Sunday, December 31, 2006
In addition, there are openings on several boards at the county level. Contact Cook County http://www.co.cook.mn.us/index.html.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
For more complete information, click here.
The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth according to a path-breaking study released recently by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER).
The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.
For access to the complete study click here.
The PolyMet mine project is not moving as fast as was originally reported, mainly due to delays in completeing a draft EIS. The DNR project manager, Stuart Oakly, now is basically saying not to look for it in 2007, whereas PolyMet has a more ambitious calendar. More complete information is available from a recent Duluth News Tribune article by John Myers.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The full story can be read by following the link to a detailed article in the Duluth Tribune.
This mining project - PolyMet - is the first in what the DNR and the Pawlenty administration see as many sites using sulfide mining processes that have wreaked havoc to the environment in every single location they have been tried. This technique results in extreme environmental pollution, destroys watersheds, and leaves untold horror stories in terms of cleanup costs once the mines are closed. Wisconsin has a legacy of one mine, called Crandon, for which it is now paying the price and has effectively shut out any further such operations in the state. Pawlenty and company have chosen to ignore the sad tale of Crandon and are willing to risk Minnesota's Northland and its waters for centuries to come.
Thank you for bring the issue of funding snowmobile trails in Minnesota to the attention of your readers. This is an important issue that goes to the heart of how we fund outdoor recreation, how we should all work to get along, and even what Minnesota is all about. It was good to read a balanced presentation of the facts.
Snowmobiling is a wonderful sport that brings families together to enjoy our north woods and as a bonus boosts the economy of out state Minnesota. It deserves the full support of all politicians and citizens in the state. The taxpayer supported program is unique, but well deserved, in that it allocates a portion of the state gas taxes we snowmobilers pay to support our sport. Those dollars, in turn, are spent on equipment to maintain the trails snowmobilers ride on in the winter and hikers and horseback riders enjoy in the summer. It is a very fair balance. The public needs to remember that snowmobilers are not necessarily atv riders and that atvs are generally prohibited from riding snowmobile trails, as many snowmobilers prefer.
There are those who complain about the special treatment and misuse of tax dollars by snowmobile clubs, but outright misuse has been rare, and the special treatment is no different that the DNR using fishing license fees to support fishing. The only thing unique about this situation is that the clubs use volunteer time to maintain the trails and equipment they use to keep them packed and open. The state highways, on the other hand, get state gas tax dollars, but you don’t see volunteers out patching pot holes.
It is well worth the investment of gas tax dollars to help volunteers keep these trails open and welcoming to sledders.
Now, if we only had some snow.
R. S. Nelson
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The local Cook County Snowmobile Club, due to a state funding formula change effective in 2008, may take an approximate $60,000 cut in taxpayer support. This is instead of getting their usual support (based on newspaper articles) of about $120,000. Exact numbers are hard to come by.
Cook County Snowmobile Club officials brought this situation to the attention of the Cook County Board, which stepped up and agreed to write a letter of support for the club's lobbying of the DNR and elected state officials.
Such support of the snowmobilers is usually automatic in Cook County and in other Northern parts of the sate, though many people statewide are coming to question the fairness of what most acknowledge to be special treatment. Few, if any other special interest outdoor recreational activities have the control over the DNR and politicians that snowmobilers and atv'rs have. No other outdoor enthusiasts have benefited from such direct taxpayer funding.
This potential cut for the Cook County club is especially interesting because, it appears, the same formula change would increase funding for other clubs in the area and for clubs in other parts of the state. Usually all these clubs are united in accepting the state's largess and, for that matter, have here-to-for not generally aired any of their internal disputes in public.
Bringing a little daylight to this special arrangement the snowmobilers have with our tax dollars is likely to get considerable attention, not only because of the politics, but also the economics. In Cook County, for example, the snowmobilers get, again according to club math as reported in news reports, $120,000 for the supposed maintenance of 107 miles of trails per season. That works out to more than $1100 per mile per season. Sounds like a lot to most people and many of those same people are starting to ask why.
Since these clubs all have considerable clout, it is hard to predict just how this will play out.
For more information on snowmobile clubs check out:
For information on how the clubs are funded and what those who oppose their unique status have to say check out:
There is another current report on the of treatment of snowmobilers in our community. It is reported that members of the Cook County Snowmobile Club recently sent now ex mayor Mark Sanbo to city hall with a demand that city crews stop plowing the bicycle and walking path along Highway 61. The city recently had plowed it to allow safe foot travel by the pedestrians, young and old, who like to walk to the post office, the grocery stores and other destinations along the highway. This trail system was not built for motorized traffic. It was built for bicyclists and hikers and signs along most of its route clearly prohibit motorized use, yet the snowmobilers have come to use it as their own in the winter.
Since our snow has disappeared, it is difficult to know what the city's ongoing policy will be. We know what the snowmobilers think it should be, however. Despite being told about the need for pedestrian safety, Sandbo reportedly felt the inconvenience to snowmobilers outweighed any consideration of pedestrian safety.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Norm's latest twist in the wind has been to come out against more troops for Iraq. Wow! Is this the win at all costs to America in blood and treasure Norm we have come to know over the years?
He even has a tidbit for us in Grand Marais. For our consumption he has come out in support of the home grown Grand Marais initiative to keep a year round Coast Guard presence. While this is something we all need to support for the good of the community and for the safety of boaters, and particularly our commercial fishing friends and the larger ships we see on occasion over the winter months, where has Norm been?
It is always amazing to see politicians of Norm's ilk rush to the front of a parade even faster than our gulls pounce on a discarded hot dog. Mostly it's disgusting, but it will at least be fun to watch him wipe the mustard off his chin.
Oh Too True
In Minnesota, we are privileged to have some of the world’s most abundant lakes and natural resources at our fingertips. During the summer, thousands head up north to enjoy the lakes, catch a few walleye and water ski with friends and family. During recent years, we’ve been able to keep enjoying the great outdoors during the balmy fall days of September and even October.
A problem is the Coast Guard leaves Grand Marais at the end of August, and Cook County does not have the resources to sustain its high level of effective-response capabilities. I share Sheriff Mark Falk’s concern that the combination of continued marine activity, the changing of the season, windy days and cold water bring the potential for tragic consequences.
To protect the safety of Minnesota boaters, last week I sent a letter to the commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District urging him to extend the operation season of North Superior Station in Grand Marais through the month of September, at a minimum. We will never be able to take all the risks out of boating, but we can make certain there are highly skilled people ready and able to respond and prevent accidents from turning into tragedies. By extending Coast Guard operations a month or more, we will be better able to protect Minnesota’s marine enthusiasts throughout the season.
We all know how cold it gets up north during winter. We should seek ways to help Minnesotans safely continue their water sports.
Sen. Norm Coleman
Thursday, December 21, 2006
It was a terrific evening for families and friends to celebrate the Solstice and the season and the special community that is uniquely Grand Marais. Untold numbers of gloomies were appropriately dispatched, clearing out 2006 and making way for a burden free 2007.
Thank you to all who contributed so much in time and talent to make this such a special place and season.
December 20, 2006 saw the last city council meeting with Mark Sandbo as mayor and Bob Spry as council member. This meeting was notable for its lack of controversy, a relatively unusual situation in past years in Grand Marais city politics.
On the plus side of the Sandbo and Spry terms, there were some basic improvements in Grand Marais infrastructure and the city did set aside a clear opportunity for people to address the city council prior to council meetings – albeit, after much very justifiable criticism on the part of the public and reluctance and foot dragging on the part of these two departing politicians.
Their critics can muster a long list on the minus side. They can rightly say the city suffered greatly because of their penchant for the politics of divisiveness, and their insulting and boorish attitude toward those they disagreed with. Their blatant cronyism, and disregard for the will of the people in terms of downtown and harbor development, brought them and the city much unwelcome, but justifiable criticism. The general bad taste for city politics they left in the mouths of most of the citizens may linger.
On balance, most would agree that Sandbo’s was a failed administration that left lasting damage. It is visible damage in terms of the condominiums they twisted the rules to build in downtown Grand Marais, and spiritual damage in terms of the acrimony that came to characterize their time in office.
