Dr Susan Moore

Another beautiful black person has died after struggling to receive care from our for-profit health care system.  It is time for a change to universal single payer.

May you rest in peace Dr Susan Moore and may the struggles you endured be the beginning of the end to a failed system of care.

Dr Susan Moore

https://www.phillytrib.com/dr-susan-moore-the-death-of-black-doctor-of-covid-19-sets-off-alarms/article_41479426-bb65-58c7-88e4-8d289abbaea2.html

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/12/30/dr_susan_moore_healthcare_racism

https://www.democracynow.org/topics/black_lives_matter

https://www.healthcare-now.org/blog/tag/ralph-nader/

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/09/19/25-ways-canadian-health-care-system-better-obamacare-2020-elections

PNHP Mission Statement

A Brief History: Universal Health Care Efforts in the US

 

 

 

 

 

The Warning (In the Groves of El Dorado)

Sunset

A shaft of light beamed down

Through sheets of tropical rain

Glowed in outstretched palms

Fraught with lingering pain.

 

As rains fell in a fury

Like tears in a flood of rage

The elder stood sore and weary

At the sight of what he surveyed.

 

Deluged by memories of Eden

Lost in the endless brigade

To cull the jungle for profit

As if a penny arcade,

 

Where rainbow colored tears

From one armed bandits stray

Oil streaming from virgin lands

Beauty, blessed, betrayed.

 

Vanished in the slaughter

Countless bounties to be mourned;

The groves of El Dorado

Now dying and forlorn.

 

Standing in solemn reverence

As rains came to a halt,

He held his gaze ahead

In the steam of this jungle vault.

 

Witnessing, at dusk, a warning,

As ghostly remnants remained,

Poised in silent testament

Where giants of Earth once reigned

©2002/2019/2021

 

A Kind and Curious Man

I knew a man who would not lie.

He would not say a thing untrue

And if one swayed him to reply

In words he did not choose,

He would not say a thing untrue.

 

As his life unfolded

And his kindness grew,

He spoke in words of gentleness

Speaking only what he knew,

What he knew to be the truth.

 

Words will come, and words will go,

And rarely be remembered

But in due and honest diligence,

In kindness, and in truth,

In time, his legend grew. 

 

The legend of a man

A kind and curious man

A man who would not lie,

Who would not say 

A thing untrue.

 

©2004

Tales Untold

While sounds of life stream beside us

Endlessly scrambling in the breeze,

Can you hear the relentless battle

Of clashing hopes and dreams?

And when our treaties disregarded

Shatter in a million tears,

Do you care, does it matter?

Are you lost in countless fears?

A soldier dies beside a flag.

A woman freezes from the cold.

Our children cry for understanding

With countless tales untold.

The facts speak for themselves …

Line 3 is, for the most part, a new line with a new route and not actually a replacement.  The “aging pipeline” is being left in the ground and in order to determine a new route, according to an article written by Mike Fernandez of Enbridge, there were 320 modifications prior to the final determination.  That alone tells us just how tricky it is to navigate the waterways of northern Minnesota.

If Minnesota’s standards are so high as he suggests, higher than the federal guidelines, then, why have any pipelines been allowed in a land of 10,000 lakes at the headwaters of the Rainy River, the Mississippi River and the St Louis River, extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway and the mouth of the Great Lakes at Lake Superior?

Oil and water don’t mix and this is no place for a pipeline.

Counterpoint: Poetry and fiction …. by Mike Fernandez at Enbridge

Dangerous Pipelines, Greenpeace reports

Water, Wilderness, Dark Skies and the Seventh Generation

 

In Northern Minnesota, a land of water, wilderness and dark skies, water protectors from all over the country are engaging government, Governor Walz, in particular, and Enbridge, Polymet and other multi-national corporations by peaceful protest.  They ask simply to protect the water for future generations now, not after the fact.

Once the pipes have been laid and the mines built, there will be no way to keep tar sands oil, copper sulfides and other pollutants out of the water from these enterprises in a land of 10,000+ fresh water lakes.  The damage will have been done and this is just a fact.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota have been designated dark sky sanctuaries for good reason.   For wilderness.

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/12/09/voyageurs-national-park-designated-a-dark-sky-park

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/09/11/boundary-waters-designated-a-dark-sky-sanctuary

Under a bridge of Maples
Bemidji Maples

Anita

A few questions for those who believe a tar sands pipeline is the solution to any problem in Northern Minnesota …

Bald Eagle Soaring over the Mississippi River

What will the deep north offer when the construction jobs are gone and the water ways polluted by a multi national corporation that will leave town when the pipe is no longer useful left rotting in the ground?

Help is needed for those suffering throughout the state, and this administration can make better pathways to a sustainable economy than allowing a tar sands oil pipeline for the promise of work that will end in nine months.  Do we need another boom and bust economy for northern Minnesota?

There are good reasons that the pipeline 3 has been discouraged by people in the know, people who have thrived from these lands and waters for centuries and have respect for what these resources provide.  There are good reasons that Line 3 had been stalled, should be stopped, and appeals are ongoing in the land of sky blue waters, this land of 10,000 lakes.  What does potable water mean to you?  Or is it out of mind when the pipeline is out of sight?

Are short term jobs worth the costs that will eventually and most assuredly occur when the pipeline leaks and spills into the Mississippi and/or into one or more of over 200 waterways?  What do the executives and financiers betting on the completion of this pipeline care about your legacy to your children and their children and children’s children?  What do they care about your greatest legacy to them, clean water?

Some say that Enbridge has replaced the pipe on their properties.  How much of Enbridge’s pipe will be left in the ground and what gets replaced, for who, and at what cost?  There are many concerned about the prospect of leaving the rotten corpse of the old line in ground where it will cause existential damage to the environment, that environment that we, in Minnesota, know all too well and love.  All those down stream and in the deep north will suffer eventually for this bad decision; and all for short term work and another boom and bust enterprise.  What will be that cost but the health of our waters and the surrounding environment?

Whatever your decision, please contact the governor with your thoughts.  We need a better solution than this dirty project.  Nine months of work will not sustain any community for long.

https://mn.gov/governor/contact/

 

Where is the sweet spot in our challenge to frame a better world?

The possibilities for reform are as great as the challenges we face today.  In recognizing that all in this world depends on the framing, how we perceive these challenges.

near Babbitt, MN

On the one hand, we have a global climate disaster in the making while corporate executives of fossil fuel and metallurgical industries seemed bent on making it worse, for their financial profit.  The actions they take to expand their footprint across the globe does not benefit them essentially and does not make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren.  Money has taken common sense out of the mix.

On another, we have the need to find alternative sources of energy that do not damage the environment and make the climate a greater challenge.  Wind, solar, water, insulation, thermal etal … I am not an expert on any of this, but I am aware that any of these alone is not the answer.

To store energy, at this time in our consciousness, batteries seem to be the answer … but at what cost?  Disposal of spent batteries, production and the mining of resources are also a challenge.

So, there is always the other side of an argument.  What do we do to find a sweet spot in our search?  We cannot continue to destroy the environment for quick answers or financial gain.  Money needs to be taken out of the debate if we are to find the best and most sustainable solution.

In the deep north of Minnesota a battle is raging for the health of our waters. In the land of sky blue waters, in a region that finds the source of three of the greatest rivers on the North American continent, our Minnesota government has approved a new tar sands pipeline by the Canadian company Enbridge.  The pipe will leak, as pipes do.  It will fall into disrepair and be left to deteriorate in ground, as Enbridge is doing with their older pipeline to spare them the cost of removal.  It will despoil and pollute ancient wild rice sources and wetlands throughout its course across the deep north of Minnesota, a land of more than 10,000 lakes.  In the nine months that it takes to build, four thousand or so workers will have a job and then go home.  The pipeline and the pollution will remain.

Minnesota is also at the heart of a fight to keep the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the St Louis watershed, and Rainy River Watershed from being pollluted by proposed copper mines in the area.  Polymet and the Northmet Project being one.

These battles for the sake of our waters and lands are being fought across the country.  We have an outgoing president in Donald Trump who is fast tracking this destruction.  And so, my questions concerning the framing and the solution to these formidable challenges: what do we do to find a sweet spot where our energy concerns lie, and how do we get money out of the heart of our decisions on these matters?

Apache Nation Organizes Day of Action Against Proposed Copper Mine

North America is About to Get Its Largest Copper Mine

For a better world we need to do better than this.

Anita

In defense of clean water and the headwaters of the Mississippi River

What fight could be more relevant to our national security but to protect the waters that run through the heartland of this north American continent?  You can contact Governor Walz to voice your concerns.

https://mn.gov/governor/contact/

Not all of us can stand in protest at the many locations where this pipeline will cross rivers, streams, parks and trails throughout these northern watersheds and tribal lands, small towns and communities.  Many have been led to believe in desperate times that these are the kind of jobs that are needed.  All but a few jobs will be temporary and about half of the temporary jobs will be for out of state workers.

I  have included a few links below concerning the history of this struggle and links to groups advocating for justice and to stop the construction of this new pipeline.  A cause with good reason for all who depend on clean water.

water lilies and reeds

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/12/18/enbridge_line_3_opposition

https://welcomewaterprotectors.com

https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/state-authorities-approve-enbridge-line-3-permits-protesters-clash-in-front-of-governor-s-mansion

Water Protectors Launch Direct Action Against Enbridge Pipeline in Minnesota

Enbridge Line 3 pipeline receives final approval; opposition vows to fight on

https://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/beyond-oil

https://www.friendsoftheheadwaters.org/contact-officialsmedia.html

http://friendsoftheheadwaters.org/index.html

https://mn.gov/puc/line3/summary/

https://www.stopline3.org/issues

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_3_Pipeline

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Public_Utilities_Commission

In the land of sky blue waters … Enbridge is building a massive oil pipeline into the Mississippi river bed and watershed. Your waters.

Efforts to protect water for generations is ongoing while the mantra of the despoiler is, always is, the creation of jobs.  Jobs that destroy the lands and water, making it unfit for anything else but more of the same.  What kind of lands and waters will be left for a sustainable life, one with wild rice and animal life of all species.

Enbridge guarantees 4000 jobs, but these are jobs that make for a boom and bust economy.  Jobs to those willing to travel from all over the country, away from home and family to make money for the oil business in a pandemic … at a time when the demand for oil is waning.  The pipeline will remain even when it has long been relegated to the dust of time, leaking and poisoning all the land and water surrounding it including the mighty Mississippi.  How many will benefit from this and how many jobs will remain then?

More news surrounding this new Pipeline #3 being installed by the Enbridge corporation in the deep north of Minnesota and the Arrowhead:

Line 3 construction barrels ahead, despite efforts to block it | MPR News

https://www.stopline3.org/recent

https://kstp.com/minnesota-news/contractor-on-line-3-dies-in-hill-city-construction-incident-december-18-2020/5955710/

http://www.honorearth.org/sandpiper_line_3_corridor

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/12/15/biden-urged-stand-against-line-3-water-protectors-battle-dirty-tar-sands-pipeline

Why is it essential to build the tar sands pipeline 3 in the middle of a pandemic?

Governor Walz has said he is concerned about the health of all MInnesotans.  This has been his focus since the beginning of this year with various shutdowns.  We are now in one of those shutdowns.  Why, then, does he allow the construction of a pipeline that is not essential and not wanted by most Minnesotans, including the tribes whose lands this pipeline will traverse, in the midst of a global pandemic that is killing Minnesotans at a record rate?

We should all be concerned, since this pipeline will now be constructed across two sections of the Mississippi River.  Not only will the indigenous peoples of this state be affected, but, eventually, all those downstream of the Mississippi.

For up to date information about these fights to save our waters and how to get to the various locations:

https://healingmnstories.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/indigenous-leaders-make-urgent-call-for-water-protectors-to-attend-line-3-protest-near-palisade-monday-at-930-a-m/

https://welcomewaterprotectors.com/thegreatriver?emci=d1012493-dd3c-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&emdi=fe0801c3-e13c-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&ceid=4028723

https://healingmnstories.wordpress.com/enbridge-line-3/

Water Protectors

The tribes of this nation are, again, fighting a battle for the health of our waters.  This is not just a fight for their autonomy, for their inherant right to be free and to live in a sustainable way, in the way of their ancestors.  It is also a fight for the soul and security of this country and life for all of us on earth.

For, what is life without clean water and air?  What is life when it is held so cheaply at the expense of our base?  While multinational organizations, corporations make profit off of our natural resources, these entities leave the local citizens to clean up their messes, those that can be “cleaned.”

Corporate pollution changes the face of the land forever, and in the construction process Enbridge is removing hardwood forests and leveling fields and marshes to build their pipeline through the heart of Minnesota in the headwaters of the Mississippi and on tribal lands.  Even before suits filed have seen their way through the courts, it appears our native communities have, again, been betrayed.

Ancient rice fields are at risk along with the health and well being of our native people and local communities.  Introducing workers from all over the country to build a pipeline in the midst of a pandemic that is killing over 2000 people each day in the USA.  Ironically, at the same time, Governor Walz has ordered lock down measures for the rest of Minnesota.  Where are the protections surrounding the pipeline?  Will our indigenous women suffer again with this corporate deal?

In spite of it all, in order to protect and defend our vital resources, the indigenous people of this state in Minnesota and around the country are waging peace and standing for the rights of us all to drink unpolluted water, to breath free in a land that claims it is a democracy.  While police show up to arrest or detain the protesters, I wonder, where are those who are paid to defend and protect citizens against these polluters?

For more information and updates:

https://healingmnstories.wordpress.com/2020/12/04/puc-ignores-line-3s-covid-concerns-buys-into-enbridges-flawed-pandemic-plan/#more-18139

Peace

Peace in your waters, life

Lofty goals seldom achieved

Humblest and greatest lie in your fold

The difference, only a dream

©2002

Removing oil pipelines and other dirty infrastructure from our wetlands would create jobs too, better jobs

The focus at this demanding time in our history needs to be on what can be done and not what we need to stop, while not forgetting one or the other.  It’s said that the best offense is a defense.  But what does this say to us now?

The motivation for a defense is fear.  What could we do with a different mindset?  What is possible for Minnesota if we made our focus removing the oil pipelines instead of playing defense to Enbridge’s offenses?  What if we played offense to other multinational corporations that would make Minnesota their cash cow while leaving our environment polluted and it’s citizens to clean up the mess?

When a fighter puts his fist up to block a punch, he has the other hand to knock his opponent out.  What Enbridge is doing in the state of Minnesota is no less aggressive than a fighter in the ring.  What Polymet, essentially Glencore, with it’s proposed copper mine in the Laurentian Divide at the heart of three of the greatest river systems in the North American continent, in Minnesota, at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes, the Rainy River watershed, and the Mississippi headwaters endangers our national security, our waters.

We need to put more focus on what can be done to create the kind of world we need long term and stop being pushed into the ropes in this fight.

For more information on this discussion:

https://anitatillemans.wordpress.com/?s=arrowhead

 

Oil Man’s Creed

jelly fish

Black eruptions steep

From strangled steel of deep

In sea green depths of turquoise blue

The oil man’s secrets keep

 

Until the day the dolphin dies

And whales merge on the beach

The turtle’s eggs no longer hatch

The starfish barely creep

 

Greed and glut, the oil man’s creed

As black eruptions steep

In sea green depths of turquoise blue

From strangled steel of deep

©2015

Putting Minnesotans at risk of Covid 19 in order to build the Enbridge Pipeline #3 ASAP …

While Covid 19 is spreading throughout the US and Minnesota is under a lockdown, our governor is allowing pipeline construction workers from all over the country to descend upon Minnesota, traveling to stay at places away from their homes in the winter months where workers will meet indoors and where they will most likely spread infection among themselves and to the greater community.

As a result, this new Enbridge pipeline #3 will not only poison our waters but during construction will be responsible for infecting the populace along the construction route.  Anytime is too soon for a bad idea, especially during a pandemic.

Check out links below for more information:

http://www.honorearth.org

https://www.stopline3.org/recent

What’s next for the Enbridge Line 3 project in Minnesota? Construction. And protests.

 

Enbridge Tar Sands Oil Pipeline at the Headwaters of the Mississippi … what could the governor be thinking?

In spite of ongoing lawsuits from the seriously flawed decision to permit the line #3 replacement pipeline, construction has begun.  For the sake of our waters, protests are inevitable.  Water protectors are those who see beyond the short term profit of a few jobs and who stand for health and well being in lieu of corporate profits.  It is to the detriment of not only Minnesota residents, but the national security of this country if we fail to protect these headwaters.

In an effort to stop the degradation of our waters and treaty-protected resources in Minnesota, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe has issued a suit challenging the construction stormwater permit issued by the MPCA.  According to the claim, MPCA did not fully consider long term impacts in regard to climate and treaty rights.  This action joins several other legal actions seeking to stop or forestall construction of the “replacement” line 3 by Enbridge in the headwaters of the Mississippi River and vital water dependent resource areas in Northern Minnesota.

Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the White Earth Band asked Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to pause approval of the line for the Mn Court of Appeals to consider the permit irregularities.  This request will be considered by the PUC on Friday December 4, 2020 at 10am (reference link below to startribune article).

https://www.startribune.com/construction-on-enbridge-pipeline-begins-as-new-lawsuit-filed-to-delay-2-6b-project/573250131/

In addition, Friends of the Headwaters, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the White Earth Band, the Sierra Club and Honor the Earth have filed another law suit citing enormous issues concerning pipeline routes, impacts to climate and treaties, water pollution risks from pipeline construction, including long term degradation to water and wetlands … after the construction.

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/6783854-As-Line-3-construction-begins-opponents-file-another-lawsuit

Enbridge claims that the pipeline replacement will more safely transport tar sands oil to Midwest refineries, create 4200 construction jobs, which will generate millions in revenue for the area during construction.  Therein lies the crux of the issue. References;

What’s next for the Enbridge Line 3 project in Minnesota? Construction. And protests.

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/11/ap-minnesota-tribes-pipeline-approval-virus/

What are the risks of transporting tar sands oil through the wetlands and headwaters of Minnesota?

Tar sands oil is highly corrosive to the pipes and infrastructure used in construction.

Requires large amounts of water (about 3 to 1 part oil)

Pollutes water resources and inevitable leaks will cause permanent degradation to the water table and the marshes and wetlands connected

Widespread habitat destruction to natural resources

Creates enormous GHG emissions, 3 to 4 times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil extraction (greenhouse gas, which includes carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone among other gases that absorb and re-emit heat, and thereby keep the planet’s atmosphere warmer than it  otherwise would be…)

Tar sand oil is a highly inefficient source of energy compared to other sources

In Minnesota, this tar sands pipeline construction will burrow through some of the most pristine wetland in the country and cross rivers that are highly sensitive to contamination, in wetlands that are integrated across the entire upper third of the state.  It will cross the Mississippi twice.

The jobs and benefits that Enbridge promises will be temporary.  The degradation will be permanent.

map showing Enbridge's Pipeline 3 proposed crossings in Minnesota's headwaters

Enbridge Line #3 Pipeline’s Path Through Minnesota …

map showing Enbridge's Pipeline 3 proposed crossings in Minnesota's headwaters

Not only did Enbridge have the ability to rebuild in place, there were other alternatives to digging through tribal lands and the heart of Minnesota’s deep north, vital wetlands to us all, for a new line#3 pipeline.  Call it replacement if you like.  But this is not a replacement, but an addition to already existing pipelines.  The old one will be left in place, simply left.

Enbridge’s record is not good, to say the least, and those at the top will benefit from the tar sands oil transported through line #3 and, at the same time, not be liable for the harm that any spills most definitely will cause.

Why would Governor Walz allow this to happen to our state for any price?  Short term construction jobs are not a good enough reason for the long standing harm pipeline #3 will do to our vital resources and the disrespect it shows for the rights of our native peoples, again.  When will we listen to these voices and follow a wiser path?

