We Stand with Enbridge

Those of us at Better In Our Back Yard write today to express our support of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project. We’re ready for this project to move forward because it stands to benefit our great state in so many ways.

We Want a Stronger Minnesota Economy

We all live in Minnesota for a few reasons:

  1. We love all the outdoor amenities our great state provides.
  2. We’re able to make a good living here – and we depend on a diverse and strong economy to supply the good-paying jobs we need. A study by Richard Lichty, Professor Emeritus from University of Minnesota – Duluth, concluded that “Construction of the Project will have significant economic benefits to Minnesota economy.” This includes positive financial impacts before, during and after construction.
  3. We’re ready for the $2.5 billion economic boost and 13,000+ jobs the Line 3 project is positioned to provide. We also believe this project increase the ability of Enbridge to serve refineries in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which leads to the retention of thousands of high-paying refinery jobs.

 

We Care About Environmental Safety

The bottom line is that the new Line 3 will improve safety for workers, landowners and communities while reducing the impact of maintenance of the existing Line 3 pipeline. Replacement of Line 3 will help ensure a stable supply of oil is transported safely through our state. Today, pipeline transport is the safest, most efficient and least costly way to transport oil – and it is far safer than shipping by trucks or trains.

 

We Support Our Local Communities

It’s not just labor, construction or refinery jobs that will see a boost from the Line 3 project. Local businesses in the retail, hospitality and food services sector will also see positive impacts. Enbridge invested over $12 million in community strengthening initiatives across North America. By focusing on safety, environmental and social issues, Enbridge leaves a lasting impact on the communities they serve.
 

We Stand with Enbridge

We stand with Enbridge because we trust Enbridge. Plain and simple. Enbridge has a long history of success as a North American leader in the transportation of oil and natural gas. Enbridge moves 28% of the crude oil produced in North America and they move it safely over 15,000+ miles of pipeline. Enbridge is also investing in renewable energy technology, and has nearly 3,000 megawatts of net renewable generation and power transmission capacity. That’s something we can get behind.

 

Have Your Voice Heard 

How can you share your support for industry and Line 3? The public comment period in connection with the public hearings being held on the certificate of need and route permit applications is open until 4:30pm on November 22, 2017. Comments may be submitted online by going to the following: https://mn.gov/puc/line3/participate/comment/. We encourage you to share your opinions and thoughts supporting this project with your personalized experiences and history with the region.

Conversations To Be Had In The Middle

Supporters of responsible industry and their opposition are getting more and more accustomed to attending public hearings across the state to make their voices heard.

The most recent of these hearings have been on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)’s proposed wild rice sulfate rule. These hearings were held in St. Paul, Virginia, Bemidji, and Cloquet last week; there was another Monday in Brainerd, and hearings wrap up with a video conference today (Thursday).

Better In Our Back Yard’s members have been present for all the wild rice hearings, and one thing has become abundantly clear about the opposing viewpoints – they agree more often than they disagree.

On both sides, people are fighting passionately to preserve their way of life. Both sides are proud to continue long legacies of providing for their families and sustaining their communities – whether with wild rice or iron mining. Both sides feel the proposed standard is a direct attack on the way they and their families have supported themselves and their communities.

On both sides, people are tired of traveling all over the state to fight for their way of life. At the Virginia hearing, an iron miner said he and his co-workers continue to miss time with their families traveling the state to fight to keep the mines open. They’re exhausted, he said. At the Cloquet hearing, Winona LaDuke said traveling the state is impossible for many low-income tribe members who may not have access to vehicles. The process is exhausting, she said.

On both sides, people want to see wild rice protected. This was made clear by every speaker at every hearing – wild rice is an important grain that must be protected. Not one speaker said they didn’t care about wild rice.

On both sides, people do not believe the current standard will sufficiently protect wild rice. Both sides agree the proposed standard is too confusing and can’t be consistently enforced. Furthermore, iron miners and wastewater treatment operators contend this proposal and its preceding standard are based on bad science.