Many will say they served in difficult roles during difficult times, and that should be acknowledged. Anyone who serves in office, elected or appointed, Sandbo and Spry included, deserves appreciation for taking on what most feel now-a-days is a thankless task. But, in their case, let us also remember that those difficult times were of their own making and that even the genteel corruption of cronyism and special treatment for friends is still corruption.
There is confidence the damage done during those years can be repaired and that we are in for better and more civil discourse and fair and equal treatment for everyone who has business with the city.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
"Thomas Jefferson 1798"
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The "Gunflint Gals" (no relation to the actual Gunflint Trail; these gals are Cities developers) and their attorney, Dehlia Seim, argued that it was not their fault that they forgot to include a handicap ramp in their original plans, and that it would be a hardship to have a terminable lease. They made no comment on annual payments.
Winner Take All, Folks! And they took it.
The Gals said they had been jacked around by the Council and Davison, and the Attorney General claimed no receipt of a letter from Davison requesting an opinion. They claimed that many other communities provided similar easements.
Davison, however, contacted their supposed information source and said they supplied him with several sample agreements similar to the one he proposed: a terminable lease with adequate notice and an annual payment to the City.
Mayor Sandbo said the continuing discussions are a waste of time and moved to cave to the Gals. He also cited an email from the only residential property owner on the downtown lakeshore, who said the giveaway was a mistake and added that if it went ahead he wanted an adjacent 20 feet of public park for use on his own property. Sandbo said, "Since this is the only residence, I want to see it all changed to be a public park."
Lezzie Latkes, your rad fem lib Jewish lesbian reporter, signing off for True North
· Vol 27 · Issue 1358 · PUBLISHED 12/13/2006URL: www.citypages.com/databank/27/1358/article14966.aspHOME: http://www.citypages.com/
Copperheads vs. Greens
A plan to open the Superior National Forest to copper mining promises good jobs and threatens enviro troubles
by Mike Mosedale
As PolyMet Mining Corporation Vice President Warren Hudelson tells it, his company's plan to construct Minnesota's first-ever copper and nickel mine is all upside. "These are the high-quality, good-paying jobs that could sustain the entire regional economy," Hudelson declares. For the Iron Range town of Hoyt Lakes, which was left reeling by the loss of some 1,400 jobs in the wake of the bankruptcy of the LTV Steel Company plant six years ago, the potential economic benefits are tantalizing. PolyMet says it will employ up to 400 full-time workers for at least the next 20 years and possibly twice as long.
And while the company has not committed to a unionized work force, Hudelson expects the jobs will pay wages comparable to those earned by union steel workers—in other words, as much as $65,000 year. Then there are the approximately one million man hours of construction work needed to rehab the old LTV facility, where PolyMet plans to process the ore it extracts from a mine in the Superior National Forest six miles away. That project, Hudelson says, would provide temporary work for up to 1,000 skilled laborers. Finally, Hudelson points to a study from the University of Minnesota Duluth that estimated PolyMet's venture would yield an additional 500 spin-off jobs, mainly in the service sector.
Given such rosy prognostications, it's no surprise that Iron Range politicians and business folk alike have touted the PolyMet proposal as an important boost to the region's fortunes. The proposal has garnered the enthusiastic support of Iron Range Resources, a state-run economic development agency. While the IRR has not yet provided direct financial aid, it greased the skids for PolyMet's acquisition of the old LTV plant, a critical factor in the company's financial plan.
But the PolyMet proposal has also sparked skepticism and, increasingly, fervent opposition among environmentalists. That's because, historically, sulfide ore mining—the process by which copper, nickel, and assorted precious metals are extracted from sulfide ores—has long been one of the dirtiest, most ecologically damaging forms of mining. The chief problem is a phenomenon called acid mine drainage: When water and air mix with the sulfur in the unused ore, it can generate a toxic brew. If that run-off escapes to streams and rivers, it can leave waterways either badly impaired or, in the worst-case scenarios, entirely devoid of aquatic life.
Bob Tammen, a retired electrician from Mountain Iron who volunteers with the Sierra Club, says he was agnostic about the PolyMet proposal when he first heard about it. Then, during a visit to South Dakota last summer, he stopped by the site of an abandoned sulfide ore mine in the Black Hills. It was, Tammen says, a bleak experience. The mine, which closed in 1999 after a decade of operation, was plagued by problems of acid mine drainage from the outset.
Faced with the prospect of an expensive cleanup, the mine's owner, a Canadian company called Dakota Mining, ultimately declared bankruptcy. And while the company did post a $5.6 million bond to pay for cleanup costs, that bond proved grossly inadequate. The shuttered mine is now a federal superfund site.
"It was the same old story," offers Tammen. "These companies talk about creating jobs and how, when they're done, the area will be cleaner than when they started. That's not how it works out." Dakota Mining was right about one thing: The mine did create lasting jobs. "I talked to a man who was working there who said they had eight employees, all monitoring pollution," Tammen recalls. "He said it was going to cost between $40 and $140 million to clean up the site."
There is no shortage of such horror stories. Nationwide, according to the Sierra Club, the cost of cleaning up waterways contaminated by acid runoff and related mining pollutants has been estimated at $32-$72 billion.
According to a two-year study released last week by the environmental advocacy group Earthworks, government regulators, the mining industry, and its consultants consistently underestimate the amount of water contamination at hard rock mines. According to the report, 100 percent of the mining companies surveyed predicted at the outset that they would not violate water-quality standards for their operations. In the end, the report concluded, at least 76 percent of those mines did violate standards and, in 64 percent of the cases, mitigation plans failed to produce the predicted remedies. The result? Across the American west, the public has been left to foot most of the bill for the cleanup.
Arlo Knoll, the manager of the Department of Natural Resource's mine land reclamation office, says he's aware of the high costs associated with acid mine drainage and pledges that it will be taken into account in the drafting of PolyMet's permits. "On a yearly basis, they will have to provide financial assurance in case there has to be [mine] closure, and that would have to address not only [closing the mine] but long-term maintenance," Knoll says.
Neither Knoll nor PolyMet's Hudelson could provide any dollar estimates on the financial assurance package PolyMet will be required to post. According to Hudelson, those calculations will be made once the company's environmental impact statement has been completed and its mining plans formalized.
Clyde Hanson, who chairs the Mining Without Harm campaign for the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, says he can't project the cost either. However, he adds, he is unaware of a single sulfide ore mine in the country that has operated without adverse environmental consequences. For that reason, Hanson argues, the state shouldn't issue any permits until companies like PolyMet can identify a problem-free sulfide ore mine. Hanson points out that legislation to that effect has been enacted in Wisconsin. He would like to see a similar law in Minnesota.
PolyMet's Hudelson acknowledges that the industry's record is not pretty. But, he adds, local conditions and technologies vary enough that comparisons between PolyMet and other operations are not fair. In the case of PolyMet, he says, test samples have shown the sulfur levels to be relatively low, which would seem to limit the potential for acid mine drainage.
Concerns about acid mine drainage are not PolyMet's only problem. The company expects to fill in approximately 1,200 acres of wetlands at its mine site. To comply with state law, PolyMet and St. Louis County are looking at a major wetland restoration project on tax-forfeited land near the city of Floodwood. That, too, has proved controversial. According to Len Anderson, a retired school teacher from Cloquet, a hearing on the proposal in Floodwood was met with stiff local opposition, largely because the land to be "reclaimed" is already a functioning wetland.
PolyMet critics also express concern about the ability of state regulators to adequately police mining interests. They point to Minntac, the state's largest taconite producing plant. The company has been in violation of clean water standards for the past six years because sulfate-tainted waters from its tailing ponds are seeping into two nearby rivers. Through a complex biological mechanism, the sulfates are believed to increase the levels of methyl mercury in the waterways. Now the company is seeking a variance to discharge the polluted waters into the St. Louis River.
In the view of Bob Tammen, that's a problem. "The state wants to give Polymet permits. But if they can't get Minntac to clean up their sulfates, how are they ever going to control Polymet? The principle is the same," Tammen argues. "The state of Minnesota is having trouble regulating these mines. We shouldn't allow them to open up more mines if they can't monitor the ones they've got."
