Archive for the ‘Mining’ Category

There’s no question whether Joe Biden maintained a reputation for decades as a centrist. That reputation isn’t withstanding the pressure of his latest presidential campaign. Byron York’s article highlights how the Democrats’ presumptive nominee is transforming from a centrist into a leftist.

York’s first example is Biden’s years-long defense of President Obama’s deportation of illegal aliens. In his article, York wrote “Biden has defended the Obama administration’s record on deportations against those on the left who criticized President Barack Obama as the ‘deporter in chief.’ Then came last month’s Nevada caucuses. After ugly losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden was struggling for life in Nevada and trying to appeal to the Hispanic voters who made up a substantial portion of state Democrats. All of a sudden, Biden backtracked on the Obama deportations he used to defend. ‘There were too many,’ Biden told Univision’s Jorge Ramos. ‘I saw the pain in the eyes of so many people who saw their families being deported. I know what it’s like to lose family members. It was painful.'”

Biden’s immigration transformation didn’t stop there, though:

As the Nevada vote neared, Biden promised that if he became president he would not deport anyone, no one, under any circumstances, during his first 100 days in office. After that, Biden said he would deport only those who have committed felonies in the United States. Biden repeated the pledge at his recent debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, his last remaining rival for the nomination.

Think about that, people. A Biden administration promises to not faithfully execute this nation’s laws. In this debate, Sleepy Joe and Crazy Bernie gave the same answer on whether local communities should turn over illegal immigrants to their administration:

It doesn’t get much more leftist for a Democrat than that. Joe Biden got the reputation of Blue Collar Joe for standing with coal miners, construction workers and blue collar families. Blue Collar Joe doesn’t exist. Here’s proof:

Biden’s centrist-to-leftist transformation is complete.

Now that he’s been dumped by the DFL, people must wonder what’s next for Sen. Tom Bakk. I’ve thought about that subject myself and I’ve reached the conclusion that Sen. Bakk would look fantastic with MNGOP after his name. What’s left within the DFL that fits Sen. Bakk?

It can’t be disputed that:

  1. today’s DFL has decided that Iron Rangers aren’t welcome within the DFL;
  2. today’s DFL is the metrocentric party;
  3. today’s DFL hates pipelines, mining and blue collar workers;
  4. today’s DFL is the gun grabber caucus;
  5. today’s DFL is the party of socialists.

Sen. Bakk, I haven’t always agreed with you but you’ve worked to make PolyMet and Twin Metals a reality. Susan Kent and John Marty won’t help make those things a reality. Paul Gazelka, Kurt Daudt and other Republicans would enthusiastically team with you on those initiatives.

It’s clear that today’s DFL isn’t interested in rural Minnesota. Sen. Bakk, you know this is BS:

“What I know about the DFL Party is that whether in the Senate or in the House or statewide offices, we’re the only party that represents Minnesotans from the Canadian border to Iowa and from the Dakotas to Wisconsin,” Hortman said.

That’s BS on steroids. When’s the last time a metro DFL politician voted for building a pipeline? That’s right, Sen Bakk. It’s been a decade+. Sen Bakk, when’s the last time a metro DFL politician enthusiastically supported precious metals mining? That’s right, Sen Bakk. They’ve never supported precious metal mining. They haven’t even half-heartedly supported precious metal mining.

Sen. Bakk, you have a chance to establish a different legacy for yourself. There’s an opportunity for you to send a signal that you’re an Iron Ranger first, last and always. Think of the message of statesmanship first that fighting for the people, not a political party, would send. That legacy is a powerful thing, something that would permit you to say that people, not party, matter most to you.

Sen. Bakk, it’s time for you to put your constituents, not the DFL, first. Your constituents want to build things, work hard and be rewarded for doing the right thing. Sen. Bakk, you have the opportunity to send a message to metro DFL politicians that the Range fights for Rangers.

Sen. Bakk, carpe diem. Carpe diem.

Salena Zito’s latest reporting from the “middle of somewhere” is the best understanding of what’s actually happening in battleground states. The subject of Ms. Zito’s article is West Virginia as it relates to other battleground states. If you aren’t getting Ms. Zito’s e-updates, it’s time you started. They’re as essential of reading as Kim Strassel’s articles. But I digress.

The key part of the article comes where Ms. Zito writes “No one would argue seriously that West Virginia, where Trump got more than two-thirds of the vote, would ever be in play for the Democrats in 2020. But the story of its sentiments and the evolution of these voters aren’t just limited to within the state’s boundaries. In many ways, especially in their connection to place and their distrust of large government, political, and entertainment institutions, these voters are very similar to voters in rural, suburban, and exurban voters in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.”