This is where the opposing sides differ. While industry supporters don’t believe a sulfate standard is necessary at all, based on scientific studies that show sulfate doesn’t affect wild rice until very high levels –  the opposition believes the standard should not be changed from the 10 mg/L – unless it is to go lower.

The most alarming difference is that while industry supporters believe we can (and do) mine iron ore better and cleaner than anywhere in the world, the opposition argues that after 130+ years of iron mining in Minnesota, it should no longer be done here at all. Here, where we are home to the cleanest water in the state.

Better In Our Back Yard and other supporters of responsible industry are always confused when those who are fighting so diligently to protect the environment in their own backyard fail to look at the world on a global scale. We have been mining iron in Minnesota for more than 130 years, right next to the cleanest water everyone is fighting so hard to protect. That water remains clean because Minnesotans – including those who work in industry – care about protecting the environment. When anti-industry groups fight to close mines in Minnesota, they are fighting (knowingly or not) for mines that typically have little-to-no safety, environmental, or child labor regulations to mine.

When both sides have so much in common, there are conversations to be had in the middle. Both sides can benefit from each other. While the tribes certainly have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, they also use products made from the ore that their neighbors mine. And those who support the mining industry also care deeply about our environment and natural resources. Together, both groups can work collaboratively to find the best practices to mine responsibly and protect a sacred state grain – wild rice.

 

Congressional Support of Line 3 Project

Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20515

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Attn: Mr. Scott Ek
121 7th Place E, Suite 250
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147

RE: MPUC Docket Nos. CN-14-916 and PPL-15-137
OAH Docket Nos. 65-2500-32764 and 65-2500-33377

Dear Commissioners:

We write in support of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project under consideration by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, and believe the project should move forward to improve safety, provide rural Minnesota counties with addition tax revenue, and create thousands of high-paying, living wage jobs. As you review the case we urge a final route that most adequately protects our region’s lakes, waters, and surrounding environment as required under state and federal laws.

With respect to pipeline operational safety, the replacement will significantly improve Line 3’s environmental footprint and integrity with the installation of new, high-quality steel, anti-corrosion coatings, and other state-of-the-art facilities and technologies. We also appreciate that the preferred route and alternatives under review avoid disturbing new tribal reservation land and follows other existing pipelines, transmission lines, and railroad lines as much as possible. A modern replacement also significantly lowers the risk of a spill on country and state lands that would be crossed by the project in Minnesota. It also has the benefit of keeping additional heavy oil trucks off our roads and tank cars off our railroad tracks. Studies have shown both these transportation methods are more prone than pipelines to accidents and spills when moving crude oil.

The project will also provide an important boost to Greater Minnesota’s rural economy. The construction and installation phase are estimated to create thousands of jobs, with a significant number of them being local workers. The demand for high-paying, skilled workers and laborers will be welcomed in our communities, especially during peak construction periods. A number of other industries will also see benefit from the multiplier effects associated with the construction of this project and Enbridge’s investment.

Rural counties we represent stand to gain significant property tax revenues from Enbridge if the Line 3 Replacement Project is approved. Tens of millions of dollars in new revenue are expected to be collected to further support schools, hospitals, libraries, and other services in rural Minnesota counties. For these safety, public benefit, and economic reasons, we support the Line 3 Replacement Project and hope the Commission will consider our views when making a final determination on the project.

Sincerely,

Collin C. Peterson Richard M. Nolan
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Enbridge Line 3 Replacement to Ensure Our Way of Life in Minnesota

Those born and raised in Minnesota and those who have relocated here for education or work can agree: we live in a spectacular state. It’s beautiful. It’s got character. It has fun cities and excellent outdoor activities. And it’s worth protecting. We must strive to protect both our environment and our way of life – and that requires a bit of a balancing act.

