Enbridge Statement

Official Statement

Better In Our Back Yard (BIOBY) is extremely disappointed to hear about today’s announcement that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed their ruling on the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project. Replacing this aging pipeline is critical in protecting our environment and strengthening our communities.

While this decision will certainly delay the project, eight of the nine aspects of the FEIS have been affirmed, and BIOBY remains confident in Enbridge’s ability to continue moving forward with the regulatory process.

Line 3 is the most closely-studied pipeline project in the state’s history, and Enbridge along with their many partners are committed to completing the necessary work safely. We stand with Enbridge because we know we can do it here – better – in our backyard.

Better In Our Back Yard Welcomes Ryan Sistad as Outreach Coordinator

Duluth, Minnesota — Better In Our Back Yard is pleased to announce the addition of Ryan Sistad as Outreach Coordinator for the organization. In this role, Ryan connects with public officials, business leaders and the greater community to share Better In Our Back Yard’s positive, pro-industry message. Minnesota’s strict regulations, strong workforce and long history of responsible industry mean we can maintain a strong industrial economy and a healthy environment. We can do it here – better – in our back yard.

We are very excited to have Ryan’s expertise and energy on our team,” said Kurt Doran, Better In Our Back Yard Chair. “His strong background in project management, public outreach and team collaboration, an in-depth knowledge of our region’s industries, and strong alignment with Better In Our Back Yard’s message have already helped us increase our coverage and impact.”

During his first few months in this role, Ryan has shared the organization’s message through networking events, a panel discussion and other community involvement. As a northern Minnesota native, Ryan is deeply connected to the region, and after running for Duluth City Council in 2017, Ryan is well versed in the delicate balance that exists between industry and the environment. Ryan studied business management at the University of North Dakota and understands the value of hard work. He spent his early career in various warehouse and construction laborer positions while in school, where he gained experience in teamwork, collaboration and project coordination.

Prior to his role with Better In Our Back Yard, Ryan spent several years at Parson’s Electric of Duluth, beginning as a Project Coordinator, and later transitioning to Associate Project Manager, first in Duluth and then in Oklahoma. Ryan’s experience in managing and coordinating projects will be very valuable to expanding the reach of Better In Our Back Yard.

Better In Our Back Yard was established in 2016 as a grassroots organization in northern Minnesota made up of professionals who believe it is their responsibility to educate the public on the benefits of maintaining a strong industrial sector in our region. Better In Our Back Yard shares the belief that mining and manufacturing are better here, in our back yard. The organization is very excited to add Ryan to the team. His efforts will continue the momentum established over the past two years, educating our region about the importance of mining and industry as a whole — for our economy, our communities and our families.

Better In Our Back Yard’s Statement on Twin Metals’ Renewed Federal Mineral Leases

Better In Our Back Yard is excited to hear of the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to renew federal mineral leases for Twin Metals Minnesota. Before Twin Metals can go through a rigorous state and federal environmental review process, they must submit a plan of operation. Today’s decision by the Bureau of Land Management is a crucial step in making it possible for Twin Metals to submit their plan of operation.

To date, Twin Metals has invested over $450 million into the Northeastern Minnesota region and their mine is estimated to create 650 family supporting jobs that will lead to another estimated 1,200 spin-off jobs while the mine is operation.

Better In Our Back Yard looks forward supporting Twin Metals as the company pursues the crucial permitting phases in accordance with our regulatory and environmental standards, while contributing to the local economy through direct and indirect job growth in Northeastern Minnesota. We know that we can do it better, right here, in our backyard.

Better In Our Back Yard’s Statement on Walz Line 3 Replacement Project Decision

Better In Our Back Yard is disappointed to hear of Governor Walz’s decision to continue the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s appeal of the certificate of need for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project.

After a four year review, the Line 3 Replacement Project’s certificate of need was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in June of 2018. A certificate of need is a legal document required before any proposed acquisitions, expansions or creations of facilities are allowed.

The decision to continue Minnesota Department of Commerce’s appeal of the certificate of need could further delay a private investment of up to $2.6 billion into northern Minnesota’s region, $19.5 million in increased property tax revenue, living wage jobs for 6,500 workers, an upgrade to an aging 60 year old pipeline that will be crucial in decreasing environmental risks and be exceptional in the safe transportation of crude oil.

Better In Our Back Yard will proudly continue to support the Line 3 Replacement Project moving forward, because we know that industrial development is done better here, in our backyard.