Then it goes into extended detail:

Tom Maraffa, geography professor emeritus at Youngstown State University, explained that the similarities of the voters in slow-growth metropolitan regions are striking and important to consider when trying to understand trends. He said West Virginians “share that sense of rootedness” with voters “in places like suburban Youngstown, Akron, or Ashtabula, Ohio, or suburban Erie, Pennsylvania, or Macomb County, Michigan, or Kenosha, Wisconsin.”

If Democrats don’t win back these blue collar cities and counties in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, they’ll lose this election. Period. In 2016, President Trump turned Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from Hillary’s “blue firewall” into red states. Based on what’s happening in West Virginia, that trend is strengthening.

The premise I’m operating from is that this isn’t as much about Democrats vs. Republicans as it is about ultra-liberal nutjobs vs. sane people. Imagine the reaction of people in the audience when Vice President Biden said that coal miners should learn how to program computers:

That video says it all. Those coal miners wouldn’t walk across the street on a sunny day to vote for Biden but they’d sprint across a busy highway in a snowstorm to vote for President Trump. If Vice President Biden thinks that his reputation as a blue collar guy is enough to defeat President Trump, he’s kidding himself. A man whose job is on the verge of disappearing and whose community is falling apart doesn’t care about a politician’s reputation. That miner wants to know, first and foremost, whether that politician will be with them in their foxhole. Those miners and manufacturers know that President Trump will be with them in their foxhole.

That’s the biggest reason why President Trump will win re-election. President Trump told the people of western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan that he’d be their president and that they wouldn’t be forgotten again. That’s powerful stuff to a man who’s worrying about his community, his church and his industry.

According to this article, the DFL’s leadership might become further metrocentric. To those that think that wasn’t possible, that’s understandable. Of the 7-person DFL Senate leadership team, 1 person is from northwest Minnesota (Kent Eken) and another person (Tom Bakk) is from northeast Minnesota. The other 5 people (Susan Kent, who is challenging Bakk for Minority Leader, Jeffrey Hayden, Carolyn Laine, John Hoffman and Ann Rest) are from the Twin Cities. By comparison, the 9-person GOP leadership team represents the entire state.

In particular, Bakk’s positions on northeastern Minnesota mining issues have run afoul of environmentalists who are an important part of the DFL coalition. Kent’s challenge came to light days after Bakk came under fire from environmentalists for telling a group of business and political leaders in Ely that the controversial Twin Metals copper-nickel mine proposal on the Iron Range will not be stopped by a state environmental review. “Now it might take a decade or more,” Bakk said, “but the process isn’t intended to stop projects.”

Bakk’s opposition to stronger gun laws also put him at odds with colleagues from Minneapolis, St. Paul and their suburbs, deepening a long-simmering intraparty rift. Bakk has long been a fixture in the politics of northern Minnesota, a region that was once a DFL stronghold and which has drifted increasingly toward the Republican Party in recent elections.

In other words, Sen. Bakk is too moderate for DFL Metrocrats. DFL Metrocrats passionately hate mining. In fact, the only thing that DFL Metrocrats hate more than mining is the Second Amendment. Apparently, Tom Bakk isn’t leftist enough for the DFL Metrocrats’ liking.

The brewing leadership fight has played out largely out of public view, with several DFL senators declining to comment publicly for this story. It comes as Senate Democrats prepare for a 2020 election cycle in which they will attempt to overturn Republicans’ current 35-32 majority.

With the DFL’s divisions, the DFL should be worried in 2020. DFL turnout in 2018 was almost as high as it is for a presidential election. In 2020, Republican turnout will be higher than it was in 2018. It’ll be difficult for the DFL turnout to be much higher.

This begs the question of whether the DFL can gain seats in either the House or Senate. I wouldn’t bet on it, especially if the DFL essentially tells the Iron Range that they aren’t welcome in the DFL anymore.

Democrats love saying that budgets are moral documents. Democrats then say that budgets reflect our priorities. If that’s true, which I think it kinda is, then Tina Smith’s budget priorities are disgusting. As Minnesota’s junior senator, she’s opposed all projects that would’ve helped the people of northern Minnesota. That isn’t opinion. It’s fact. She’s fought the Line 3 Pipeline. She’s opposed the PolyMet and Twin Metals mining projects.