When it comes to industrial projects that could impact our environment, Minnesota doesn’t want to be careless, we do our homework. We want to know that our work isn’t going to have a negative impact on our environment, because it is too precious a resource to risk. That’s why there’s been so much controversy around Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project. How do we respect our environment while improving our way of life?

Caring for our environment doesn’t mean we’re anti-business and industry. Quite the contrary, in many ways, industrial progress has made the planet better. A clean, healthy environment is possible because of energy. Think back 300 years, families breathed in smoke from fires they had in their homes to keep warm; now we flip a switch and get heat. Our water tastes fresh and it’s safe to drink; previously water was drawn from water sources shared with animals which led to people getting sick. Previously changes in weather created unsafe conditions in our homes, now we turn a knob that makes it cool when it’s hot and hot when it’s cool. Energy-powered machines allow us to transform our naturally hazardous environment to a far healthier environment. Using energy has risks, but thanks to technology and care taken by people employing that technology in the energy industry we minimize the risks. Highly industrialized countries have environments that are safe, healthy and clean. Our way of life, conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to will change without energy. Yet, we are racked with guilt over industrial development. We hear our impact on nature is too big; we are made to feel bad about our impact. We hear that we need to save our planet from human beings, rather than improve the planet for human beings.

Minnesotans consume more than 12.8 million gallons of petroleum products every day. As a state without any domestic source of crude supply, Minnesota relies on imports to meet its energy needs. 100% of pipeline-delivered Canadian crude oil supplied to Minnesota refineries comes from Enbridge’s system. Access to a reliable and secure energy supply will help ensure an affordable and reliable source of energy for consumers. While we are making great strides in renewable energy and electric vehicle growth, it is not sufficient to displace the demand for petroleum products. Petroleum will still be the single largest source of energy for Minnesotans for the foreseeable future. Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement project is an important part of our energy infrastructure and Minnesotans’ way of life.

The Line 3 Replacement project stands to create 4,200 construction jobs, 2,100 of which will go to hardworking Minnesotans. It will also impact nearly 3,000 jobs in hospitality and retail and 1,600 local supply jobs. That’s over 8,000 Minnesotan jobs positively impacted by the Line 3 project. It also represents a $2.1 billion private investment in our great state and will bring $162 million in local wages for Minnesotan workers.

The existing crude oil pipeline was built in the early 1960s. Because of the type of coating that was used on the pipeline at the time it was built, it has external corrosion and is only operating at 50 percent of capacity. There is an extensive dig and repair program required to keep the pipeline operating safely while the regulatory process for the replacement proceeds. This pipeline needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

The proposed new pipeline will protect our environment and improve safety with new infrastructure. The likelihood of spills or leaks will be dramatically decreased. To further protect our environment, a partially new route has been proposed. This is a tough situation because it runs through culturally important lands and waters as well as the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We all agree that protecting these lands needs to remain a priority throughout the construction of the pipeline as well as when it is put into service.

Enbridge understands that we as Minnesotans care about our state. We want what’s best for our environment, our economy, and the health and safety of our communities. That’s why we need to keep moving forward to keep progressing responsibly and sustainably in Minnesota.

Extensive public hearings for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project have taken place across the state of Minnesota over the past several weeks. There are two remaining, in Cross Lake on Wednesday, October 25 and St. Cloud on Thursday, October 26. Share your reasons for the project.

We Care Too – Our Response to the New York Times Article

A recent article in New York Times Magazine is making the rounds in the Northland and likely other places across the country this week. While the reporting in the article was fair and unbiased – it explained the difference between tourism jobs and industry jobs, the geology of our region, history of industry here, and every day uses of the metals Minnesota mines and hopes to mine in the future – quotes from anti-mining activists Becky Rom and Reid Carron went past biased into disrespectful, disparaging, and hurtful to those who work in and support mining in Minnesota.

“Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,” says Becky Rom.

“Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here — they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company,” Carron told me. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

People are allowed to have different viewpoints. Certainly Ms. Rom and Mr. Carron are allowed an opinion about the proposed mining projects, and while they have since issued an apology, it is unacceptable to make these kinds of direct attacks on the well-meaning hardworking individuals who work in industry.