Much information in the report below concerning this dirty project and why it should never be built:

Enbridge Evidentiary Hearing November 2017

Some changes were made to the proposed route in 2018:

While we wait for lawsuits to see their way through courts, the construction has already begun.

For links to other articles on Arterutan:

https://anitatillemans.wordpress.com/?s=enbridge

The route for Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline, as proposed and approved, will cross 12 Minnesota counties:

Interactive map at stopline3.org

Line 3 will travel through Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Clearwater, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin, Carlton counties in Minnesota.  Line 3 will enter Minnesota by crossing the Red River entering Kittson and then move into Marshall County where it will cross the Tamarac River, Middle River and the Snake before entering Pennington County, where it will cross the Red Lake River.   At this point it will move into Red Lake County where it will cross the Clearwater River before going into Polk County crossing at State Ditch Sixty One.  With more tributaries to cross Line 3 will be heading into Clearwater County where it will cross, among others, Lost River, Silver Creek, West Four Legged Lake, the Mississippi River in Bear Creek Township and La Salle Creek in Itasca State Park.  At this point, it will move through Paul Bunyan State Forest and south past many lakes and over the Straight River out of Park Rapids, over the Shell River and then in an easterly direction over Crow Wing River, then south into Wadena County and Huntersville State Forest where it will cross the Shell River again and the Crow Wing River within Huntersville State Forest.  Once leaving Wadena, the line 3 pipeline will move through Cass County south of the Leech Lake Reservation through more water dependent areas, over Pine River and into Crow Wing County’s upper NW corner, at which point it reenters Cass County crossing water features and tributaries again before entering Aitkin County where it will cross the Mississippi once more, among others like the Sandy River, Willow River, a portion of the Mille Lacs Reservation, before moving into Carlton County.   Once in Carlton County, Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline 3 will cross the West Branch of the Kettle River, Heikkila Creek, Kettle River, on the southerly border of Fond du Lac State Forest, the West Fork Moose Horn River, King Creek and Park Lake Creek.  At the last leg of its journey through our land of 10,000 lakes, it will straddle the Willard Munger State Trail before crossing Highway 35, then south of Jay Cooke State Park and the St Louis River toward Superior in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

What could go wrong?

Counties in Line #3 route Parks affected and in close proximity

partial list

Associated Rivers and water bodies

partial list

Kittson Red River
Marshall Tamarac River

Middle River

Snake River

Pennington Red Lake Indian Reservation Red Lake River
Red Lake Clearwater River
Polk water bodies and tributaries

State Ditch Sixty One

Clearwater Itasca State Park Lost River

Silver Creek

West Four Legged Lake

Mississippi River 

La Salle Creek

and others

Hubbard Paul Bunyan State Forest

which borders the Chippewa National Forest and the Mississippi Headwaters State Forest

lakes and water bodies including the

Straight River out of Park Rapids

Shell River

Crow Wing River, a tributary of the Mississippi

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crow_Wing_River

Wadena Huntersville State Forest Shell River

among others

Cass Paul Bunyan State Forest

which borders the Chippewa National Forest and the Mississippi Headwaters State Forest

Leech Lake Reservation

Leech Lake and other water bodies and tributaries

Pine River

Crow Wing
Aitkin Mille Lacs Reservation Mississippi River second crossing

Sandy River

Willow River

a portion of Mille Lacs Reservation

Carlton Fond du Lac State Forest

Willard Munger State Trail

Jay Cooke State Park

Kettle River

Heikkila Creek

west branch of the Kettle River

West Fork Moose Horn River

King Creek

Park Lake Creek

St Louis County 

Douglas County in Wisconsin

Fond du Lac Reservation  St Louis River 

Tumbling Into Blue

 

The Earth weeps in silent tears

And torrents coursing through,

Flowing into pools and streams

Tumbling into blue

 

Through mountains mined and drawn,

Through verdant forests tread,

Pools, lakes and eddies fouled

Spring from the watershed.

 

As Earth weeps, rivers flow

Through wetlands, hills and cranny,

Through rock and clay, soot and sand

Cascading to the sea.

 

Distilled within, unspoken,

Mankind’s final, deadly game

To reach the summit’s Holy Grail,

Lucre, by any name;

 

Deaf to nature’s songs and moods,

Heedless to beauty’s lore,

Intemperance in its surly grasp,

Callous to the core,

 

And so, in tides, Earth’s tears abide

On beaches born and bled

From rivers running ever

Rising from the watershed,

 

In dreams drawn and silenced

From torrents coursing through,

Flowing into pools and streams

Tumbling into blue.

 

2014/2019

 

Oil train crossing a midwest prairie
Oil train crossing a midwest prairie

Anita Suzanne Tillemans, October 2014

 

Questions Concerning Mining and Pipelines in Minnesota’s Deep North

Questions Concerning Mining and Pipelines in Minnesota’s Deep North 

  • How much water will be drawn from Lake Colby to meet Polymets needs and to control levels of the St Louis River?
  • SDEIS admits candidly presumptions were made to inform the model and therefore, as a consequence, outcomes cannot be truly assessed adequately … ongoing assessments and studies will be needed even after the permit has been granted and since models are only as good as the data provided, what of the unknowns?
  • What of the decision made to halt discharge of waste rock into Lake Superior by Reserve Mining in the 1970’s?  What of the drainage ponds that continue to leak to this day?
  • How many wolves remain in the St Louis River watershed?  How do we know that these will not run the threat of extinction by mining in the area, noise and pollution affect den habits … and since the area is a stronghold for this species, why haven’t their numbers been determined for this study ?  Wolves mate in late February and den in late April when sites are located for raising the young.  What affect will the noise and pollution of precious waters and streams, traffic do to change these habits and lower populations?
  • Wild rice has been harvested for thousands of years in this watershed.  Have studies been made to determine the extent of damage of releasing untreated contact water into the St Louis River, tributaries, lakes, wetlands and aquifers … including draw down of the water table not only at the sites but beyond the mining and processing sites?
  • Does the study model consider transportation corridors beyond the 7 mile link between mine and processing centers? or the related pipelines?  Rail, road and air traffic will increase with mines in the area, most assuredly.  Have the levels of noise been considered along with dust, light pollution and smells associated with diesel, gas, electric machinery, rigs 24/7?
  • Will the ore be smelted on site? and what of that air, noise, smell and water pollution from this factor?
  • Loss of wilderness in Lake, Cook and St Louis counties alone will be felt almost immediately through sights, sounds and smells of mining operations, 24/7, air pollution from these smells and dust….  Solitude and peace will be gone and the wilderness.  Can we afford the cost for a relatively few short-lived jobs?
  • In the long term, though, these losses will be dwarfed by loss on a greater scale than the SDEIS can model, contamination of the big stoney or the mother of waters.  No study has ever been made to determine just how much water sheds from Arrowhead aquifers.  Who will ultimately pay for the mistake of building mines and pipelines through the heart of Minnesota’s deep north?
  • Ultimately, Polymet’s mine will be a shadow of operations in the area once the precedent is set and floodgates are open.  In addition, with pipeline #3 burrowing it’s way into the aquifer, crossing the Mississippi headwaters and wetlands that support an abundance of life dependent on these waters, on its way to Duluth from Canada, who will profit?  It won’t be the residents.
  • If the NFS and BLM have no intention of allowing mining in the area of the BWCAW and the Rainy River Watershed, then why have exploratory permits and almost 2000 drilling holes been allowed into this area?
  • What will be the final amounts discharged from leaky pipelines, mines and processing sites once the resources are spent and jobs are gone?  What will be left?
  • What will be left of the wetlands, forests, streams and waterfalls … the flora and fauna … the wilderness?
  • Shouldn’t our relationship to the resources that support our lives be based on stewardship?  What profit is there in destroying our base?
  • What of the migratory foul, the wolves, the Canada Lynx … the St Louis River estuary?
  • Are the chemicals used in water treatment safe? have they been tested? have all metals, contaminants, filters from mining and pipelines proved anything less than toxic to life? 
  • How many of the wilderness activities will be altered permanently in the area through the processes of tar sands oil delivery and mining?
  • Will discharges into the St Louis River from the wetlands surrounding a tar sands oil pipeline and copper mining bring algae blooms, depleting water of oxygen and threatening already threatened aquatic plants and animals and create a dead zone at the mouth of the St Louis?  Have contaminants been estimated, modeled for the mouth of this great estuary?
  • Has possible contamination from brackish systems underground been considered as these structures are built?
  • Has climate change been factored into the model?
  • How many seasons of water data have been integrated into the models used to approve these dirty systems?
  • Drought is first noticed in the highlands.  Have the effects of a draw down been considered in our models? loss of pressure in the artesian wells?  Do we know how much water there is to take for mining?  Isn’t any water too much?  How far will the spillage of one Enbridge pipeline spread through these wetlands of Northern Minnesota?
  • The wellness of a society depends upon respect for the environment?  What respect does any foreign corporation have for the welfare of our waters in Minnesota?
  • Is any water filtration system adequate to protect these waters more than 500 years into the future … what kind of management can be expected during and after closure to manage sulfate concentrations in the effluent of a copper mine?
  • How can a tailings pond hold up indefinitely under the harsh conditions of Northern Minnesota and what of global warming and ever serious climate events?
  • What measures will be taken or are possible to reduce “fugitive” dust from construction and operations on site and on the road?
  • How big would the final basins and pits be once copper mining has been established?
  • How much can be done once pipeline #3 spills undetected or uncontrolled or mismanaged?  What kind of clean up is even possible with tar sands oil?
  • What of the pollutants from the hydrometallurgical process, smelting operations?
  • What is PGE precipitate, compositions?
  • Have possible failures been modeled? to pipeline, tailings basins, waste rock piles and pits?
  • What do we have in the words: proposed, possibility, potentials, predictions, probability …. but words.  Why have two of our governors approved of the Northmet Project and Pipeline #3?  What were they thinking and what was behind their decisions?
  • What are the 28 solutes?
  • What is a P90 level exactly?
  • What engineering controls will be used in the rivers and wetlands for the NorthMet project? and what controls for construction and operation of Enbridge’s pipeline #3?  What controls are possible in such a priceless environment?
  • How much untreated water will actually be released from the proposed Polymet mine, how much seepage from pits and tailings basins actually?  Will we never know until it is too late to do anything about it?  One reason these structures should never be built.
  • How was affected wetland acreage determined, what data concerning aquifers and underground water  flowage referenced?  were long term studies made on the effects of drought conditions and possible draw down potentials considered?
  • Has consideration been made for the open nature of the St Louis River watershed’s wetlands, the Mississippi headwaters, streams and marshes associated, and the connectivity of all these bodies to the immediate areas affected throughout Northern Minnesota in the case of the Northmet Project and Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline#3?

Our health and well being depends on wetlands and wildernesses, apex predators and all manner of life.  We cannot survive without clean water or the flora and fauna, all living things that depend on water as we do.  What will be our legacy to the 7th generation?

For love of wilderness.

Wild Turkey

 

wild turkey
Wild Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us and, what has become one of the most celebrated holidays in America, will be spent alone in many homes.  For over a quarter of a million have died in this country from a pandemic that could have been mitigated with the right leadership, and so many left without the resources to see them through the year.  A time of thanks giving has become a time of grief for the great many.

The Senate, under the auspices of Mitch McConnell, has left the relief package presented to him from the people’s House of Representatives in a graveyard of legislation he has personally tabled and prevented from becoming law.  No one person should have this kind of power in a democracy; and the shame of his leadership will haunt the rest of us for years to come.  

While Senator McConnell is on vacation for the holidays, it will not be much of a holiday for the masses in this country who trusted in our congressional leadership to do the right thing.  The senator has, after all, been employed by the electorate and should be working for the electorate.  Is this what Mitch McConnell does when he holds up vital legislation single-handedly, legislation that was created to help the majority of taxpayers in these trying times?  He facilitated the passing of the cares act in March of this year with tax cuts for the richest and less for the poorest, with support from the rest of congress based on a promise that another more comprehensive bill could be guaranteed later in the year.  Remember your promise, Mitch?  Do you think that your promise was forgotten?   

So what went wrong and why are there so many willing to vote for a man who profits from his office and leaves the great majority who elected him to suffer?  Words, as Senator Mitch McConnell proves, are only words.  It is the action behind them that reveals much more.

McConnell Releases Revised COVID-19 Bill …March 22, 2020

https://www.steptoe.com/en/news-publications/mcconnell-releases-revised-covid-19-bill.html

Cares Act bill 3548

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3548/text

McConnell calls for five-year lawsuit shield for businesses as part of next coronavirus bill

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/07/06/congress-departed-two-week-recess-without-addressing-coronavirus-spikes-economic-strains/

Mitch McConnell pledges to scrap $600 boost in unemployment benefits

https://www.businessinsider.com/mitch-mcconnell-pledges-scrap-600-boost-coronavirus-unemployment-benefits-2020-5

Second stimulus check updates: GOP, ….

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/mitch-mcconnell-coronavirus-states.html

Introduction of Senate version under Mitch McConnell on March 19, 2020 outlining some of that bill’s shortcomings (Senate Republicans Reveal New Coronavirus  Relief Package)

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818253789/congress-awaits-gop-relief-plan-as-first-lawmakers-test-positive-for-coronavirus

Electromagnetic War Games over the Olympic National Forest

In the Olympic National Forest, a rainforest in Washington state … old growth trees have been lumbered for years; and, now, this treasure is the site of electromagnetic war games disturbing the peace and the welfare that these natural wonders provide.  When will we learn not to destroy our base?

last stands of old growth trees on the Olympic Peninsula
Lumber Truck in the Olympic National Forest

For more information see:

Electromagnetic war games over the Olympic Peninsula

http://www.globalresearch.ca/navy-plans-electromagnetic-war-games-over-national-park-and-forest-in-washington-state/5413932

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28009-documents-show-navy-s-electromagnetic-warfare-training-would-harm-humans-and-wildlife

 

 

Stonehenge Origins

Stonehenge: The Clearing

In regard to Stonehenge, it is important for a bigger picture to  consider the effect of farming cultures moving in to the British Isles, the sacrifices found at Stonehenge (one of an archer) the charred remains of people and animals, the correlation of these sites with burial grounds and the placement of these stone monoliths as a way of depicting seasons, when Stonehenge in its final stage coexisted with older wood henges.

Were these stone monuments, in lieu of the wooden structures, simply an advancement in construction; and/or rather, construction as statement, a statement of progress and a progression from indigenous, hunter-gatherer culture into the agribusiness and a more stratified culture, a culture where more and more depended upon the commerce of a few.

All cultures have been fascinated by the heavens, by the sun, stars and moon … and would, therefore, favor the foretelling of seasons; this is nothing new, but it is not much of a leap, either, to understand how farming became a way for those few, who had the foresight and the will, to gather more land for the production of food and therefore more wealth.  Stonehenge, it seems, would be a perfect way to gather and dispel information that all wanted and needed, and change the perspective of many in their gatherings at the site.

We are familiar, as well, how the beliefs of indigenous cultures can be used to inculcate a system that supports the agendas of powerful people … time and time again. The hunter-gatherers were more or less nomads, moving with the wild and benefiting from the forests. Some would train wolves to guard and herd a few domesticated animals; but, on the whole, this did not take on the scale of farming methods brought in by the Europeans. It might have been a benefit, therefore, to use pagan rituals to create a system that would support the farming culture, and thus Stonehenge in its final stage, created not only to predict the changing seasons but to promote the change to farming in society through ritual and sacrifice.

Farming brought increased populations to the area because of the greater abundance of food, which then produced and required more tilled soil and less forest. So many studies make no distinction between the indigenous populations that created earlier versions of the henge in wood to the final Stonehenge created from stone. It is also interesting that attribution is not only made to the pagans, who had thrived off forests for thousands of years, but also to the “druids”,with little evidence of their existence before 200 BC; when, in fact, construction of the “stone” henge built by 2500BC, the one we see today, was a practice brought by those European farmers who immigrated to the isles during that time. It seems most likely that it was under this particular influence that the stone monuments and burial mounds were built.

By 2500 BC, metals were brought to England and by 2000 BC most of the forests that covered the British Isles were a memory.  So much of what man calls progress ends up destroying parts of the natural world and I wonder, is it possible to change and broaden our perspective?

This painting is my vision of Stonehenge as a monument to the new culture of farming with the ghosts of a forest in the background as the land is cleared.

Some Prophetic Words from Leonardo daVinci

Da Vinci designed and created the specs for which vital materials were unavailable at the time.  He had the vision to see what was possible, understood the physics and the potential repercussions of development.  In a better world, what would be possible if those in charge had such breadth of mind and depth of heart?

On Metals – “There will issue from dark, gloomy caves something which will bring great sorrow, danger, and death on the whole human race; to many of those who seek it, it will after much suffering bring delight; but those who do not share in it will die in want and in distress.  It will engender unending treason; it will drive unhappy men to commit more murders, thefts, and acts of oppression; it will breed suspicion among those who seek it; it will destroy the freedom of free cities; it will take the lives of many; it will sow among men much fraud, deceit, and treason. 

O monstrous creature, it would be better for men if you returned to hell!  On account of you great forests are robbed of their trees and countless animals are robbed of their lives.”

On Man’s cruelty – “There will be seen on the earth animals which constantly fight among themselves, inflicting great harm and frequently death on each other.  Their enmity will know no bounds; their savage members will fell a great part of the trees in the vast forests of the world; and after they gorge themselves, they will continue to feed on their desire to inflict death and suffering and sorrow and fear and flight on all living creatures.  Through their measureless pride they will seek to raise themselves to heaven, but the excessive weight of their members will hold them fast to the earth.  Nothing will remain on the earth or under the earth and water that is not pursued, chased down, or destroyed; and it will be chased from country to country.  Their bodies will be the grave and passageway of all the living bodies which they have killed.

O world, why do you not open and hurl into the deep clefts of your abysses and caverns and no longer show to heaven such cruel and heartless monsters?”

Both quotes by Leonardo da Vinci are from Codex Atlanticus, codex in the Ambrosiana Library in Milan.  Published in eight folio volumes by Ulrico Hoepli, Milan for the Reale Accademia dei Lincei 1894-1904 and translated by Wade Baskins in his book, The Wisdom of Leonardo, pages 77-79.

Post originally published January 15, 2019

No Place for a Tars Sands Pipeline

It is unimaginable that we are still facing the prospect of an oil pipeline being constructed again through northern Minnesota where some of the most ecologically susceptible wetlands can be found, including transecting the Mississippi, endangering tribal lands and wild rice resources, and where three of the largest river systems in the north American continent can be found.  If we do not defend these systems here, then, where?

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/11/12/state-regulators-approve-line-3-permits-move-pipeline-closer-to-construction

https://www.ecowatch.com/enbridge-pipeline-minnesota-indigenous-climate-2648891014.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

posts about the proposed pipeline on Arterutan:

Comment on Enbridge Pipeline #3

On pending Polymet copper mine and Enbridge oil pipeline #3 …

 

Have we lived true to the Lazarus vision?

new_colossus_lazarus

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch. Whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning and her name

Mother of exiles.  From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips.  “Give me your tired. Your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

copyright 1883 Emma Lazarus

Turning Anger Into Positive Change …

Over the years, I have kept a file of poems, inspiring to me.

In memory of all those who have died in this year of a global pandemic where almost 240,000 (reported) have lost their lives to the disease in the United States alone … I wanted to quote from one of these.

Sent in to Jory Graham’s column by a reader (her name was not given) St Paul Dispatch published 5-15-1982:

I want someone angry when I die

To beat their fist at an empty sky,

To slap at the grabbing Godly wrist

And dare to shout, “Not this! Not this!”

To draw a hard and bitter line,

Stand firm against the Will Divine

And silence all talk of sovereignty

(That sure lament for you and me).

When you’ve turned well-past the funeral page,

That’s true, but first, let there be rage!