Better In Our Back Yard’s Statement on PolyMet Permit News

PolyMet just took another huge step toward changing the future of Northern Minnesota. After thorough scientific review, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued PolyMet with water and air quality permits today and certified the company’s pending Section 404 Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), a requirement of the Clean Water Act. This decision is great news for our state, as the NorthMet Project stands to create hundreds of good-paying jobs for hardworking Minnesotans.

This decision means PolyMet has one major permit left to receive. The company is awaiting a decision from the Corps regarding wetland mitigation, compensation and reclamation, as well as additional local permits and approvals.

PolyMet continues to set the global standard for responsible mining. Better In Our Back Yard is proud to have PolyMet in Minnesota because we know we can do it here – better – in our backyard.

 

For additional comment, contact Kurt Doran, Better In Our Back Yard Chair.

PolyMet Mining Permit Granted – Good News for Minnesota

Change is in the air, Minnesota. Can you feel it? It’s more than just the inevitability of winter. With the DNR’s recent decision to grant PolyMet with a Permit to Mine and all subsequent DNR permits, we are one step closer to opening the state’s first copper-nickel mine. At Better In Our Back Yard, we are excited for what this means for our state and for those who live and work on the Iron Range.

Firstly, it means years of hard work and dedication are finally paying off. The PolyMet team has worked tirelessly for over a decade to get this right. There were late nights of pouring over details and long hours in the office planning and preparing hundreds of thousands of document pages for the DNR and their independent contractors to review and analyze. When aspects of the project were questioned or challenged, the team dove back in to reevaluate and make sure everything would meet or exceed Minnesota’s strict standards. The PolyMet team has proven that the NorthMet Project will operate safely while protecting human health and Minnesota’s environment.

Secondly, the DNR’s decision to issue a Permit to Mine means good-paying jobs are on the horizon. The NorthMet Project will bring 360 mining jobs to local communities and will support over a thousand jobs in related industries. The construction required to begin operations requires two million hours of work, and the NorthMet Project itself is expected to be in operation for a minimum of two decades. These jobs are essential for continuing the way of life on the Iron Range and will aid in revitalizing cities that have been struggling for many years.

Lastly, this monumental decision means the opportunity to show the world how to operate a non-ferrous copper-nickel and precious metals mining project both safely and responsibly is upon us. Countless hours were spent ensuring the environmental impact of this project will be minimized, and every inch of impacted land will be mitigated and reclaimed and left better than when the project started. PolyMet takes their responsibility seriously when it comes to protecting and managing water, minimizing land disturbance and preserving wetland areas.

Congratulations, PolyMet. We’re behind you, and we’re looking forward to the next steps in the process. The whole world is watching. It’s time to mine.

Mineral Exploration Can Coexist with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

The U.S. Forest Service has lifted a ban on mineral exploration in the Superior National Forest, south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). This is great news for the industries and communities of the Iron Range, but is this the beginning of the end of the beautiful, pristine (not to mention, federally protected) BWCAW?

Absolutely not.

To set the record straight, mineral exploration and extraction activities are specifically prohibited not only within the wilderness area boundaries, but also outside of the wilderness in a 222,000-acre area known as the BWCAW Mining Protection Area. This buffer exists to protect the natural and ecological value of the wilderness from the potential impacts from mining. This was enacted through federal legislation in 1978 and is not being challenged at any level. All exploration activity has occurred outside of the wilderness area and the mining protection area.

Furthermore, we know it is possible for mineral exploration and potential extraction to coexist with efforts to protect the wilderness areas that make northern Minnesota so unique. In fact, studies show industry and tourism can work together to provide more opportunities in the future.

A mine project is not going to put a stop on tourism to the region; it likely won’t slow tourism at all. History is on our side here. We’ve mined in the region for 130 years while also becoming a popular tourist destination with world-class fishing and water resources. Current iron mining operations provide thousands of high-paying jobs, which in turn support thousands of jobs in supporting industries like hospitality, retail, healthcare, professional services and, of course, tourism.

The economic boost provided by iron mining – and potential future types of mining – creates opportunities for other industries to thrive. Some have cautioned against a potential boom-bust cycle, but with careful planning and strategic development, Iron Range communities have the opportunity to develop sustainable operations to ensure long-term benefits even after a mining project concludes. Why not take advantage of a thriving economy to strengthen other industries for the future?

The BWCAW will continue to be protected while mineral exploration in the Superior National Forest commences. It will continue to be protected if and when PolyMet opens the NorthMet Project. It will continue to be protected if and when Twin Metals opens, too. None of these proposed projects are within the BWCAW, and they will go above and beyond to be sure the BWCAW retains the natural and wild character that has made it our nation’s most popular wilderness destination, as well as a source of some of the cleanest water on the planet.

