Rep. Erik Paulsen Travel

In case you missed Rep Erik Paulsen’s travel with his wife and daughter.  And by the way it is within House Ethics Standards?

Well NOT in my book is it ethical.


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PolyMet Sulfide Mine in N.E. Minnesota


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement  (FEIS) regarding the proposed Poly Met sulfide mine in Northern Minnesota.


Governor Dayton has indicated this may be the most important decision he has made as Governor.

Please contact Governor Dayton and tell him to reject the PolyMet Sulfide Mine.  The following is Q & A regarding the proposed mine and contact information for the governor.

PolyMet Q & A


PolyMet Q & A

What’s this “PolyMet?” – PolyMet is a Canadian corporation with a proposed “Northmet” mine they’d like to open near Babbitt, Minnesota. They propose an open pit sulfide ore mine.


Who is behind PolyMet? PolyMet has no experience operating mines, but their largest financial backer, Glencore, does. Glencore is a financial giant in mining, and has a terrible reputation regarding labor, human rights and the environment.

The Chairman of the Board is Tony “I just want to get my life back” Hayward, of BP Oil(spill) fame.

What is Sulfide Ore Mining? Sulfide ore mining has never been done on a commercial scale in Minnesota. It is the mining of sulfur bearing rocks, which contain valuable metals such as copper, nickel, platinum, gold and palladium. Unfortunately, sulfide ore, when in contact with oxygen and water produces sulfuric acid, which leaches toxic metals from waste rock. Sulfide ore mining has never been done in water rich regions of the world without toxic acid mine drainage polluting surface and ground waters.

Is Sulfide Ore Mining Different from Taconite Mining? Yes, primarily related to the risk for contamination by sulfide material (which forms sulfuric acid upon contact with water and oxygen.) Minnesota’s taconite ores are generally very low in sulfides – reducing the risk to waters from this form of mining. The actual techniques of mining are very similar. In the case of PolyMet’s open pit proposal, nearly identical: blast rock, separate “waste” from “ore” and transport the ore to a crusher for separation of valuable metals. Discard overburden (non-ore waste rock) and tailings (waste rock ground as fine as talcum powder to separate it from valuable metals) in large heaps called tailings basins.

What are the Benefits of PolyMet? PolyMet suggests they will hire “up to 360” workers once the mine is open, for a period of 20 years. Nearby communities have lost hundreds of taconite mining jobs recently; people will be glad for the jobs. Many of the most skilled (highest paid) positions will have to come from outside Minnesota. The minerals will go to Glencore for processing outside of Minnesota. No royalties will be paid to either the Minnesota School Trust Fund, or the public in the form of royalties: these are private mineral rights.

What are the Risks of PolyMet? The assured impacts and risks are numerous, and accrue, not surprisingly, to the public, not the operators of the mine. Here are just a few:

  • Destruction of and damage to more than 12 square miles of wetlands at the headwaters of streams leading to Lake Superior. These wetlands are in “outstanding” natural condition; we are unable to adequately replace these losses.
  • Centuries of toxic drainage from the many square miles of waste rock piles and the mine pit, which will require “active treatment” (a water treatment plant) “indefinitely” – essentially forever. (The first draft of the EIS said for 500 years, but that’s been edited out.) At risk will be both Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters.
  • PolyMet refuses to consider mining methods which will reduce environmental risks (because they cost more): keeping tailing dry to reduce toxic runoff (dry stack storage), underground mining to reduce wetland destruction, and alternative tailings disposal sites to reduce the risk of tailings basin leaking and collapse.
  • Financial risk to future generations will be enormous. Who’s to pay for active water treatment for centuries? What about leaks, spills and accidents? Mine sites are the #1 liability of the taxpayer supported Superfund cleanups, with a bill exceeding $50 billion to date.

Shouldn’t we ask for a Large Damage Deposit from PolyMet? Yes we should. But that, in itself does not remove the financial risk to future generations. We are talking about needing centuries of funding. How do we estimate the costs of water treatment or spill cleanup in the year 2115? 2215? 2315? 2415?! Never have we had financial institutions and instruments which have spanned such time. The 2015 Minnesota legislature found it impossible to keep their hands off two closed landfill cleanup accounts (which they tapped for more than $60 million in unrelated expenses) “because they were just sitting there.” Those funds were set aside to cover costs expected…just five years from now.