And not because I’m young or choice

Or in great affairs have the telling voice

Or am wealthy in the worldly view

Or have talent or worthy work to do.

No, for this alone be sick and sore,

That I loved you so and I am no more.

Lord let me leave or die with a sigh.

I want someone angry when I die.

anonymous

 

May all who have died in these disparate times not have died in vain … Let us be angry enough to make the changes we need for the survival of this lovely planet and the elevation of all to a more developed and inclusive society.

Autumn Maple

I pray that President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be supported in their efforts to make positive changes that will promote the well being and health of this global community.  That they will be encouraged to move in a direction that is economically and ecologically sustainable for the sake of this planet and the life that relies so heavily on the good judgment and ethics of our leaders … and for the sake of our democracy.

Wilderness Tourism versus Mining in the Arrowhead

Bear Head Lake, MN
Bear Head Lake, MN

One of the most beautiful wild areas in the world, with some of the last remaining original wolves … the source of three of the greatest river systems in North America.  This is a portion of the treasure that Minnesota holds in its boundaries.

What will remain if we choose mining over this?

 

For Love is Lord of All …

white_pine_thoreau

Life is fatal. It is not a question that we all die … but how we live.

To live is to love with a sense of community … since no one lives without the kindness and good will of others on some level. Happiness and survival, then, are linked by love; and health, gained by living in a mutual effort to make our lives as rich and meaningful as is possible in this very short time on Earth … leaving a better place for our children.

When we see others suffering, as a consequence, it is our family that we see suffering, since we are all part of this fabric of life, and our understanding, deep-rooted and wordless.  Clean food, water and air are basic. To destroy these things for the profit of a few is not healthy and it is, in fact, a sign of dysfunction.

What will we do about the assault on the health of this planet? Are we working to install the systems necessary for peaceful coexistence?  Are we, as President George Washington so wisely suggested “vindicating our rights with firmness and cultivating peace with sincerity”?  Are we building the resources for education of our children, all children, so that our species will evolve to a higher plain and wisdom of the past will not be lost?  Or, are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes?

Time will tell.  For the sake of this beautiful planet, may we act with love in our hearts.

Anita

Water

glacial waters
glacier lake in Alberta

In reverie, I remember

Water in golden light,

Lit like stars at midday

And moon in deepest night

 

Dark green with streaks of blue

Silken streaming strands,

Waves crashing into foam

On shores of ancient sands

rushing water

Salty turquoise seas

Deep in days begun

Reflecting heaven’s hues

Mirroring the sun

 

And when the skies cloud gray

Bringing summer rains,

With water on the rooftops

Snaking down the window panes

 

Steeped in pools and gardens,

On cars and in the streets,

Glazing steel and sidewalks,

Rippling shadows on the sheets

 

In reverie, I remember

Water running wild, white,

In silken threads streaming,

Strands of golden light.

 

 

©1979//2020

 

 

 

 

Chequamegon Bay Sunrise

It was beautiful one Sunday in September a few years back, even as wintry breath chilled the morning air, and brisk breezes stirred what was a mostly sunny day. Hours before the library doors were open, as I waited in the warmth of the sun, I was reminded of the sands at Big Bay on Madelaine Island, water lapping on the shore and the chill off Lake Superior. Lying on a bench in an empty ball field, I felt transported to the shores of Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior once again, when the children were young and time seemed suspended.

There were days we would hike looking for blueberries in the woods, and raspberries along the abandoned railroad tracks before it was converted to a hiking trail. There were swims in the water so cold your lips would turn blue. The pink glow of morning light over the bay, the memory of a kite flown so high we thought it was lost in the clouds, the brown bat in our cabin, the cold swim in water so clear you could drink it, huge moths like small birds in the night … all of these memories flooded over me in detail as if they had occurred only a moment before.

The moonrises and the sunrises, the thunderstorms approaching from across Superior were experiences so deeply impressed. Visions of the natural world, the colors, life so real, so profound, the silences to think, to recall, to meditate, to breathe….

Too soon the city calls, though, the sounds of traffic, engines grinding their way to one event or another, one task or another beckons; and soon all but the sounds of silence can be heard. We survive, we make a living and all too soon forget to live. It gave me peace, if only for a moment, to recall what life can be. As a friend once asked: “If not for joy, then what?”

Chequamegon Sunrise

no place for mining …

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead of Minnesota

We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from the masterpieces of creation. Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota.

What profit is there if not life itself? It is undeniable that people in the area need jobs … although, who of these long term residents came with the intent to mine this jewel? If given the opportunity to work in a sustainable activity, who would not choose to do so? What kind of opportunities could be created with a mindset that encourages positive long term results over short term gains and financial profiteering? Don’t we owe it to ourselves and life itself to make the effort?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

 

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Links to documents on landscape ecology ….

SDEIS_comment_pdf

faq-sulfide-mining-minnesota-truth-report_pdf

GMIN-TR-1989-16_copper_pdf

MPCA Rainy River Headwaters Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report 2017

articles_copper_mining_docx

copper_mining_docx

M-159 Babbitt_copper_pdf

A Less Than Perfect Union

A Case for Justice

The Nature of Intelligence and the Process of Peace_pdf

Man as Nature

Enbridge Line 3 Report and effected waterways and bodies

Air Quality Permit Comment

State of the BWCA 2018 Friends of The Boundary Waters

USDA report School Trust Land Exchange Superior National Forest 2015

MDNR report on Mn State School Trust Land Exchange Case #4558

water_neMN

Water Facts and Human Society

imperiled_waters_xls

Will a copper mine in Babbitt reach the dimensions of the Hull Rust Mine?

If lawsuits fail to stop copper mining in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, the dimensions of copper-sulfide mining could reach the proportions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing, Minnesota. 

Babbitt, where the proposed NorthMet copper mine would be located, is the doorway to the BWCA at Birch Lake and located in the Laurentian Uplands,  a recharge area for three of the greatest river systems in North America.  Can we, can the world, afford to ignore the impact of our failure to protect precious water resources in such an area?  Water, the most precious of resources.

A few articles on what is happening now as the process moves on appeal:

PolyMet water permit heads back to Court of Appeals

DFL committee adopts resolution calling for moratorium on copper-nickel mining, again exposing rift within party

PolyMet permit: Secrecy, manipulation and a low bar for Minnesota agencies

 

Why was anything forbidden in Eden if God had created a perfect world?

Man as Nature and Acceptance as a Path

Red Roses in Autumn

Man has evolved into a creature that deems, or dreams, himself outside the constructs of the natural world. He defines himself as a creator, in essence, somehow superior to all other creatures and capable of defining his world in any terms he chooses. The problem lies in man’s failure to understand and accept that he is inextricably linked to nature and he too, like all things, is subject to its laws. Like the elements, all life and man, Nature is a process and God lies in the wisdom of this process. Man has yet to fully accept the process.

All creatures survive by procreation and predation. In life’s quest for itself, we are often pawns of biological rhythms and instincts; and so, mankind envisions himself capable of rising above this all too ‘sordid’ affair. In this effort, he fails to acknowledge and accept essential qualities of life and, as a consequence, loses sight of vital solutions.

Chance and change, movement, the nature of life. There is no life without death or night without day. We rush foolishly to our own destruction when we deny the very truths of existence. In fear of our own mortality and searching for eternity, man has wandered from the natural world and lost himself.

I am. In these two words, a world, a universe. Acceptance is everything, and life is born of this first step. Judgments tend to separate us, categorize and catalog us, negate qualities in some and elevate those in others, in the end doing us all injustice. In our unreasonable search for perfection, we often fail to see the beauty before our eyes, in our fellow man and miss countless opportunities.

Nature seeks balance and evolves perpetually based on outcomes. Watch an otter whose catch has been taken by a coyote. He complains and fights, as long as there is a chance he might prevail. In the end, he accepts the outcome and begins another hunt, no wailing that life is unfair or questioning his very existence. He is simply accepting the facts and the flow of life. Man is the only creature that perpetually refuses to accept natural outcomes, including himself. He builds dams in an effort to control the river and succeeds in destroying its essence.

Mankind’s egoism and lack of understanding perpetuate greed and destruction, like an allergic reaction attacking the body as if it were the enemy instead of a wellspring. He searches for the ideal beyond existence while the real prize unfolds before him every day, every moment. In this quest driven by fear, he misses the only perfection that life holds. Is he afraid that in a moment of clarity he may discover his true self, that he, after all, is no better or worse than any other animal, a wave on the shore, or the moon in its perpetual cycle?

A friend once asked, rhetorically: “Why was anything forbidden in Eden if God had created a perfect world?’ A world in utter completeness and balance, the “perfect” world does not exist. As soon as any balance has been achieved, life requires its undoing and in the end, we are unable to appreciate, in essence, the rose. We remain fixed on an idea of beauty as if it were a finite definable everlasting thing. Melancholy sits beside us while we contemplate how fleeting beauty and impossible the dream. In our sorrow and our unwillingness to accept Nature, we miss the symphony.

Man falls into a trap on this path. He cannot accept failure in his search for Eden, and cannot accept that this search is based on a false premise. Seeking balance is a natural phenomenon but it becomes a problem when the search focuses on perfection as a static, narrowly defined commodity. Man cannot own the dream and so he becomes contemptuous of himself for this perceived failure. Where he might instill love and promote cooperation, acceptance, he fosters doubt, hate and fear, continuing a cycle of violence with dismal futures for the planet. Mankind spirals down a path of destruction and self-hate, missing true potentials in his brothers and sisters since he is loath to see these same potentials in himself.

How do we define success in life? Is it based on some narrow precept, or has it been fitted with tolerance and love, with the knowledge that not all is perfect, least of all Mankind? Does it come with acceptance that the dance is a product of imbalance and imperfection, an understanding that at any moment, to be aware, to be alive is success itself? In our search for something outside of reality, we miss all that truly matters!

In our determination to make distinctions, we judge ourselves superior to the natural world and surmise that “improvements” to all things can be made through man’s inventions. We can never create anything outside of nature; and since no positive change is possible without truth, self-awareness is crucial. The belief that our species trumps all others and rises above the forces of nature, that we can circumvent these forces defies all logic. Simply observe. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Within this framework, life is movement from one state of being to another; and man’s machinations are subject to no less. If we fail to respect our true selves, the natural instincts that created man and the imperfections implicit in all life, the world created from our ignorance will not be fit for life.

Man alters natural codes that took millennia to evolve. He splits atoms and leaves the waste to pollute the earth. He destroys mountaintops and calls the product “clean coal”, pollutes our seas with oil, our air and earth with its derivatives and calls it necessary. In a rush to glean the resources of this planet, he makes choices based on profit rather than sanity and sustainability. Man, in his renegade actions, refuses to practice common sense and beats a path of environmental ruin. He is a hurricane with the potential to change course through self-awareness and respect, perhaps; but, we may never know, without the recognition that we are all part and parcel of this natural world.

Our life’s safari involves a hunt for more than food and shelter. Like all living things, we reach for light and that light is in us all. All Nature moves beyond the mundane in this dimension. Birds sing at dawn. Squirrels collect articles that have no practical use – like items in a child’s pocket. All creatures appreciate beauty, and, like the otter, recognize truth. For what is truth but a natural outcome, and beauty the same? Our fate may very well be determined by our relationship to this process and our respect for truth.

In our quest to define a world in defiance of natural laws, mankind is racing down an incline blindfolded, without brakes and fully loaded. Venturing into abstraction, we stretch the bounds of reality by searching for meaning beyond existence and perverting a basic instinct for beauty into a dogged search for perfection and for immortality, without understanding or respect for the nature of all things. While we strive to realize our dreams, it would be wise to keep a watchful eye on the road, do proper maintenance, and obey the laws of physics, at least.

Inseparable from the natural world, man finds his dawn in beauty, but beauty is not a static ideal. It is the well from which all life drinks, ever-changing, dynamic, boundless and perfect in its imperfection, an essential quality of life. Acceptance, born of tolerance and truth, synchronizes with immutable forces that create and sustain life, in essence, the only Eden possible.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

Originally published 2004

What Will the Future Hold For the USPS?

mpls central usps
Minneapolis Post Office central on the Mississippi River

USPS leadership under Louis Dejoy has yet to be tested since he was just appointed; but his past of cutting vital jobs and making decisions that negatively affect the welfare of workers does not bode well.

By the look of it in Minneapolis, this process has already begun.  Delays in mail are apparent taking two to three times longer; and, I wonder, what will happen to vote by mail ballots?  Will our bill payments arrive in a timely manner?  Will the costs become prohibitive to consumers?  What will this new leadership mean to the welfare of all who depend on a not-for-profit mail delivery system?

I am concerned about the future of this venerable institution for many reasons.  The United Postal Service has been a business that operated under a model of serving public interests as it’s bottom line, and there are many more worthy things it could be empowered to do along these lines.  What will the future of the USPS hold under the leadership of Louis Dejoy, I wonder?

To be continued ….

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/14/postal-service-trump-dejoy-delay-mail/%3foutputType=amp

https://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2020/05/new-postmaster-genera-expert-job-killer world article on Dejoy

Racist, sexist, job-killing, union-busting robber baron appointed to head USPS

https://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2020/05/new-postmaster-general-expert-job-killer

Soul Search

In isolation the mind begins to wander the landscape.  In this case, the landscape of a global pandemic.  We are social creatures and by being so,  we need each other.  We experience joy from sharing the lives of others in a real world.  We prioritize many of our activities based on friends and family, based on the next outing or gathering with those we love.  When this is curtailed, as it has been now, many are at a loss, being deprived of these significant and not so significant “others” in our lives.  Because, there is no one that does not truly matter.  We are human.  What then do we prioritize when confronted with ourselves, alone?

We all need food, shelter, clothing and such.  It’s not too hard to define these essentials, but what of a more profound purpose?   Do we live to eat, sleep, inhabit a planet, day after work-a-day.  Life can lose its meaning in the drudgery of a daily grind when we are left alone to ponder too long without human comfort.  While many, out of work and in great need, have little opportunity to contemplate much beyond their basic needs, is it a luxury to expect something beyond our ken?

What is at the heart of our priorities, beyond the mundane?  To love and be loved? To survive at all costs?  What determines our potential and our purpose?

I have been a lifelong artist.  Drawing since I was a child, and writing as long, and always in a quandary about the way in which we treat each other … over the years, seeing people dealt preferentially as though they were somehow more, or less important based on the color of their skin, ethnicity, sex, age or circumstance. All of us, a small part of a larger picture.  What is it all about?  Survival of the fittest as Darwin proposed?  Who are we, any one of us, in the larger plan?

Are we being made aware in the outcries of people so long abused, an environment so sorely used, that something has gone wrong and that perhaps we don’t really know ourselves all too well.   In isolation, faced with our very souls, can we say that we have done our best with what we were given?

There is a joy to being part of a group in which you feel loved … but do we, in effect, delay our own development, and that of society, by refusing to stand up, for fear of reprisal? We go along to get along, as a rule, and punish those who don’t fit the mold in some form or another.  As a result there is a somewhat homogeneous society that is subservient to the rule of the powerful, making change sometimes impossible.  The pressure to “fit in” is enormous.

 What does one do after spending a lifetime betraying the one person, the only person we have any control over in this life?  What do we do to determine our true priorities and potentials in the midst of other people’s opinions and priorities?  Does it take isolation in a pandemic to focus our attention on the truth of our own existence; and what will we find?

We most often believe what we’re told as children.  Depending on our own circumstance, these beliefs can help us grow, while some may hold us back and, depending on our own natures, can also lead us on a life-long search for understanding.  Beliefs from childhood may not be rational and can lie deep in a subconscious of untested assumptions, affecting our lives in profound and sometimes very harmful ways.  We become powerless to change them unless we face them at the core.  A difficulty compounded by the fact that many of these beliefs are protected by fear based strategies.  What if I had tested these early on and confronted the fact that I was not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own?  That caring for myself was the ground upon which all change is possible.  The beginning and the end.  From the bottom, all.

 In my search for happiness, I fell upon three goals that Einstein felt worthy above all.  These were truth, beauty and kindness.  I wondered why he didn’t mention love and, as I grew, came to understand that he had defined the essence of love in these three words.  Those who deal with others on a level of this magnitude, know true beauty.

In our daily lives, every day, we have these challenges.  Even the mundane things we do are choices and these choices involve an attitude that encompasses our lives.  What do we find worthy of our attention?What is essential and what is not?  How to decide?  Our yearnings are there for a reason.  When we’re hungry, lonely, angry, sad, happy or fearful, nervous, grateful, ashamed … these are all flags telling us what is needed, what not, what our bodies and souls require at any given moment.  To discount these signals is a mistake.  To address them, understand them, essential to our natures and, truly, the good of the whole planet.

There are those who sacrifice themselves to a cause and enjoy it; deny their own pain and their needs and march on.  How much more could we all do if we listened more.  Not only to the needs of others, but to our own needs as well and, by doing so, complete the circle.  In the end, we are always left alone with that one person that requires our acceptance more than any other, the only one who will shadow you all your life.  Have we done right by the life we were given.

If we fail ourselves, in the end, there’s a toll to pay and a reckoning … a life betrayed.  Was it one fulfilled or left in a quandary with regrets that haunt?  Did we embrace our friends or turn to welcome our foes who only pretended and played at being friends?  How can we presume to love anyone if not ourselves, first?

We have choices.  We make these choices based on many factors, but at the core of this are two.  One who observes and knows, another who assesses and draws conclusions based on what has been taught and experienced.  Both need to be reconciled and integrated into an environment lived, but not at the expense of the truth.  Who we are, truly, can never be sidetracked for expedience, the will of others, or pleasure of a transient nature without losing the only thing that really matters.

What is this “one thing” and why does this matter?  Words are difficult in describing something as monumental as a soul.  What does it weigh?  What does it look like – how does it “exist” and how can anything be no-thing and still be?

We see with our eyes and know in our hearts.  We read, write, and know through experience, action.  Seeing is believing; but not didactically.  We all understand in our own way.  Most things are more than their descriptions, more than their elements.  We know this without words.  And so, the truth of a living creature, more than the sum of it’s parts.  There are some that believe we are just that, no more than the sum of our parts.  But each layer that unfolds finds another layer equally profound.  The search goes on infinitesimally.

Is the soul a bio-mechanical substrate to a physical structure?  Explainable in neuron connections and chemical reactions?  Is the soul simply a name for this unknown?  Does it really matter whether we can break it down into words, descriptions that we can catalog into a book of known “fact”?  Is it enough that we feel the presence of something beyond our knowing?  Can we respect the truth that calls us into action?

I was born whole with desires and a personality that have changed little since that date.  There have been lessons and layers of etiquette and rules placed, desires swayed and constricted to comply and to get along, to grow in knowledge, to open and expand awareness, to narrow and focus.  We grow into an environment willingly and unwillingly.  We broker our lives so that we may live and enjoy the company of others, so that we may express ourselves – some truly and some not so.  Life is a battleground of lives lost, lives lived fully and not so fully; but without truth, a soul cannot be mended.

Why some would want to destroy for the sake of cash, the babble of a market hellbent on profit at all costs, can be understood by one universal fact.  Marketeers who disregard the laws of nature and those who deal in violence of all kinds have betrayed themselves and lost their souls.  Believing that love is a fool’s choice and a lie, they don’t love themselves and can’t love anyone else.  These are the ones that lost faith for lack of love, and betrayed their child’s heart.  They’ve misdirected their own yearning into a scheme to define themselves in monetary terms.  The more money, the better.  Beyond necessity, beyond all.  

Love or lack of, a powerful force in all our lives.  Do we love to fulfill procreative purposes, prolong the survival of a species?  Do we love to maintain social units in a greater plan?  We are.  We live.  We are inspired and move with the wind in a tide of humanity.  What does life hold for any if not finally to “be”, respecting ourselves, each and everyone  … building upon a foundation of acceptance and truth?  Our senses direct us at every fork in the road, if we pay attention.  To be deaf to that drumbeat, and disrespectful of the love in view creates a void.