Mining companies in northern Minnesota must undergo an extensive environmental review process before they can even begin to start applying for permits to mine. PolyMet navigated the environmental review process for over a decade, proving with exhaustive research, engineering, and documentation that the company can and will adhere to strict environmental regulations. Twin Metals and any other proposed mining operation will undergo the same process long before any actual extraction begins. The recent lifting of the mineral withdrawal ban has not changed the environmental review process in any way.

The only way a new mining operation will open on the Iron Range is if it proves it can operate safely and responsibly. That means protecting people, communities, and the environment. When the public raised concerns about PolyMet’s proposal to use an existing tailings basin for long-term storage, the company went back to the drawing board and detailed an enhanced plan that reinforced tailings dam stability.

Nobody wants to risk our environment for short-term gains. Instead, as proponents of responsible industry, we seek to help protect our global environment by extracting the minerals we need for a greener and more sustainable future–right here, in our backyard, where we can extract minerals safer and more responsibly than anywhere else in the world.

Make an Impact with Move Mining

As northern Minnesotans, we understand the value and impact that mining has on our region and the world. Natural resources fuel the lives and livelihoods of not only the people who retrieve them from the Earth, but also of those who use the finished products. While we recognize the importance of mining, some community members still struggle to maintain a positive outlook on industry.

Do you have a big idea that could help to change the negative perception of mining? Now’s your chance to share it, and you could win $5,000! Move Mining is an event with the goal of promoting the power of mining and educating people worldwide about this industry that impacts every aspect of our lives. An online competition that leads to a Shark Tank-style event, Move Mining gives each participant the chance to get creative, work with a team and make a big change.

Every person reading this post has talents or skills that would be beneficial to a team. By combining the knowledge and background of friends, coworkers and mining professionals, teams of up to six people ages 10 and older, are able to conceive and execute concepts that will make a global and lasting impact.

How does this happen? It all comes down to an idea. Brainstorm with your team to come up with a concept that has potential to show people the importance of mining and the positive impact it has on the world. Once you have a clear understanding and vision of your concept, create a promotional, three-minute long video summarizing your big idea. Videos must be submitted online by October 14, 2018. After video submissions, the top five finalist teams are invited to present their ideas at the Shark Tank-style Move Mining event at the SME Annual Conference and Expo on February 25, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

The first place winner after the Move Mining event will win $5,000 and will receive personalized advice from a leader in their field of innovation, facilitated by the SME Director of Marketing and Communications, on how to make their concept become a reality.

Are you interested in participating in the Move Mining competition? Learn more here: http://movemining.org/

Supporting Clean Water AND the Repeal of the Wild Rice Standard

Clean water is a shared value of all Minnesotans. Our 10,000 lakes are a reason many of us live here. They’re a point of pride, providing beauty and recreation as well as a key cultural resource for our Native American brothers and sisters.

That’s why at first glance, news articles about eliminating a standard meant to protect wild rice can be eyebrow raising to say the least. Why would anyone introduce legislation to remove a wild rice standard, let alone support that legislation? The reason is because the standard doesn’t actually protect wild rice.

The current wild rice standard limits sulfate in the water to 10 mg/L. “Current” is an oxymoron when it comes to this standard, because it is decades old and based on even older information. The standard is not based on modern science. Instead, it is based largely on field observations from the 1940s. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s own modern-day research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, found no impact to wild rice seedlings until sulfate levels reached at least 1,600 mg/L – 160 times the current limit. What’s more, the science behind the standard fails to take into account some of the largest threats to wild rice, including water elevation and invasive species.

This standard is the only one of its kind in the United States. No other state that grows wild rice has a standard like this, and no Minnesota legislators ever reviewed or voted on this standard. Instead, it was created when Minnesota created the Pollution Control Agency and then adopted (by default) the federal Clean Water Act in the 1970s. It was largely forgotten soon thereafter. In fact, the standard has never been enforced, though wild rice continues to grow in Minnesota.

Wild rice was hardly a point of contention in Minnesota until 10 years ago when anti-industry groups dusted off the never-enforced standard to fight proposed copper nickel mines in Minnesota. The thing is, the proposed copper nickel mines have planned to build water treatment facilities to comply with the 10 mg/L standard. At this point, after all this debate, it’s not even proven that wild rice is affected by the enforcement of the standard. Instead, it is our 130-year-old iron mining industry and our communities’ wastewater treatment facilities – and in turn our wastewater treatment bills – that are most affected by the enforcement of this obsolete standard.

