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If people needed a better example of how hostile the Dayton administration is to robust economic growth, they needn’t look further than Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline wasn’t needed, they testified that they were anti-commerce. When the Commerce Department testified to that, the DFL quietly applauded. They knew that it essentially killed approval of that pipeline’s replacement at least through the end of Gov. Dayton’s administration.

Listen to the certainty of the Commerce Department statement. They said “‘In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

In the next paragraph of the article, it states “The testimony, written by Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, comes ahead of evidentiary hearings on the oil pipeline replacement that will see the project debated in a trial-like setting in November. A new round of public hearings across the state will kick off at the end of the month.”

It’s time to ask a foundational question. Shouldn’t Minnesotans to expect the state government’s Commerce Department to be pro-commerce? There’s no question that the Dayton/DFL Commerce Department isn’t pro-commerce. Ms. O’Connell’s testimony settled that matter.

Here’s another foundational question Minnesotans should ask: who should have the final say on multi-billion dollar projects? Why should the Public Utilities Commission and the Commerce Department have the final say on whether projects should be approved? Further, what makes the Commerce Department and the PUC experts on things like public safety and transportation?

Those are the only things that government should be involved in. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that there wasn’t a need, they didn’t testify as to whether their testimony hurt public safety. It does from the standpoint of forcing more oil onto oil trains. More oil on more oil trains is already causing cities through which these railroad tracks run to come up with evacuation plans. That costs each of those cities tons of money in their annual operating budget. That, in turn, leads to higher property or sales taxes.

This is a multi-part series. This is a subject that’s too important not to examine in depth.

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Saying that MEP, aka Minnesota Environmental Partnership, is dishonest and biased when it comes to fossil fuels is understatement. In their statement about the Dayton Department of Commerce testimony to the Public Utilities Commission, Steve Morse, MEP’s Executive Director, admitted that MEP hates fossil fuels.

He admitted it when he said “The age of growth in fossil fuel demand is over. We don’t need increased fossil fuel capacity. Instead, We need to get about the business of abandoning and cleaning up the existing Line 3.” That’s a pretty stunning statement, especially considering the fact that natural gas will be needed for at least three-fourths of this century to replace coal-fired power plants for baseline energy generation.

In MEP’s official statement, Morse also said “We commend the Department of Commerce for taking a hard look at the data and carefully considering the criteria that are in law for this type of project. The Department found that this pipeline is not needed for Minnesota, that it does not benefit Minnesota, and is not good for Minnesota.”

That’s a narrow-minded view of things. First, legislators from northwest Minnesota have criticized the Minnesota Department of Commerce for their narrow-minded perspective:

“Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is ‘siding with environmental extremism instead of common sense.’ ‘Shutting down this pipeline will have a substantial impact on rural Minnesota’, Fabian said in the statement. ‘Our local counties, school districts and townships will lose critical property tax revenue, and what’s more, jobs will be affected and there will be fewer workers patronizing local businesses like our grocery stores and motels. Plain and simple, bureaucrats in St. Paul are advancing policies that hurt Greater Minnesota.’”

Friday night on Almanac, Steve Morse debated Cam Winton on the merits of the pipeline. The arguments made by Steve Morse weren’t totally without merit. They weren’t the least bit persuasive, either. I’ve been watching environmentalists for 40+ years. In that time, their statistics and ‘facts’ have been consistently inaccurate. The notion that we’re starting to use less fossil fuels is preposterous. Yes, we’re driving more fuel efficient cars. Yes, car manufacturers are manufacturing more hybrids. No, society isn’t reducing the amount of gasoline we’re using. Watch the video of the interview, which starts approximately 5 minutes in:

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Rep. Dan Fabian and Sen. Mark Johnson didn’t mince words in their criticism of Gov. Dayton on his administration’s ruling that the pipeline isn’t needed.

In the opening paragraph of the article, it says the “Department of Commerce’s recent analysis that an Enbridge pipeline project is unnecessary defies common sense, northwest Minnesota legislators said this week.” Then it gets into specifics, saying “Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is ‘siding with environmental extremism instead of common sense.’ ‘Shutting down this pipeline will have a substantial impact on rural Minnesota’, Fabian said in the statement. ‘Our local counties, school districts and townships will lose critical property tax revenue, and what’s more, jobs will be affected and there will be fewer workers patronizing local businesses like our grocery stores and motels. Plain and simple, bureaucrats in St. Paul are advancing policies that hurt Greater Minnesota.'”