To understand ourselves better is to respect the process of living in accordance with our true natures and life on this planet.  Our senses lead the way.  We know in our gut when our actions bode ill.  Our emotions tell us every moment if we are moving toward health and well-being as individuals and as a species.  To ignore our souls is to create dis-ease.

Most of us realize that we may not recognize a lie; but we all, without exception, know the truth, no matter the form.  At its core this strikes us universally, because we sense those things deeply that are life-affirming; and we retain memories of those times when our senses were awakened in moments of beauty.  Isolation in this world-wide pandemic makes it even clearer that the soul is this…the beauty we sense and the truth we acknowledge.  Acceptance is everything.  

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

June 29, 2020 / rev. December 25, 2020

The Dilemma of Sisyphus

On the way to a better world, have we become like Sisyphus returning again and again to the same task with no end in sight? How do we create a standard that rings true to all individuals and motivates on a universal plane to create a just society systemically? Is this possible? The actions we take today provide the grist for our future. What will we choose?  Can we evolve to address the global crises we face today or are we blowing in the wind subject to things beyond our ken?  Hope says we can, fear supports the cynic.

When emergencies strike, the weaknesses and strengths in society are exposed as things fall apart.  We build and those buildings are destroyed.  We’re born and we die.  The whole of life is based on a process of change, creation, evolution and destruction.  History repeats the same series of events with different names and dates.  We glorify war and heroes that die for lies fed by those in power, while the few reap rewards off the blood of many who are told, often, that they will get their reward in heaven.  We build societies on stories that goodness will prevail, when the opposite is what we see.  A not too solid foundation.

Words.  What of this life?  What of right and wrong?  What of truth, beauty and kindness?  Where do these figure in this plan?  Only after we die?  And if goodness doesn’t matter, then shouldn’t we expect failure on a monumental level as we are, in fact, seeing now?  Could it be that in the struggle for survival some important things were lost along the way?  Perhaps the soul of a child that longed for more than a worldly store?

Words will amount to nothing if we do not act creatively with the health of an entire ecosystem in mind.  We are part and parcel to the whole, and self realization commands positive growth, evolution based on immutable truth demands it.  We are the only revolution possible as such.

****

When we approach the world with open eyes, fearless, with an intent to know rather than judge, what do we see?  One very simple lesson: access to resources is essential to the health of a society and its survival; and therefore, the health of our environment, a necessity.  The logic of this equation should be self evident.  Even in abundance, wars are fought to expand territory for fear of shortages due to theft, drought … hard times.  Hunger, then, one of the starkest foes and greatest motivators in the destruction of our environment.  For those who have never known hunger, this should be a warning and a testament to the shortcomings of unregulated capitalism, motivated by profit at the expense of the common good.  In this global pandemic and climate destruction, the deficits of this approach have been left naked and wanting.

If a wolf crosses the territory of another pack, he will be challenged.  In most cases,  the stronger survive, though luck may sometimes intervene … not often.  This highlights two outlooks on human survival. One, where hope prevails and, another, where strategy holds sway.  Some look to the hope of better days and others know better, they plan.  

What, I wonder, is our plan?  Or will we, simply, cast our fate to the wind?  There are so many fronts to fight this, which may be, our final war.  What do we use to motivate our base if not the welfare of all?  Like a spring, the benefits will come.

The Nature of Intelligence and the Process of Peace

The Nature of Intelligence and the Process of Peace_pdf

Originally published July 28, 2014

I have long appreciated an interpretation of Lao Tzu’s Tao teh King by Archie J Bahm, who was a professor of philosophy at the University of New Mexico in the 1950’s. He interpreted “tao teh king” as “nature and intelligence”, and so appreciated Lao Tzu the scholar, librarian, and a man who did not intend his writings as “religion”, but a handbook on living intelligently through observation of the natural order. In this essay, I have taken from Professor Bahm’s text, published by Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, New York; and cited where necessary integrating with my own philosophy – a philosophy that has in part developed in the light of Lao Tzu’s great book and Archie Bahm’s insightful words.

At the basis of all, it appears, that for peace to reign one must “accept what is as it is” and in doing so “teach by example” [p 12 II]. “All distinctions naturally appear as opposites” and “opposites get their meaning from each other (finding) their completion only through each other” [p 12, II]. It follows, then, that “in conflicts between opposites, the more one attacks his seeming opponent … the more he defeats himself (and thereby demonstrates that only Nature, and not any opposite abstracted from existence) is self-sufficient [p14 V].

Acting with acceptance, essentially, we move closer to this ideal of self-sufficiency, a state that is necessary for freedom and a condition for any long lasting peace. Essential to this process is a healthy respect for, and acceptance of oneself, first and foremost, outside of the opinions of others. As a consequence our hearts turn outward and can accept the differences and the natures of others, in turn, allowing a process of peace to occur through respect, fostering freedom for others to act according to their own true needs.

Once achieved, “acceptance makes no distinctions of superiority and inferiority [p13, III]” and then true devotion to tasks rather than rivalries will prevail; envy being unaroused, people will be satisfied with things as they are [paraphrased from p 13, III]; understanding that “Nature contains nothing but natures; and these natures are nothing over and above Nature” [p 14, IV] … each and every thing being an essential part of the whole.

While Nature treats opposites impartially, the “best way to conduct oneself may be observed in the behavior of water’. “Water is useful to every living thing, yet it does not demand pay in return for its services; it does not even require that it be recognized, esteemed, or appreciated for its benefits” [p 16, VIII]. And yet, there is no life without it.

“This illustrates how intelligent behaviors closely approximate the behavior of Nature itself” [p 16, VIII].

“If experience teaches that houses should be built close to the ground,

That friendship should be based upon sympathy and good will,

That good government employs peaceful means of regulation,

That business is more successful if it employs efficient methods,

That wise behavior adapts itself appropriately to the particular circumstances,

All of this is because these are the easiest ways.

If one proceeds naturally, without ambition or envy, everything works out for the best” [p16, VIII].
Entities based on money are not drawn toward the easiest means, but the most profitable. As an example, multi-national corporations ship materials to other countries for processing by poorly paid workers for markets at the source, wasting resources, energies so that a few can profit from the desperation of many. There is no efficiency or real intelligence in these means and these inefficiencies foresee their ends.

Troubled societies, as we are experiencing now, based on money, elevating paid services and profit confuse the means with the ends; and our end, according to the Tao, is to “realize the potentialities of (our) indescribable original nature(s)” [p17, X].

Nature “procreates all things and then devotes itself to caring for them … willingly gives life, without first asking whether creatures will repay for its services” and, so, it “provides a pattern to follow, without requiring anyone to follow it. This is the nature of intelligent activity” [p18, X]. Concerned with genuine needs we avoid being confused by the superficial and can distinguish one from the other.

In this troubled world, temptations based on what money can buy, on capital gains lead to extremes. The very thing Lao Tzu advised against. Envy, greed and aggressive behavior trump intelligent activity and our original natures are sacrificed to the cruel intentions of those who would force their wills on others – all to obtain more of what will never bring anyone true happiness, and therefore, peace. In the end, Nature will do as it always does, impartially allowing the inherent initiation and completion of all things, without prejudice … our actions spelling our fates.

This is why, now more than ever, we must concern ourselves with our own inner peace. It is, as the Tao explained, of primary importance. “The inner self is our true self” and “in order to realize our true self, we must be willing to live without being dependent upon the opinions of others” [p20, XIII]. As a consequence of this “self-sufficiency” we will then act accordingly and feel no need to force
others to our own will.

Assertions, envy, and actions out of sync with ourselves, in essence, upset the balance and provide endless opportunity for strife. We are all better served when individuals are given the opportunity to develop fully, truly. War is a sign that this is not happening.

Opposition, being inherent in Nature, as are the principles of initiation and completion, is eternal. As we start acting naturally, by being ourselves, this will be accepted and extreme measures avoided.
The nature of intelligence then, like water, finds the path of least resistance and avoids conflict. Inner peace augments the natural order. Accepting that there is a beginning and end to all things, that opposition is perpetual, a defining element and source of growth, we will take the middle ground in our disagreements.

Over two thousand years ago, Lao Tzu understood that the source of peace lies within. Wise individuals who had found this peace have spoken. Yet we continue to make distinctions, passing judgment and acting out of these misconceptions. When we understand as a society and act accordingly, allowing each thing to realize its true nature, more people are likely to find peace in their lives.

Water Facts and Human Society

Mundane are the myriad of truths about water.  Still, that does not change the fact that water is essential, nor that death is an immediate consequence to life without water.  We see the results of our failed relationship with water in the news every day; and every day that we ignore the fact that our relationship with this vital resource must change, we come closer to extinction.  According to the World Health Organization, at least 2 billion people drink from contaminated water in 2019 and by 2025 half of the world’s population will be living in water stressed areas.  Eighty percent of all diseases in the developing world are water-related.

As third world countries develop, land becomes a commodity rather than a resource for all.  Farms are turned under and communities laid waste for profit.  Numbers become more important than quality and therefore population becomes its own worst outcome… because, there is money to make from the many.  When lives come cheaply, the rich make profit from the destitution.  In desperation, people have limited choices and those who would use their desperation do.  Facts speak for themselves and this is nothing new.  Human civilization, as we know it, needs to make some vital changes and much sooner than we have planned.  The truth is what it has always been and will remain.

These are the cold hard facts of winner take all.  This kind of struggle will be the end of us; the problem compounded by our short sightedness as a species in our relationship to water.  We use it, and since approximately 70% of the earth is covered by water it appears to be abundantly available, except when it isn’t.  A common known statistic is that only 2.5% of this water is fresh and only 1% of that is available.

Minnesota is at the heart of three of the greatest rivers systems in the North American continent, the Mississippi River, the St Louis River and the Rainy River, draining into the Gulf, into the Great Lakes at Lake Superior, and Hudson Bay respectively.  Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water by surface in the world (Lake Bakail the largest by volume) lies at the mouth of the St Louis River, which is the largest river to drain into Superior.  The volume of fresh water in the Great Lakes runs second only to Lake Bakail and contains 21% of the world’s freshwater.

As you can imagine, the area covered by the three river systems sourced in Minnesota is enormous; and so, the importance of keeping these systems healthy and, in effect, the world secure.   The Hudson Bay drainage basin is estimated at 1,490,00 square miles.  The St Louis river, at 3,634 square miles and flowing into an irreplaceable estuary and the Great Lakes.  The Mississippi drainage basin at 1,151,000 square miles is only exceeded by the Hudson Bay drainage basin.  At the same time that organizations abound proposing to clean up and make sustainable the systems in place, most are ignoring the “elephant in the room” in Minnesota.

As Minnesotans debate tirelessly over the past almost 50 years concerning mining in the Laurentian Divide, mining continues.  It pollutes our precious water reserves in the ground, the air and waterways, lakes and wetlands.  The facts of this toxic pollution abound with acid rain destroying the forests, waste from waste ponds seeping into the ground and into Lake Superior and throughout the region reducing the quality of life and making the St Louis River and its estuary into an “area of concern”.  None of this, though, prevents consideration of the area for the most toxic mining proposals, opening up this area surrounding the BWCA and the BWCA to copper mining, all while declaring that copper is needed for a sustainable new energy future.  What future can we have without fresh water?  How secure is a country without potable reserves of freshwater?

There are 260 species of fish that must imbide the waters of the Mississippi as its pollution runs downstream.  What of the 326 some species of birds, 60% of those of North America, that use the Mississippi River basin?  Forty percent of migratory waterfowl on this continent rely on the Mississippi River corridor.  If we hold these creatures lives cheaply, how cheap do we hold our own then?  These are the very lives that our lives depend upon.

I offer Minnesota as only one example of the way in which our thinking needs to change.  If one thinks of the “whole” of an activity, the costs of that activity will become clear.  Mining and other like activities cannot be thought of as solutions when these are, in themselves, the problem.  The human species is tireless in its search for “newer and better”; but have we forgotten the things we’ve left behind?  Millions of years cannot be discounted in a moment; and this “moment” of the last two hundred years does not a nuanced progression make.

We are called on to rethink our assessment of the substance of water and the amount that we actually use in any given activity.  We need to call on the past for enlightenment in the effort.  We are not in opposition to the nature surrounding us, we are at its core.  We destroy and treat thoughtlessly the very thing that we need for our survival.  For instance, in Professor Tony Allen’s conceptualization of water, using the phrase “virtual water,” we are provided with a more truthful view of actual water consumption.  Each plateful of food, each activity, whether single or as a company, a community … takes on a broader impact in our minds.  We are not simply eating a steak, we are consuming the water that it took to produce that steak.  We are not only driving an automobile, we are responsible for the water it took to mine the steel and other components for that car, the pollution of water caused by its production, as well as the gasoline it takes to run.

The bottom line should never be money, which most of us will never see.  The bottom line is, for a fact, water.  Without it, there is no life.  It will be the cause of future wars and great distress if we choose to ignore the facts.

For so many, survival means making money and success is counted rather than lived.  We match our worth with worth in quantity rather than quality.  How big are our houses, how fancy our cars, our lifestyles….  As a society, we judge others by the beauty of their surface rather than the content of their character.  Is it any wonder that the wealth of this Earth is being lost and degraded with this point of view?  Is a beautiful wild place but a place to exploit for profit or recreation?  Does our current outlook on our own happiness make for one that runs deep and creates long lasting futures for any of us?  Have we forgotten the very things we need for true happiness?

Our bodies contain up to 70% water and some organisms contain up to 90% water.  It is the first building material of a cell, regulating temperature, transporting and making available the food we eat through the blood stream.  Water flushes waste, it lubricates joints, acts as a shock absorber throughout the body and, importantly, the brain and spinal cord, and among so many other things it enhances mental function.  The brain contains 73-75% water.  Adults need at least 2.3 to 3.2 quarts of water each day in their food or otherwise, for survival.  Perhaps education, so dearly needed, will make the change?

I fear that humans will do as humans do, so often, thoughtlessly.  We live in the moment.  Most of us don’t plan well for our futures.  We love, we hate, we dance, we sing, we make war, love, and work for the ones we love.  We are often controlled by passions of the moment; and this makes us all the more susceptible to the ones who don’t.  What will make the difference?  Perhaps we need to love ourselves better and more fully? What could be more important in that effort than water?

I have included a few of the links visited for this paper, below:

USGS  Watersheds and Drainage Basins:

https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/watersheds-and-drainage-basins?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/watershed-map-north-america

Visually understanding the amount of water compared to our planet size:

https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/all-earths-water-a-single-sphere

Water uses and percentages in our bodies …:

https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

Up to minute stats on usage amounts. Envisioning “virtual water”:

https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/average-daily-water-usage

Quick Wikipedia facts on water:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water

For love of wilderness and the health of our waters.

Anita  Dedman-Tillemans

August 2019

Appeals Court puts stay on key permit for Polymet.

Concerns are monumental for good reason. What could be more important for national security than the safety of our waters?

Court puts key PolyMet copper-nickel mine permit on hold

Court panel delivers victory for PolyMet opponents

https://waterlegacy.org/polymet_mine/

https://waterlegacy.org/video/

https://www.friends-bwca.org/blog/polymet-mpca-scandal

https://www.friends-bwca.org/

On Courage and Kindness

Those who love know that they are not alone and have the courage it takes to love.  They know that love is full of pain as well as joy, but they would not live without it.

In the words of Albert Einstein:

The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.

“The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.”

~ Albert Einstein

Lake Nipigon at Black Sand Provincial Park

Unaware of the History of Nipigon/Black Sands, we visited this beautiful area in the early 1980’s and observed from afar in  orange haze-filled skies the burning of forested wetlands in the BWCA and northern climes of Minnesota.  Apparently ignited from the embers of a camper’s fire, it burned most the week of our stay.

One of the experiences that remains of that time, forever etched, was the quiet, as they say, a quiet that could be “cut with a knife”.  My two children were 6 and 7 as they explored the forest with us and built their “dock” on the shore, hiked and swam all that week. It was an experience I am sure that I will never have again.

There were “no see ’ems” that left their bloody mark, biting flies and wildflowers, a cougar running on the road with tail up before it disappeared into the woods.  I saw my first wild rose there, and took my first make-shift shower under a tree.  We existed without radio … because there was no reception.  We sat around a campfire with toads singing to the light and told scary stories  … one of them, the Black Cat, by Edgar Allen Poe.

Those first few days were beautiful and vibrant, full of life everywhere, songs of birds and animals … and then, the air stilled, except for the rustle of some large animal outside our camper door in the pitch black of that Ontario night.  We thought it might have been a bear.  By the next day, we could sense the change.

When my family went into the nearest town to get supplies, I stayed.  With no reception on the radio, there was a profound silence.  All I had known, all my life, was sound … noise from cars, from television, radio, lawnmowers, the hum of appliances, the assault of noise, constant and enduring.  The silence was at once deafening and an awakening.

In those hours before the children returned with their father, it was all so apparent that the forest inhabitants knew something we did not.  The sound of the car and the voices of my family reassured me that I was not alone, that this was not my imagination and something was definitely amiss.  As the sun developed a haze and the blue sky clouded with a veil of smoke, it became clear what the little creatures around us had known for more than a day already.

We found information from venturing into town for the news and stayed at the park for a little longer before our vacation had ended.  In the week that we were there, it was a jewel.  A jewel to know that places like this still existed.  It was an honor to have been able to see, to sense the peace of that place, to leave a clean campsite and know now that those who cared for this beautiful place thousands of years, will have their home back. May the whole of society begin to do the same as these people did.  May we leave this beautiful campsite, Earth, as we found it.  As a wise old white man, once said:

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.  ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Comment on Enbridge Pipeline #3

Department of Natural Resources
Attn: Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Applications
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

May 8, 2019

 

Re: Comment on:

Utility Crossing License for State Land,

Utiliity Crossing License for Public Water,

Work in Public Waters for Public Water Wetlands on Private Land,

Work in Public Waters for Willow River Bridge,

Water Appropriation for Hydrostatic Testing and Horizontal Directional Drilling,

Water Appropriation for Trench and Construction Dewatering,

Water Appropriation for Dust Control, Water Appropriation for Construction near Gully 30,

Threatened and Endangered Species Taking Permit,

Calcareous Fen Management Plan (Gully 30)

 

To those this may concern:

(Corrected copy May 9, 2019 5:58pm)
As we move forward into a new era where the prospect of mining, transporting and use of fossil fuels bodes poorly for our long term survival, how do we transition to a new energy economy without destroying the natural resources life requires … like water? I believe the building and maintaining of oil pipelines in a water dependent ecosystem like that of Northern Minnesota is not the way; and, so, I object to the Enbridge pipeline #3.

The route for Enbridge’s oil pipeline, as proposed and approved, will cross 12 Minnesota counties and at least 68 lakes and rivers in this rich, biodiverse ecosystem:

Line 3 will travel through Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Clearwater, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin, Carlton counties in Minnesota. Line 3 will enter Minnesota by crossing the Red River entering Kittson and then move into Marshall County where it will cross the Tamarac River, Middle River and the Snake before entering Pennington County, where it will cross the Red Lake River. At this point it will move into Red Lake County where it will cross the Clearwater River before going into Polk County crossing at State Ditch Sixty One. With more tributaries to cross Line 3 will be heading into Clearwater County where it will cross, among others, Lost River, Silver Creek, West Four Legged Lake, the Mississippi River in Bear Creek Township and La Salle Creek in Itasca State Park. At this point, it will move through Paul Bunyan State Forest and south past many lakes and over the Straight River out of Park Rapids, over the Shell River and then in an easterly direction over Crow Wing River, then south into Wadena County and Huntersville State Forest where it will cross the Shell River again and the Crow Wing River within Huntersville State Forest. Once leaving Wadena, the line 3 pipeline will move through Cass County south of the Leech Lake Reservation through more water dependent areas, over Pine River and into Crow Wing County’s upper NW corner, at which point it reenters Cass County crossing water features and tributaries again before entering Aitkin County where it will cross the Mississippi once more, among others like the Sandy River, Willow River, a portion of the Mille Lacs Reservation, before moving into Carlton County. Once in Carlton County, Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline 3 will cross the West Branch of the Kettle River, Heikkila Creek, Kettle River, on the southerly border of Fond du Lac State Forest, the West Fork Moose Horn River, King Creek and Park Lake Creek. At the last leg of its journey through our land of 10,000 lakes, it will straddle the Willard Munger State Trail before crossing Highway 35, then south of Jay Cooke State Park and the St Louis River toward Superior in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

As history proves, there is no doubt that there will be leaks. No doubt, that there will be a degradation of the surrounding environment. This is all understood and accepted with what appears to be a token regard for the many hazards, since the permitting process moves forward in spite of these. The state of Minnesota knows what could go wrong. History has taught us. Will a short term jump in construction jobs cover the long term costs?