Meanwhile, you will notice that while people who work in and support mining in Minnesota care deeply about responsible industry and what it means for our region, state, and nation, they focus on their work instead of insulting people who don’t support the work they do.

In addition to being mean-spirited, Ms. Rom and Mr. Carron’s characterizations of Minnesota miners and mining supporters are just downright inaccurate.

The thousands of men and women who work in Minnesota’s mining industries are educated and thoughtful. They work hard to provide for their families, produce the raw materials needed for the things we use every day, and to do so in a responsible way to protect the water they drink and lakes where they swim and fish.

These are people who, when they aren’t working long hours in all kinds of weather conditions, get involved in their communities. They are coaches, volunteers, and fundraisers. Most recently iron miners and companies in the mining industry have donated time, money, and resources to help those affected by hurricanes. These are not people who are blind to the world around them.

Instead, the people who work in these industries are very well aware of the world around them. They are very well aware of the lax safety and environmental laws other countries operate under. They are proud to mine under some of the strongest safety and environmental regulations in the country if not the world – because they know the demand for these materials are high, and they know they can mine them better and safer than anyone else.

If anyone is blind to the world around them in this scenario, it may be Ms. Rom and Mr. Carron, who refuse to acknowledge where the things they use every day come from.

Thank you to our miners. Thank you to the companies that provide goods and services to the mines. Thank you to the students who want to work in our mines to innovate our industry and sustain our region’s vitality.  Above all, thank you to all informed citizens for taking the time to understand that this conversation is not one-sided, that responsible, caring people are engaging in these issues every day, and that these issues are much more complex than Ms. Rom and Mr. Carron have portrayed them.

5 Compelling Reasons for Copper-Nickel Mining in Minnesota

Copper-nickel mining in Minnesota is an issue often met with intense debate. Is copper-nickel mining right for Minnesota? Can it be done safely? Will our watersheds be safe? Will the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness be impacted?

These are valid questions, and it is important that they are asked (and answered) publicly. The copper-nickel mining industry doesn’t seek to hide in the shadows but rather to provide the public with answers to all these questions and concerns and more within the process of opening a mine.

There are five important reasons that the current copper-nickel mining project proposed by PolyMet is a smart choice for Minnesota.

1. Human Safety

There is no safer place to operate a copper-nickel mine than right here in the United States of America, where protecting human health is a top priority. Before a mine can open, mining operations in the U.S. undergo very rigorous human health risk assessments to be sure any potential risks are mitigated. This protects workers and citizens alike and pays close attention to high-risk groups, like kids or the elderly.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) sets health and safety standards to protect workers with exposure limits to air pollutants and water quality issues – and mining operations are required to maintain ongoing compliance for the duration of operations. Regulators aren’t going to simply hand over the keys and say “See you when you’re done!” after permits are issued.

2. Environmental Safety

The U.S. mining industry is highly regulated – and for good reason. Exhaustive environmental review processes ensure that a mine can operate within all federal, state, and local regulations before any mining activity commences. That means tailings basins will be stable. Water quality will meet or exceed federal standards. Effective long-term water treatment plans are in place. Culturally significant lands and wetlands will always be protected. Recreational opportunities won’t be impeded by a mine.

We understand that the American people are very protective of their land. The people who will operate copper-nickel mining facilities are Americans too. They also care that northern Minnesota stays the incredible, beautiful place it is today.

3. Local Jobs

The Iron Range was founded on mining. Iron ore built the region, state, and nation. Without the mining industry, cities like Ely, Virginia, Hibbing, Biwabik, and more wouldn’t exist as we know them today. The landscape of the Twin Ports would be vastly different. We’re proud of our history in mining and the jobs it created.