Just those projects alone would’ve had the opportunity to transform the Iron Range from a region with sky-high poverty rates and a virtually nonexistent middle class into a prospering region of the state. The median household income in Virginia, MN is $36,327, compared with the statewide average of $65,699. The percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level in Minnesota is 10.5%, compared with 24% living below the FPL in Virginia, MN.

While visiting southern Minnesota, Sen. Smith said “I think at the end of the day, I’m just thinking about what Minnesotans are thinking about, which is prescription drug costs being too high, how can they get the kind of amazing workforce training that they need to get great jobs like they can get here at Red Wing Shoes, and that’s where I’m going to stay focused as long as I can.”

If Smith was honest, which she isn’t, she’d admit that she’s thinking about what Minnesotans are thinking about as long as they aren’t living in rural Minnesota. That isn’t just true now that she’s a US senator. It was true in her time as Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor. It was true when she was Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff.

Writing off a huge geographical part of the state, including the part that feeds the rest of the state, is disgusting. Still, that’s what Tina Smith is doing. That’s been a staple of her political life for years.

If Smith won’t pay attention to rural Minnesota, she should get fired next November. Tina Smith isn’t about doing the right thing for the entire state. Tina Smith and the DFL is only interested in doing what’s best for the metro DFL. That’s why the DFL has lost the farm vote and the laborer vote. When the Metro DFL unanimously opposes the Line 3 Pipeline, which provides the vast majority of jet fuel for Minneapolis International Airport, they’re saying that serving their special interest masters is more important than doing right by the biggest airport in Minnesota.

How foolish is that? Does that like the decision that a person who is “just thinking about what Minnesotans are thinking?” I’m betting that a significant majority of Minnesotans would disagree with Tina Smith and the Democrats on that issue.

It’s time to fire the DFL, Tina Smith included. The DFL’s priorities, like Tina Smith’s priorities, increasingly aren’t Minnesota’s priorities.

After the Metro DFL’s attempt to rewrite the mining permitting process, Iron Range politicians banded together to fire back at the anti-mining DFL politicians, even producing this factsheet to refute the Metro DFL’s lies.

John Marty, the crusading DFL legislator who never misses an opportunity to control other people’s lives, insists that PolyMet’s permits should be pulled because PolyMet’s parent company had a problem in South America. What Sen. Marty and other DFL legislators are attempting to do is rewrite permitting laws without going through the legislative process. These DFL politicians hope that they can talk Gov. Walz into ignoring existing state laws. But I digress. Onto the Iron Range factsheet:

The claims by metro legislators and anti-mining groups about PolyMet Mining are downright fabrications. It is very disappointing that people don’t know or don’t care what our strong rules and regulations require, and that the media continues to perpetuate the misinformation. The people of the Iron Range deserve better. The people of the state of Minnesota deserve better. There is no scandal. The agencies have done their jobs. The letter of the law was followed to a “T”. Enough of the fake news already. Here are the facts:

Fact: Our DNR required PolyMet Mining to post bankruptcy proof of financial assurance (only accessible by the DNR) before they even issued PolyMet’s permit to mine. It doesn’t matter who or what the ownership looks like the resources needed to close the mine if the company went bankrupt are currently in place and only the state can release the funds.

The Metro DFL is trying to relitigate this issue without the courts. If he had a spine, Gov. Walz would tell these busybody activists to take flying leap off a tall building. Thus far, Gov. Walz has shown he doesn’t have a spine. He’s got a spine of jello.

Fact: PolyMet has undergone the most thorough and transparent environmental review and permitting process more than any other project ever in our state. Extra-long public review periods, with thousands of public comments, all of which were responded to, and extra meetings were held around the state including the Twin Cities. When was the last time a project in the Twin Cities was required to hold public meetings on the Iron Range?

The Metro DFL doesn’t care about the Iron Range. They don’t care about Minnesota’s economy, either. Based on their actions, they only care about obstructing commerce.

The thing that the Twin Cities media doesn’t cover is that the Metro DFL doesn’t just care about regulating mining. They want to turn Minnesota into a regulation state. Here are the legislators who signed onto the factsheet:

One of the things that businesses should count on is that they shouldn’t have their projects shelved if they follow the rules. Apparently, that isn’t good enough for the anti-mining DFL. According to this Strib article, far outside-the-mainstream DFL politicians want PolyMet’s permits stopped:

Democratic lawmakers are calling for Gov. Tim Walz to suspend all state permits for PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota, saying the state needs assurances “that the permits were not rigged.”