I ask that the licenses for the Enbridge pipeline #3, which continue to facilitate the extension of a policy toward fossil fuel extraction, transportation and utilization be denied.

Sincerely,

Anita Dedman-Tillemans

The Blooming Glen

Awash with blooms of many hues

Through rare and sunny fen

The dance of seasons played throughout

In fragrant blooming glens.

Flickering cardinal wings in flight

Mother, father flew

To nestlings with their open mouths

Of honeysuckle hue.

The cries of catbirds, squirrels, and like,

An owl with talons drawn

Sweeping through on silent wing

In refuge before the dawn;

And so it was until the day

There came a demo due

With backhoes, trucks, big cranes and saws

To cleave the whole in two,

Until the sounds of life were stilled,

To wait another crew,

To build a bigger, better box

To house the newer new.

And so it goes, the trees, the homes,

Where beauty largely loomed,

In gardens housing great and small

When, like the glen, they bloomed

On pending Polymet copper mine and Enbridge oil pipeline #3 …

As we move forward into a new era where the prospect of fossil fuels has become a nemesis to our survival long range, there are major decisions we must make concerning how we will transition to a new energy economy without destroying the natural resources we need so dearly … like water.

Copper has become an “essential” tool in the new age economy, but how do we “mine” this resource sustainably without endangering our natural resources?  I suggest that mining in a water dependent area like the Arrowhead is not the way.

As the State of Minnesota moves forward with the permitting of a copper mine (Polymet’s NorthMet project) in the center of this ecological treasure (approval of which both Governor Dayton and Amy Klobuchar have supported) lawsuits are in progress.  In an effort to defend the state’s bad decision under the direction of our new governor, the taxpayers, unwittingly, will be paying for the defense of something the majority of Minnesotans did not want … and in the long run, once begun and into perpetuity, will also pay the consequences.

As an additional note of great consequence the comment period for the Enbridge Pipeline #3 pending permits is open until May 17, 2019; and you can comment here.  I have also included the link to my article What we should all know about Enbridge’s replacement line 3 in Minnesota.

For the sake of our wilderness let’s make our voices heard.

 

Some articles of interest on Polymet and the Northmet Project:

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/4574933-walz-looks-boost-legal-funds-defend-polymet-other-decisions

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/4573778-lawsuit-filed-obtain-epa-documents-state-polymet-permits

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/01/31/fed-judge-lifts-hold-on-lawsuits-against-polymet-mine

http://www.timberjay.com/stories/mccollum-requests-release-of-epa-comments-on-polymet,14863

http://www.honorearth.org/polymet_and_the_great_lakes

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/02/20/amy-klobuchar-minnesota-mining-polymet-defense-spending

http://duluthreader.com/articles/2018/11/08/15044_daytons_toxic_legacy_and_the_permitting_of_polymet

 

Enbridge comment period open from March 18 to 4:30 p.m. May 17, 2019:

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/4586403-dnr-opens-comment-period-enbridge-line-3-license-and-permit

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/line3/index.html

Truth and Opinion

beach_family

Views are varied, understandable or not, superficial or deep, based on facts, prejudices, vantage points…. The gamut of opinion is wide. Within, these opinions can be thoughtful, trite, unkind, diplomatically, politically astute, entertaining, ironic … instructive, banal …. So what is truth? Is it a fact that there are as many truths as there are opinions? Is truth relative, or do we confuse truth with opinion?

The internet provides a platform, at this point, for all manner of opinion and may it remain so. We benefit by the views of others that may open doors and broaden our perspectives. In this manner, we arrive at the gates of each eternal truth – but only with open minds. What, then, is it that prevents an open mind? Being born, we have all been impressionable. Learning required this. We were traumatized at times by our own willingness to explore the unknown; and we have a few scars for the experience. How did we respond?

In the process of living life, we learned to avoid some things and embrace others. Some developed unreasonable fears that, as fears do, tended to close a once impressionable mind. Relatively speaking, then, the book was closed until further notice on one subject or another for fear. An open mind would leave that book open for further updates, perpetually, with no page unturned – relative to time … our lives finite.

The word has been passed in conversation since language began — transformed to words on tablets, then paper and now to electronic images that, in a flash, appear and just as quickly disappear. Forms and the framework of communications have become exceedingly more volatile and less stable than the stone tablets of writing’s origins. We have come full circle essentially and while the audience for any one opinion has grown, the idea of permanency has been shattered. As in life, there is no forever concerning words written or otherwise.

In this regard, we have the substance of truth. The one thing that separates truth from opinion is time. Truth today was truth at Stonehenge and will be so in a thousand years. Therefore, it becomes more relevant today than ever, in this world of opinions, to take time, for instance, to turn off our devices and experience silence each day, for the peace to put words in perspective, until what remains clarifies and illuminates.

Like beauty and kindness, truth is eternal and makes our lives worth the living. Relative to this, nothing else truly matters. To be or not to be is essentially an individual choice.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

August 8, 2015

Even So

 

Wind blowing ‘round my ears

Cold knocking at my door

Old man winter in a vengeful mood

Burns alike on rich and poor.

Snow deep in every bank and crevice,

Air thick with crystal ice,

Snow melt from eves and gutters

Falling stalactites.

The winter lord, even so,

Cannot stop the dreams of spring,

Nor the golden light of June,

Nor the soul to sing.

Bear Head Lake, MN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrowhead Aquifers and the Hill of Three Waters

We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from these masterpieces.  Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota

What is the true source of three of the greatest water systems of North America, that of the Rainy River, Lake Superior drainage basin, and Mississippi River? Have underground aquifers and waterways in the Arrowhead been mapped such that we can understand the full scope of these resources?

Water cascades in great quantity from the “big stoney” to Lake Superior and parts unknown …

Legend has it that various tribes of the Ojibwe were pressed to defend their forests from an invasion of Sioux at one point. Since the buffalo had not returned to their territory as expected, the Sioux were in search of the sustenance in lands claimed by the Ojibwe, abundant and fruitful, forested wetlands of what is now known as Northern Minnesota. Since the Sioux were fierce and savvy warriors and could defeat the small tribes of Ojibwe individually throughout the land, leaders decided to unite. They met to decide their strategy on the “hill of three waters”… a unique quirk in geography, one mile north of present day Hibbing where water falling at this precise point can divide and flow in three directions, one to the Gulf of Mexico, one through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and the last to Hudson Bay.

Chiefs of the Ojibwe traveled from Canada, Lake of the Woods, and Nett Lake following water routes in the Big Fork River and Shannon River to unite with other leaders at the “hill”. Leaders of those Ojibwe in the Big Sandy Lake area and Mille Lacs Lake took waters north on the Mississippi and Prairie Rivers to Day Lake and then up Day Brook to the “hill”. Chiefs from Wisconsin, Fond du Lac, and Lake Superior joined their brothers on the “hill of three waters” by taking the St Louis River and Penobscot Creek. Unified, they eventually defeated the Sioux and regained their territory.

Along the Laurentian Divide where the “hill of three waters” is located, white settlers believed that the direction of flow was directly North and South. Native Americans knew long ago that this was not the case throughout the divide, and that water flowed to the river basins of Lake Superior, Rainy River as well as the Mississippi River, particularly at this point, where the Hull Rust Mine is located now. As a result of mining and pollution emerging in unexpected areas, we have learned that unusual geological formations exist in northeastern Minnesota that guarantee a complicated and diverse environment not easily understood.

For instance, portions of the South Kawishiwi River Intrusion and of the Partridge River Intrusion can be found underground at the same Babbitt location in and around mining facilities. Therefore, underground water in parts of Babbitt flow not only into the Partridge River watershed but also into the Rainy River watershed, which shares water with BWCAW. This is complicated even further by overlying and sometimes interconnecting aquifers – surficial and buried, contained and uncontained within varying compositions. Contained aquifers can potentially discharge water a hundred miles more or less from the recharge area or site of pollution. Groundwater and surface water frequently diverge in this area, and so more knowledge is needed concerning Minnesota’s groundwater geology before we can truly begin to understand the consequences of our actions regarding mining of any kind.

Wetlands abound in the “stoney”, along with thousands of flora and fauna, many rare and uncommon. There are orchard orioles, killdeer, snow geese, loons, woodcocks, purple finch, mink, great blue heron, broad-winged hawks, eagles, partridge, beaver, wolves, moose, bear, Canadian lynx, coyotes, blue bills, mallards, night hawks, snowy owls, white-throated sparrows, deer, blueberries, bearberry, rock ferns, caribou moss, and so many other species of plants and animals. What is the potential harm to these populations if the fragile balance of this ecosystem is destroyed, an ecosystem so interconnected with the health of its waters?

Do we sell or do we protect? This is what this decision concerning Polymet Copper Mining comes down to, essentially. There are no real guarantees that Polymet will be around to pay for clean-up once the mine closes and the money runs out of state; and we will never be able to undo the damage of their intrusion into these hydrological treasure troves, a literal mother lode for our planet’s fresh water. Have we already done irreversible damage by allowing almost 2,000 bore holes for copper mining prospectors near the BWCAW?

Groundwater in the area naturally seeps into holes drilled or pits dug in the area. As a consequence, while the mine is in operation, Polymet will continuously discharge water from mining pits and tailings basins to extract the ore. Colby Lake will serve as a source of supplementation and discharge, and widespread discharges will occur in the form of untreated, contaminated water along with altered (treated) water at both sites into the Partridge River, Embarrass River watersheds and the entire St Louis River watershed. These are the knowns.

Since aquifers recharge normally on high ground and discharge in low lying areas, the affected aquifers and water bodies will essentially be mined, as rock is extracted in the Laurentian highlands, instead of recharging (as nature would allow). Loss of pressure, as a consequence, in confined aquifers (artesians) could have devastating and far-reaching consequences; and, of course, we cannot truly know how many wetlands will be lost due to drawdown of the water table and the cumulative effects of long term contamination above and below ground.

Once the mine is closed, the threat to vital fresh water resources would continue, most likely into perpetuity and, therefore, maintenance at an estimated cost of at least $6,000,000 annually. The actual costs will, more than likely, be far greater. In a myopic view alone, what of inflation and the logistics of changing political will and financial realities? How long will water continue to seep into and from the bedrock of the Laurentian Divide contacting waste rock in the mine pits as well as contaminated water in the tailings basins? Do we even know how much water is involved? Can we know?

Ongoing treatment, passive or aggressive, will never return these waters or this region to its original state. Observe ongoing pollution witnessed from mining in the area already. What financial or political assurances would suffice in a tragedy of the scale that sulfide mining would unleash?

From limited hydrological information available to date concerning underground flowage for these vast bedrock formations in the Arrowhead, it seems that the calculations Polymet has made are insufficient to describe the scope of ecological damage possible in this unique environment, and therefore, the effect on freshwater reserves in the stoney of Lake Superior and Rainy River Basins at the very least. Consider the diversity and interconnectedness of the aquifers in St Louis, Lake and Cook counties, the unpredictability of discharge locations from confined aquifers, the potential of contamination by bore holes traversing aquifers. Due to these and so many unknown factors associated with this complex geological area, how is it possible to predict short term or long term consequences of mining this priceless water table for the extraction of any ore body?

It is likely that water in the area’s confined aquifers could be thousands and possibly millions of years old, the implications of which cannot be ignored for any amount of money. We have waste on this earth that could be recycled without destroying our environment, our home. Have we come to a crossroads in our handling of this planet, an ecosystem that we so dearly need for our survival? Isn’t water more important than any profit we can make from mining? Once understood that we cannot mine our water resources without devastating results, perhaps we will favor sane and ecologically sound solutions to those challenges that engage us?

We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from these masterpieces. Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota. What profit is there if not life itself? It is undeniable that people in the area need jobs … although, who of these long term residents came with the intent to mine this jewel? If given the opportunity to work in a sustainable activity, who would not choose to do so? What kind of opportunities could be created with a mindset that encourages positive long term results over short term gains and financial profiteering? Don’t we owe it to ourselves and life itself to make the effort?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

originally published

January 31, 2014

Cook County, MN

How will the city of Minneapolis protect our canopy by cutting it down?

In order to “protect” our canopy of trees from the emerald ash borer, the city of Minneapolis tends to remove rather than treat.  How long will it take to replace a mature forest with the saplings that are used to “replace” these giants … in climate that is dramatically warming?

Portrait of a Friendship

Last winter, I lost a very dear friend to cancer.  She was in her 98th year, of Norwegian ancestry, a Minnesotan by birth, a world traveler and citizen by choice, and a lover of beauty in all its forms.  She was, as she called herself, an “oh-oh”, an old one.

After reading her poetry, listening to her stories and her insights, I wondered why she didn’t put her thoughts in a book.  She wanted anonymity.  She did not want to be responsible for the choices others might make.  She would not advise.  She was simply communicating and sharing her ideas on a personal level with me because we were friends.  We were both open-minded, she, broad-minded, and it was our mutual love of beauty that linked us in life.  It was her nonjudgmental attitude toward life, toward others, that taught me some very important lessons; and it was this acceptance of others and her smile that endeared her to the people who knew her.

She was the most stubborn person that I have ever known, bar none, if “stubborn” is the right word.  Perhaps stalwart would have been better.  It was with measured and fact-driven set of priorities that she made her decisions and stood by them and it was her intelligence that allowed her to frame the narrative in a way that enlightened and allowed for a new perspective.

It was through gardening we met and, in the almost 20 years we knew each other, it was in nature where we both found our joy, traveling the country roads, walking in the woods, enjoying the rivers and lakes, the wetlands of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.  She was a realist, though, and often gave me pause in my efforts to preserve our wildlands.  My idealistic nature was tempered many times in our discussions by her truthful kindness.  She knew and would let me find out for myself.

I miss her terribly.  She would not want me to mourn forever.  She would not want me to write about her for all to know and felt she was only a small, miniscule part of this universe.  For me, she was an example of how we might all be in a better world; and I loved her for that.

What we should all know about Enbridge’s replacement line 3 in Minnesota.

Enbridge lists benefits that will accrue from its replacement line 3 in Minnesota and it guarantees that the old line will be safely “deactivated.” What does this mean to Minnesota once the new pipeline is installed and Canadian tar sands oil is flowing through the heart of our 10,000 lakes?

First of all, the old pipeline will be “cleaned-out” using a “biocide treatment” in the deactivation process and left in place.

The proposed new pipeline would use the power of eminent domain to run its pipeline, potentially transporting 760,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil per day across three watersheds and many tribal communities and over pristine waters in Minnesota.  Line 3 will go through 1855 treaty land, where native people have the right to hunt, fish, gather, hold ceremony; and it will travel through wild rice wetlands that have been a primary economic, nutritional, cultural and spiritual resource. It will be buried in permeable soil in a water dependent ecosystem and when a spill occurs it will be impossible to clean up.

This new pipeline will replace existing 34-inch pipe with new 36-inch pipe and run 337 miles in Minnesota alone.  It is the largest project in Enbridge history with construction expected to begin early in 2019 with an anticipated in-service date in the second half of 2019.

From Enbridge’s outlook, money and prosperity will be had for those in line of this pipeline.  They say 8,600 jobs will be created over a two year period.  This contrasts markedly with the 20 permanent jobs once the pipeline is built. They say it will be a boost to the Minnesota economy, during design and construction.   Enbridge indicates that over $115 million in payroll will be paid to local workers and there will be other benefits in the process including an increase in property tax revenue etc.

What will be the price for these estimated, promised, “forward thinking” and temporary financial benefits to the local economy of Minnesota?  Can it be measured?

The route for Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline, as proposed and approved, will cross 12 Minnesota counties:

Line 3 will travel through Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Clearwater, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin, Carlton counties in Minnesota.  Line 3 will enter Minnesota by crossing the Red River entering Kittson and then move into Marshall County where it will cross the Tamarac River, Middle River and the Snake before entering Pennington County, where it will cross the Red Lake River.   At this point it will move into Red Lake County where it will cross the Clearwater River before going into Polk County crossing at State Ditch Sixty One.  With more tributaries to cross Line 3 will be heading into Clearwater County where it will cross, among others, Lost River, Silver Creek, West Four Legged Lake, the Mississippi River in Bear Creek Township and La Salle Creek in Itasca State Park.  At this point, it will move through Paul Bunyan State Forest and south past many lakes and over the Straight River out of Park Rapids, over the Shell River and then in an easterly direction over Crow Wing River, then south into Wadena County and Huntersville State Forest where it will cross the Shell River again and the Crow Wing River within Huntersville State Forest.  Once leaving Wadena, the line 3 pipeline will move through Cass County south of the Leech Lake Reservation through more water dependent areas, over Pine River and into Crow Wing County’s upper NW corner, at which point it reenters Cass County crossing water features and tributaries again before entering Aitkin County where it will cross the Mississippi once more, among others like the Sandy River, Willow River, a portion of the Mille Lacs Reservation, before moving into Carlton County.   Once in Carlton County, Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline 3 will cross the West Branch of the Kettle River, Heikkila Creek, Kettle River, on the southerly border of Fond du Lac State Forest, the West Fork Moose Horn River, King Creek and Park Lake Creek.  At the last leg of its journey through our land of 10,000 lakes, it will straddle the Willard Munger State Trail before crossing Highway 35, then south of Jay Cooke State Park and the St Louis River toward Superior in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

What could go wrong?

 

https://www.stopline3.org/issues/

https://healingmnstories.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/after-line-3-vote-two-puc-commissioners-appear-at-comedy-improv-theater-curtain-falls-early/

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28062018/enbridge-tar-sands-oil-pipeline-minnesota-tribes-wetlands-watershed-route-approval

http://www.kallanishenergy.com/2018/10/22/enbridge-says-major-line-3-spill-in-minnesota-could-cost-1-4b/

Polymet Gets Crucial Permitting for the NorthMet Project and Copper Mining in the Arrowhead

On November 01, 2018, our DNR announced through Tom Landwehr, commissioner, approval of ten crucial permits that Polymet, a Swiss-based conglomerate, needs to start a copper mine in Arrowhead of Minnesota at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway.  This will open the door to an expanded footprint for the proposed NorthMet Project once begun, allowing for greater extraction of water resources from this water-dependent ecosystem, along with the taking of endangered species, Canada Lynx, Timber Wolf, birds and fowl, plant species etc that interfere with this project.

The permits granted on November first: six water appropriation permits, two dam safety permits, a public waters work permit and last (but not least) an endangered species takings permit. The project still needs water permits and air quality permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Other important points:

Since the project is now deemed less profitable as proposed, Polymet in all probability, will need to mine faster and expand the proposed footprint to make the money investors expect.  This means that the proposed mine, with its assured potential of 500 + years of pollution, approved by the DNR, will dwarf the damage of the mega-mine actually needed to fullfill its promise and its bottom line.  This will be in direct conflict to any environmentally sound promises.

