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by Steve Timmer
Mar 19, 2021, 8:30 PM

Same song, thousandth verse

The spittle-flecked Michael A. Jugovich, one of the Domingos on the St. Louis County Board, penned a bilious response to the most recent Spotty™ winners, acknowledged in the last story here. Jugovich subscribes to the notion that if you sing the Bullshit Aria enough times it will become, magically, true.

In attempting to counter the excellent letter (it won a Spotty™, after all) of Arne Carlson, Tom Berkelman, Janet Entzel, and Chris Knopf, Jugovich repeats several mining advocate talking points that are easily debunked. Let’s look at a few of them.

The regulatory agencies at the state [and] the federal governments are required by law to thoroughly study detailed plans for the proposed project to determine whether the measures to be built into the mine can protect the surrounding environment. It is a proven, multiyear, science-driven process that has both led to the rejection and the approval of mining projects across the country.

This is what is known to me, as an observer of the PolyMet case, as Fourteen Years of Bullshit. (You really should read that LeftMN story to hear from Paul Danicic, the former executive director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, on the subject.) That experience, which is continuing, is instructive of what we can expect from the entirely industry- and Range-politician-captured Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The EIS (environmental impact statement) process in PolyMet was poorly conceived, ignored the Fond du Lac and other Ojibwe in its planning or “scoping,” approved a water model with serious flaws, and never looked at alternate tailings storage solutions for highly reactive mine waste.

After the final EIS got a C-minus, or maybe it was a D-plus, I can’t remember, the commissioners of the DNR and the MPCA competed with each other to launch permits for PolyMet as they were cleaning out their desks at the end of the Dayton administration.

But those permits were the result of corner cutting and fraught with error and corruption, too.

And in the end, our regulators have never met a mine they didn’t like. Well, okay, Reserve Mining dumping tailings into Lake Superior, but besides that. (I need to add as an aside, that was when the MPCA was headed by Grant Merritt, who is an entirely different breed of cat than the the recent models.)

Central to the process is public engagement.

Unless you are the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe, or another Ojibwe band, or maybe the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Then hell, you’re just a bunch of pesky Indians. Even though, as federally recognized tribes, you are entitled to be considered on the same plane as other states, like Wisconsin, or Iowa, and you have procedural and substantive rights that must be observed.

But since they are just pesky Indians, the Corps of Engineers and the MPCA, in particular, thought they could just blow them off. Now, they are having to rethink their view. The Corps of Engineers has just figured out that it should have brought the Fond du Lac Ojibwe in on its thinking about the wetlands destruction permit.

Just for fun, I suggest that you put “Bud Grant” and “walleye” in a Google search. Bud thought they were just pesky Indians, too.

This means regular Minnesotans — both those who understand the science and engineering and those who have other agendas — will be able to inform policymakers of their thoughts related to the plans under review.

Perhaps Commissioner Jugovich is unaware that the MPCA is not a policy making body. It’s an administrative agency charged with, here, enforcing the Clean Water Act. It’s not a kind of “divide the baby” agency.

And when it comes to the Clean Water Act, you aren’t a “policymaker” either, Commissioner. He apparently thinks he is.

Seriously, you forget yourself.

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