OPINION | Catholic Worker House confronts local frac sand mining

One day I sat down to write in my journal. I typed the date and then the year— 2914. I looked at the year a couple of times and thought, “That doesn’t look right.” Finally I grasped that it was 900 years from now. Nine hundred years!!! Not just the future, but THE FUTURE. Holy cow! I felt the wonder I always feel when I contemplate primordial, ancient or medieval times—The passing of time. I started wondering about my great-great-great-great, etc. grandchildren. Who would they be? How would people live? Would people pair up into couples or would they form intimate pods of threes and fours? Would there still be races? Would Minneapolis still be here? How much of North America would be under water? Would there have been a nuclear holocaust? It was a strange, mystical experience.

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First test of 2013 Minnesota frac sand law is successful

The owner of a controversial Houston County silica sand mine was notified Monday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that he must stop mining and apply for a DNR Silica Sand Mining Trout Stream Setback Permit. The Erickson silica sand mine in Houston County’s Yucatan Township is within a mile of Ferndale Brook, a designated trout stream. This is the first silica mine to test a 2013 state law which established a rigorous permitting process for silica sand mines proposed within one mile of a trout stream. Continue Reading

Republicans having meta-argument over frac sand mining

h/t Politics.mn

So there’s the underlying issue of frac sand mining, and the issue of who correctly construed who, as Republican gubernatorial campaigns go after each other. For the part of the story about Republicans going after each other, Bill Kuisle, running for lieutenant governor with GOP gubernatorial endorsee Jeff Johnson, said it makes sense to delay frac sand mining so the effects can be studied. Continue Reading

Between Hwy. 53’s rock and hard place

It’s been four years since owners of the Thunderbird iron mine near Virginia, Minn., told state officials they will have to move Hwy. 53 out of the way to allow expansion of their taconite extraction operation. The state is supposed to relocate the so-called Main Street of the Iron Range by 2017 under terms of a 1960 easement agreement, but the Department of Transportation announced last week that it almost certainly can’t meet the deadline. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | PolyMet supporters spread misinformation concerning efficacy of iron amendment for Minnesota waters

Fear-mongering is the latest buzzword being used by the sulfide mining industry and its supporters, used to divert attention away from the toxic metal poisoning of our children; primarily the result of a taconite industry that does not meet standards. If the grossly underestimated calculations for water flowage, water seepage, and mercury levels discovered in PolyMet’s SDEIS are any indication; the sulfide mining industry is planning to do the same. While PolyMet supporters are busy spreading misinformation.It would have been advisable for PolyMet shareholder Harlan Christensen to do more reading before he wrote his MinnPost piece, “Iron Range sulfide mining can be done without harming wild rice or raising mercury levels.” Wildly exaggerating, he claimed that there is “widely accepted scientific evidence that iron reduces mercury methylation.”The research he referred to, from a single early University of California, Berkeley, study in 2003, has been ongoing and was revised in 2010: “Impact of iron amendment on net methyl mercury export from tidal wetland microcosms” (including referenced supporting material). http://www.evergladeshub.com/lit/pdf10/Ulrich’10EST-27-HgFeWetland.pdf The Berkeley research is still unfinished and flawed. It has not been tested in the field. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Only compromise will stop Minnesota’s mining range war

 Like the range wars once fought over water and grazing rights in the western U.S. in the 1800’s, Minnesotan environmentalists and mining supporters are waging a modern-day range war. The Minnesota Range WarEnvironmental and tribal organizations warn that expanded mining in northern Minnesota will harm wild rice and exacerbate mercury pollution in lakes and rivers. They point to evidence of dwindling wild rice and to DNR listings of dozens of endangered lakes where residents are advised not to eat the fish because of high levels of mercury contamination. Environmentalists suspect the state will not enforce strict environmental mining controls if Polymet Mining and Duluth Twin Metals mines are permitted to start operations in the Mesabi Range and fear that a wilderness area of the state will be ruined for future generations. On the other side of this battle are 70% of the residents in northern Minnesota, who support mining the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and gold located within the Mesabi Range as their future, if not their birthright. The Polymet proposal is to mine copper, nickel and precious metals for 20 years, although there are proven reserves to continue mining the Northmet project for another 20 years or longer. Continue Reading