To quote DNR commissioner, Tom Landwehr,  the NorthMet project “meets Minnesota’s regulatory standards for these permits.”  Wth such confidence as a foundation, and since our citizens are the ones who will suffer the consequences of a poor decision, being the ones who will more than likely “foot the bill,” why would the DNR under Landwehr reject the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s request for a contested case hearing, an independent judicial review, a chance to prove that this decision could stand such scrutiny?  Why has it taken over 10 years to permit this mine?  Why do the majority of Minnesotans reject this proposal?

Funding clean water projects, and the like, without reducing point source pollution seems a poor way to protect our resources.  Is it a radical idea that the health of our freshwater trumps the profits of an international corporation?

 

 

Common Loon NE MN waters

State of Minnesota issues permits for PolyMet mine proposal

https://anitatillemans.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/arrowhead-aquifers-and-the-hill-of-three-waters/

Link to Public Comment by Duluth for Clean Water concerning NorthMet Project

Risk Analysis of Probable Maximum Flood and Climate Change at the PolyMet Flotation Tailings Basin Prepared for Clean Water by Tom Myers, PhD, Hydrologic Consultant

NorthMet Copper Mine Proposal and Permitting Links

The NorthMet project, in order to mine copper in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, will need many permits to address the pollution and the degradation of these premier wetlands, waterways and the ecological treasure that is northern Minnesota.  To this end, there have been many studies showing how much the land will be changed by a copper mine and the necessity of amendments that may reduce the damage.

I have included a few helpful links below for those who would be interested in understanding the process and what stage we are at in this process below.

http://polymet.mn.gov/

 

NorthMet Project’s Permit to Mine documents

Permits to address water quality standards to accommodate copper mining

Permits to address air quality standards to accommodate copper mining

 

401 Certification Documents to address wetland degradation

Other necessary permits for Polymet (to take endangered species, public waters work permits and sensitive plants surveys report, Dunka Road upgrade)

Water Appropriation Permit

Dam Safety Permit

 

 

Under the Maples

Under a bridge of Maples
Bemidji Maples

It was a few years ago that my good friend and I traveled to Bemidji State Park.   It was here that we witnessed what was one of the most beautiful fall scenes in my lifetime.  As we hiked through the forest she stopped to take this picture of two maples that had met making an archway over our path covered with maple saplings.  She was a lover of trees.

As we hiked further there was a child running down this same path with such joy that it was hard not to get caught up in the moment, on what would normally have been good occasion for another photo.  That experience continues to be a poignant reminder of the importance of these moments and being present in every one.

My dear friend is gone now but not her memory, and the love that she brought to those around her.  She lived into her 98th year and made the best of every day in joy tempered with the wisdom of someone who had known life and its losses as well.  May we all find the courage to live our lives as thoughtfully.

AMENDMENT V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Is our criminal and civil justice system standing true to the intent and meaning of the fifth amendment?

Consider that it did not discriminate between citizen and non-citizen, immigrant and undocumented immigrant, nor did it dilineate race or creed, male or female, young or old.

Though our forefathers were imperfect, white, privileged, male and of a time and mind that swayed their preferences, they wrote the cornerstone of our democracy and the Constitution of the United States in our Bill  of Rights. It stands to reason then that for the foundation of this democracy to continue to sanctify our rights, we must be involved at all levels, levels that work naturally for each of us in individual ways that are accepting and real, inclusive and life-affirming.

As Washington wrote:

Vindicate our rights with firmness  and cultivate peace with  sincerity.

We may not agree with others, but it is another’s actions or ideas that are debatable, not their personage, not their rights to disagree or be true to themselves in ways that are also non-violent.  Respect in all  scenarios is essential for peace and understanding, so that we can move to vindicate rights for all.

In order to affirm these rights for one, they must be affirmed for all or this cannot be called, in truth, a democracy.

Appreciation of beauty is a moral test. Will we pass when it comes to protecting the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway and Hudson Bay in Minnesota?

Do we appreciate the beauty of the Arrowhead in this one-of-a-kind wilderness, enough to say no to copper sulfide mining?  Will the DNR choose short term profit over the long term welfare and profit of this valuable and beautiful ecosystem?

Many comments that were made concerning the SDEIS for the Northmet Project in 2014 are as telling today as they were then.  Though some dates, names and numbers have changed, the substance of these objections to mining and the safety of the aquifers in this water dependent environment remain true.

I include my own comments on the SDEIS in 2014 below:

 

(North Met SDEIS.dnr@state.mn.us)

March 7, 2014

 

RE: Comments on the SDEIS for the North Met Project

 

The proposed copper mine in Babbitt should be a concern to all of us since it will threaten water resources in an extremely important hydrological area of the North American continent and at the source of the largest fresh water body in the world, our Great Lakes.

 

Copper mining leaks sulfuric acid into waters above and below ground and is one of the worst polluting mining processes in the world historically.  Metal mining requires prodigious amounts of water and copper mining has historically degraded those resources.  The facts prove this true and reverse osmosis, which Polymet contends will successfully filter contaminants, has significant dangers as well. 

 

Average annual water required for mine operations has been estimated at 275 gpm, or between 20-810 gpm for this report.  If we were to accept these numbers, then uses could vary from as little as 10,512,000 gallons of water per year or as much as 425,736,000 gallons per year.  Greater than 90% of this water would be captured and treated using reverse osmosis, a process that poses risks as outlined in 2006 by the World Health Organization’s report in Geneva, Nutrients in Drinking Water, Chapter 12.

 

According to studies done since the 1960’s when reverse osmosis filtration began, demineralized water has proved dangerous in many ways.  It will aggressively attack contacted materials by dissolving metals and some organic substances in pipes, storage tanks, hose lines and fittings.  Because of this, it poses an increased risk of filtering toxic metals into the groundwater, wetlands and streams at the source and particularly down stream.  Time would be an important factor in determining the extent of damage to various plants and animals in the watersheds.

 

Without the protective or antitoxic protection of calcium and magnesium additional, increased risk of cardiovascular disease occurs in humans from drinking water treated by RO, and reserve minerals in the body are often depleted.  This in time results in other adverse effects on animal and human organisms.

 

Filters and membranes are subject to bacterial growths and would present their own problems.  Significant factors are toxins from the filters or membranes would be highly concentrated, and the problem of disposal would remain.  Has the SDEIS calculated the very real danger of RO processed waters on plant and animal organisms as well as the disposal of these concentrated toxins?

 

Estimates of contamination in the SDEIS are based on models that do not take into account inevitable accidents and failures.  Without these risks factored into the equation, this SDEIS cannot predict consequences with any success.  The model can only be as good as its basis in fact, field study and experience.

 

Mining wastes would be altered by geologic process but would not degrade; and so the hazards of controlling contamination would continue into perpetuity.  Discharges of mining wastewater would continue as long as it rains, with water seeping into pits and ponds and leaching of toxic mining byproducts into groundwater.  Potential failure of tailings dams, concentrate spill into streams and wetlands are historically valid concerns and need to be addressed since these will add to the pollution.

 

Clean up of polluted river beds and aquifers would not be possible.  The damage done, no financial assurance would replace the irreplaceable.  In addition, the cost of perpetual treatment of waters that would continue to spill and leach toxins into the environment forever, including the dangers of the RO process, would outweigh the profit of a relatively few, finite years.  The damage would be permanent and the jobs would be gone.

 

Fond du Lac Indian Reservation is downstream from the proposed mine.  Indigenous cultures have lived and sustained themselves in the St Louis River watershed for over a 1000 years.  Wild rice beds can be found all along the St Louis watershed, rice beds the Ojibwa depend upon in this highly connected and diverse aquatic habitat.  Laws that were made to protect the environment within the ceded territory have eroded away.  Promises made ignored.  With the proposed land exchange, this will be affirmed by further eroding these treaty obligations and allowing Polymet to operate outside of protections promised in the treaty.  Effects will be felt outside the boundaries of Polymet’s land and no compensation credits would bring these wetlands, the wildlife or the wild rice back.

 

The affected wetlands are highly connected diverse and water dependent lands in unconsolidated sand and gravel aquifers of ecological significance and sensitivity.  Much of these surficial aquifers are shallow, with bedrock features lying only 3.5 to 17 feet below the surface.  In spite of this, the SDEIS has no bedrock groundwater samples available from the plant site and the tailings basin, and no testing was done in the Biwabik Iron Formation for these sites.  For what reason?

 

The report assumes that most all water in these wetlands is recharged by rainfall and that the underlying bedrock is of low conductivity.  I could not find substantial proof of this in the report.  There are no long term records and field reports of rainfall over many seasons and years.  Even so, the assumption seems to be made that there are no fractures, no artesian aquifers of significance in the area, ignoring reports of the fractured nature of igneous and metamorphic rock prevalent throughout NE Minnesota.  More study needs to be done to get a clearer picture of the interaction between bedrock and surface aquifers of the region.

 

The surficial aquifers have developed highly diverse ecosystems over thousands and millions of years, with organic matter that acts like a sponge for waters arriving from above, below or laterally.  Excesses disperse through the high connectivity of these wetlands such as 100 Mile Swamp to others in the St Louis watershed.  Therefore, polluted water will affect not only flora and fauna that depend on these wetlands, it will, eventually, affect Lake Superior and the Great Lakes.  

 

Since contained aquifers often recharge in outcroppings along the uplands, and since mining will be done in the Laurentian uplands, contained aquifers of igneous, metamorphic rock and sand and gravel should be of great significance in determining the impact of copper mining on underground water.  All of these aquifers are present in the area.  The distributions and flowages along nonconforming wavy bedrock formations in the area should be prominent factors in the decision-making process and at the forefront of the SDEIS.  The Laurentian Divide runs through the middle of the tailings pond at 1700-1800 feet and very little is documented to date about the complex underground flows from this area.  In fact, there is more study necessary before we understand specific recharge and discharge areas in this divergent geological and hydrological area of the Mesabi.

 

Once copper mining is begun, contamination of groundwater cannot be prevented in the Laurentian Divide.  Water will be contaminated as aquifers are traversed, through cracks, joints, fractures, and bore holes in bedrock aquifers and in direct contact with waste rock as it is mined.  It can also flow along bedrock under glacial drift to locations unknown from the site of contamination, seeping into and out of these mining pits and tailings bins without being captured.  What technology would be in place to prevent this? 

 

Polymet admits that seepage will occur.  Once the mine is closed, seepage and discharge from mining pits of waste rock, slurry and tailings basins will continue into perpetuity.  No reliable, extensive studies have truly been done, nor can they be, to determine how much water will actually seep into and from the mining pits and tailing basins at these sites over hundreds of years.  In spite of this, the SDEIS has provided a figure of 31 gpm at closing for untreated seepage; and tells us that this would be less than 5% of the total wastewater discharged.  Using these figures, this estimate calculates to an annual wastewater discharge of 1,208,880,000 gallons, 16,293,600 gallons, of which, would be untreated each year.  These discharges will continue for an undetermined amount of time.

 

In NE MN, groundwater flows frequently diverge from surface topography.  No substantive studies have been done to determine the recharge and discharge areas for all aquifers along the Laurentian Uplands, including the Embarrass and Partridge River watershed aquifers.  How much of the pollution will discharge into unexpected waterways from contamination in the recharge areas?  Extensive and conclusive reports need to be produced on these flowages, especially of the Pre Cambrian metamorphic bedrock layers.  Do we know what vital waters are supplied by particular aquifers in the Laurentian Divide at the proposed sites?  With inevitable variables over hundreds of years, and without additional, extensive, field work and research concerning these aquifers, what reliable calculations can be made to predict drawdowns, potential depressurization of artesians and upwelling of brackish waters among other possible dangers?  There are few wells on site and very little detail concerning underground water flowage at the sites proposed for Polymet’s operations.

 

A great concern is that water will be drawn continuously from surficial and possibly bedrock aquifers, as well as St Louis watershed streams and Lake Colby in order to mine copper for 20 years.  Once begun, it will be necessary to perpetually discharge water in order to mine the rock; and, so, what guarantees can there be that groundwater will not be mined as well, as levels of ponds, pits, and rivers are managed to maintain certain levels?  It is impossible to predict the effect that global warming will have on water reserves, nor is it possible to predict weather from year to year.  “Existing conditions” are variable. 

 

Wetlands destroyed will not be replaced in kind.  This has been admitted.  Included in the area of concern will be 100-Mile Swamp.  The name alone gives us a clue as to the nature of the area proposed for copper mining and discharge.  These wetlands are open and continuous, one feeding into another along the entire watershed of the St Louis River.  What will the accumulation of polluted water from the mine over decades, hundreds of years do to the St Louis River estuary?  The St Louis River is already an AOC.  What will happen to the entire wetland area of St Louis County?  What of algae bloom, reduction of oxygen and creation of a dead zone at the mouth of the St Louis River and Lake Superior?  Polymet would be using the river for a chute to dispose of copper mining wastewater essentially into the largest body of freshwater in the world, the Great Lakes.  This should be of concern to every person on the planet.

 

Once granted permits to mine, Polymet will, of course, set a precedent.  Copper mining will then most certainly extend into the Rainy River watershed, since there are others waiting to mine and have already been granted exploratory permits on the border of the BWCAW.  Would NFS have granted these drilling permits if it had not considered allowing copper mining so close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?  Once noise, air, water pollution have been granted at these levels, even higher levels will then be more acceptable.  It is easy to see then how lovers of wilderness, the BWCAW, the Quetico … might be threatened by a copper mine in Babbitt.

 

Lake Superior is known as the “mother of waters” and the Mississippi, the “father of waters”.  I wonder, the true mother of both.  Do we know the actual source of the Mississippi?  Could it be that aquifers of Giant’s Ridge are the true source of the Mississippi, St Louis River and the Rainy River?  Could it be that we do not know enough about the aquifers that underlie the Laurentian Divide?  Minnesota is a land of more than 10,000 lakes, a land of waters, water that has no boundaries essentially.  When one area is polluted, the effects are felt like a ripple.

 

Concerned members of the Ojibwa Nation have indicated that groundwater seepage is greatly underestimated.  This is from experience of hundreds of years, perhaps thousands of years.  Without studies of rainwater, and seepage over many seasons and years, how can the SDEIS predict outcomes confidently?  Where little allowance has been made for fractured and folded metamorphic rock in the area, fault lines, and percolation from confined aquifers that are also in the area, it would seem that the report is flawed.  This error could cause other faults in predicting leaching, groundwater effects, toxin releases and solute levels in wetlands, lakes and streams.

 

Technology is only as good as it is applicable.  What technology could predict fllowages of unseen aquifers or prevent water from eventually dispersing underground and returning to unknown points of discharge?  Copper mining will pollute one of the most precious resources we have, our fresh water, in an area of complex aquifers that depend heavily upon each, interconnected in ways that we have yet to understand.  Without consideration for loss of wilderness, which would be great enough, pollution and drawdown of our water table on the scale that Polymet could bring would be disastrous for a much wider area than this report has addressed.  What financial assurances would restore these priceless reserves of water?

 

As water and air know no boundaries, moving millions of tons of ore, discharging millions of gallons of slurry and wastewater will have effects beyond pipeline, tracks, and roads within the specified corridor and mining sites.  Transportation, alone, will extend from Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes areas to the shores of Lake Superior.  How many more trains will be traveling through and over the wilderness of Superior National Forest and the Arrowhead?  How many more trucks?  How many earth movers, ATVs, OTVs, roads, how much dust, cumulative noise pollution from 24/7 mining operations (explosions, drilling, digging, crushing, processing, hauling etal)?  In twenty years, how much of the remaining wilderness will survive?

 

Wilderness by definition is not managed.  The introduction of roads into these wetlands will most certainly change patterns of drainage and endanger plants and wildlife.  These losses are impossible to calculate.  The whole nature of the St Louis River watershed and estuary will be altered and no mitigation efforts would spare it or bring it back.  The scope of the SDEIS does not address the actual extent of operations related to this project and effects that will most definitely exceed the actual boundaries of the two sites and the transportation corridor.  How can any of these facts be ignored?

 

In spite of promises, one truth remains.  Consequences will go beyond the limits of liability for Polymet, and their operations will endanger lands and waters that neither Polymet nor the National Forest Service owns.  It is also clear that the words “directly” and “indirectly” have no meaning in a place that stands over aquifers of the complexity, quantity and caliber of those in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota.  Although “direct” impacts are considered to be within the boundaries of mining operations, permanent, irreconcilable impacts will have no boundaries.  Pollution will reach underground into the water table, above ground into our air, and down stream most certainly into our oceans through vital freshwater resources.  Water and air will find paths and pay no attention to lines drawn on a map.

 

The SDEIS considers addressing pipeline failures and spills speculative and beyond the scope of the study.  What then is a study based on assumptions and predictions hundreds of years into the future?  There is already an abundance of information on copper mining around the world; and these facts alone would be enough to forbid this project in a critically important hydrological region like the Arrowhead of Minnesota.  Water should take priority over all else for good reason.

 

As political realities change, it is conjecture to state with assurance what regulations if any will provide protection to the public from inevitable consequences of copper mining in this highly ecologically sensitive environment.  We do know some things though.  For instance, we do know that once the land exchange is made, that much of the treaty obligations under the ceded territory and wildlife and wilderness protections will no longer have any teeth.  As any corporation, Polymet will follow their bottom line.  If they can pay a fine and get a variance, they will.  Observe taconite mining of the Iron Range.  Will our environmental laws be eroded even further with copper mining?

 

SDEIS promises that safeguards and standards will be established in the permitting process, but these are not given in this report and cannot be assessed for the public view.  There are too many unknowns, it would seem, for a solid foundation on which to build a positive outcome.

 

The SDEIS calculates that 533 million tons of waste rock and ore will be removed in 20 years and that 113,000 tons of copper, 18,000 tons of nickel/copper, and 500 tons of PGE annually or a total of 2,630,000 tons of marketable product will result.  If these figures are correct, then, that would mean 2,260,000 of this product would be copper.  Using these figures, it appears that 198,700,000  tons of spent ore would remain along with 308,000,000 of waste rock.  Is it correct that less than .004 of the mined material will be copper at the cost of so much pollution?  A trade like this does not seem to be in our best interest.

 

If concentrate spilled into a stream, it would settle forming sediment, highly toxic unless dredged which would have disastrous effects.  This sediment would persist for decades and eventually end up in Lake Superior.  Wetlands are susceptible to spills releasing slurry, return water, diesel fuel, solutes, leaching into water tables.  Reduction in wetlands due to degradation of habitat and wetlands ability to support fish and invertebrates would result in an incalculable loss of wildlife population abundance. 

 

There are multiple uncertainties in planning, designing the construction and operation, as well as, the closing of a mine.  Models that forecast behavior of a system engineered with inherent human error, undetermined factors, predicting the outcome of centuries of management and untested at length are Idealized and cannot be considered accurate representations of what may occur when the plan becomes reality. 

 

It is “reasonably foreseeable” that weather will change and is unpredictable, even in the short term.  No scenario that forecasts over hundreds of years can be taken seriously.  It is obvious from a logical standpoint and the facts that present themselves from mining of 123 years in the Mesabi Iron Range, that the water and environment will be permanently changed and that no mitigation will return our waters and wilderness to pre-mining condition.

 

As Minnesotans we stand as stewards at the source one of the world’s greatest resources for freshwater.  Will we learn from past mistakes and reject this copper mining proposal?  There is no financial assurance that could provide good reason for what is simply a bad idea, one that will have devastating consequences into perpetuity.  What precious metal or mineral can trump the importance of protecting these waters and maintaining the balance developed over millions of years, laid on a foundation created billions of years ago?  Mining operations will cease along with the jobs and profit, long before the degradation has run full circle.  What will Minnesota and the world have in return for a few years of jobs and cash if we fail to act as responsible stewards?  There are no financial assurances that would cover the cost of such a tragedy.

