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Pro-mining DFL senator ousted in August 11 primary

Pro-mining DLFers in Minnesota lost an ally yesterday, as State Senator Erik Simonson lost his primary race to anti-mining political newcomer, Jen McEwen. The results of this primary, along with the replacement of Senator Tom Bakk with Susan Kent as the DFL minority leader, clearly show that the party is moving further away from its roots in rural farming and labor issues, toward favoring urban environmentalists. According to the Duluth News Tribune: The debate over whether copper-nickel sulfide deposits should be mined in the Northland has loomed large in the campaign. "I've tried to come at this from a practical, common-sense standpoint and...

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Metro Democrats Take Aim At Minnesota’s Mining Industry (Again)

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who represents St. Paul, has once again taken aim at Minnesota's mining industry by inserting language into a federal spending bill that would prevent federal agencies from reviewing mine plans within the Rainy River Watershed and Superior National Forest during the 2021 fiscal year. The measure is a transparent attack on the mine plan proposed by Twin Metals Minnesota, but it would also prevent federal agencies from moving ahead with permitting any iron ore mines, or even gravel quarries, that might seek federal approval to operate a mine. According to the Duluth News Tribune: "None of the funds appropriated or...

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Jobs Report Calls Quality, Quantity of Solar Jobs Into Question

Renewable energy advocates often claim that subsidizing and mandating wind and solar will produce long-term job benefits, but the newly-released 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report contains data that calls into question the quality and quantity of solar jobs in the United States. Quality of Solar Jobs The U.S. Energy and Employment Report data show that a majority of workers in the solar industry are in the construction sector, which includes solar installation technicians. These jobs are temporary in nature,  and are largely dependent upon state mandates and federal subsidies, along with utility profit-seeking, to generate demand for solar installations. Another report by the...

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What Would a Joe Biden Fracking Ban Look Like? Part Two: Devastating Economic Impacts

During the Democrat debate on Sunday, March 15, 2020, between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden, Vice-President Biden stated that he would allow "no new fracking," and touted his role in spending $90 billion on the solar industry as part of the Obama administration's stimulus package. As I explained in Part One of this series, banning "new fracking" is essentially the same thing as banning all fracking. Such a bad policy would have devastating economic impacts for the entire country. According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled "What if Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned?"...

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Why Did Minnesota Solar Jobs Fall by Six Percent in 2019?

We're constantly told that solar is the energy source of the future, and that we need not worry about rising electricity prices and the loss of jobs in the mining, manufacturing, timber, and agriculture industries because of the booming solar economy. It appears that narrative suffered a setback this week. According to the Star Tribune, the number of solar jobs fell in 2019 by 267 jobs, or 6 percent relative to 2018 numbers. This brought the number of solar jobs in the state to 4,335 in 2019.  The article did not offer an explanation for the fall in solar jobs, but it can...

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Friction Among Minnesota Greens and Blue Collar Workers Intensifies After PolyMet Delays

On Monday, we got the news that Minnesota Court of Appeals dealt a setback to the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota by sending two crucial permits, the permit to mine and the dam safety permit, back to the Department of Natural Resources. The ruling, which also stated the agency must hold a contested case hearing, has opened a widened a rift between the environmental wing of liberal interests in Minnesota, and the blue collar workers who traditionally supported liberal lawmakers. A case in point is this statement from Jason George, who is the Business Manager for the Local 49...

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Statewide View Column: Closing Down Coal Gives China’s, India’s Iron Industries An Edge

The following article was written by me, and it originally appeared in the Duluth News Tribune. Xcel Energy recently made headlines by announcing it wished to close down its coal-fired power plants 10 years before they were previously scheduled to retire. However, it would be nothing short of a disaster for Minnesota’s mining industry, both present and future, if Minnesota Power pursued a similar path by closing the coal-fired Boswell Energy Center at a time when China and India are greatly expanding their use of coal. Mining requires an enormous amount of energy. In fact, the MinnTac mine in Mountain Iron reportedly...

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Mortenson Construction to Use Robotic Equipment On “Primarily Renewable Energy Projects”

Mortenson Construction is one of the largest renewable-energy construction firms in the country, but it appears the firm will be dolling out less "green" to their laborers. A recent story in the Star Tribune discusses how Mortenson will be employing remote-controlled bulldozers to prepare sites for wind turbines instead of hiring laborers to man the machines. The remote-controlled bulldozers will be first be employed on remote projects in Wyoming where worker housing and other logistical difficulties make automation  economically attractive, but there's no reason to think it would be impossible for the company to begin using automated equipment in other areas...

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Great News! PolyMet Wins First Round of Court Challenges!

Minnesota is one step closer to opening its first copper-nickel mine, as the State Court of Appeals has rejected a lawsuit from anti-mining groups who had hoped to force PolyMet to conduct a new environmental review. This suit is the first of several court challenges that are making their way through the courts. The PolyMet project would bring a massive boost to the economy of Northeastern Minnesota. The company expects to create 360 direct jobs in mining and for business professionals ranging from engineers, mechanics, shovel operators, accountants, technicians and information technology specialists, and 600 more jobs will be supported by...

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