Estimates by businesses and municipalities across the state show the cost to comply with the outdated wild rice standard could be billions of dollars. This is a dollar amount that could close plants and cause our wastewater bills to increase by up to 200% in some communities – all for a standard not yet proven to protect wild rice habitat in Minnesota.

We know that environmental activists and supporters of responsible Minnesota industry all want to protect wild rice. As supporters of responsible industry, we are also supporters of sensible regulations that are feasible, based on sound science, and actually protect the environment. However, this particular regulation is anything but common sense. Though likely well intentioned, it is neither feasible nor is it based on sound science, and there is still no proof it does anything to protect or enhance the wild rice habitat in Minnesota.

These are the reasons that Better In Our Back Yard applauds the recent action taken by both the House and Senate to pass legislation removing the current wild rice sulfate standard. This removal makes way for Minnesota to go back to the drawing board and explore all the mitigating factors that affect our wild rice habitat – to make sure we use the most current and best scientific technology we have at our disposal, so our clean water and important state grain remain not only sources of food and culture but sources of pride for generations of Minnesotans to come.

With this in mind, we urge Governor Mark Dayton to sign this legislation into law, and we encourage you to send a letter supporting his signature.

Write him at: 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155

Email him at: https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/

Call him at: 651-201-3400 or 1-800-657-3717

Fax him at: 651-797-1850

Tweet him at: @govmarkdayton

 

Mining Innovation at the 2018 SME Annual Conference & Expo

When people think about “innovation,” they usually think of the tech companies on the West Coast with their apps and their gadgets. They don’t usually think about the mining companies. Instead, people often think that miners are out with pickaxes and shovels digging up ore and panning for gold –  and frankly, shows like “Gold Rush” have not helped our industry with those perceptions.

In reality, mining is a high-tech industry that requires innovation in several operational aspects – from water treatment to ore processing to dispatch systems and beyond. The mining sector craves the opportunity to optimize processes and controls to maintain a predictable quality of product while remaining profitable on the market. How does the industry progress? How do we learn about innovative technologies that are being used halfway around the world? Where do we see the latest and greatest equipment that has the potential to change the way we operate?

The 2018 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Annual Conference and Expo, that’s where.

This year’s conference was in OUR backyard for the very first time – held in Minneapolis during the last week of February.

Innovation was evident with technical sessions and short courses that focused on recent research, progressive technologies and the social aspects of mining. Mining is a way of life in northeast Minnesota as well as in many countries around the world. Just like at home, many communities thrive due to mining. However, there are pockets of the world with valuable mineral resources where these minerals are extracted without regulation. These instances are key opportunities for well-established mining companies to make a significant difference in the lives of the people in the region.

A Closer Look at Illegal Gold Mining in Ghana

Ghana is a perfect example of an area that would benefit from the expertise of a legitimate mining company. As presented in a technical session (one of more than 600 sessions), a practice called “galamsey” (the illegal gathering and selling of gold) commonly occurs in Ghana. Gold mining may be illegal, but many still mine because it is a way to make a living and support their families. Heartbreakingly, this work is unregulated, dangerous and an ecological disaster in the making. Rivers and streams are becoming polluted with mercury (used to extract the gold from the ore) and sediment. The lack of regulations has caused mercury poisoning and led to dangerous working conditions. Although much work is being done to combat this issue, there is a long way to go. Mining companies working in conjunction with government officials will be key drivers in helping bring these illegal practices to an end.

This particular technical session was a great reminder of where we were as a country more than 45 years ago when the Clean Water Act was passed in the United States. It was also a good indicator of the positive influence an established mining company can bring to a mining project.

Strict Regulations Make Mining in Minnesota Strong and Sustainable

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and then some), our state has chosen to take environmental rules a step further, having some of the most progressive water quality standards in the nation. We have also supported successful mining operations for more than 130 years. These operations continue to advance by leaps and bounds with modern technologies that keep our process running in a safe and environmentally-conscious manner.

There is an energy and motivation that comes from being surrounded by more than 5,500 miners, suppliers, educators and regulators who are all engaged in ensuring that our industry progresses responsibly and sustainably. The 2018 SME Conference & Expo allowed attendees to recognize that we are part of a larger community who all have the same end goal – innovation, wise use of technology and a sustainable future for both the industry and the communities that support mining.