 

Simply because man can do something, does not necessarily mean that he should.  Because nature has no boundaries, man does have a responsibility to consider the consequences of his actions.  We need to take into account the over-reaching consequences of this project in an irreplaceable and unique, geological and biological ecosystem that is Northern Minnesota, the source of three of the greatest river systems in the North America, essentially sourced along the Mesabi Range.  The fate of lands, air, and water in and around this project are linked by a unique geography that has no precedent and for this reason is impossible to map or predict, with certainty.  What can be seen through experience is enough to forbid this project.

 

What will be the consequences of the land exchange, once Polymet owns the surface and mineral rights to the land on which their operations occur?  What powers will the NFS, BLM, DNR and other parties have and exercise to control and monitor damage to our environment then?  What will be lost due to changes in trade agreements like the TPP and other legal and political challenges affecting Minnesota’s rights to protection of its own lands and waters?

 

Downstream from the proposed Northmet project, where all mining water, sediment and dissolved particulates from this plant will eventually go, Jay Cook State park is home to 181 species of nesting and feeding fowl.  There are bear, deer, wolves, coyote among 46 animal species in the park.  Sax-Zim Bog in the St Louis River estuary is world famous wintering grounds for great gray, borial, hawk owls and other boreal forest birds.  Over 60,000 raptors migrate over Hawks Ridge National Preserve in the St Louis River estuary each year.

 

There are other points of interest.  The Laurentian Divide is home to 155 nesting birds and 40 wildlife species.  In Embarrass, just north of the LTV site, there are birding and nature trails, river canoeing and fishing opportunities.  At Babbitt, lies beautiful Birch Lake feeding into the BWCAW through the Kawishiwi River.  So close that mining cannot help but affect the whole area. 

 

The Superior National Forest Scenic Byway tour begins in Two Harbors and goes through Silver Bay to Aurora through Hoyt Lakes over 145 miles of untouched wilderness with relatively few roads.  There are wolves here and Canadian Lynx, only a few of the animals that are attracted to this area.  Wolves are of concern in particular, since the DNR has still yet to make a count of the existing wolf populations.  This, after two hunting seasons.  How do we know the threat to this vital apex predator without a study to determine its numbers?

 

The Erie Mining Company Railroad runs over the Laurentian uplands at 1573-1700 feet above sea level in the transportation corridor, over Partridge River waterways like 100 Mile Swamp, Stubble Creek.  Polymet’s trains will traverse open wetland networks linked to Dunka River, North River, Ridgepole Creek , Seven Beaver Lake, Swamp Lake, Big Lake, and Yelp Creek, among a few.

 

There are 318 species of birds, 200 regular in the Superior National Forest of which 36 are uncommon, 30 rare and 61 very rare, among these the Pie billed Grebe and the Red breasted Merganser.  With 155 nesting species, the SNF has the greatest number of breeding birds in any national forest.  The BWCAW is of incalculable value biologically, ecologically and a popular wilderness area with over 200,000 visitors annually, with 1500 miles of canoe routes and 2200 campsites.  Do we truly believe that copper mining so close to the entry points of this wilderness will not have significant consequences on these resources and the essence of this kind of experience?  Some things cannot be measured and this is one.

 

When the SDEIS, without due attention to inevitable failures, predicts potentials, probabilities based on assumptions, presumptions, possibilities, I wonder how many years of field research and important, hard fact was missed?  Instead, the report appears to be based upon “variability and uncertainty around many … model input assumptions” – in other words, a best case scenario that, in spite of this, predicts 500 plus years of mitigation and pollution from 20 years of mining in the Arrowhead.  At which point the model terminates.  This does not mean that maintenance will no longer be needed after 500 years or that suddenly the pit lakes and tailings basins will simply stop leaching and spilling.  It means that the SDEIS stopped assessing the damage.  Once the water is polluted and the ecosystem destroyed, one that took millennia to develop, we will be left with a toxic environment that will be changed forever, just fact.  What more do we need to know to deny this permit?

 

The Arrowhead region is one of the crowning ecological jewels of this world.  The National Forest Service is mandated to protect water resources as a number one priority.  If not here, then where?  The no mining alternative is, above all, a choice for environmental diversity and sustainability.  People will pay to enjoy wilderness and this area is renowned for its beauty, its waters.  Entrusted to us, will we fail to shield this wilderness from exploitation, or will we protect our base by preserving this planet’s most vital resource, starting with “the mother of waters” in the Lake Superior Basin.

Comment written and sent on March 7, 2014 to:

MDNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources Environmental Review Unit 500

Lafayette Road,

Box 25

St Paul, Mn 55155-4025

 

As of today, August 25, 2018:

I include two maps and some links concerning copper mining prospects in the Arrowhead below.  The DNR has just denied any further study and is in the process of reviewing comments on permits in process.

There are lawsuits pending and a majority of citizens in Minnesota do not want copper mining in the Arrowhead.

aquifers surrounding the Babbitt area where Poymet wants to build a copper mine

Mining Prospects in the Arrowhead

Links of interest:

Friends of the BWCA on sulfide mining

waterways and waterfalls of NE MN

State of the BWCAW

BEDROCK GEOLOGY OF THE BABBITT QUADRANGLE

GEOLOGY AND MINERALIZATION IN THE DUNKA ROAD

NFS and Polymet Land Exchange

Issues of copper mining various sources

Sierra Club on Twin Metals

When we take the time to know another, “the other” no longer stands outside of our sphere, and compassion becomes possible.

There is a wave of change occurring, not only in technology, but in the way we deal with our humanity.  Cults are not new and all cults prey upon an individual’s need to be recognized and to feel a sense of belonging, in other words, to be loved.  What social media does today, cults of old have done since humans started interacting.

With an echo, we belong.  We say hello and someone smiles or returns our greeting.  We dance, sing, play an instrument and others join.  We join in social groups, whether on the internet or elsewhere to be part of a society, part of a whole; and, in turn, the journey is not so lonely.  Life, to be life, needs an echo.  These echoes can create or destroy depending on the source, depending on the group.  Which brings into play a question.  What does it mean to live authentically?

Though it takes courage to run outside the boundaries of the so-called “norm” or the group you associate with, what is normal? Diversity in opinion, physical traits, lifestyles and so on define us as a species and so it should be a given to be who you are, to be authentic and comfortable with yourself.  Beyond a simple admiration for others and their actions, cult-like devotion can rob one of their own identity and society loses by being deprived of that individual’s innate gifts, which might have been developed otherwise.  A lack of self-esteem is at the heart of one who gives up their own “being” to the group.

Name your cult.  There’s one for every one, and an endless list of differences that we could turn into another cult with countless followers, alienating “the other”, the one outside of our particular group.  The problem manifests itself in destruction; and the narrowness of the band width cheats civilization of its greater potential.

Does the internet and social media alienate us or bring us closer together?  Can one be real on the internet?  To love, which is a verb, means to have one as a friend.  Doesn’t friendship require being there in a physical sense, perhaps, listening, showing appreciation … laughing together, sharing a meal and a good conversation?  How does one do this on the internet?

In a world of so-called friends that one may never meet, what becomes of our humanity when the masses define their lives by these kinds of contacts?  What becomes of life?  Will the echo we find be a set of characters on the screen, with no substance in a tangible world? The internet, relatively new, has changed our world dramatically in a short time; and the time to actually do and be and love has all been sacrificed to the pace of what is essentially “virtual reality”.

What will become of the human species in a virtual world?  What kind of grounding will there be for the emotions that have driven us thus far?  Emotions that are based on solid, real-time experiences can be the most reliable tools we have in our environment; and act as a litmus test when logic does not give us the answers, going deeper into the subconscious and  acting quicker.  Love may not be logical at times, but it is often the only way.

What will happen to humanity when hands-on experiences have become all too few and most of our time is relegated to the internet?  What will we call love then?  Will we take the time outside of these virtual environments to know each other and make compassion, in action, possible?

Comments due on Minneapolis 2040 Draft Comprehensive Plan by July 22, 2018

The city of Minneapolis has a current population of 416,000 which is predicted to grow to 465,000 by 2040 and so created a draft policy plan called Minneapolis 2040 to address the issues of this increase in population by developing a long range strategy.  Until July 22, 2018 they are asking for comments on the draft at their website: minneapolis2040.com.  You will find the menus, draft plan use and built form maps at this address, links to various sections with an opportunity to comment etc.

I have made a few comments, by no means adequate for the challenges we have ahead; but perhaps our contributions will steer a course we can be proud of in the years ahead.

Please post your comments at the above website for the Minneapolis 2040 Draft Plan.

 

On Land Use

There needs to be a designation of areas that have high water tables such as parts of Linden Hills and a corresponding modification of building codes to prevent the drainage of these freshwater aquifers into storm sewers, sidewalks, streets and other drainage areas throughout the summer and sometimes into the winter months.  The codes, as they stand now, allow for the building of basements into water tables and underground running streams, in areas which were historically part of Bde Maka Ska for example.

The depletion of these water reserves will affect the health of avian populations, canopy, local climate and the health of our lakes.

 

On Urban Environments

The development and conservation of our canopy cannot be overstated.  It is priceless:  worth a lot and should not be for sale.  In other words, we need to preserve sooner than replace, if at all possible.

Too many old trees are being cut down at the prospect of any threat, when maintenance, especially good hydration might save them.  An old tree can stand the threats of global warming much better than a sapling and it will take more than a 100 years to replace some of the elms and ash that are being taken now for lumber and chip wood under the threat of Dutch elm disease or Emerald ash borer.

Trees, such as these, standing over 70 to 100 feet high harbor species of all sorts, sometimes over 200 different kinds.  How long will it take a sapling planted today to replace a towering old tree, as the earth becomes more and more hostile to every living thing?  Not only this, what of the difference an old tree can make of the climate under its boughs?  The temperature difference can be 10 degrees or more and the air quality is phenomenal.  Anyone who has stood under an ancient white pine can testify to the difference.

I hope the city of Minneapolis protects the canopy we already have as they build for a better future.

 

On transportation

Concerning transportation equity, a big issue, it would make sense to make this available to all, paid for through taxes.  No one should be denied a ride and the options should be many.  In fact, we need to make it so easy and so much better than driving that everyone will opt for public transportation.

As it stands now, the buses are uncomfortable, jerky and can be extremely unpredictable depending on the route.  The light rail from and to St Paul takes, practically speaking, as long as the bus ride.  If one bus is missed or doesn’t arrive, there may not be another for an hour, leaving one with no option but to get to work late and possibly lose a job.  Some people are handicapped, or carrying groceries or children, infirm or unprepared.

What would all-around premier public transportation look like to address all kinds of passengers?  What would the transports look like that everyone would want to take and no one would be denied, rich or poor? Wouldn’t it serve us in the long term to make this happen sooner than later by starting to divert highway funds in increments to make public transportation the priority with low carbon, no carbon systems the goal?

 

On the Arts

Guaranteed income for everyone.  This will allow the time for creative talents of all our community members to be focused individually and uniquely, often to society’s benefit, without being overly concerned about making money.  Where there’s time and freedom, there is creativity.

On Homelessness

In order to prevent homelessness we need good education for all, opportunity for all and equity in housing and the job market; but it all starts with a good equitable education.  Taxes for public education should be divided equally throughout the city so that no one needs to be bused to another neighborhood in order to have a good fighting chance. There should be no “best schools”.  All schools should be the best we can make them.

Counselors should be available that recognize difficulties early on in a child’s life so that help can be given. We need experienced teachers who are respected and allowed to do their best, not trained to tests and dogmatic views, teachers who are well versed in interpersonal relations as well as good academic skills with respect for diverse opinions and equity.

Funds should be available for adequate resources at the most vulnerable and impressionable time in a person’s life, childhood.  Teachers should not have to buy supplies for their students.  Texts should be available for every child.  We will get more from each dollar by spending the bulk of these dollars when the potential for benefit is greatest.

When our communities are diverse and equitable, our schools will be diverse and equitable and vice versa.  When this happens, there will be less risk of homelessness and greater potential that communities will work together in solidarity for the betterment of those in the communities they love, making homes where homes are needed.

Union Depot, St Paul

A visit to the Union Depot in St Paul brought to mind the Great Northern Depot built in 1913 on Hennepin Avenue, which was demolished in 1978, along with the Berman Buckskin building and the Chicago Great Western railway freight warehouse, to make room for development in Minneapolis, where the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis stands today.

Amtrak began running out of the Great Northern Depot in 1971 after I moved to Minneapolis in the late 1960’s; and this was the station from which I took one of Amtrak’s last trips to Duluth from this location. The Great Northern Depot was a huge, stately building built on the designs of architect, Charles Frost, who went on to design St Paul’s Union Depot, which is a wonder to see.

A picture taken on my trip to the Depot in St Paul yielded material for my latest painting.

 

Will respect for women come when mothers have opportunity enough to respect themselves?

As a woman and a mother I’ve made my mistakes and I have blamed myself perpetually for these and more as a result of some early training.  It had always been my duty to know better, to do better, to be there and to take whatever came without expecting much appreciation, affection or attention. Through much protest, not a willing candidate, I was responsible, nevertheless, without the experience or understanding, as an eldest child of four girls.  The details of this kind of training vary with the multitude of situations women find themselves in; but the result seems to be the same, a lack of self worth, though we all manage this reality in different ways.

Our environments, those in our family, school, social groups, worship … echo the whole of a societal belief system and cannot be missed, no matter how we try to ignore the messaging.  If you hold your head a little too high wearing the wrong sex or skin color, speaking a foreign language, dressing “inappropriately” … there’s a punishment to suit each infraction.  It takes an “elephant hide” to bear the burden of living independently and well.  What courage and what truths must be spoken to get us past the petty charade we live today, where race, sex and origin of birth dehumanize those no less human than the rest?

On this journey as a woman, my biggest  blunder was not showing respect for myself in front of my own children.  I talked about respect, love and kindness, fought for my rights and then just as quickly disregarded my own best interests. How does a daughter learn to respect herself if her own mother failed in that aspect?  How does a son fully realize his own potential for love when his mother failed in hers?

Our environments are what we make them, it is said; but which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  How do we create better environments unless we are willing to change ourselves?  My revelations came much too late.  My children have managed; but not as well as they might have with a mother aware of her own potential, not as a woman but as an individual.

When will we stop categorizing and cataloging people by the color of their skin, their sex, their body type, their socio-economic status, and start looking at each one as an individual with his or her own set of potentials.  What might we discover?  How much better to have all working together pushing and pulling this taffy of a world to better shape it for the future?  When will we stop trying to sterilize and restrict what creation has given as a challenge?  Why do we seem set on tweaking the rules to suit a handful of people who are not up to the whole of it?

A woman should have as much to say in her environment as any, given that creation has chosen her to carry the next generation.  What kind of a world might we have when each and every mother has opportunity enough to demonstrate a healthy respect for herself in the life she shares with her children?

Perhaps this is just a beautiful dream; but I cannot help but wonder.

Is there no better way to fund our schools?

School Trust Lands in BWCA, over 83,000 acres of state-owned land, have been kept from earning money due to the fact that the land is protected as wilderness.  According to the Associated Press in an article April 18, 2018, $4,000,000 from the government funding bill, recently passed in Congress, will allow officials to move forward with a 2012 plan to make lands available for use in a three way exchange.

In preparation for this resolution to the decades long dispute, The Conservation Fund has bought 8,000 acres of prime private forest lands in NE MN which will be used in the exchange for the school trust fund lands, lands which will then be owned by the U S Forest Service.

School Trust Land Exchange Scoping SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST March 2015

Since the U S Forest Service has just exchanged lands so that Polymet can mine next to the BWCAW as soon as the DNR permits, I wonder.  How will this work out for the BWCAW if/when copper mining reaches its tentacles into the area surrounding Babbitt particularly to the North and Northeast?  Can we expect the US Forest Service to stand down when mining interests request another trade?

Just a thought.

MINERAL CHARACTER DETERMINATION For Minnesota State School Trust Land Exchange – Case #4558 Nonfederal Land and Mineral Ownership Information

The question arises, as well, why is funding of our schools linked to exploitation of our lands and waters? Perhaps there is a better way.

 

 

 

 

 

With small steps we change

The Vietnam war was raging and boys were being drafted into a war that was, for the first time, coming into the living rooms of Americans via television.  So many men who fought have come home from wars in the past wondering if the war portrayed in the media was the same war they knew.  This was said after WWII and so many before; but Vietnam was different … different because our eyes beheld in real time what our hearts knew to be the awful truth.  The draft forced a moral imperative on so many, for survival.

From 1967 to 1968, I worked as a VISTA volunteer in South Dakota, after one year in college.  That year  saw the assassinations of both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King while President Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war provoked more  and more protests.  There was a great deal of hope that these protests would change the course of the war, that love would rule and the world would be better for it.

I found a place helping establish resources in poor communities around Rapid City, Head Start and the like.  There was a sense that with the necessary information and with good will anything could be accomplished.  It seemed obvious to me that kindness and a willingness to see beyond our own immediate dilemmas, not war, would yield better societies.  Was I naive?  Were we?

After all the protests and the dreams, the broken promises and the lies, we have more wars, more weapons, more death and destruction at a time of major scientific achievement.  We claim to have a democracy when money buys our politicians and the will of the people waits a beggar at the door.  Major climactic events destroy our coastlines and inner sanctuaries, flooding islands and threatening our homes and our ways of living.  Even so, moneyed interests trump all else.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the power elite that the pollution of our water, our air, our land will eventually affect us all for generations to come.  The rich and the poor are born of the same well.  Whispers in the corridors and between the lines seem to point to the “must never say” problem of too many people.

Reproduction, after all, is a necessity for survival of the species; and the healthiest among us, rich or poor, smart or not, know the playbook well.  The only problem with the prospect of limiting our numbers is that no one knows the magic bullet.  Blind with our own tribalistic views we cannot seem to see beyond ourselves to a greater view.   Our solutions often seem nihilistic and narrow or much too broad to be practical.

So much to do and so little time.  In spite of this, panic is not an option.  We need to think meditatively and peacefully to awaken a sense of pragmatism and one that will bridge the divide between our tribal natures and the unlimited well of our conscious and subconscious minds.  Where to start?  It seems that baby steps might be the wisest as we move fluidly into our best solution.

I remember the New Orleans teacher who told our class that Kenner Park would soon be integrated.  He was denegrating the whole proposal and blacks to boot as he swung his richly, black leathered-feet back and forth with his every word.   I could look no higher than his shoes out of disgust.  It was obvious that the opportunities were unequal, every lunch period when I would sit on the curb across from the one room bungalow that served black children through many grades. The crisis that was integration raged on for a while in New Orleans for quite some time.

It was not the first time I saw the injustice as a child.  In Caracas and in Maracaibo, Venezuela had its share of poverty and racial disparity.  While the rich lived behind barred windows and doors, the poor lived in barios and on the streets with little to eat and even less opportunity.  Education was always a tool to raise the few up over the many and the price too dear for the many poor.  Children with swollen bellies too often looking in on our play through cyclone fences and barbed wire.  Old men eating out of cans for their meals.  Meat hanging from hooks surrounded with flies and dogs running wild in the streets only to be killed for a meal.

Even today as I look on schools in our richer areas of Minneapolis, I see the disparity still after over six decades of integration and almost that many of busing.  White children given the opportunity in the best public schools over the poorer schools, reserved for people of color and the poor.  Education it seems is still too dear for the many poor and the power elite have yet to understand that what we do to these our poorest we do to ourselves.  We are all family and the human species will be the worse for this kind of shortsightedness.

How many of these young people have the potential to find a solution that others might miss?  How much better a world of diversity?  What would we be without it?  I, for one, would be bored to tears.

With small steps we change and with small steps we will be more able to see the potential before us.  Giving every child the opportunity to thrive and to grow in awareness one by one, we make a species that is more resilient to change and more conducive to sustainable communities; and war, no longer the tool it has become.

 

What was the full text of the original Bill of Rights?


 The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791 and known as the Bill of Rights, written by the Congress of the United States, New York, New York on March 4, 1789.