If the PolyMet mine opens as expected, there will be considerable ramifications for the mining future in northern Minnesota—and not just because of PolyMet's success or failure on environmental and economic levels. Already, at least four other mining concerns are in the early stages of planning for copper-nickel mines in the state.
"Polymet is plowing new ground," says PolyMet's Hudelson. "We're on the edge of starting a new era in Minnesota." It is an assertion that even the company's opponents will grant him.
· · Vol 27 · Issue 1358 · PUBLISHED 12/13/2006URL: www.citypages.com/databank/27/1358/article14966.aspHOME: http://www.citypages.com/
City Pages is the Online News and Arts Weekly of the Twin Cities
To: Pam Dorris, Lutsen
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 10:42:36 -0600
Subject: Re: Trading a Steak for a Squab in the Grand Marais Land Swap
Pam: The land exchange proposal between Mr. DeWester and the DNR has
been officially withdrawn (as of about noon on 12/12/06). No further
actions will be taken to pursue this exchange.
Dear Mr. Rowlett,
The proposed swap of prime Gunflint Trail property on the outskirts of Grand Marais for over-cut, obscure backwoods acreage in Hovland would give any sensible person pause. It is, to say the least, one of the worst deals since the Indians swapped Manhattan for a handful of beads, and carries with it the whiff of a bad smell.
It's no secret that Grand Marais and Lutsen are supporting somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 hungry realtors, as well as some land-shark residents of dubious integrity, all of whom have personal profit as the bottom line for despoiling the area in and around Grand Marais. In fact, the pristine nature of the town is under siege with dispiriting regularity.
The land comprising the hillsides above the city presently targeted for this senseless DNR trade is similar to what has happened in Phoenix, AZ, where the city stupidly permitted people with deep pockets to build obscenely grandiose houses all over what used to be interesting and unique rock formations ringing the city. Now the average commuter in Phoenix stares up
through his windshield at hills pocked with ugly ego-based monuments instead of the restful beauty of nature. In the case of Grand Marais, the view above the town, looking back from Artist's Point, will be forever defiled and the overall tax base of the area will be impacted irrevocably, like it has in Phoenix, permanently altering the flavor of the community.
This trade would constitute an eye-brow raising triumph of such poor judgement that, at the very least, the integrity of the DNR would be called into question. Please put a halt to this foolishness right now.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Dirty Mines? Mine water quality predictions often wrong /Groundbreaking research indicates the mine permitting process is broken.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Conservationists say water quality predictions prepared by federal land management agencies as part of the permitting process for precious metal mines during the past 25 years were routinely off the mark in concluding the mines would not cause water pollution.
"When we compared the government's predictions with actual water quality reports we found the predictions did not generally agree with reality," said Ann Maest, a water quality geochemist from Boulder, Colo., who co-authored the study released Thursday by the Washington, D.C.-based conservation group Earthworks. "Over three-quarters of the mines we reviewed in detail had pollution exceedances over water quality standards.
"Mining industry officials said they were still reviewing the conservation group's analysis, but questioned \n the inclusion of mines in the study that went bust, were abandoned \n and may not have been built to agreed-upon environmental protection standards."There may be some things in this report that we certainly need to act upon, but it looks to me like a quarter of the mines they decided to look at are abandoned and that may be a little unfair," said Carol Raulston of the National Mining Association in Washington. "There are some mines in their database that are not characteristic of modern mining."
James Kuipers, a Butte, Mont., mining engineer who also authored the conservationists' study, said the findings that water quality protection predictions seldom hold true should prompt regulators to better scrutinize proposals for new mines, including northeast Washington state's Buckhorn gold mine, and the gold and copper Pebble mine in Alaska.
"Mines like the Rosemont copper mine in Arizona and the Atlanta gold mine in Idaho, at least as they are presently being proposed, appear to suffer from many of the same failures as those that were permitted years ago," he said. Kuipers compared the proposed Atlanta mine to the closed Zortman-Landusky mining complex in northern Montana, where taxpayers must foot the bill for treating contaminated water for decades to come.
Atlanta wants to use cyanide to leach gold from the ore left from old mines on a tributary upstream from the Boise River. Environmental groups have warned it could pollute the source of drinking water, irrigation and recreation for the state's most populous river valley.",
"The \n Boise River is more precious than gold," said John Robison of the \n Idaho Conservation League.Many of the failures of the water \n quality predictions in the permit-approval studies were due to \n regulators ignoring previous experiences with hard rock mines, \n relying on private consultants who have a bias toward satisfying \n mining clients and failing to take adequate samples to determine \n overall impacts, Maest said."At the proposed Rock Creek Mine \n in Montana, under a designated wilderness area, they have used only \n a handful of ore and waste samples from the site to predict the \n amount of acid drainage," she said. "They need to look at more \n samples."Raulston said the mining industry has launched an \n acid drainage initiative to find ways to better prevent the \n discharge of acidic pollutants and heavy metals such as arsenic, \n cadmium, mercury and lead that are leached out of rock during mining \n and can be deadly to stream ecosystems. And, modern mines are \n continually monitoring water quality and adjusting operations to \n prevent pollution discharge, she said."They are required to \n look at what is happening on the ground and recalibrate those \n prediction models if the assumptions don\'t match what they are \n seeing," she said. "This notion that these prediction models are \n faith-based initiatives is just not something that really happens in \n our experience."___On the Net:Earthworks \n mine water quality report: http://www.mine-aid.org/National \n Mining Association: ",1]
"The Boise River is more precious than gold," said John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League.Many of the failures of the water quality predictions in the permit-approval studies were due to regulators ignoring previous experiences with hard rock mines, relying on private consultants who have a bias toward satisfying mining clients and failing to take adequate samples to determine overall impacts, Maest said."At the proposed Rock Creek Mine in Montana, under a designated wilderness area, they have used only a handful of ore and waste samples from the site to predict the amount of acid drainage," she said. "They need to look at more samples."Raulston said the mining industry has launched an acid drainage initiative to find ways to better prevent the discharge of acidic pollutants and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead that are leached out of rock during mining and can be deadly to stream ecosystems. And, modern mines are continually monitoring water quality and adjusting operations to prevent pollution discharge, she said."They are required to look at what is happening on the ground and recalibrate those prediction models if the assumptions don't match what they are seeing," she said. "This notion that these prediction models are faith-based initiatives is just not something that really happens in our experience."___On the Net:Earthworks mine water quality report: http://www.mine-aid.org/National Mining Association:
http://www.nma.org/\n \n http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/53303.html#\n \n \n http://www.mine-aid.org/\n Groundbreaking research indicates the mine \n permitting process is \n broken.\n \n Dec 7 -- \n New scientific research unveiled \n today finds that faulty water \n quality predictions and regulatory failures result in the approval \n of mines that create significant water pollution problems at \n more than three quarters of mines studied. \n \n \n The first-of-a-kind reports, Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water \n Quality at Hardrock Mines, and Predicting \n Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: Methods and Models, \n Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art",1]
Groundbreaking research indicates the mine permitting process is broken.
Dec 7 -- New scientific research unveiled today finds that faulty water quality predictions and regulatory failures result in the approval of mines that create significant water pollution problems at more than three quarters of mines studied.
The first-of-a-kind reports, Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock Mines, and Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: Methods and Models, Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art
, by Jim Kuipers, \n P.E., and geochemist Ann Maest, Ph.D., analyzed water quality \n predictions and outcomes at 25 representative metal mines permitted \n in the United States during the last 25 years. \n A white paper authored by EARTHWORKS, \n Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock \n Mines: A Failure of Science, Oversight, and Good \n Practice summarizes these reports and \n provides policy recommendations for \n regulators.\n \n \n \n \n \n \n \nNOTE: These reports are embargoed until 12/7. By \ndownloading these reports, you are agreeing not to distribute/share/publicize \nthem until that date.\n\n Comparison \n of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock \n MinesThe reliability of predictions in Environmental \n Impact Statements(1,418KB pdf document. Right click to \n save to your hard drive) \n Predicting \n Water Quality at Hardrock MinesMethods and Models, \n Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art(1,005KB pdf \n document. Right click to save to your hard drive)",1]
, by Jim Kuipers, P.E., and geochemist Ann Maest, Ph.D., analyzed water quality predictions and outcomes at 25 representative metal mines permitted in the United States during the last 25 years.
