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How much metal would a Minnesota Green New Deal require?

There is an interesting paradox among liberal environmentalists. One the one hand, they want a Minnesota Green New Deal where all the electricity in the state is provided by a combination of wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage. On the other hand, they oppose mining for copper, nickel, cobalt, and other metals needed to build these energy sources, even though Minnesota has some of the largest undeveloped reserves of these metals in the world. Today, we'll conduct a rough estimate of how much metal would be needed to be completely reliant on wind, solar, and battery storage for electricity generation. Assumptions It's important...

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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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Bureau of Land Management Moves To Prepare Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Twin Metals Project

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that the agency will prepare a detailed Environmental Impact Statement to thoroughly analyze the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Twin Metals mine, which would produce copper, nickel, cobalt, and other precious metals. According to the BLM press release: “Under President Trump’s leadership and direction from the Secretary, this proposed mine may reduce the vulnerability to disruption of critical mineral supplies. If the plan of operation is approved, you can rest assured knowing that development and production of critical minerals is done in an environmentally responsible, regulatory-consistent, and economically feasible manner,” said William...

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Metro To Miners: You’ll Have to Do Something Else

A recent story in Politco  entitled "Minnesota on the edge: 'I've voted Democrat my whole life. It's getting tougher," details how the political leanings of Minnesotans on the Iron Range, who had traditionally leaned toward the DFL, are beginning to shift. The shift is occurring because a significant number of people living on The Range feel that the party has become more focused on its urban constituency, which has lost touch with the pro-labor, pro-mining constituencies on The Range. Energy and environmental issues are at the forefront of the diverging interests of urban liberals and blue-collar workers up North. Urban greens,...

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Can Mining in Minnesota Reduce Child Labor in the Congo?

Cobalt has become a controversial topic in the debate over copper nickel mining in Minnesota’s Duluth Complex. This metal, which is used in the lithium ion batteries in laptops, tablets, and electric cars, has become a lighting rod because most of the cobalt produced in the world comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where some of the cobalt is mined using child labor. Virtually everyone has a cellphone, laptop, or tablet that has a battery requiring cobalt. This has led many people to ask the question, can mining in Minnesota reduce the demand for unethically mined cobalt in...

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House To Hear McCollum’s Minnesota Mining Ban Bill Tomorrow in D.C.

Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a hearing on a bill that would permanently ban mining for precious metals in more than 200,000 acres in Northeastern Minnesota. The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a Democrat who resides in St. Paul. While the legislation would not affect the proposed PolyMet mine project, it would take much of Minnesota's vast treasure of copper and nickel deposits off the table for development, effectively destroying the possibility of mining companies creating up to 4,600 high-paying mining jobs in the region, forever. Last week, I attended a pro-mining event held by Congressman Pete...

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Minnesota Court of Appeals Delays PolyMet Project

Yesterday the Minnesota Court of Appeals dealt a setback to the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. In the ruling, the Court sent two crucial permits, the permit to mine and the dam safety permit, back to the Department of Natural Resources. The ruling also stated the agency must hold a contested case hearing, which would require an administrative law judge to examine additional evidence and testimony on the project. The ruling is bad news for the Northeastern Minnesota communities who are eager for the economic boost that would accompany more mining. The PolyMet mine would provide 360 high-paying jobs at...

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This Year in Energy and Environment: 2019 Edition

With 2020 upon us, I'd like to reflect back on 2019 because it was a banner year for energy and environmental issues here at Center of the American Experiment. Here are some of the highlights from each month. In January, American Experiment submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service in support of the lease renewal for the Twin Metals Minnesota mine. Since then Twin Metals has submitted its mine plan to state and federal agencies for review. We also covered the fact that wind and solar were not working during Polar Vortex in real time, highlighting the dangers of relying upon...

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Great News! Twin Metals Submits Its Mine Plan to State and Federal Agencies for Review

Yesterday, Minnesota took another step toward unearthing prosperity when Twin Metals Minnesota formally submitted its mine plan to state and federal agencies for review. According to the Twin Metals press release: "This marks the culmination of more than a decade of engineering, hydrogeological, environmental and engagement work including the evaluation of dozens of project configurations and technologies that maximize environmental protection." "Submission of the project starts a multi-year scoping and environmental review process that will thoroughly evaluate this proposal. The review process will include additional baseline data collection, impact analyses, and multiple opportunities for public input." The move was predictably decried by anti-mining...

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Duluth News Tribune: In Response Column / It’s True: No Waste-Rock Piles, No Acid Mine Drainage at Twin Metals

Twin Metals made waves earlier this year when the company announced they would be using the dry stack tailings storing method, which is considered to be one of the safest way to store mine tailings. While even some anti-mining groups gave a tepid positive response (they seemed like they were caught flat footed, to be honest) other groups continue to contend that copper nickle mining cannot be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. Julie Padilla of Twin Metals responds to some of these accusations in the Duluth News Tribune. We at Twin Metals always appreciate an opportunity to educate the public on...

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