PolyMet – What’s the Bottom Line? PolyMet is Not Right For Minnesota. PolyMet is an effort to mine low-grade ore (less than 1% of what is mined is valuable mineral, the rest is waste) on the cheap. Three hundred and sixty jobs for 20 years are in no way comparable to centuries of toxic pollution threatening jobs and livelihoods for our children’s great, great, great grandchildren. PolyMet Should be Rejected – It’s Not Worth the Risks.

What Can I Do? There are four decision-makers regarding this complicated project, so please communicate your thoughts to each:

1) Please Call Governor Dayton, 1(800)-657-3717. You can call 24 hours/day and leave a message:


* PolyMet does more harm than good; is not worth the risks to our children’s water or their wallet.

* PolyMet is Not Right For Minnesota.

* Please reject the PolyMet mine plan!

2) Minnesota DNR messages: 

  • The PolyMet Final EIS should be rejected as incomplete because it fails to accurately model water seepage from the tailings basin, some of which will flow north towards the Boundary Waters Wilderness, due to alteration of the Laurentian Divide from nearby taconite mining. The mine plan does not detail plans to protect the Boundary Waters from centuries of toxic drainage, instead, it assumes the planned clay-lined trench will collect 100% of groundwater seepage (Figure 3.2-28) which is patently impossible, and it requires only monitoring of groundwater flows leading north to the Boundary Waters (p 3-150, Section This is insufficient and incomplete.
  • The PolyMet Final EIS should be rejected as incomplete because it fails to examine an important alternative which could greatly reduce the hazard of future tailings dam failure and environmental damage: dry stack storage of tailings. Instead, the FEIS rejects examining this alternative in depth, because seepage would be reduced, concentrating pollutants into the remaining waters, making it difficult to meet water quality standards. This implies that PolyMet’s solution to pollution is dilution – clearly an unacceptable approach. (pp 3-156-158.)
  • The PolyMet Final EIS should be rejected as incomplete because it fails to detail future risks and costs that are necessary to determine financial assurances to protect our children from paying for the clean up of this proposed mine.

Send messages to:

Or: Lisa Fay,

Department of Natural Resources, EIS Project Manager
500 Lafayette Road, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155-4025

3) US Forest Service: The US Forest Service (USFS) Draft Record of Decision (DROD) is proposing to exchange 6650 acres of public land in the area of the proposed mine, for 6690 acres of private lands found within the boundaries of the Superior National Forest.

Full documentation and maps:!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDfxMDT8MwRydLA1cj72BTUwMTAwgAykeaxRtBeY4WBv4eHmF-YT4GMHkidBvgAI6EdIeDXIvfdrAJuM3388jPTdUvyA2NMMgyUQQAyrgQmg!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfS000MjZOMDcxT1RVODBJN0o2MTJQRDMwODQ!/?project=33908

The land to be exchanged has a “Weeks Act” prohibition on surface mining on it (how PolyMet proposes to mine) – while the land to be exchanged will not.

The USFS says it based it’s decision to exchange, in part, on the fact that PolyMet threatened to sue over the prohibition on surface mining and the USFS was concerned that a PolyMet court victory, should it occur, would weaken protections on other Weeks Act lands nearby. In fact, the USFS cited the “resolution” of the “conflict” (threat to sue) with PolyMet as a reason FOR the land exchange, and a reason to turn down a “no action” (no exchange.) They are giving in to a threatened lawsuit! (DROD pp 21-22)

The USFS turned down an alternative, which would minimize the land exchange, reducing it by three square miles – trading just those lands needed for mining and processing. The reason? PolyMet wanted additional lands around their operation to meet air quality standards (which are enforced at the property line.) In other words, PolyMet, rather than spending money to clean up their air emissions, wanted more air to pollute (diluting the concentration) before they were held accountable. (DROD p 24)

Suggested Comments to the US Forest Service on the Land Exchange:

 I object to the Draft Record of Decision for the NorthMet Land Exchange.

  • The Land Exchange should be rejected in the Final Record of Decision due to Weeks Act prohibition on surface mining. It is inappropriate to “resolve a conflict” with PolyMet over interpretation of the Act by simply giving in to them. Let them litigate.