It’s the first move by lawmakers following recent disclosures about how state and federal regulators handled a crucial wastewater permit for PolyMet, which would be the state’s first hard-rock mine. Three inquiries into that episode are underway. Sen. John Marty, the Roseville Democrat leading the effort, said lawmakers were also motivated by Glencore’s recent purchase of PolyMet Mining Corp. and the catastrophic failure earlier in the year of an iron ore mine tailings dam in Brazil, a facility with a similar design to the tailings dam PolyMet would use.

Democrats have fought against PolyMet permitting since it started. This is just their latest attempt to halt the PolyMet project. It’s also the DFL’s latest attempt to keep Iron Rangers poor.

It’s apparent that the DFL doesn’t care whether those living on the Iron Range live in poverty. If the DFL cared about people living in poverty, they would’ve helped get PolyMet permitted years ago.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, called the letter an “ideological attack.” “It’s disappointing that Metro Democrats are spreading misleading and false information about the environmental review process in an effort to derail this project and its tremendous benefits for Minnesota jobs and Minnesota’s economy,” Daudt said in a statement. “PolyMet is the most thoroughly reviewed industrial project in Minnesota history and has been going through the environmental review process for 14 years.”

When companies follow the state’s laws and the permits are issued, companies should be able to rely on that as a matter of good faith. Sen. Marty’s attempt to throw extra-legal steps into the process would make him an authoritarian. If Sen. Marty wants a stiffer set of regulations, then he should be required to follow the regular legislative procedure. If the rules can get changed by politicians without legislation or without a hearing, then there isn’t a true rule of law.

Then again, if Sen. Marty and the DFL is willing to ignore state law in their attempt to kill a properly permitted project, there’s no reason to think that they’ll follow routine procedures. This is Metrocrat machine politics at its worst.

This article highlights a DFL ‘tradition’ of taking credit for cleaning up a mess that they created. When DFL Gov. Walz started filling out his cabinet, he picked Mark Phillips to be the Commissioner of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Then Phillips hired Joe Radinovich, the DFL congressional candidate for CD-8 in 2018, to a cushy political patronage job on the IRRRB that would’ve paid Radinovich a $100,000 annual salary.

Enter our fearless hero, Gov. Walz, to deliver a tongue-lashing for the ages. Gov. Walz said “I expect you to model openness, transparency, inclusivity and servant leadership. In this situation, you fell far short of my expectations.”

Gov. Walz, you fell far short of our expectations. How dare you appoint a commissioner that’s that corrupt. How dare you not do your due diligence before picking a commissioner to lead a board known for its corruption. This article highlights one instance of IRRRB corruption:

It’s an issue we’ve raised before, as recently as last year. The principle of the separation of powers that guides our government at both the state and federal levels, would appear to prohibit the structure now in place at the IRRRB, where a board comprised primarily of sitting legislators has authority over an executive branch agency. The legislative auditor, in his report this past week, agreed that the current makeup of the board leaves the agency vulnerable to a court challenge on constitutional grounds.

But the makeup of the current board raises other concerns beyond a simple legal dispute. By giving local legislators control of the purse strings for millions of dollars in funding for community and economic development projects within the Taconite Relief Area, the IRRRB helps to cement the status quo rather than encourage new ideas and leadership at a time when alternative visions are definitely needed. As we’ve noted before, giving Iron Range legislators outsized political clout tends to stifle dissenting voices from other elected officials in our region for fear that projects in their communities will be denied funds. There are reasons why the political class on the Iron Range marches in virtual lockstep to the agenda of the region’s legislators, and their control over IRRRB funds is certainly one of the most powerful.

This ‘arrangement’ put legislators in charge of both the appropriations process in the legislature and the handing out of loans from the IRRRB. It’s unconstitutional to be a member of the executive branch and the legislative branch.

Had Gov. Walz paid attention to details like that, we wouldn’t have had these problems. Gov. Walz, this is as much your fault for not paying attention to the people you hired as it is Commissioner Phillips’ fault for not prioritizing integrity in the hiring process.

Salena Zito’s column does a great job highlighting the advantages that Joe Biden has in winning the Democrats’ nomination, then the general election. Personally, I don’t think that Biden’s got any chance in the general election but that’s just my opinion.

Ms. Zito starts by writing “Joe Biden joined the 2020 race for president last week by declaring that the next election will be ‘a battle for the soul of this nation.’ But his decision to make a Western Pennsylvania Teamster hall his first campaign stop on Tuesday shows he truly understands the heart of it.”