Today, we believe we are ready for the next generation of mining. Copper-nickel mining at PolyMet’s NorthMet project site is the smart next step for Minnesota. This project will provide more than 5,100 people with good-paying jobs and contribute over $419 million in annual earning in our state. That’s not money we can shy away from. Our friends and neighbors are counting on the jobs this mine will create. Jobs at the NorthMet mine will make it possible for many Minnesotans to support their families. We need mining jobs in order for the Iron Range to survive.

4. Economic Stability

This is a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” type of thing. A diverse economy is a strong economy. A complex mix of thriving industries like manufacturing, shipping, finance, legal, healthcare, real estate, retail, tourism, and more all contribute to a stable economy. That means more job opportunities, more income, and more stability for everyday citizens.

The mining industry has long been a contributor to northern Minnesota’s economy. Studies have shown that while the tourism industry helps make an area an attractive place to build a home, the mining industry makes it possible for workers to afford a comfortable lifestyle. It all plays together.

5. Global Demand

We know the current state of renewable energy infrastructure is not strong enough to support increased demand. As we move toward a more sustainable future, we must invest in infrastructure. We can’t have wind energy without both on and offshore wind turbine infrastructure. We can’t harness energy from the sun without adequate solar panel technology. And when we need to store the green energy we create, we’re going to need more batteries. Infrastructure for these renewable energy resources requires large amounts of copper and other metals found on the Iron Range.

To achieve a more sustainable future through the smart use of our natural resources, we cannot afford to ignore the very metals we need to build the appropriate infrastructure. That means we must open PolyMet’s copper-nickel mine, and where better than right here? We have the metals. We have the workforce. We have the infrastructure. We have the care and respect for our environment and workforce. Let’s put it to work for all of us.

If Not in My Back Yard, Where?

Recently, environmental activists have been vocal about their opposition to a proposed open-pit copper mine from a Canadian-based company. Many of their arguments focus on concerns that it could harm air and water quality, and that this type of mining just shouldn’t be risked in a vital environment, watershed, and state – like Arizona.

Arizona? Yep. Arizona. Read the US News article.

We wouldn’t blame you if you thought that first paragraph was about Minnesota. After all, opponents of PolyMet have used these same talking points for years. They continue to use fear and doomsday scenarios even when regulatory agencies have stated the project will meet all environmental standards. Statements made at recent public hearings on mining included comments about how Minnesota’s water rich environment isn’t the right place for copper mining when there are mineral deposits in arid climates. Like in Arizona…

So opponents of mining in Minnesota say “Not in my back yard!” Opponents of mining in Arizona are also saying “Not in my back yard!” And there lies the paradox: if all watersheds and environments matter, as they do, then where should we be mining if copper-mining opponents think the risks outweigh the benefits everywhere?

Not in anyone’s back yard? Not possible when global demand for copper is already projected to outpace supply by 2019, continuing through 2030?

In third world countries where wages are poor and environmental standards are nonexistent? It’s time for us to step up and realize that if we want to continue enjoying life’s modern conveniences and care about global environment, not just our own, then it’s time to say we can mine copper better in our back yard here in Minnesota.

 

Driving Our Economy Together | Mining + Tourism

It’s like the Capulets and Montagues. Hatfields and McCoys. Vikings fans and Packers fans. Mining and tourism are often pitted as rivals in northern Minnesota, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Both the mining and tourism industries are critical to Minnesota’s economy and way of life, especially up north. And while they’re both important, they play vastly different roles. You can have one without the other, but our state is stronger when both sectors thrive. The strength of our economy is more important than a rivalry between industries.

A few months ago at the SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration) Conference, Mining Minnesota shared results of an economic impact study conducted by Praxis Study Group (PSG) in 2016. The study took a close look at the impact of both the tourism and mining industries on the Duluth-Arrowhead region and the results were compelling. It showed that together, these two industries contribute to a diverse, strong economy.

