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Seven Energy and Environment Takeaways from the Minnesota Elections

Based on information from the Star Tribune's election coverage, it looks like the State Senate may remain in the hands of the Republicans, while the State House of Representatives will remain in the hands of the Democrats. Republicans maintaining an advantage in the Senate has important implications for energy and environmental policy in the state. Here is how the election results affect the seven biggest energy and environment topics in Minnesota. California Car Mandates: The retention of the Senate does nothing to change the Walz Administration's attempt to force Minnesotans to comply with California's car mandates. I would expect the announcement of these...

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Biden’s Mining Stance: *Anonymous* Sources In Reuters Article Tell Us Nothing

The role of mining is looming large in the run-up to the Presidential election next week. This is especially true in Minnesota, which was the 4th largest mining economy in the country in 2019, producing more than $5 billion in the value of minerals produced, according to the United States Geological Survey. Center of the American Experiment's research has shown that developing Minnesota's massive copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, cobalt, and titanium resources could add $5.9 billion to the state's economy and create up to 14,850 new jobs in our state. With so much on the line, it is no surprise mining has...

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Local View: After Summer Internship, I’m a Believer in PolyMet

The following article was originally published in the Duluth News Tribune. It is the story of Mikayla Mellesmoen, who is studying environmental science at Mankato State University. Ms. Mellesmoen had a summer internship with PolyMet, where she worked closely with the environmental compliance team taking water samples, monitor gas vents, and assess the water levels in the area surrounding the mine. When you hear “PolyMet,” what comes to mind? Growing up in Embarrass, I heard the mining company’s name in conversation quite frequently but never beyond that it might open the first copper-nickel mine in Minnesota. With little foundational knowledge of...

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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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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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Sunday Funnies: Rep. Omar Says PolyMet Setback Is a Victory Against Fossil Fuel Executives

Jim Morrison once said “I've noticed that when people are joking they're usually dead serious, and when they're serious, they're usually pretty funny.” This phrase was spot on this week, as my Congresswoman, Ilhan Ohmar, Tweeted out that the Minnesota Court of Appeals decision to send two of PolyMet's permits back to the Department of Natural Resources was "An important victory for the people of Minnesota!" and "This is what happens when communities come together to oppose mining projects that will line the pockets of fossil fuel exces at the expense of our planet." PolyMet will be a copper-nickel mine. The mine...

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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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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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Good News on Polymet! Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules Environmental Groups Can’t Move the Goalposts

There is good news on the Minnesota mining front, as the Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected a challenge by anti-mining groups seeking to invalidate Minnesota's rules for non-ferrous mining. This is a big deal, because anti-mining groups, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, were trying to overturn the entire regulatory framework for how Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources evaluates and regulates mines that produce copper, nickel, platinum, cobalt, and other metals we depend upon every single day. Had this challenge succeeded, it would have been a massive blow to Minnesota's economic future, and a loss for the environment, as well. Minnesota...

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Another One Bites the Dust: Federal Judge Rejects Challenges to PolyMet Land Swap

Excellent news, as yet another lawsuit designed to delay the PolyMet mining project has been struck down in federal court. According to CBS: A federal judge has rejected challenges by several environmental groups to a land swap needed for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen dismissed the four challenges late Monday. She ruled that the groups lacked the necessary legal standing to block the land exchange between PolyMet and the federal government. She said that’s because PolyMet had not yet secured all the necessary permits to begin work, so the groups couldn’t establish that they’d been harmed. PolyMet...

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