AMENDMENT I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

AMENDMENT II

 A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

AMENDMENT III

 No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. 

AMENDMENT IV

 The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 AMENDMENT V

 No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

 AMENDMENT VI

 In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

 AMENDMENT VII

 In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

AMENDMENT VIII

 Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 AMENDMENT IX

 The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

AMENDMENT X

 The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 

 

 


 

 

Comment on NorthMet Draft Air Permit due March 16, 2018

The NorthMet Project has been in process of application for many years now, because the project will cause unusual problems, and because it will imperil wilderness lands, waters, air, wildlife and the economies that depend upon clean air, water and healthy ecosystems. Permitting a copper mine will set precedent and change the land use forever.
Since the copper deposits in Minnesota are of low grade, the process will naturally require removal of more rock than copper. By Polymet’s own estimate the NorthMet ore body comprises 275 million tons of Proven and Probable reserves grading 0.28 percent copper with Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources of 694 million tons grading 0.27 percent copper and 0.08 percent nickel. Since Polymet intends to mine and process 32,000 tons of ore per day (11,680,000 tons of ore per year) what does this mean for the air quality surrounding the Project?
According to the reports put forth for this permit, the NorthMet project will require ammonium nitrate and fuel oil for blasting every two to three days. Large excavator shovels with up to 30-cubic-yard-capacity and large front-end loaders will then load the ore into diesel-powered haul trucks, each having the capacity to carry 240 tons of material in a single load, all loaded onto 100-ton side dumping railcars. Sixteen-car trains pulled by locomotives will then transport the ore approximately six miles to the processing facility 20 times each day. In all, PolyMet plans to mine approximately 225 million tons of ore over a 20-year mine life. This plan can be revised at any time as long as notice is given and approved by our regulators. No mine has ever been shut down by regulators once begun in Minnesota.
According to the relevant reports, processing starts once the ore is transported to the LTV site where it will be offloaded into the Coarse Crusher Building. A series of crushers then reduce the ore to approximately 2.5 inches diameter feeding these particles by conveyor to the coarse ore bin located in the Fine Crusher Building. From the Fine Crusher Building, the ore will be conveyed to the Concentrator Building used since the 1950s to process taconite. There, the ore will be reduced into particles about the diameter of a human hair before being transported by chute to other buildings where impurities will be removed using chemicals and large quantities of water. Imagine this fine dust in transport.
As documented in this permit, this facility, then, will require a number of filtrations systems including HEPA, cartridge and fiber, all of which will be expected to comply with standards within each building and require their own handling. Outside of these buildings where there are no filters, fugitive emissions are even more difficult to control.
Fugitive source emissions from mining operations stem from the blasting of rock and the debris that these operations create, loading and unloading of rock, truck traffic, preparation, crushing and screening activities and excavating. Traffic, road building and repair will contribute naturally and this will exceed the boundaries of the NorthMet Project site where no truly effective organic and sustainable control is possible in most situations, physics the determining factor.
Fugitive sources of emissions at the processing plant can be found during construction activities, crushing and screening, along with wind erosion during flotation tailings basin operation, miscellaneous truck traffic, and SAG and ball mill grinding of the ore. The list of unusual problems and effects goes on in the permit reports, unintentionally illustrating why copper sulfide mining would be a major contributor to air pollution in this wilderness, and all the while presuming to make a case for protection.
How much of the regulation in place on spot filtration systems and their filters will be effective? How much of the fugitive emissions and noise will cause untenable situations for wilderness tourism, which is the backbone of this country? Only time will tell after all. If experience has taught us anything, these systems will fail or be neglected in time while the mining effects will continue into perpetuity.
Just a list of the vehicles required in this operation will tell us enough about the effects: 2300HP mine haul trucks run on 25.4 gallons of fuel/hour. 1550HP diesel drills, 19.8 gallons/hour, and 646HP truck dozer graders, 31.2 gallons/hr. And then there will be excavators, rubber tire dozers, transfer loaders, backhoes with hammers, water/sand trucks, and integrated handlers with their own fuel usage and emissions not to mention the noise that will be a daily experience for all within earshot.
Besides vehicles, there will be a great need for space heaters, too many to count for this comment, feed chutes, conveyors, mills, grinders, crushers, rail cars and locomotives, mix tanks and dewatering stations, a lube house, direct and indirect heating equipment using electric, natural gas and propane, degasifiers, a (huge) gasoline tank, bentonite (fine clay dust) handling, and miscellaneous buildings.
There will be a fence patrolled to keep the public out. Polymet will monitor itself. There is no restriction on hours of operation for portable crushing spread operations May to October and other operations are given the time needed to process almost 12,000,000 tons of ore each year. Much of the monitoring is not enforceable in this permit or on a practical level. So where are the real safeguards? The winds will blow, the climate will do its thing and Polymet will be forgiven in a force majeure situation.
We are told that this ore will be processed in an environmentally sound manner. We are told that if limits are exceeded, they will be remedied by the miner except in the case of unforeseeable circumstances that prevent them from fulfilling their contract. Will they monitor and police themselves without regard to profits? If fugitive emissions are found to degrade the environment outside of the parameters of their fence line, will this too be remedied? What will the meaning of going up North hold for citizens once this mine starts construction?
Wetlands abound along this copper deposit, with thousands of flora and fauna, many rare and uncommon all depending on clean air and water, in a wilderness of outstanding quality. There are orchard orioles, killdeer, snow geese, loons, woodcocks, purple finch, mink, great blue heron, broad-winged hawks, eagles, partridge, beaver, wolves, moose, bear, Canadian lynx, coyotes, blue bills, mallards, night hawks, snowy owls, white-throated sparrows, deer, blueberries, bearberry, rock ferns, caribou moss, and so many other species of plants and animals. What is the potential harm to these populations if the fragile balance of this ecosystem is destroyed, an ecosystem so interconnected with the health of its waters and its air?
Do we sell or do we protect? This is what this decision concerning the NorthMet Project comes down to, essentially. There are no guarantees that Polymet or theirs will be around to pay for the damage that acid rain and other hazards of mining for decades in this area will cause. They are a corporation, after all, developed to limit liability. Ongoing treatment, passive or aggressive, will never return this region to its original state. Observe ongoing pollution witnessed from mining in the area already. What financial or political assurances would suffice in a tragedy of the scale that sulfide mining would unleash?
We have waste on this earth that could be recycled without destroying our environment, our home. Have we come to a crossroads in our handling of this planet, an ecosystem that we so dearly need for our survival? Isn’t this priceless wilderness more important than any profit we can make from mining? Once understood that we cannot mine in this area without devastating results, perhaps we will favor sane and ecologically sound solutions to those challenges that engage us?
We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from these masterpieces. Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota. What profit is there if not life itself? It is undeniable that people in the area need jobs … although, who of these long term residents came with the intent to mine this jewel? If given the opportunity to work in a sustainable activity, who would not choose to do so? What kind of opportunities could be created with a mindset that encourages positive long term results over short term gains and financial profiteering? Don’t we owe it to ourselves and life itself to make the effort?
For the reasons outlined in this comment, I request that the Draft Air Permit for the NorthMet Project be denied.

PolyMet draft 401 Certification comments due March 16, 2018

The headwaters of the St Louis watershed detailed for this certification are designated Outstanding Resource Value Waters (ORVWs).  Lake Superior downstream is a restricted Outstanding International Resource Water (OIRW).  As such, changes in water quality are regulated and, according to EPA Region 8 guidance in temporary situations, water quality should return to levels prior to the activity that caused the degradation.  How should a long term project in these waters require any less?

The potential of accurately being able to determine the extent, degree and location of wetlands impacted from drawdown from this Project prior to construction are very low.  Even after the project is authorized and the mine built, these impacts will have to be determined through various types of monitoring during several growing seasons.  The impacts could vary from small changes to complete loss of wetland hydrology. In other words, complete loss of wetland(s).

The knowns are that this copper sulfide mine will result in direct and indirect impacts to 127 wetlands covering approximately 939 acres; and that it may also cause indirect wetland impacts due to potential change in wetland watershed areas, stream flow, groundwater drawdown, wetland fragmentation, or wetland water quality related to dust or rail car spillages.  The NorthMet project, then, has the potential of indirectly impacting more than the 7,350 acres of wetlands predicted.

Temporary activities in ORVWs do not have provisions in Minnesota Rule 7050.0180 placed upon them; but there are still expectations.  Temporary activities should not lower water quality to the extent that existing uses are degraded or removed.  These activities should not result in more than a 5 percent change in ambient concentrations of pollutants or result in a significant long-term increase in the frequency and duration of bacteriological pollution.  Long term water quality and wetland degradation of the kind that the NorthMet Project proposes should require, at minimum, these expectations.

Would NorthMet create no truly unusual problems?  The project itself is unusual; and this certification has not addressed the effects of introducing Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, a bacteria that thrives in a sulfide rich mining environment, a bacteria that copper mining relies upon to break down the copper, creating sulfuric acid and eventually introducing bio-available mercury downstream and into the wetlands.

The hazards cannot be overstated and have not been fully addressed in this permitting process.  I therefore, ask that this 401 certification not be granted to Polymet for the proposed NorthMet copper sulfide mine.

Comment to the MPCA on NorthMet Water Quality Permit -comments due March 16, 2018

PolyMet draft water quality permit comment
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

This permit proposes to monitor discharges in the Laurentian area from this project’s copper-sulfide mining of low grade ore in an extremely water-dependent area of the world at the headwaters of the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway.
Infrastructure including rails and roads will be required. Among the facilities referenced in this draft, the following:

  • A beneficiation plant
  • A hydrometallurgical plant
  • A flotation tailings basin (FTB) including Seepage Capture Systems
  • A hydrometallurgical residue facility (HRF)
  • A waste water treatment system (WWTS) – discharge of which will be routed through pipes to maintain flows in Trimble Creek, Second Creek, and Unnamed Creek, with some being recycled directly to FTB pond.
  • Other ancillary facilities (eg Colby Lake water pipeline) including:
    • Mine water filtration train
    • Tailings basin seepage treatment train
    • Wastewater treatment of solids/byproducts: from the tailings basin seepage treatment train including waste from filters and membrane cleaning and concentrate, which will be routed to FTB pond and mine water chemical precipitation treatment train.

 

Can we rely on a for-profit corporation to monitor itself? The permittee, Polymet, is expected to report all data from the required monitoring stations, whether favorable or not. If reported accurately and standards are not met, then Polymet will be required to monitor again until standards are met. What worthy and worthwhile actions will be taken at the “end of the day?”

If the unfathomable number of reports (essentially required just to monitor the discharge from this mining operation) are maintained accurately with regularity, consistency and competency, what truly effective actions can be taken when standards are exceeded? What of the monitoring stations that have no set standards as guidelines? What of those that are not enforceable? What actions are possible that will return the water to its base levels when the degradation becomes apparent to us all? What amount of money in the form of fees or financial guarantees can reclaim what is lost?

In addition, there is little that anyone can do to prevent natural processes and disasters from occurring, or human error whether knowingly or not; and so, by any standard, this mine will degrade our water resources in Minnesota and beyond. Can any permit for such a mine adequately address these issues?

Once copper mining has run its course in the Arrowhead by setting precedent with Polymet, the first of many to come, what will remain and what can truly be reclaimed? “Downstream,” the St Louis River estuary and Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water in the world? “Downstream,” the BWCA, and the Rainy River Watershed, the Superior National Forest and Voyageurs, the most pristine wilderness areas on the planet? Can we afford this mine?

There are hundreds of pages listed (in this water permit draft and other permits) of essential equipment and gauges required just to monitor pollution from the proposed NorthMet Project (copper mine) on a continuing basis daily, monthly and/or annually through the life of this mine and beyond. This alone speaks for itself and cannot be reconciled with the safety of our greatest natural resource.

I respectfully request that MPCA deny this permit to pollute our waters.

 

Comment on Polymet’s Permit to Mine in NE MN

 

Witch Tree in NE MN on Lake Superior

Creative expression is an essential ingredient in all of our lives and it stems from a love of beauty in all its forms.  Without this where are we? Is artistic expression something we do when other “more important” things are accomplished? Or is it, like the song of a sparrow, the rush of a spring, essential to our survival?

 

Sigurd Olson remarked that everyone needs to find their “spot of blue”.  Over the years, his reference developed from a “spot of blue” in his search for water on a portage in northeastern Minnesota in the BWCAW and in the Quetico of Ontario, the sense of adventure and discovery on that quest, to a metaphor encompassing a search for knowledge and spiritual meaning.

 

Humans have evolved into super predators through the use of tools and weapons.  Once our dominance over the animal and plant kingdoms was assured we turned these weapons on ourselves.  As a consequence, it becomes even more essential that we find our “spot of blue” and a place where we can meditate on our existence and the paths each one of us needs to take for the sake of our species and life on earth.

 

When there is no wilderness, places where we can find solitude, no respite from the drum of so-called progress, nothing but the steady beat of production at all costs and money our god, what then?  Where will we find the space and the time to appreciate the beauty and find our spot of blue?  Our survival as a human species may depend upon it.

 

I respectfully request that Polymet’s Permit to Mine in NE Minnesota at the headwaters of the St Louis River watershed be denied.

 

Anita S Dedman-Tillemans

NorthMet permits update

Information on comments and the process for Polymet’s NorthMet mining permits is located at the MPCA and DNR links below:

MPCA’s NorthMet Project Webpage

DNR’s NorthMet Comment Portal

Links to four permits open to comment and deadlines for comments:

DNR Permit to Mine … open until March 6, 2018

MPCA NorthMet Air Quality Permit … open until March 16, 2018

MPCA NorthMet Water Quality Permit … open until March 16, 2018

MPCA NorthMet Draft 401 Certification (wetlands) … open until March 16, 2018

 

As I posted on August 20, 2017:

“A copper sulfide mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota will change the meaning of “north woods” as we know it.”

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Over a century’s toll of mining iron ore in the uplands of the Laurentian Divide:

For the sake of our waters and the northern ecology of this priceless watershed, please send your comments.

Commonality between miners and wilderness advocates?

A nuanced and thought-provoking article by Reid Forgrave in the New York Times, In Northern Minnesota. “Two Economies Square Off: Mining Vs Wilderness” helped to make clear, in my view, what lies at the heart of this debate and our true commonality.

On the one hand we have miners that have grown up in families that depended on mining and whose ancestors relied on mining during its over 100 year history in the Arrowhead.  Though this is a fairly short term in comparison to the indigenous peoples who have lived off these same wilderness resources sustainably for thousands of years, it is no less palpable for the miners when food needs to be put on the table and they have grown accustomed to the job of a miner.  As it is with most of us, the familiar holds sway over the unknown when choices must be made.

On the other hand, we have the advocates for wilderness who, for generations, have lived off the land supporting wilderness tourism, or providing businesses that offered services to a diverse group of people on both sides of the debate.  In many cases these are people who have lived side by side for generations with miners, whose children grew up together and shared a love of this wilderness alongside each other. In these experiences, and not a job description, lies true meaning.

We all need meaning in our lives and not just a way to make a living.  At one time, there was honor on the range, in providing for one’s family and supplying the world with metals that were needed and that guaranteed schools and a thriving community.  These same families felt that the wilderness would always be there, that mining was essential to their survival and that these apparently existed in balance. We know better now.

Times have changed and, with awareness, mining jobs have taken on a different meaning in the Arrowhead.  More is understood now about the complexity of the substrata in NE MN and the water-dependent nature of its ecosystem.  At the source of the Mississippi River Watershed, the St Lawrence Seaway, through the Great Lakes, and the Hudson Bay drainage system, through the Rainy River Watershed … combined freshwater resources that are the greatest in the world, sourced in the Arrowhead and now under threat from one of the dirtiest mining operations known, that of copper sulfide mining.

We have commonality in our need for water, our love of wilderness, our caring for one another in a search for meaning in our lives; and this is particularly true of those who have spent their lives in the North Country of Minnesota where this debate between mining and wilderness rages; and for what?  The mining families of NE MN and wilderness advocates want the same things essentially.  It is the corporations that seek to profit off of resources in the Arrowhead of Minnesota that would have us believe otherwise.

One of the primary indications of a land rich in water is wilderness; and NE Minnesota has this in abundance.  The citizens of Minnesota share this commonality. If a copper sulfide mine is permitted in the North Country, we will all share in the result.

Footprints

Our steps take us many places in our short, fairly eventful lives.  We brave the elements and the various courses essentially as though we have a choice.

I have spent most of my life believing that I had a choice, that each course before me was created anew by that choice and my will to make it happen.  I never gave much credence to some grand plan or destiny,  ordained by the stars, by God, by a greater power.  Life seemed a grand frontier, an open plain waiting for each one of us, depending upon our will.

Silly me.  We can see but not understand.  We can be made to look away or excuse what we see.  The truth is often hidden from our innocent eyes.  In my young life, there was poverty before me, all around in the city streets of New Orleans, Maracaibo, Caracas, South Dakota, Houston, and in towns around California, especially visible closer to the border … and now in Minneapolis, where I have spent almost fifty years.

What happens to young children when they have only their wills to get them through a life of poverty, a life without good education or opportunities to lift up and broaden their perspectives, their choices?  What is the greater part of society missing when this happens?  We all suffer.

Does a child in this kind of situation have a choice?  Do any of us have a choice?  Our environments set our choices for us much of our lives.  It is easy for a man or woman of means to say we have choices.  It seems so obvious to someone who has options, opportunities and a hand up in life, all of one’s life … someone with money, with time and people who love and support them.  It’s not a given to those without.

The will to survive is a powerful and necessary ingredient in our lives.  It can make us saints or criminals, and most often it makes us products of our environment.  What else could be expected?

When women and men enter lives of prostitution, for instance, are they not products of their environment?  Why does anyone enter “the life” selling that most precious of commodities, their spirit, their bodies to be used and abused by others?  What has been done to a man who would buy or sell another human for profit or pleasure?  What kind of choice is this?  It is not the person, but the environment, that needs profound change.

I finally understood that so much in our lives is determined for us by our environments, and that understanding is necessary to change society for the better.  We need to understand that many people have few options and therefore enter lives that they would rather not, if only they were given a better playing field.  Treating the symptoms will never cure the dis-ease.

I found that my own choices were determined not only by my own potential, but initially and essentially by my environment.  I was lucky in many ways, had the education, the mother and father who loved me so perfectly imperfectly, the experiences that broadened my perspectives and gave me an understanding of the life before me.

How many children are we losing every day, how many lost opportunities for a better world?  How many beauties are being lost to a world with no vision?  When will this change?  When will we open our eyes wide open and understand that every child deserves to be loved; and put that understanding in action providing the best educational opportunities we can give them and lives with options.

Things need to change holistically.  Love needs to be our profound all-encompassing business for the betterment of all society and the love of beauty as we take our steps through this life.

What would be a particularly bad place for a highly toxic copper sulfide mine?

If we were to search the entire globe for a place that would result in more devastation to the natural world and to world class water systems, we might be hard pressed to find a more damaging prospect than the Arrowhead of Minnesota.  This region is located:

  1. At a recharge area in a diverse and complex geological formation where toxins from a mine could discharge at unknown places anywhere from a mile to 100 miles from the source in any direction.
  2.  In an aquifer that feeds one of three of the greatest river systems on the North American continent at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway.
  3.  On the doorstep of the world’s most pristine wildernesses, the combined lands and waters of the BWCA and Quetico in the heart of the Rainy River Watershed.
  4. In a community where tourism depends on wilderness.
  5. Upstream from communities that depend upon wild rice, game and recreation, which are all dependent upon clean water, air and an ecosystem without precedent.
  6.  In one of the richest and most ecologically diverse areas in the world.
  7.  At the heart of the Arrowhead in Minnesota’s Great Lakes and Mississippi River flyways where thousands of migrating birds depend annually on the area’s wilderness waters and l