A white paper authored by EARTHWORKS, Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: A Failure of Science, Oversight, and Good Practice summarizes these reports and provides policy recommendations for regulators.
NOTE: These reports are embargoed until 12/7. By downloading these reports, you are agreeing not to distribute/share/publicize them until that date.
Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock MinesThe reliability of predictions in Environmental Impact Statements(1,418KB pdf document. Right click to save to your hard drive)
Predicting Water Quality at Hardrock MinesMethods and Models, Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art(1,005KB pdf document. Right click to save to your hard drive)
\n Predicting \n Water Quality Problems at Hardrock MinesA Failure of \n Science, Oversight, and Good PracticeAn EARTHWORKS white paper \n summarizing and analyzing the groundbreaking studies by Ann Maest PhD and Jim \n Kuipers, P.E. (350KB pdf document. Right click to save to \n your hard drive.) \n Independent \n reviewers of the research and conferences where the research has been \n prsented.(A 12KB pdf document. Right click to \n save to your hard drive.) \n Major \n mine databaseData on all mines considered for inclusion in \n the Maest-Kuipers research.(A 2.5MB excel workbook. Right \n click to save to your hard drive.) \n\n\n \n \n \n \n \n \nhttp://www.earthworksaction.org/PR_KuipersMaest.cfm#KMREPORTS\n \n \n2006 Press Releases \nNew Scientific Research Reveals Widespread Failure to Keep \nMines from Polluting Water",1]
Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock MinesA Failure of Science, Oversight, and Good PracticeAn EARTHWORKS white paper summarizing and analyzing the groundbreaking studies by Ann Maest PhD and Jim Kuipers, P.E. (350KB pdf document. Right click to save to your hard drive.)
Independent reviewers of the research and conferences where the research has been prsented.(A 12KB pdf document. Right click to save to your hard drive.)
Major mine databaseData on all mines considered for inclusion in the Maest-Kuipers research.(A 2.5MB excel workbook. Right click to save to your hard drive.)
2006 Press Releases
New Scientific Research Reveals Widespread Failure to Keep Mines from Polluting Water
Regulatory and Scientific Failures in Mine \nPermitting Result in Widespread Water Pollution, Increased Public Health Risks, \nand Costly Taxpayer-Funded Cleanups\nDec 7, Washington, DC -- New scientific research unveiled today finds that \nfaulty water quality predictions, mitigation measures and regulatory failures \nresult in the approval of mines that create significant water pollution \nproblems. Despite assurances from government regulators and mine proponents that \nmines would not pollute clean water, researchers found that 76 percent of \nstudied mines exceeded water quality standards, polluting rivers, and \ngroundwater with toxic contaminants, such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cyanide, \nand exposing taxpayers to huge cleanup liabilities. The release was issued by \nthe Washington, DC-based conservation group EARTHWORKS and conservation groups \nin as many as ten western states affected by mining.\n"Without correction, the human, environmental, and financial \ncosts of these regulatory failures will continue to grow as more mines are \npermitted," said report author and mining engineer Jim Kuipers. "Where \npredictions of water quality at mine sites are concerned, the scientific process \nis broken and must be fixed." \nThe first-of-a-kind reports, "Comparison of Predicted and Actual \nWater Quality at Hardrock Mines," and "Predicting Water Quality Problems at \nHardrock Mines: Methods and Models, Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art," by \nKuipers, P.E., and geochemist Ann Maest, Ph.D., analyzed water quality \npredictions and outcomes at 25 representative metal mines permitted in the \nUnited States during the last 25 years. \nThe scientists found that predictions of mining\'s impact on \nclean water were made without checking the results of past predictions. They \nalso found that predictions were often made using inadequate information, \nincorrectly applied. Not surprisingly, mitigation measures based on the \ninaccurate predictions also typically failed to protect clean water.",1]
Regulatory and Scientific Failures in Mine Permitting Result in Widespread Water Pollution, Increased Public Health Risks, and Costly Taxpayer-Funded Cleanups
Dec 7, Washington, DC -- New scientific research unveiled today finds that faulty water quality predictions, mitigation measures and regulatory failures result in the approval of mines that create significant water pollution problems. Despite assurances from government regulators and mine proponents that mines would not pollute clean water, researchers found that 76 percent of studied mines exceeded water quality standards, polluting rivers, and groundwater with toxic contaminants, such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cyanide, and exposing taxpayers to huge cleanup liabilities. The release was issued by the Washington, DC-based conservation group EARTHWORKS and conservation groups in as many as ten western states affected by mining.
"Without correction, the human, environmental, and financial costs of these regulatory failures will continue to grow as more mines are permitted," said report author and mining engineer Jim Kuipers. "Where predictions of water quality at mine sites are concerned, the scientific process is broken and must be fixed."
The first-of-a-kind reports, "Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock Mines," and "Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: Methods and Models, Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art," by Kuipers, P.E., and geochemist Ann Maest, Ph.D., analyzed water quality predictions and outcomes at 25 representative metal mines permitted in the United States during the last 25 years.
The scientists found that predictions of mining's impact on clean water were made without checking the results of past predictions. They also found that predictions were often made using inadequate information, incorrectly applied. Not surprisingly, mitigation measures based on the inaccurate predictions also typically failed to protect clean water.
\nAmong the researchers\' findings for the 25 mines examined in \ndepth:\n\n 76 percent of mines exceed groundwater or \n surface water quality standards \n 93 percent of mines that are near \n groundwater and have elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant \n leaching exceeded water quality standards \n 85 percent of mines that are near surface \n water and have elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant leaching \n exceeded water quality standards \n Water quality standards for toxic heavy \n metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and zinc, were exceeded at 63 \n percent of mines. \n Mitigation measures predicted to protect \n clean water failed at 64 percent of the mines.\n"Regulators and mining companies have a \nresponsibility to ensure that sound science and widely available, \nstate-of-the-art methods are used to prevent pollution at mine sites," said \nMaest. "Changes in permitting evaluations are needed at current and future mines \nto keep our waters clean and our fisheries viable." \n\nThe researchers also found that mines located near surface or \ngroundwater that tapped ore bodies with high potential for acid-generation or \ncontaminant leaching, and near water resources were at high-risk of resulting in \nwater pollution. This finding in particular has serious implications for \ncontroversial new mines now being proposed, or in permitting \nincluding:\n\n Pebble gold-copper mine in southwest Alaska \n at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to the world\'s largest salmon \n runs. \n Atlanta gold mine in Idaho adjacent to the \n Boise River, which provides Boise with more than 20 percent of its municipal \n water",1]
Among the researchers' findings for the 25 mines examined in depth:
76 percent of mines exceed groundwater or surface water quality standards
93 percent of mines that are near groundwater and have elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant leaching exceeded water quality standards
85 percent of mines that are near surface water and have elevated potential for acid drainage or contaminant leaching exceeded water quality standards
Water quality standards for toxic heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and zinc, were exceeded at 63 percent of mines.
Mitigation measures predicted to protect clean water failed at 64 percent of the mines.
"Regulators and mining companies have a responsibility to ensure that sound science and widely available, state-of-the-art methods are used to prevent pollution at mine sites," said Maest. "Changes in permitting evaluations are needed at current and future mines to keep our waters clean and our fisheries viable."
The researchers also found that mines located near surface or groundwater that tapped ore bodies with high potential for acid-generation or contaminant leaching, and near water resources were at high-risk of resulting in water pollution. This finding in particular has serious implications for controversial new mines now being proposed, or in permitting including:
Pebble gold-copper mine in southwest Alaska at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to the world's largest salmon runs.