That’s the heart of the matter. The DFL is ruled by environmental extremists who want to totally eliminate the use of fossil fuels. I know that sounds paranoid but it’s based on what the Sierra Club has said publicly. The Sierra Club is even opposed to natural gas:

If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

There isn’t much difference between the Dayton administration saying that we don’t need pipelines because our need for oil “isn’t likely to increase over the long-term” and the Sierra Club insisting that natural gas isn’t clean. Neither statement is credible.

The Sierra Club’s hands aren’t clean, either:

Then there’s this:

“I am frustrated the Dayton administration and Department of Commerce are once again dragging their feet on this project and throwing roadblock after roadblock in the way of this critical pipeline replacement,” Johnson said in the statement. “It seems they are more interested in working for special interests instead of supporting citizens, industry and good-paying jobs.”

In late August, Johnson, Fabian, Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, and 50 other state legislators signed a letter of support for the project. “The Department of Commerce’s recommendation to shut down and not replace Enbridge Line 3 is another example of policymakers in St. Paul ignoring common sense and the priorities of Greater Minnesota,” Kiel said in a statement Thursday. “It’s time the Dayton Administration put the people of Minnesota first instead of special interests.”

If the DFL wants to know why they lost the rural vote and is losing ground on the labor vote, this article explains it pretty well. You can’t be pro-laborer while opposing the projects that employ those unionists. The DFL has done a masterful job — if their goal was to alienate construction unions.

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If there’s anything certain besides death and taxes, it’s that environmental activists will fight against each energy infrastructure project in Minnesota. Enbridge’s Line3 is a perfect example of that. At the behest of his allies in the environmental activist community, Gov. Dayton is dragging his feet rather than approving the construction of the Line3 replacement pipeline. In a statement published on August 9, 2017, Gov. Dayton said “In order to provide the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) with the best possible information on which to base its decision, I have directed the Commissioner of Commerce to extend the deadline for publishing its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 Oil Pipeline. According to my order, the Minnesota Department of Commerce will publish its final EIS on Thursday, August 17, 2017, including its responses to the more than 2,860 public comments the Department has received.”

That pipeline EIS must’ve slipped because legislators along the pipeline’s projected path wrote a letter to Gov. Dayton. According to the article, “In a letter to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Commissioner Michael Rothman on Aug. 24, a request was made to move the proposed $3 billion Line 3 Replacement Project forward with no further delays. It was signed by 35 state legislatures, including District 10B Representative Dale Lueck, covering all of Aitkin County and part of Crow Wing County.”

Further, it says “The Department of Commerce held 49 public meetings since Enbridge applied for the Line 3 Replacement project in April 2015. In September and October of 2017, another public comment period will take place with 18 more meetings. In addition, Enbridge held more than 1,200 open houses and question-answer sessions along the project’s preferred route, the existing right-of-way, the alternative routes and in the Twin Cities since 2013.”

Clearly, Gov. Dayton and the Public Utilities Commission aren’t acting in the public’s interest. They’ve morphed into puppets doing the Sierra Club’s and MCEA’s bidding. State Rep. Steve Green called out the DFL and the environmental activists in this LTE:

This pipeline shouldn’t be controversial, but Democrats are protesting the project claiming that it is bad for the environment. The problem is, replacing the pipeline is the best thing to do to protect our environment and citizens. If the existing pipe is allowed to corrode, the oil being transported in that pipe is at a greater risk of escaping into the surrounding land. What is more, transporting oil through a pipeline is far safer than transporting by rail.

This video shows the fight that’s continuing:

In the description is this information:

Indigenous Land Defenders from the Urban Warrior Alliance take direct action at an Enbridge pipeline stockpile near Morden Manitoba. 05/06/17 #NoEnbridge #NoPipelines

Let’s be clear about something. Environmental activists have fought every fossil fuel project in Minnesota for a generation. This isn’t just about the environment. It’s about stifling productivity, efficiency and endangering public safety.

Environutters have been with us essentially all my life and probably longer. Right now, energy experts tell us that the United States is becoming “energy dominant.” At that same point in history, environmental activists are becoming more militant towards pipeline projects.

That begs this question: which side are they on? Keep that question in mind the next time you step into a voting booth. The size of your heating bill depends on it.

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Over the years of covering PolyMet, I’ve heard some pretty flimsy arguments. Few, though, have been as flimsy as Sen. Erik Simonson’s argument. According to the article, Sen. Simonson said “The ‘company’ wants the process sped up. Since when does our government work for foreign corporations?” Considering the fact that PolyMet has been engaged in this process for almost a dozen years, don’t they have the right to expect the government to expedite the process while ensuring that the laws are being faithfully obeyed?