It’s no secret that many choose to live and visit the Duluth-Arrowhead region because of the outdoor opportunities. It’s paradise on earth. People love the scenery. The fresh air. Our big, beautiful lake. They love to get outside and enjoy hiking the trails, mountain biking, road biking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, exploring the Boundary Waters and so much more. Locals even make the most of winter by way of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sports, ice fishing, etc. The lists go on and on – a little ice and snow doesn’t stop this crowd. And these activities are enjoyable because of the region’s dedication to protecting our environment. They’re also enjoyable when enthusiasts can afford to participate. Some of those hobbies are expensive to maintain.

That means regional workers need high paying jobs. And some of the region’s highest paying jobs come from the mining industry. The PSG study showed the mining industry employs over 5,000 workers and the average salary is $80,000 per year. In addition, the mining industry supports thousands of jobs in other important sectors in our region. Without mining, northern Minnesota would be without many jobs in healthcare, retail, government, construction and tourism, among others. The tourism industry, however, employs over 6,000 people, but those jobs are often part-time or seasonal – and the average salary is only about $18,000 per year.

Mining creates high-quality jobs and the tourism economy and outdoor opportunities improve enjoyment of our region for both residents and visitors. Without a doubt, the tourism industry contributes to our region’s unique identity. It is a key part of local quality of life and makes the Duluth-Arrowhead region a place where people – including mining workers – want to build their homes and families. People come here for a reason. Let’s keep them here with good paying jobs.

Together, mining and tourism create our region’s character. We work hard and we play hard. We take every opportunity we can to get outside and enjoy the fun, excitement and challenge our land offers. We also have mining rooted deep in our history. It’s oftentimes in our blood as many of our fathers or grandfathers proudly worked in iron ore mines – and we’ll continue the tradition today in a responsible, ethical and environmentally conscious manner. Because it is better in our backyard #betterinourbackyard.

First public information meetings coming up for draft environmental review of proposed Line 3 pipeline project

Meetings offer opportunity for Minnesotans to learn about and comment on draft environmental impact statement

SAINT PAUL –The first public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline project will be held during the week of June 5.

Under the authority of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and its decisionmaking process, the State of Minnesota issued the draft EIS on May 15 for a public review and comment period that extends through July 10 and includes 22 public meetings in the counties through which the proposed pipeline or an alternative route is under consideration.

Meetings will be held in Bagley and Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 6; Park Rapids and Cass Lake on Wednesday, June 7; Floodwood and Brainerd on Thursday, June 8; and Wadena on Friday, June 9.

The draft EIS and full schedule of public meetings are available at: mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/line3

To read the rest of this news release, visit: https://mn.gov/commerce/media/news/?id=297685

Why We Mine

You may know that we mine in Minnesota, but do you know why?

Minnesota’s iron mines account for 80% of “first pour” steel in the United States.1

“First pour” is used to describe steel the first time it’s been made. This is an important denotation to make, because believe it or not, steel is the most recycled material in the world.2

More steel is recycled each year than aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic combined, and the recycling rate for steel is 86%. This recycling rate is a source of pride for America’s iron and steel industry, as the high recycling rate saves enough energy to power 20 million homes for one year.3

Steel can be continually recycled with no degradation. While this is an amazing property of the metal, it also means many steel products remain in service for decades at a time, though the demand for steel around the world continues to grow. For this reason, even while two out of every three tons of new steel are produced from old steel, it is still necessary to mine iron ore for “first pour” steel.4

Recycled and “first pour” steel alike are used to make the vehicles you drive, appliances you use, and infrastructure you see every day – not to mention machines used on a larger scale for agriculture, construction, and defense nationwide and abroad. Take a moment to think about all the products you use every day that wouldn’t be available without the materials we must recycle and mine. Makes you think – doesn’t it?

1 http://minnesotairon.org/10-things-you-use-every-day-made-from-minnesota-iron/
2 http://www.steel.org/about-aisi/industry-profile.aspx
3 http://www.steel.org/about-aisi/industry-profile.aspx
4 http://www.steel.org/sustainability/steel-recycling.aspx