would’ve put her over the top.
Here’s why I think that: Hillary outspent Trump by a wide margin but still lost by a wide margin. It isn’t that Hillary’s message didn’t get out. It’s that Hillary’s message got out and voters utterly rejected it. It’s that some voters simply were tired of the Clintons so they rejected her. It’s that Hillary tried cozying up to the construction unions while pandering to the environmental activists.
My theory is that it’s impossible to satisfy both constituencies. It’s like trying to date 2 jealous one-man women and not hiding that fact. The simple truth is that construction workers and environmental activists fit together like oil and water.
I know that because I’ve watched Ken Martin, Rick Nolan and the DFL try walking that tightrope the past few years. While Nolan has survived, barely, the DFL has suffered, losing the House and Senate in the last 2 elections.
Democrats, whether we’re talking nationally or here in Minnesota, face some difficult questions. They shouldn’t assume that they can successfully court both constituencies. They’ll have to pick and choose.
There’s been lots of celebrating on the Range after Resolution 54 got defeated Saturday. This article said that Jason Metsa thinks that the vote is “a clear indication of where the party is at.” Then Metsa admitted that “the issue will be coming up again.”
First, the Range DFL survived Saturday, partially because all parts of the state were represented at the meeting. Anyone that thinks that John Marty will give up his anti-mining crusade anytime soon is kidding themselves. New incoming House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman hasn’t announce that she’ll take a more centrist, pro-mining position now that she’s the top-ranking Democrat in the House.
That’s before talking about whether organizations like the Sierra Club, MCEA or Conservation Minnesota (which gets significant funding from Alida Messenger) will stop bringing lawsuits against PolyMet. MCEA’s mission is to file lawsuit after lawsuit against mining companies or utilities. Winning the lawsuits isn’t MCEA’s goal. Their goal is to wear down the investors until those investors quit. I wrote about that tactic in this post, which I titled Attrition, not litigation.
Third, defeating Resolution 54 isn’t a victory because it didn’t approve a single permit for PolyMet or Twin Metals. The last I looked, Gov. Dayton hasn’t relented in saying no to the initial permits for the Twin Metals mining project.
Fourth, the DFL hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. I won’t trust them until they support permitting reform and regulatory relief. Even then, I’ll remain skeptical because these guys won’t permit the DFL to do real reforms:
The lede in this article sounds a triumphant tone. The opening says “Labor Democrats decided to fight Saturday and won a major victory for the party’s future on the Iron Range.” While it’s a procedural victory for the Range, it isn’t a major victory if you’re judging it by whether anything changed as a result of the vote.
In defeating Resolution 54, the Range Delegation kept the language of the resolution out of the DFL state party platform. That shouldn’t be mistaken for defeating the environmental activist Metrocrats. It shouldn’t be mistaken as proof that Gov. Dayton will approve any permits for PolyMet. Defeating Resolution 54 doesn’t mean that the DFL is suddenly open to mining.
The DFL loves bogging things down with regulations, regulators and lawsuit. The thing Iron Rangers should ask themselves seems unrelated at first. This past winter, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)decided to look into the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Specifically, they took jurisdiction over whether the pipeline path should be rerouted. The first question that should be asked is straightforward: what does the agency that regulates electricity rates have to do with infrastructure permitting? It isn’t like the PUC was the first regulatory agency to review the Sandpiper Pipeline’s potential impact on its environment. The point is that the PUC took jurisdiction to hinder the permitting process.
Here’s another important question that the DFL hasn’t answered: why didn’t Gov. Dayton scream bloody murder when the PUC hijacked jurisdiction on the Sandpiper Pipeline project? In 2013-14, when the DFL had total control of the legislature and had a friendly DFL governor to work with, why didn’t they streamline the permitting process? Might it be because they prefer a permitting process that’s complex and convoluted?
Ask PolyMet’s investors whether these DFL-supporting organizations haven’t used the same tactics to kill PolyMet. If they’re being honest, they’d say that’s the exact playbook that’s been used against them. Until the pro-mining part of the DFL becomes the dominant part of the DFL or until pro-mining voters switch to the GOP, there won’t be a change in the outcome. Saturday’s vote was all show. In the real world, it meant nothing. The anti-mining wing of the DFL still rules the DFL.
Now that Resolution 54 has been defeated and labor leaders are experiencing a mini-Kumbaya moment, it’s time to examine what the Iron Range won yesterday. I’ll return to that in a bit but it’s important to set this up properly.
Rick Nolan apparently gave a speech that set the mood for the vote, saying “Nobody loves the environment more than the Rangers. I don’t want to see the party take a stance against mining or agriculture or manufacturing.”