I don’t doubt that Biden identifies with western Pennsylvania. It’s just that I think he starts with an albatross around his neck. The name of that particular albatross is President Obama. During their 8 years in office together, the Obama-Biden team tried to demolish the coal industry, the manufacturing industry and the steel industry.

In his announcement video, Biden said that “I believe that history will look back on 4 years of this president and all that he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump 8 years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.”

That’s odd considering the fact that the president he served said “We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming America.”

Sleepy Joe, along with his other Democrat presidential aspirants, sat idly by while President Obama tried destroying steel mill towns, the coal-mining industry and the manufacturing industry. That isn’t the only disturbing thing Obama said. This statement is something else that will live in infamy:

They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

He was talking specifically about Pennsylvania. Why hasn’t Vice President Biden stepped forward and criticized President Obama for essentially saying that voters in rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and other midwestern states were racists? This might be Biden’s biggest mistake of the campaign.

I don’t doubt that Democrats will let him off the hook for not criticizing President Obama but I’m betting blue-collar Trump voters who felt forgotten under President Obama don’t feel forgotten with President Trump. A major part of President Trump’s accomplishments have benefitted these voters. What reason would they have for leaving the guy whose policies have helped restore their towns and their industries?

I don’t disagree that Biden has some strengths that will help him. It’s just that I think he’s got a ton of liabilities that will hurt him as much as his strengths will help him.

This pdf article should cause the DFL tons of heartburn. It isn’t a secret that a high percentage of DFL activists are anti-mining. That’s been documented repeatedly on LFR throughout the years. This article, though, is different in that it highlights what’s getting lost in the discussion.

Early in the article, it’s reported that “the state’s mineral resources are largely untouched: the Duluth Complex, a massive rock formation in northeast Minnesota stretching from Duluth to Pigeon Point, holds some of the
world’s largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel, platinum group elements (PGE), and ilmenite (the most important ore for titanium). It also contains elements such as cobalt, gold, and silver. If Minnesota had been able to mine these resources in 2017, it would have regained its position as America’s third largest producer of minerals by dollar amount—a position it has not held since 2012. On top of that, these numbers could increase significantly if gold and silver are discovered in mineable quantities in the areas currently being explored in northern Minnesota.”

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though. The important information is found a few paragraphs later:

The chart below shows the average annual wage for jobs in Hennepin, Itasca, and St. Louis counties, along with the average of all Minnesota counties. The average annual wage in Hennepin County is approximately $66,600, far larger than the average income for non-mining jobs in northern Minnesota, where wages are $12,000 lower than the state average. Residents of the Twin Cities metropolitan area often take their relatively high wages for granted, but jobs paying more than $66,000 per year are difficult to come by in northern counties. The average income in St. Louis County, for example, is approximately $42,000—and average mining jobs pay $83,235, nearly twice that amount.

Here’s the graph:

The anti-mining wing of the DFL is standing in the way of mining families making a more-than-middle class wage of $80,000+. That’s immoral. That’s before taking into consideration how much these communities need those incomes to rebuild those communities, those neighborhoods, those families, those lives.

Instead of living in poverty, these communities could live in prosperity. Think of the economic growth that’d happen if PolyMet and Twin Metals opened. Then think of how much better off we’d be if we built pipelines and other types of energy infrastructure. Instead of balancing budgets by raising taxes, Minnesota could do something that’s entirely foreign to the DFL. Minnesota could balance budgets through robust economic growth. That’s what it did during the Perpich years. Now, the DFL, the party that gave us Gov. Perpich, hates the people that Gov. Perpich loved.

Richard Painter’s views on copper-nickel mining are pretty typical of the anti-mining wing of the DFL:

The Flambeau Mine, a 35-acre surface mine located just south of Ladysmith in northern Wisconsin, illustrates how the environment and groundwater quality can be protected at an acid-generating mine. Over four years (1993-1997), the Flambeau Mine produced 181,000 tons of copper, 334 ounces of gold, and 3.3 million ounces of silver. At its peak, the mine provided nearly 100 family supporting jobs and paid more than $27.7 million in taxes into a state fund that was returned to the community to promote long-term business development.

Today the closed and restored mine site is an interpretive nature center, a recreation area, and a business park. Reclamation took about two years to complete and cost $20 million, and produced a 150-acre site that includes four miles of nature trails and five miles of equestrian paths that wind their way through a beautifully restored open space.

The anti-mining wing of the DFL says this mining can’t be done safely. Mr. Painter said that in the video. They’re either both wrong or they’re both intentionally lying. Both things seem possible.