Atlanta gold mine in Idaho adjacent to the Boise River, which provides Boise with more than 20 percent of its municipal water
\n Rock Creek silver-copper mine in northwest \n Montana near the Clark Fork River and underneath the Cabinet Mountains \n Wilderness.\n"With dozens of new mines and mine expansions in the pipeline, \nthis report could not have come at a better time," said Alan Septoff, Director \nof Research at EARTHWORKS, which commissioned the studies. "Action on these \nfindings by regulators and mining companies should result in cleaner water, \nhealthier economies, and more responsible mining." \nSustained increases in metal prices, driven in part by growing \ndemand from China, have triggered a sharp increase in the number of new mines \nand mine expansions being proposed in the United States. New mining claims filed \nin 2006 for mines on federal public lands are on track to more than quadruple \nsince 2002.\nBased on the researchers\' findings, the groups releasing the \nstudies offered the following recommendations:\n\n Better screening of high-risk mines -- \n particularly those near water resources that have the potential to create \n pollution from acid drainage or metal leaching. \n Take a precautionary approach to mine \n permitting and plan for worst-case scenarios. \n Undertake a thorough review of water quality \n predictions at all existing mines. \n Keep the public informed, make risks \n transparent. \n Prevent conflicts-of-interest between mine \n proponents and expert consultants who prepare predictions and \n analyses.\nThe reports have been extensively peer-reviewed and presented at \nfive major conferences, including: U.S. EPA\'s Hardrock 2006 Conference in \nTucson, Arizona; Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration\'s 2006 Annual \nMeeting in St. Louis; and the Mine Design, Operations and Closure Conference in \nFairmont Hot Springs, Montana, also in 2006. ",1]
Rock Creek silver-copper mine in northwest Montana near the Clark Fork River and underneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
"With dozens of new mines and mine expansions in the pipeline, this report could not have come at a better time," said Alan Septoff, Director of Research at EARTHWORKS, which commissioned the studies. "Action on these findings by regulators and mining companies should result in cleaner water, healthier economies, and more responsible mining."
Sustained increases in metal prices, driven in part by growing demand from China, have triggered a sharp increase in the number of new mines and mine expansions being proposed in the United States. New mining claims filed in 2006 for mines on federal public lands are on track to more than quadruple since 2002.
Based on the researchers' findings, the groups releasing the studies offered the following recommendations:
Better screening of high-risk mines -- particularly those near water resources that have the potential to create pollution from acid drainage or metal leaching.
Take a precautionary approach to mine permitting and plan for worst-case scenarios.
Undertake a thorough review of water quality predictions at all existing mines.
Keep the public informed, make risks transparent.
Prevent conflicts-of-interest between mine proponents and expert consultants who prepare predictions and analyses.
The reports have been extensively peer-reviewed and presented at five major conferences, including: U.S. EPA's Hardrock 2006 Conference in Tucson, Arizona; Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration's 2006 Annual Meeting in St. Louis; and the Mine Design, Operations and Closure Conference in Fairmont Hot Springs, Montana, also in 2006.
\n\n \n\n\nPredictions vs \nReality reports\n\n Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock \n Mines \n Predicting Water Quality at Hardrock Mines: Methods and Models, \n Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art \n \n Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: A Failure of \n Science, Oversight, and Good Practice. An EARTHWORKS white \n paper.\n\nEarthworks 1612 K St., NW, Suite \n808 Washington, D.C., USA 20006 202.887.1872 email@example.com\n \n",1]
Predictions vs Reality reports
Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock Mines
Predicting Water Quality at Hardrock Mines: Methods and Models, Uncertainties, and State-of-the-Art
Predicting Water Quality Problems at Hardrock Mines: A Failure of Science, Oversight, and Good Practice. An EARTHWORKS white paper.
Earthworks 1612 K St., NW, Suite 808 Washington, D.C., USA 20006 202.887.1872 firstname.lastname@example.org
.org/cvJeanieAlderson.cfmn \nCuster National Forest, \nMT\n\nRancher Not Informed about \nMineral Leasing\nBy Jeanie \nAlderson\nMy father and two sisters own Bones Brothers Ranch, a \ncow/calf ranching operation in southeastern Montana. Like many ranches in this \npart of Montana, ours has been built over the last 110 years. We own and pay \ntaxes on 8,435 acres, and lease grazing land on the Custer National Forest. \nWhile we own some of the minerals below our land, other family members and the \nfederal government own the rest. Many of the federal minerals are under land \nthat is very close to our homes.\nI knew that the federal government owned \nminerals below our ranch; however, I knew nothing about the process of federal \nmineral leasing. In December 2000, I called a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) \nofficial in Miles City to find out if the minerals under our ranch had been \nleased for coalbed methane development. From the information I eventually \nreceived from this BLM official, I learned that five companies and individuals \nhad leased the federal minerals below our land. Although the BLM does not \ndistinguish between regular oil and gas leases and coalbed methane leases, all \nindications point to these minerals being leased for coalbed methane \ndevelopment. \nBLM never informed me they were leasing \nminerals under our ranch. BLM never asked for input regarding lease \nstipulations. I was never told about the leasing process, nor did I receive any \ninformation about the relationship between surface owners and mineral owners in \nregard to the development of federal minerals.",1]
Custer National Forest, MT
Rancher Not Informed about Mineral Leasing
By Jeanie Alderson
My father and two sisters own Bones Brothers Ranch, a cow/calf ranching operation in southeastern Montana. Like many ranches in this part of Montana, ours has been built over the last 110 years. We own and pay taxes on 8,435 acres, and lease grazing land on the Custer National Forest. While we own some of the minerals below our land, other family members and the federal government own the rest. Many of the federal minerals are under land that is very close to our homes.
I knew that the federal government owned minerals below our ranch; however, I knew nothing about the process of federal mineral leasing. In December 2000, I called a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) official in Miles City to find out if the minerals under our ranch had been leased for coalbed methane development. From the information I eventually received from this BLM official, I learned that five companies and individuals had leased the federal minerals below our land. Although the BLM does not distinguish between regular oil and gas leases and coalbed methane leases, all indications point to these minerals being leased for coalbed methane development.
BLM never informed me they were leasing minerals under our ranch. BLM never asked for input regarding lease stipulations. I was never told about the leasing process, nor did I receive any information about the relationship between surface owners and mineral owners in regard to the development of federal minerals.
\nHad we been able to be involved in the leasing \nprocess we could have provided helpful information about our ranching operation, \nand how leasing decisions will affect our ranch. We have an intimate knowledge \nof the landscape and could have provided information about wildlife habitat, \nnative plants, unstable slopes, watersheds and so forth. We could have provided \ninformation about where not to allow drilling, and where it might be acceptable. \nThis information could have guided the leasing in a more reasonable and, \nultimately more effective, manner.\nIn the present situation, we had no input into \na process that will ultimately affect our land, water, business and lives \nforever. It seems like common sense that landowners should have more say in what \nhappens on their property, but the simple truth is that oil and gas rights take \nprecedence over surface rights.\nReprinted with permission from the Western Organization of Resource \nCouncils\n\n \nEarthworks 1612 K St., NW, Suite 808 \nWashington, D.C., USA 20006 202.887.1872 email@example.com\n \n \n \n\n\n",0]
Had we been able to be involved in the leasing process we could have provided helpful information about our ranching operation, and how leasing decisions will affect our ranch. We have an intimate knowledge of the landscape and could have provided information about wildlife habitat, native plants, unstable slopes, watersheds and so forth. We could have provided information about where not to allow drilling, and where it might be acceptable. This information could have guided the leasing in a more reasonable and, ultimately more effective, manner.
In the present situation, we had no input into a process that will ultimately affect our land, water, business and lives forever. It seems like common sense that landowners should have more say in what happens on their property, but the simple truth is that oil and gas rights take precedence over surface rights.
Reprinted with permission from the Western Organization of Resource Councils
Earthworks 1612 K St., NW, Suite 808 Washington, D.C., USA 20006 202.887.1872 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Saturday, December 09, 2006
Guard Urged to Drop Target-Practice Plan
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff WriterSunday, December 10, 2006; Page A01
CHICAGO -- U.S. Coast Guard vessels staging machine-gun target practice in the peaceable Great Lakes? George Heartwell does not like the idea, not one little bit. He questions the need, the risk and the appearance.
"I think our Canadian friends see us as trigger-happy cowboys," said Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids, Mich. "There simply have to be other ways and better ways."
In the name of defending the United States against terrorists, the Coast Guard proposes live-fire zones in all five Great Lakes, where gunners could perfect their skills on M-240B machine guns to be mounted on Lakes vessels. The weapons can fire hundreds of 7.62mm rounds a minute and send lead 2.3 miles downrange.