What’s important to notice about Saturday, though, is that that was a show vote. In yesterday’s setting, Democrats from rural Minnesota had a voice. All parts of the state had a voice. That dynamic changes dramatically in January. Does anyone seriously think that the Sierra Club will suddenly stop demagoguing “sulfide mining”? Will the MCEA stop filing lawsuits aimed at killing PolyMet? Will Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission stop meddling in pipeline construction projects?
The answer to each of those questions is an emphatic ‘NO!’
Most importantly, it isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton’s administration will grant PolyMet the permits it needs so PolyMet can start growing the Iron Range’s economy. The final analysis of Saturday’s vote is this: while Environmental Caucus Chair Veda Kanitz and her supporters claim to have extended an olive branch to the Iron Range yesterday, it isn’t likely that environmental activist organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota will suddenly start fighting fair.
These organizations aren’t mainstream organizations. They’ve got an anti-mining, anti-fossil fuel agenda. It’s worth noting that the DFL, as a political party, still supports shifting to renewable energy. Renewable energy won’t sustain mining operations.
Notice whose names are missing in this paragraph:
While tabling the resolution gained momentum, an impassioned Congressman Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, roused the crowd in the auditorium with a plea to truly unite by not taking a stance against the issue. Nolan was speaking on behalf of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Tim Walz.
Missing from that paragraph are Mark Dayton and Tina Flint-Smith. Their silence is deafening.
The Iron Range won a minor skirmish yesterday. The thrill of that victory will soon fade. Organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota are in this for the long haul. Celebrate now because the battle is just starting.
Resolution 54, which is an amendment offered to the DFL state party platform, has already had a significant impact on the DFL. In 2016, the DFL sent the signal to outstate Minnesota that they cared most about the urban and suburban parts of the state. While most people who voted for Donald Trump and GOP legislative candidates never heard of Resolution 54, it wasn’t a secret to trades unions like the pipefitters and carpenters that the DFL was anti-pipeline and anti-mining.
From a political impact perspective, Resolution 54 will likely be seen, if it passes, as the final proof that the environmental activists run the DFL. It’s apparent that DFL State Party Chairman Ken Martin understands that. DFL Chairman Martin understands that because he’s “tasked with winning the DFL elections, which means maintaining support in rural areas while keeping funds from far-left and deep-pocketed Twin Cities donors flowing into races.”
Let’s be clear about this. The rift between the miners and the environmental activists is significant but it isn’t the only point of separation between the environmental activists and other parts of the DFL. Resolution 54 is the high profile disagreement but it isn’t the only point of disagreement. Chairman Martin must know that.
The environmental activists that dominate the metro DFL oppose pipeline construction, too. They’re hostile towards logging and farming, too. It’s important for the outstate DFL to remember that the metro DFL gave them the high health insurance premiums of the ACA, too.
The DFL passed the MNsure legislation in 2013. The DFL has opposed PolyMet for a decade. They opposed the Sandpiper Pipeline for 5 years. Thanks to Gov. Dayton’s obstructionism and the Public Utilities Commission’s meddling in the Sandpiper Pipeline project, that pipeline won’t get built. Instead, the Dakota Access Pipeline will be built.
Until the DFL tells the environmental activists that they don’t run the DFL, the DFL’s base will continue crumbling. That’s the real impact of the environmental activist wing of the DFL and Resolution 54.
The article describes DFL Chairman Martin as “a supporter of labor.” Chairman Martin then said “the DFL needs to agree to disagree on mining.” That didn’t sit well with miners:
That’s where Range DFLers disagree, saying they want the chair to take a stronger stance against the environmental caucus. The party taking a position against the livelihood of a region has become personal and too critical to compromise on.
Chairman Martin is playing a weak hand poorly. Then again, he’s in a difficult position. (I’d call it a no-win situation.)
Regardless of today’s vote, the DFL is in a difficult position for 2018 and beyond.
Technorati: Ken Martin, Resolution 54, Environmental Activists, PolyMet, Sulfide Mining, Sandpiper Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, Public Utilities Commission, Logging, Farming, DFL, Election 2018, Election 2020
When I wrote this post, titled The DFL’s blue collar civil war, I focused my attention on tomorrow morning’s DFL State Central meeting and something titled Resolution 54. The language for Resolution 54 states “Oppose sulfide ore mining, which is significantly different from taconite mining, poses unacceptable environmental risks, threatens multiple watersheds (Lake Superior, BWCA/VNP, Mississippi) and should not be allowed in the sulfur-bearing rock of Minnesota.”
Harold Hamilton’s Friday commentary focused on those subjects, too. Hamilton wrote “The Watchdog has spoken with a number of DFL opinion leaders from greater Minnesota who have noted that the passage of this resolution means their permanent split from the DFL.”