Thus far, DFL anti-mining special interest groups have done everything in their power to prevent mining. Among the tactics they’ve deployed in their war of attrition against PolyMet and Twin Metals, organizations like Friends of the Boundary Waters, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Sustainable Ely, all with direct ties to Becky Rom, requested a programmatic environmental impact statement, aka a PEIS. Conservation Minnesota have put together websites that spread misinformation about non-ferrous mining. Organizations like the Sierra Club and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, aka MCEA, have sued PolyMet as a delaying tactic. At least one Indian tribe tried getting PolyMet stopped on the grounds that their mining operations might damage wild rice growth. (This despite a University of Minnesota study showing that high concentrations of iron in the water mitigates most of the potential damage to rice.)

The number of methods and venues used by the DFL’s anti-mining special interest organizations to prevent mining is frightening. I wouldn’t doubt that a state senator from the Twin Cities say that PolyMet is trying to rush through the process. To hear a state senator from CD-8 essentially say that PolyMet is trying to cheat the system is disgusting. If the local DFL doesn’t primary this idiot, we’ll have proof positive that the DFL hates miners. Here’s one of the anti-mining leaders:

Here’s another:

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If there’s anything in President Obama’s legacy that deserves immediate destruction, it’s his creation of national monuments with his pen. According to this article, President Obama “created two new national monuments on Wednesday, setting aside 1.65 million acres in southeastern Utah and southern Nevada, a move sure to anger Republicans who have sought to curb the power the outgoing president has wielded to protect record amounts of sensitive and historic lands and waters. Obama’s aggressive use of the Antiquities Act to create national monuments has drawn scathing criticism from Republicans, who say the White House has abused the law to override local opposition and restrict development and usage of the lands.”

Setting aside 2,000,000 acres is a big deal to local communities. This article explains why the Antiquities Act was first created, saying “Congress originally passed the law as an emergency measure to prevent the looting of antiquities on Native American lands, intending it, as the debate surrounding it shows, only to be used in instances where public lands or artifacts faced immediate threats of destruction and the normal pace of congressional action might take too long to prevent harm.” It’s worth noting that the law limits the scope of a monument to “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

The reason for this brief tutorial is because the Sierra Club is upset that Interior Secretary Zinke is “recommending to the White House that President Donald Trump downsize some national monuments.” Not surprisingly, the Sierra Club is threatening lawsuits if it doesn’t get its way:

“The argument that I have made is that Trump does not have the authority to change these things,” Mark Squillace, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law who has written about the Antiquities Act, told Sierra. “The Antiquities Act is a delegation of power from Congress to the presidency. …Under the Antiquities Act, they [Congress] gave the president power to protect lands under the law. It doesn’t say anything about reducing or revoking monument designations.”

Squillace said it is likely that lawsuits challenging any monument reductions will be filed in the U.S. federal district courts where the monuments are located, and that—no matter what the district courts first rule—appeals are likely. “So we are in for a couple of years of litigation over these things, and there is a chance that it could end up at the Supreme Court as well.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that the Sierra Club isn’t interested in preventing the looting of Native-American antiquities. It’s just as likely that they’re interested solely to prevent oil or natural gas exploration. This Washington Post video is slanted in the Sierra Club’s direction but it still does a decent job of explaining what the Trump administration is planning on doing:

The filibuster should be abolished for multiple reasons. I’d recommend that one of the first bills to be altered after dumping the filibuster should be the Antiquities Act. Clearly, this was meant as a stop-gap measure. It’s probably politically impossible to repeal the bill but writing more objective limitations into the statutes definitely are possible.

Specifically, the bill could be modified to a) limit the situations when the Antiquities Act can be used, b) limit the amount of land set aside for national monuments to a specific acreage limit and c) require presidents to list the antiquities being preserved by a new national monument. Further, lawsuits challenging the creation of these national monuments should put the burden on the federal government to prove that they’re actually protecting something important. If that can’t be proven, then the national monument designation should be rejected by the courts.

It’s official. Jim Newberger made it official by announcing his candidacy for the US Senate seat currently held by Amy Klobuchar. There’s no doubt that the media wing of the DFL, aka the Twin Cities Media, will do their best to a) ignore Rep. Newberger and b)promote Sen. Klobuchar’s ‘bipartisan’ accomplishments.