The Coast Guard, at a series of public hearings this fall, defended the 34 proposed zones as essential to its mission. Each zone, located at least five miles offshore, would be used perhaps two or three times a year for a few hours. Civilian boaters would be warned to stay away.
Yet opposition to the proposal is formidable and growing, led by an alliance of 80 mayors from eight states and Canada who called on the Coast Guard last month to drop the plan. More than a dozen environmental groups have asked for changes in the project and a deeper study of the effect on the ecosystem of hundreds of thousands of lead bullets.
Toronto Mayor David Miller, speaking for the organization of mayors, called the live-fire proposal "totally contrary to the long history of peaceful relations and environmental cooperation between the United States and Canada on the Great Lakes."
The decision to install machine guns on Coast Guard vessels in the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes was sensitive enough that the Bush administration sought to assure the Canadians that the weapons would not violate the spirit of an 1817 agreement limiting armaments on the lakes, home to 21 percent of the fresh water on the Earth's surface.
Asserting the need for the guns, a State Department diplomatic note in April 2003 cited "the potential for a tragic outcome" if the border's integrity were breached.
The Coast Guard began live-fire training earlier this year, conducting 24 exercises before a public outcry forced a suspension. The Coast Guard held nine public hearings and extended the comment period by two months to explain the plans and overcome the suspicion that they had acted dismissively.
Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's regional headquarters in Cleveland, described the training. Gunners in the 34 zones would shoot at floating targets in exercises lasting four to six hours at a time.
"To be proficient on the weapon, we have to practice," Lanier said. "There's a tremendous difference between operating any type of weapon on land versus operating it on water, where you've got the motion of the Great Lakes, the wind current, the sun."
Opponents, however, suggest using a simulator or sending Coast Guard members to train on the ocean.
"To be honest with you, we don't feel we're ready for this militarization of the Great Lakes," said F. Ned Dikmen, Chicago-based chairman of the Great Lakes Boating Federation. "The waterways, the pristineness, the enjoyment, takes on a different picture."
Dikmen continued. "My biggest fear is a poor fisherman that is not very radio-friendly and might not even know exactly what hit him. Are you going to call them on the phone? How are they supposed to know they are 2.3 miles out from the firing range?"
Kevin Crawford, mayor of Manitowoc, Wis., is among the critics who believe the Coast Guard acted badly.
"That's our freshwater supply. We fish out of there. We recreate out of there," said Crawford, who is also skeptical of federal projections that the lead in the Coast Guard's bullets will do no harm. "The idea that continuous activity of the Coast Guard over time won't have an effect is untrue, or least we don't know it to be true."
One of Crawford's worries is the safety of passengers on the S.S. Badger, a steam-powered ferry that churns between Manitowoc and Ludington, Mich. Another concern is the potential for unease among tourists who gravitate to the lake.
"You never know what's going to set off a change in the visitor economy," said Crawford, who added that he was not concerned about the prospect of terrorists on the Great Lakes. "There just doesn't seem to be that kind of a threat out there."
Not everyone is speaking against the Coast Guard project. Among the supporters is Dexter Nelson, captain of the 34-foot, twin-engine Fishin' Luhrs, who figures he has spent more than 17,000 hours afloat in Lake Superior, catching lake trout, walleye and salmon. He is confident the Coast Guard will find ways to notify boaters and fishermen, and he believes the training is necessary.
"I just think leave them alone and let them do what they need to do," said Nelson, who is based in Duluth, Minn. "If something happens, it's good if they're well-trained."
The Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council proposes reducing the 14 proposed Lake Michigan zones by half and moving them farther offshore. In a vast lake that stretches about 120 miles at its widest point, the proposal would mean a zone perhaps 40 miles from the shoreline, compared with the current five-mile minimum.
"It's really nothing for the average angler to go 10 or 15 miles offshore to fish," said Dan Thomas, president of the Chicago-based council, which counts 300,000 members. He supports the Coast Guard and considers the live-fire zones a minor inconvenience worth tolerating.
"They're putting their lives on the line to protect your butt and my butt," Thomas said. "There need to be some adjustments, but at the same time, I'm telling my guys, 'Get a life.' "
The Coast Guard is reviewing its plans, with no announced date for a decision.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
November 1, DNR to Grand Marais: requested marina RFP changes made but "land control" a stumbling block
Killien wrote: "In the RFP I made all of the requested changes except, for item # 3. Without some form of land control on the property behind the breakwall we are not able to consider expanding the existing marina. As you may recall our assistant Trails and Waterways Director come [sic] up specifically to address that issue."
Hello, friends? Land control? Are we talking about the conservation easements enacted by a previous council, perceived as a minor stumbling block to big marina development? Let's hear it for land control!
Killien concluded, "As soon as the city is satisfied with the format and text we will finalize and process the documents."
The revised documents are slated for review at the City Council meeting on Weds., December 14 at 4:30 p.m. Curious about why it took a month and a half for the letter and documents to hit the council agenda? Hmm, so is True.
Roth told the Cook County News Herald that a party had requested notification before any action on the harbor marina was discussed. So, nu. Here we are, two council meetings later.
Harbor Friends, let's turn out next Wednesday OR write to the Council with PAPER backup (my emails somehow don't show up in the record).
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
To: Gene Merriam
Cc: Evelyn Larsen
Cc: Jay Anderson
Cc: Stephanie Hemphill
Sent: Dec 5, 2006 10:38 AM
Subject: Fw: FYI
What follows is a news release concerning a land swap the DNR is considering that will greatly and negatively impact Grand Marais. It is extremely important for the future of the city that this not go forward as this property is a core component defining the natural setting that defines our city and gives context to the Gunflint Trail, the Superior Hiking Trail, the scenic overlook, and the adjacent public lands the people of Minnesota and the residents of Cook County have come to see as defining Grand Marais.
The DNR, according to the news release, has set a response date for comments from Cook County and the City of Grand Marais of December 8: this is a totally unrealistic expectation since it falls between regular meetings for the respective governing bodies and allows little or no time for a reasonable, deliberative review, nor does it give the community at large an opprtunity to formulate and express their opinion to the DNR or to their elected representatives.
In addition, the economics of the exchange are a bit bewildering. How equitable to Minnesota's citizens is it to give up over 300 acres of extremely valuable land in the city of Grand Marais for 400 acres of cut-over property somewhere outside of Hovland?
I am asking you to stop the exchange outright, or at a minimum, have the relevant DNR committee delay the comment deadline until January of 2007.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Jim Raml- 388-0606
DNR Proposed Land Exchange Along Gunflint Trail
The Minnesota DNR is proposing to trade roughly 320 acres of public recreation land along the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway on the hillside above Grand Marais. The land would be traded to Larry Dewester for about 400 acres of mostly cut-over lands he owns in a remote area north of Hovland.
The lands to be traded by the DNR stretch from the "old ski hill" on the west to the Pincushion Mountain overlook and ski trail system on the east. The land also wraps around the northern portion of the Cedar Grove Business Park as well as encompassing over a mile of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway.
Currently, these lands are primarily used recreationally with the North Shore State Trail and Superior Hiking Trail either abutting or passing directly through them.
Sometime during the last week of November the Cook County Assessor and City of Grand Marais Administrator were notified of the proposal by the Two Harbors Area office of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. At that time the state agency requested that the two local governmental bodies provide comment by December 8th for consideration by its North Shore Field Team internal review of the proposal to be held on Thursday December 14 in the Two Harbors area office.
However, neither local agency will meet in that short time frame, and thus, both the city and the county will discuss the proposal at their next scheduled meetings. The city planning and zoning board will discuss the proposal at 4:30 PM on Wednesday December 6. The Cook County Board of Commissioners will take the matter up at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday December 12. The Grand Marais City Council will visit the issue at 4:30 PM on Wednesday December 13.
Anyone wanting to comment on this proposed land trade should either contact their local representatives or attend these meetings.
