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Blaine Homeowners Reject Nation’s “First Certified Green Neighborhood”

Solar power farms generally get built in rural areas, due to aesthetic and property value considerations. So Blaine residents were caught off guard last fall when Connexus Energy and city planners hyped a huge solar installation proposed next to their suburban subdivision as “the country’s first certified green neighborhood.” “If the project proceeds, the entire Sanctuary neighborhood will be powered by clean, renewable solar energy. That will be a first!” Connexus Energy Vice President Brian Burandt said in a November 30 letter to residents. “How will this benefit you? Your home will be served by 100 percent green energy for 25...

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Mining Proponents Cheer For PolyMet

Last night, the final public hearing on PolyMet's permit application was held in Duluth. Local television reporter Jennifer Austin estimated that 800 attended. At the end of the hearing, St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson devoted the last minute of his allotted time to applause for PolyMet. Austin recorded what happened next: St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson cedes last minute of allotted speaking time for #PolyMet supporters to clap. They're met with boos from opponents pic.twitter.com/Um51jqiXmf— Jennifer Austin (@jenniferfaustin) February 9, 2018 Some mining opponents showed up at the hearing, and you can hear some of them booing. But...

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Hundreds of Supporters Back Copper Mining at Public Hearing

Hundreds of Iron Range residents of all ages flooded into the next-to-last public hearing to support the state's first copper nickel mine. They didn't use a teleprompter or focus group-tested talking points. They spoke from the heart and the headline in the Duluth paper spoke for them: "On Range, ironclad support for copper mining." High school students pleaded for state regulators to do the right thing. For Brandi Salmela, a senior at Mesabi East High School, Wednesday night's public meeting on the PolyMet copper mine, proposed about 10 miles from her school, was a chance to talk about the future of her town...

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First MN Copper Mine on the Verge of Approval

Better late than never. That's the takeaway from what should be the final stage of approval for the PolyMet copper mine in northeastern Minnesota. The Duluth News Tribune marks what amounts to a break through moment for the regional and state economy with a public hearing today on the Iron Range. After 13 years, millions of dollars and a winding path through regulatory scrutiny, Minnesota's first-ever copper mine might be on the verge of its last-ever public hearings. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency will hold open-house and public input sessions Wednesday in Aurora and Thursday in Duluth...

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Another Obama Era Obstacle to MN Mining Bites the Dust

The federal government took another step this week to roll back the Obama administration's last-ditch effort to sabotage responsible mineral development on the Iron Range for decades. The Forest Service announced it will require an environmental review of the potential impact of copper mining in the BWCA, rather than an environmental impact statement. There's a big difference, reports the Duluth Tribune. The results of the environmental review are intended to help federal officials decide if about 234,000 acres near the wilderness would be off-limits to all mining activity for 20 years. If the decision is no, mining exploration activities could resume...

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Electricity utilities are less likely to invest under ‘liberal’ regulators

Regulation imposes a huge burden on the American economy and holds back economic growth. New research shows, for example, that electricity utilities are less likely to invest under 'liberal' regulators than 'conservative' ones, which reduces reliability. Current efforts to roll back this mass of regulation are to welcomed. ...

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Power Prices Go Negative! But…Is This a Good Thing?

The Star Tribune thought this New York Times article so newsworthy that it republished it: "Power prices go negative in Germany, a positive for energy users." If you scan the article casually, it looks like a tribute to wind energy: Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact — consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on the EPEX...

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Minneapolis Adds $2 Million Climate Surcharge to Utilities

When it comes to innovative ways to wring more revenue out of residents,  you've got to hand it to Minneapolis.  The Minneapolis City Council plans to hike utility bills next year by $2 million over and above the already higher than ever gas and electric rates on the books. Why? The Star Tribune headline says it all: "Minneapolis is using electric bills to fight climate change."And ratepayers are supposed to feel as good about their involuntary contribution as their elected officials who imposed it. The City Council raised its franchise fees — payments that Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy collect from customers...

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Feds Reverse Controversial Ban on Northern MN Mining

Northern Minnesotans looking to reverse the Obama administration's last-minute arbitrary ban on mineral exploration just got an unexpected holiday gift out of the blue to the shock of just about everyone, including the Star Tribune. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday unexpectedly opened up access to hard rock mining on the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs, reversing an Obama decision that might have protected the wilderness indefinitely. In an opinion posted on the agency’s website, officials said that contrary to its decision a year ago, it does not have the discretion to deny Twin Metals its leases for copper...

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