  • The Land Exchange in the Final Record of Decision should be reduced to the Mine Site Exchange Alternative. It is wrong to facilitate air pollution by trading additional public lands to PolyMet so that air pollution will be diluted before air quality regulations are applied. PolyMet should instead invest in more air pollution controls, and the USFS should retain existing high quality lands in the public estate.


  • The Final Record of Decision should reject the Land Exchange as it conflicts with federal policy to protect wetlands. More than 900 acres of intact and high quality wetlands will be excavated, with thousands of acres more subject to drainage. The land exchange proposes to provide wetlands of a variety of types not within the impacted watershed. The net result of this proposed exchange will be a large loss of wetlands in northeastern Minnesota.

Comments, addressed to:

Michael Jimenez
Superior National Forest All Units
8901 Grand Ave Place

Duluth, MN, 55808


4) US Army Corps of Engineers:

 PolyMet proposes to excavate 940 acres of high-quality wetlands at the headwaters of the St. Louis River, and damage or drain up to 8000 additional acres with their project. The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is proposing to accept as “mitigation” the protection of 450 acres of the Sax-Zim Bog, and the restoration of drained wetlands totally approximately 1100 acres in Pine and Aitkin counties, outside of PolyMet-impacted the watershed. No specific mitigation is offered at this time for the damaged and drained acreage.

Comment Suggestions:

I object to the issuance of a 404 permit to PolyMet Corporation, because:

  • PolyMet’s proposed mitigation is insufficient and inadequate for the scale of wetland destruction they propose. More than 2/3rds of the proposed mitigation occurs outside the affected watershed. The types of wetlands lost are not the types of wetlands to be restored.
  • PolyMet does not propose specific mitigation for the potential loss of thousands of additional wetland acres due to partial or complete drainage. It is unacceptable to propose a permit for this mine without a complete understanding of wetland mitigation.
  • PolyMet proposes the single largest permitted loss of wetlands in Minnesota history. The high quality wetlands in questions cannot be mitigated or replaced either in type or in the watershed. This permit should be denied as too damaging to the public interest in clean water.

Send your comments to:

Regulatory Branch, St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers,

180 Fifth Street East, Suite 700,

Saint Paul, MN 55101-1678



The following letter was sent to the Governor by the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League in October 2015.

PolyMet Dayton Letter from MN Division Izaak Walton League

Contact the Governor-

*** Web form—

***Telephone: 651-201-3400

***Toll Free: 800-657-3717

Slide presentation presented at the Jacques Chapter of the Izaak Walton League- Oct. 2015

Short video by Dave Zentner of the Izaak Walton League.  Sulfide Mining More Harm   than Good.

Read the Final EIS from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

-Tourism industry at risk with potential pollution for hundreds of years. Tourism within 7 northeastern counties generates more than 18,000 jobs, $785 million in revenue and $50 million is sales taxes. (Source: Minnesota Department of Revenue and Employment and Economic Development, 2009 statistics.)

New Minnesota Pollinator/Pesticide Plant Labeling Bill Takes Effect July 1, 2014

MNLA will keep you posted as MDA interprets this new law. Find complete text of the new law here:

New Minnesota Pollinator/Pesticide Plant Labeling Bill Takes Effect July 1

Audubon Minnesota of the National Audubon Society

As an Audubon member for many years and past president of the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter (MRVAC) I am deeply disturbed by recent action by Audubon Minnesota to eliminate the position of Policy Director on 2 May 2014. I have served on the policy committee as a volunteer for at least the last 4 years.
It is a dedicated team of volunteers lead by a skilled leader that works on legislative issues with much success. All are chapter presidents, past presidents or other influential members of the Audubon community in Minnesota. Hence they have connections with probably hundreds of Audubon members throughout the state.
The work is to save the environment for birds, wildlife and us humans.
In my opinion it appears that none of this is valued by Audubon Minnesota or the National Audubon Society.
Hence strongly reflecting on my relationship with both Audubon Minnesota and the National Audubon Society going forward.
A sad day for Minnesotans and a deeply troubling one for me personally.
T.R. Houle – Minneapolis May 6, 2014