The DNR’s North Shore Field Team will discuss the issue at its December 14th meeting in Two Harbors at which time it will review local governmental comments and make a decision on whether to proceed with the proposal by sending it on up to the Regional Office. While the December 14th meeting is not public one may send comments for consideration to the Two Harbors Area DNR supervisor at Douglas.Rowlett@dnr.state.mn.us .
WTIP Station Manager
PO Box 1005
Grand Marais, MN 55604
Sunday, December 03, 2006
A news report in the Cook County News Herald on Friday suggests that Homeland Security may be negotiating with the airport for a 10 acre site with all the trimmings.
The airport is not in the city of Grand Marais and so negotiations will go to Cook County.
What do you think? Please post comments or email email@example.com.
Subject: Climate Change, Mercury, and Stormwater: Bringing it all Home
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2006 11:11:42 -0600
Climate Change, Mercury, and Stormwater: Bringing it all Home
With Jesse Schomberg
SATURDAY * DECEMBER 9th
10:00AM * FREE
at SUGARLOAF COVE
Sugarloaf Cove is located lakeside on Highway 61 at mile 73.3.
Questions? Call 663-7679
A presentation based on this year's "A View from the Lake" boat trips
along the North and South Shores. Jesse Schomberg (Minnesota Sea Grant)
will present information on water quality, its relationship to mercury,
how both may be affected by climate change in the great lakes region,
and what we as individuals and communities can do.
This is a great program for all of the Cook County residents involved
in planning and visioning to gain some technical knowledge.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Many of you may have missed this comment by "Stony" to a post a couple of months ago. I would like to hear from you about this suggestion.....
You most likely know I am not personally a member of any Christian congregation. However, I do believe in the voice of religious leaders as a guide to our moral values (though not the infallibility claimed by the Pope and many evangelical sects). I like to listen to their views, especially when they urge peace and selflessness.....
So with this in mind I ask your input about Stony's post. It seems simple to me: religion cannot be favored by government. Nonetheless, moral imperatives of all voters must be considered by government. Religion doesn't get to dictate who votes for whom. In fact religion does not get to dictate anything. Only to propose, to its congregations, those values supposed to reflect God. Think of religion as a frame of reference, or a debate. And then, look at this comment by Stony:
Maybe they should just end the tax-free status of all the churches,their businesses and properties. They they could do what they want without fear? Although many already do. I attended a service in another state where they handed out sample ballots with each choice of the church already marked and the congregation was told "you vote this way or we will now about it"
Look at all the wars that have been waged in the name of religion.
Thanksgiving is the universal holiday, the only day of the year in our country where all peoples are welcomed, all faiths represented, in the blessing of being thankful. Imams and Jews, Buddhists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics and Lutherans, native peoples and descendants of slaves, gringos and Hispanics, on this one day join together in feasting and rejoicing. However we name the giver, we gratefully receive the gifts.
And here’s the secret of thankfulness, of gratitude: it makes us happy, it makes us rich, it brings peace. No matter what we have or don’t have, contentment brings us joy and opens our hearts. Contented, we are lucky. The fortunate few. As I tell my cats each morning, “We’re so lucky and happy!”
A very happy Thanksgiving all who live here on the North Shore.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
by Elanne Palcich
April 12, 2006
My name is Elanne Palcich. I was born and raised on the Iron Range, and live in Chisholm. I am a retired teacher, and taught with the Virginia school district.
Last summer, I attended the Polymet hearing in Hoyt Lakes. I listened to the power point presentation, and came home with an EAW — over 200 pages worth.
And the first thing I learned is that, when the company gives a power point presentation, they only tell you what they want you to hear. So now I'll tell you what I think you should hear.
“When sulfide ores are exposed to air and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs which produces sulfuric acid. This sulfuric acid then leaches into the watershed, killing all aquatic life.”
Polymet wants to start up a copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. Copper-nickel deposits are found in a band of sulfide ores that extend basically between Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt. When sulfide ores are exposed to air and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs which produces sulfuric acid. This sulfuric acid then leaches into the watershed, killing all aquatic life.
The question is, can this sulfuric acid be neutralized? Existing plans call for reactive tailings (those containing sulfide) to be stored on plastic liners and layered with soil to prevent as much exposure to air and water as possible. The plastic liner contains drainage points, where the waste water is to be collected and treated before being discharged into the watershed.
In addition to the tailings, waste rock and pit walls may also contain sulfide ore.
Polymet's current plan is to store its tailings for the first five years of plant operation while it performs something called humidity cell tests to try to determine how to neutralize the acid drainage. From what I can understand, these cell tests compact the tailings and add moisture to simulate what might happen under natural conditions.
My questions are: what happens if there's acid drainage from the tailings during those five years of testing? And how does one control acid drainage from a pit?
Polymet's rush to start operation before a plan for waste treatment is in place goes against state law. (The law says the waste must be understood before the mine is started.)
“No company is currently allowed to mine sulfide ores in Wisconsin because no company has been able to show that their current or past mining operations in the U.S. or Canada have been free of significant environmental damage.”
Other states are also facing problems with sulfide mining. No company is currently allowed to mine sulfide ores in Wisconsin because no company has been able to show that their current or past mining operations in the U.S. or Canada have been free of significant environmental damage. Evidently there have been problems with acid drainage leaking through the plastic liners.
Montana prohibits any mining that would require perpetual water treatment. Acid mine drainage from sulfide tailings can remain active for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.
So, acid drainage is the number one problem with sulfide mining.
Problem number two is air emissions. The Polymet mine would be located just 20 miles south of the Boundary Waters and 50 miles southeast of Voyageurs National Park. These are Class I air quality areas. A concern is the creation of haze caused by plant and vehicle emissions. The specific requirements for permitting are to be negotiated with the MPCA and the Federal Land Managers. This is surprising to me, as I thought that air standards were just that — standards — not negotiated items.
Sulfuric acid mist is used in the plant process itself, in the extraction of metals from ore. There is some concern about seepage of sulfuric acid mist into the air, but wet scrubbers are supposed to control this problem.
The plant will also add to mercury deposition. Although mercury pollution stems from global sources, it's a special problem for Minnesota because when the airborne mercury falls into water, it transforms into methylmercury, which is toxic. The Polymet plant borders a wilderness.
Sierra Club volunteer Elanne Palcich gave apowerful presentation at the Floodwood forum on PolyMet's Minnesota sulfide mining project.
So that's two problems — acid drainage and air emissions.
Problem number three is that the development of the mine site will impact approximately 3015 acres of wildlife habitat, of which 1305 are wetlands. A total of 13 species of rare or sensitive plants have been identified in the area, as well as the threatened wood turtle. A variety of fish species will also be affected.
These environmental problems are further impacted by the location of adjoining projects, the combination of which will greatly contribute to air pollution, stress our water resources, and further fragment land for wildlife habitation. These projects are listed on the chart. I would like to point out that the Birch Lake project proposes to mine copper-nickel deposits underneath Birch Lake.
An important point to remember is that these mining companies are in a rush to begin mining during what they consider to be "a window of opportunity." Demand from China and India, who have not yet started mining their own ore deposits, has driven prices to a peak level.
Polymet's sulfide deposit contains not only copper and nickel, but the trace minerals platinum, palladium, cobalt, silver, and gold. Platinum is currently selling at around $986 an ounce, and over a 20 year period of mining, Polymet would stand to make $25 billion dollars. This money will basically leave our area. Mine operations are to be run on copper production, while nickel and the trace minerals would be extra profit.
I also want to mention that mining companies, including Polymet, are claiming competition in the global market, and are not committing to hiring union workers.
Others will be speaking on the wetlands exchange issue, so I will state my concerns briefly:
One, Polymet is jumping ahead on this issue, too as the EIS is not yet out.
Two, how can land in Floodwood which has been drained since 1916, and reached its own ecological balance, be an equivalent exchange for existing wetlands near the Boundary Waters? There is something inherently wrong with this whole process.
Three, the exchange plan mentions the threat of peat mining, as a reason for protecting the Floodwood area. Of course peat mining is a threat! Why on earth would anybody consider destroying a bog for horticultural peat?
Four, what looks good on paper doesn't always translate so well into real life. How can one condense all of the interdynamics of a wetland onto a piece of paper? And how can we fix problems after the fact?