The next paragraph after that commentary contained an update, which said “The Watchdog has learned that there will be a motion to ‘table’ the resolution until 2018. So what. Kicking the can down the road won’t paper over this schism. DFL candidates are already announcing for governor. You can bet that various DFL constituencies will be working hard to pin down the candidates regarding mining. There will be no place to hide.”
A loyal reader of LFR said that it’s unlikely that the motion to table Resolution 54 will pass. Further, this supporter of LFR thinks it likely that Resolution 54 will pass, though that isn’t guaranteed. Another loyal supporter of LFR sent me this Twitter picture:
Building in Ely defaced by anti-mining activists last night. pic.twitter.com/0Y2eEdMVUH
— Ely Echo (@elyecho) December 3, 2016
I don’t know if these things are tied together or if they’re entirely random. Either situation is possible at this point. What’s certain is that tomorrow morning’s meeting has the potential for blowing up in the DFL’s face. The other thing that’s certain is that DFL State Party Chair Martin can’t be blamed if he’s drinking Maalox by the bottle tonight.
According to Mr. Hamilton, if tomorrow morning’s DFL meeting blows up, Republicans will have gotten a fantastic opportunity if they play it right:
On the Republican side, leadership must grasp the opportunity, which means making some tough choices. It’s easy to support mining and pipelines. It’s easy to support guns. But it isn’t as easy to support other issues like prevailing wage laws.
Internal polling from some construction trade union showed that over 50% of their membership voted for Donald Trump and other Republicans down ticket. Maintaining those numbers will be very, very difficult if the GOP pushes for prevailing wage repeal bills, for example. Regardless of where one stands on this issue, members of the skilled construction trades see prevailing wage laws as a protection against low-cost, low-skill (sometimes illegal) labor undercutting Minnesota’s high-skill higher-cost model.
In short, when you tell a man or woman who has put in many thousands of hours to learn and perfect a trade that they should make less money in order to be on par with crews of unskilled, illegal workers from Alabama and Mississippi, it’s not a winning message. Telling rural Minnesota that blue collar people in their communities make too much money is about as popular as telling them that mining should be illegal.
Here’s hoping that Republicans a) get this opportunity and b) make the most of this opportunity.
John Gunyou’s op-ed should get the DFL’s attention. The question is whether the DFL will hear it or whether they’ll pretend it wasn’t written. With delegates to this weekend’s DFL Central Committee meeting set to debate (or table?) Resolution 54, it’s time that the DFL made a decision.
Gunyou lays it out perfectly, saying “Accordingly, the third step to recovery is to begin rebuilding the Democratic base. You’re pretty much starting from scratch, because there no longer is a DFL — only a D. The F’s have been voting Republican for years. And while union and party bosses might remain joined at the hip, you are hanging onto actual L workers by a thread. If you have any doubts about that hard truth, stop preaching to the choir on social media, and read ‘Hillbilly Elegy.'”
Gunyou continues, saying “The urbane Democratic elite abandoned the traditional base of the party, and that has cost you dearly. Perhaps for years to come. To regain viability, the D(FL) needs to re-establish its traditional coalition.”
It’s time the DFL admitted it’s at a crossroads. Environmental activists don’t fit with blue collar workers like miners or pipeline construction workers. For the DFL, it’s pick-or-choose time. Ken Martin worked hard to prevent this moment from arriving but it’s arriving. It’s most likely arriving this weekend.
If the DFL doesn’t defeat Resolution 54 with authority, miners and pipefitters should feel like the DFL left them. To know what that feels like, pipefitters and miners need only look to the Standing Rock Sioux eco-terrorist attacks. That’s what the future of the DFL looks like. Here’s another possibility:
This article highlights the ever-growing fight for the Democratic Party’s soul. Throughout the article, the feuding factions are noticeable. It isn’t until the end that the disagreements boil over.
That’s when Nancy Larson, a member of the Minnesota DFL, is quoted as saying the “brilliant ones at top know better. And they come down and say, ‘This is what you do, this is what you say, this is what you have your candidates do, and don’t stray from this.'”
A couple paragraphs earlier, the article quotes Ted Sadler, a Democratic political operative from Georgia, as saying “People just love it when you show up. But for us, there was zero Democratic action in the 8th Congressional District.”
This indicates why Democrats won’t get out of their fight anytime soon:
In Georgia, Sadler said the party was instead obsessed with driving up turnout in Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs at the expense of Democratic-friendly areas in other parts of the state. It was a common refrain among the Democratic strategists interviewed for this story, all of whom said they saw a party that believed it no longer needed rural votes to win elections.