I’ll cut to the chase on this. Sen. Klobuchar’s bipartisan accomplishments are virtually non-existent in terms of major legislation. When it comes to major legislation, Ms. Klobuchar is as partisan as Sen. Franken. Not that she’ll answer this question but I’ll ask it anyway. What has Sen. Klobuchar done to create new, high-paying mining jobs? Here’s another question: Has Sen. Klobuchar fought to increase Minnesota’s pipeline capacity?

The point behind these questions is that Sen. Klobuchar is typical cookie-cutter Metrocrat. She’s never disagreed with Twin Cities environmental activists. The other point behind this is that she’ll never do anything substantive to create lots of high-paying jobs.

Since the start of the Trump administration, she’s voted with Chuck Schumer 100% of the time. She’s voted against every pro-growth economic policy that Republicans have proposed. Before Harry Reid retired, she voted with him 95+ % of the time on major legislation. When Sen. Reid took to the Senate floor to lie about Mitt Romney, a flawed candidate but a thoroughly decent man, Sen. Klobuchar didn’t do a thing to hold Sen. Reid accountable.

Isn’t it interesting that Sen. Klobuchar brags about holding big businesses accountable but she won’t utter a peep when the biggest hitters in her own party lie while disparaging others? There’s no doubt that the Twin Cities Media will protect Sen. Klobuchar from these charges. The question is whether the people will pretend not to notice that Sen. Klobuchar isn’t the moderate she claims to be.

The good news for Minnesotans is that Jim Newberger is a serious legislator that isn’t afraid to tackle the biggest issues. When the North Star Sierra Club announced it would attempt to shut down the Sherco power plants, Jim Newberger didn’t just complain about the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decision to shut those power plants without a plan to replace them. Jim Newberger got a bill signed into law. Newberger “partnered with Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to give legislative permission for Xcel Energy to convert a coal plant in Sherburne County into a natural gas and renewable energy plant. Dayton, a Democrat, signed the measure into law this year.”

The Sierra Club wanted to shut the Sherco power plants down, which would’ve crippled energy production for Minnesota. Jim Newberger went to work to find a substantive solution. Meanwhile, Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken won the Sierra Club’s support:

Sierra Club has launched a statewide advertising campaign in Minnesota thanking Senators Franken and Klobuchar for sponsoring the “American Energy Innovation Act,” a bill which makes ambitious yet achievable reductions in carbon pollution, repeals centuries-old oil subsidies, and begins to level the playing field for renewable sources of energy. Senators Franken and Klobuchar were key sponsors of the bill, and were joined by many of their Independent and Democratic colleagues in championing the legislation.

In short, Jim Newberger fought for his constituents and energy independence. Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken fought for their special interest contributors.

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This Duluth News Tribune editorial highlights the fact that another DFL front group is attempting to kill the PolyMet mining project. According to the editorial, “a group calling itself the Duluth for Clean Water Action Team contacted councilors, asking them to sign on to a letter requesting once again that a contested case hearing be ordered by Gov. Mark Dayton and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr so ‘that the claims of both project proponents and opponents (can) be subjected to the highest possible scrutiny.'”

The editorial continues, saying “A reasonable, desirable goal — but it actually already has happened. Over the last 10 years-plus, PolyMet’s plans have been studied and analyzed, their every detail considered to assure compliance with state and federal regulations that are some of the most stringent in the world. It was an exhaustive and detailed environmental review that worked. When the company’s plans didn’t measure up, they were sent back for revisions and wholesale changes. A safer, sounder plan emerged as a result.”

Before Gov. Dayton was sworn in as governor, I wrote this post, titled “Attrition, not litigation.” During Gov. Dayton’s entire term in office, he’s been as active as a potted plant when it comes to supporting miners. He’s sat still while environmental activists like Duluth for Clean Water Action Team, the Sierra Club, the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and Conservation Minnesota did their utmost to kill the PolyMet mining project.

These organizations’ favorite tactics are persistent litigation and other stalling tactics. This paragraph pretty much says it all:

It’s hard to imagine what new evidence could be brought at a contested case hearing that hasn’t already been thoroughly researched, considered, vetted, and, where appropriate, implemented. An administrative law judge hardly would be an environmental expert or an authority on the science or business of mining. Those experts already have weighed in, prompted improvements to the plans, and signed off.

It’s time to start building the mine. The region needs it economically. The regulating agencies have said that it will be operated properly.

If the DFL wants to admit that they hate miners, they’re welcome to admit that. Otherwise, it’s time for them to get the hell out of the way so the Iron Range can prosper again.

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.