Five, our political leaders don't have time to comb through mountains of paperwork on every project, so they rely instead on company propaganda, getting stuck on words like jobs and taxes.
I believe the age of ignorance is over. What worked in the 20th century is not going to work in the 21st. With world population at 6.5 billion and increasing, with increasing demands upon land and resources, we can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand, or even in the wetlands. As a teacher I would say that knowledge is power. It is time for us to lead our leaders by providing them with information.
“Polymet's projected mining life would be 20 years… What will the landscape look like then? What legacy will we leave for our children and our grandchildren?”
One hundred years ago, there were so many white pine covering northern Minnesota that it was said they could never all be logged. Yet in 20 years they were all gone. Today people say the same about our wetlands. But while the rest of the nation and the state are losing wetlands to urban sprawl, we're losing our wetlands to uncontrolled and uncontrollable mining projects.
I believe that the Polymet project in particular, with its potential for acid drainage, should be put on hold while we develop a slower, more sustainable future of growth (including lower impact manufacturing and tourism).
Polymet's projected mining life would be 20 years. I would guess that most of us in this room will be here 20 years from now. What will the landscape look like then? What legacy will we leave for our children and our grandchildren?
PolyMet mining project
Birch Lake mining project (Franconia Minerals)
Case Study: Grand Marais – Sustainability on the North Shore
Grand Marais is a picturesque city on the North Shore. Due to its beautiful location on the shore of Lake Superior, and its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Sawtooth Mountain Range, tourism and summer residency is an important component of the local economy. Though visitors bring money to fuel the local economy, they also bring waste. Community members are recognizing this and doing their part to address waste as well as other issues associated with sustainability. Like many towns, Grand Marais has seen some of its buildings abandoned and begin to decay.
Recently, a group of local citizens, in cooperation with the mayor, worked together to deal with a troublesome lot. The group worked to transition a plot of land on the lakeshore that was once home to an old filling station into a park. While not all buildings can be saved and sometimes need to be demolished, some are salvageable. These buildings can be remodeled for use today. Many older buildings in the city of Grand Marais are being renovated and are now home to prosperous businesses. The Angry Trout Café, a popular local restaurant was once a fish house on the shore of Lake Superior. What was once a ski-hill and lodge near the city is being explored as a potential location for a housing development.
Businesses can also play a part in the movement towards sustainability. The Angry Trout Café mentioned above provides an excellent example of how business can incorporate sustainability into its transactions. Food for the café comes from local growers to the extent possible. The café has also implemented several methods to reduce waste as much as possible. There are 3 compost bins in the kitchen where food scraps are sorted for composting or dog food for local sled dogs. Food prep containers are selected on the basis of their being environmentally friendly or recyclable and "to go" containers for coffee and leftovers are returnable. Even the trash bags are environmentally friendly, made of cornstarch that disintegrates much more quickly than plastic.
The community recognizes that poorly planned growth and waste that harms the natural landscape can hurt the economic base of the resort area. Citizens are working to ensure that the harbor area is well protected and that growth is "smart" rather than lured in at any price. With the development of a land trust to protect the harbor area, an attempt to protect the ski hill area, the development of a city park in place of an old building, refurbishing old buildings, the environmentally conscious Angry Trout Café, and an engaged group of citizens that want to learn more about implementing smart and sustainable growth, Grand Marais is a city poised for a healthy future.
Link to full 2001 case study: http://www.mnproject.org/pdf/ccschapters/grandmar.pdf or visit http://www.grandmaraismn.com/-- Summarized by Jennifer Hawkins, The Minnesota Project
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I read this on Truthdig and thought you would find it interesting.
Barry Golson: Stop U.S.-Canada Immigration Now!
The editor of ForbesTraveler.com pens a satirical take on U.S.-Mexico border relations, envisioning a scenario in which 'Minute Mounties' protect the Canadian border from Americans desperate to fill jobs that our neighbors to the north are too rich to perform.
Monday, November 13, 2006
“The art of living is always to make a good thing out of a bad thing. Only if we know that we have actually descended into infernal regions where nothing awaits us but ‘the cold death of society and the extinguishing of all civilised relations,’ can we summon the courage and imagination needed for a ‘turning around,’ a metanoia. This then leads to seeing the world in a new light, namely, as a place where the things modern man continuously talks about and always fails to accomplish can actually be done...
“Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This question is often asked, but no matter what the answer, it will mislead. The answer ‘Yes’ would lead to complacency, the answer ‘No’ to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work.”
- A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher, 1978
British philosopher E.F. Schumacher (best known for Small is Beautiful) died before the words quoted above were published in 1978, when I first read them. Ever since, I have been watching and waiting for the possibility of “Metanoia,” in hopes that I might have some helpful influence when it came.
Over the next 20 years I became increasingly certain that the millennium would foster the conditions for metanoia, as other thousand-year cycles have produced the Buddha and Jesus. But the millennium came and went, and the perils to the planet and those who occupy it seemed only to multiply. I have watched with dismay as global warming threatens all life forms; as increasingly greedy and corrupt and power-hungry American leaders openly admit that they want to control the world (calling themselves the only superpower and dictating what other countries must do in lieu of diplomacy); and as declining resources continue to be plundered at alarming speed and without concern for environment impact.
I have watched the despair of the poor increase boundlessly, while the very rich feed on both despair and back-breaking labor like the Windigo, the gigantic Native American eater of souls with a heart of ice.
As the years have passed the gaps have widened and now the American middle class finds itself straddling the abyss, unable to leap to the side of wealth and clinging desperately so as not to fall into the great mass of poverty as their health care, their real wages, their pensions and their childrens' educations are increasingly cut and their jobs are outsourced to cheap labor in India or China.
I read the stories, I ponder the statistics with the careful scrutiny of the trained sociologist that I am. Some days I just cry, for the loss and the hurt and the suffering, not only of people but also of the other sentient beings and the ravages to Gaia, Mother Earth, herself. Pollution from nuclear fallout, radioactive waste, chemical and biological ravages to air, water and earth, loss of uncountable species in rainforests and wilderness, and all the myopia and selfishness that has allowed these terrible things to happen.
Finally, the self-proclaimed Emperor (“Decider”) of America and its subject sovereign nations (all nations, that is to say) has brought my horror and dismay to that point Schumacher names “the descent into infernal regions.”
How so? I foresee imminent nuclear world war if Bushco’s “Rapture” fantasy of Armageddon brings all the great powers to bear as he pushes belligerently towards attacking Iran despite worldwide dismay. I foresee that the richest nations and multi-national corporations will consolidate their control of world trade, squeezing the poor in a vise that will scarcely support life. I foresee that the Neocon Republican conspiracy that started with offing people who might have made a difference (John and Bobby Kennedy, MLK, John Lennon, Paul Wellstone) has finally re-written the American constitution and rule of law, has bought and controlled the media, and has managed to stifle dissent with torture, warrantless spying, secret detention centers and egregious violations of international law. I foresee elections bought and paid for by zillionaires, votes counted by secretive (paperless) electronic machines made by Repuglicans, dirty and vicious attacks on opposing candidates instead of reasoned debate....
But, wait, stop. Then the 2006 midterm elections happened. A Metanoia moment? Perhaps, as dear old Abe Lincoln said, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” He never imagined electronic surveillance or right-wing media control. But he got one thing right: The descendants of the revolutionary heroes who believed in government for the people can see through a brick wall in time.
The 2006 shakeup did not happen in a vacuum. It happened with people like me, like you, day by day, trying to make a difference, reaching out even when we were called enemies of America. Of the new representatives elected to the House, 78 were “graduates” of Camp Wellstone, trained in Paul’s populist and progressive tradition of campaigning from the ground up. The biggest caucus in the new House will be the Progressive Caucus, probably about 70 people.
“If you want your dream to be
Take your time, go slowly
Do few things but do them well
Heartfelt work grows truly.
If you want to live life free
Build your secret slowly,
Small beginnings, greater ends,
Simple joys are holy.”
- Donovan, from “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”
In short, what looks to be turning around now happened because a lot of us left perplexities behind us along with despair some time back and got down to work. And the work goes on, and will continue to go on, but maybe, maybe, the turning around is in time.