When Democratic officials did show up, Sadler and others said they were ill-equipped for the nuances of a campaign in rural America.
“When they do show up, it’s 22-year-old kids from the Ivy League,” Sadler said. “And they’re telling you what do, as opposed to stopping and listening.”
It isn’t surprising that Democrats lost the Heartland, especially rural America, often by lopsided margins. Democrats kept Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the House. They picked Chuck Schumer as their leader in the Senate. They do whatever Tom Steyer and the Sierra Club order them to do. Democrats are loyal, too, to Silicon Valley and the East and Left coasts.
The thing that the media is missing is that the earth shifted with the last election. In the past, Democrats could get away with saying they’re for high-tech jobs because Republicans didn’t emphasize the importance of blue collar jobs like mining and factory work. The mining industry and manufacturing jobs are getting strangled with regulations. The Democrats don’t know how to talk to those people because, to them, it’s like speaking a foreign language that they’d have to learn against their will.
Finally, the environmental activists’ agenda is the opposite of the mining industry’s agenda. They fit together like oil and water.
The left is determined to undermine the credibility of the Electoral College. It’s best to think of this as their latest childish hissy fit. The Democrats’ latest hissy fit is to convince 37 Republican activists to shift their votes to Hillary Clinton. The chances of that happening are less than my chances of getting struck by lightning while holding a winning lottery ticket.
According to the article, the “presidential electors, mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters who hail from Washington state and Colorado, are now lobbying their Republican counterparts in other states to reject their oaths, and in some cases, state law, to vote against Trump when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19.” These renegades admit that they don’t have a chance of changing the outcome. That isn’t their goal.
These Democrats’ goal is to undermine the Electoral College’s credibility. Instead, they’re demolishing the Democrats’ credibility because it’s coming across as them being sore losers. Hillary lost because she’s a terrible candidate. Rather than accept the defeat, these Democrats would rather throw another hissy fit.
Rather than worrying about creating mining jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio or repealing and replacing Obamacare, which is collapsing under its own weight, these Democrats are fighting a fight nobody’s paying attention to. If the American people put together a list of their top 25 priorities, Electoral College reform wouldn’t make the top 50.
Even the most optimistic among the Democratic electors acknowledges they’re unlikely to persuade the necessary 37 Republican electors to reject Trump, the number they’d likely need to deny him the presidency and send the final decision to the House of Representatives. And even if they do, the Republican-run House might simply elect Trump anyway.
But the Democratic electors are convinced that even in defeat, their efforts would erode confidence in the Electoral College and fuel efforts to eliminate it, ending the body’s 228-year run as the only official constitutional process for electing the president. With that goal in mind, the group is also contemplating encouraging Democratic electors to oppose Hillary Clinton and partner with Republicans in support of a consensus pick like Mitt Romney or John Kasich.
Take a lengthy look at these Democrats. They’re what sore losers and intemperate lefties look like. These are the Democrats that preach inclusivity to the right but don’t practice what they preach.
Briana Bierschbach’s article exposes the DFL’s electoral dilemma going forward. She quotes Ken Martin, the DFL State Party Chairman, as saying “Clearly there were a lot of white, non-college-educated, working-class voters who were frustrated and anxious about their future and they wanted change. We have to figure out how to speak to white, working-class voters in a better way.”
Actually, the DFL’s problem isn’t messaging. The DFL’s problems revolve around geography and policies. Specifically, the DFL is dominated by the Twin Cities environmental activists that can’t relate to outstate Minnesota. What’s worse for the DFL is that these environmental activists don’t want to relate to blue collar workers.
This isn’t just a problem for the DFL. The Democratic Party nationally got routed because they ignored these blue collar workers. Democrats nationally and the DFL locally both have sided with environmental activists on issue after issue. Whether it’s on the Keystone XL Pipeline or the Dakota Access Pipeline nationally or the Sandpiper Pipeline here in Minnesota, the environmental activists always win the fight with the Democrats.
If that pattern doesn’t change, the DFL will continue to get hurt electorally. They won’t admit this in public but the truth is that Donald Trump has changed the political landscape. I’m not calling this a permanent realignment. It’s a significant shift, though, because there’s now a new option available to blue collar Democrats.
This past year, Rep. Thissen told us that the DFL would make up ground in outstate Minnesota with broadband and transit. I wrote that those things wouldn’t help them in outstate Minnesota because they weren’t important to outstate voters. The DFL didn’t identify health care accessibility or health insurance premiums as battleground issues.
Think of it this way: outstate voters that normally vote DFL are drifting away from the DFL because of health care and environmental issues. Suburban voters are drifting, too, because health care prices are expensive. The DFL’s messaging won’t change those realities.