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

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.


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.


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.

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

Water Protectors Launch Direct Action Against Enbridge Pipeline in Minnesota

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

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

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:

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:


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:

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).

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.

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.

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:

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

Interactive map at

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

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.




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

Cares Act bill 3548

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

Mitch McConnell pledges to scrap $600 boost in unemployment benefits

Second stimulus check updates: GOP, ….

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)

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.

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?

posts about the proposed pipeline on Arterutan:

Comment on Enbridge Pipeline #3

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


Necessity, the Mother of Invention

young girl during the dust bowl era
young girl in her teens during the Great Depression and dust bowl in Colorado

In the Great Depression, it became essential that programs were created to allow for the common welfare, to restore what had broken under the weight of greed and bad management.  In any society, in a democracy, regulation becomes a structure for reigning in the excesses of those who would take from those who are less powerful.  Understanding nature and human frailty, President Roosevelt with able advice from certain women in his circle, Perkins, Eleanor and those of insight and good heart, was emboldened to take on the powerful elite including the banks, who would bully their way into more of the same bad decisions, in order to maintain their hold on the purse and power.  FDR was not perfect.  No one person can make all the right decisions … but he made some striking and positive changes that have served this nation well for the most part.

Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the USA was lifted from the depths of a depression, the effects of the dust bowl era, and World War II ….  With foresight and a willingness to seek advice where it was needed, he understood that we all benefit when those who have little are given opportunity to thrive.  Under his guidance, the disenfranchised were given jobs, assistance to be able to eat and find shelter, to lift themselves out of desperate situations; and because of this he brought what could have been escalation into despair and chaos, hope and revival of this historic democracy.

Under FDR’s leadership:

the Social Security Act was signed into law, and became a federal safety net for elderly, unemployed and disadvantaged Americans.

the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) addressed the urgent needs of the poor by spending 500 million dollars on soup kitchens, blankets, employment programs, and nursery schools.  It was involved with projects that employed writers, artists, actors and musicians, focusing on giving food to the poor, educating workers, and provided 500,000 jobs for women.

the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established on March 9, 1933 in the heart of the Great Depression employing 250,000 men by June of that year to work for six months on conservation projects planting trees, preventing soil erosion, and combating forest fires.  At the end of the project, the Civilian Conservation Corps had employed 2.5 million men.  Much of their quality work can be seen in the national parks and elsewhere.

the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) helped stabilize prices with quotas, modernizing and innovating farming practices, and in some cases under extreme conditions aided farmers financially.

the National Industry Recovery Act (NIRA) promoted industrial recovery and established the Public Works Administration (PWA) and National Recovery Administration (NRA).  These organizations built infrastructure for the states, which created jobs, improved working conditions, and outlawed child labor.  Under these programs wages increased; and this allowed the workers to spend more and supported systems of economic revival for the masses, which increased the welfare of all; undoubtedly, strengthening the entire economy.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established to build dams on the Tennessee River to prevent flooding and deforestation, provide hydroelectric power, stimulate farming, compete with private companies to provide safer, low cost electricity to communities.  The aim was also to teach better farming methods, replant trees, sell surplus electricity, create jobs, conserve water power, and finally to provide economic development.

This is just a short list of the policies that one President implemented in a time of crisis in this country.  We had a leader in FDR who cared about the welfare of the American people, all the people.  He was a President of the people, and did not inspire cult admiration, or power for himself.  He chose to empower the whole of this country, to unite us, not divide us.  He was an inspiration and, although, he was not without fault, being human, he did his best.

With the advent of the internet, like the grapevine on steroids, it becomes imperative that we come to an understanding that democracy is not free.  It requires our vigilance and our loyalty to the truth.  Words will come and go.  They are, after all, just words; but without truth behind them, they can be weaponized to damage any society, just as gossip can destroy a person.

Many of the programs that we have relied on over the years to keep those less fortunate fed and sheltered, are under attack.  With greed and profiteering at the gates of our democracy, where money has become a vote for more of the same, with stock reports, a bell weather for the rich only, being treated as if they foretell the health of a entire economy fraudulently, it is time to keep our eyes wide open.

Years of identity politics that encouraged devotion to charismatic individuals, blindness to truth or a narrowing perspective, and a social media that profits by creating these kinds of bubbles, we find ourselves in a similar situation to the Great Depression where greed and poor regulation broke the economy.  Now with minority gerrymandering and a Senate under the control of one man, a minority representative, our institutions have become unable to pass any meaningful legislation for the welfare of the majority of its citizens.

No matter the political, religious, or philosophical view, we all benefit by diversity and a broader perspective.  We could benefit by regulating forms of communication to balance minority views that are now dominating the landscape ecology with a diversity of perspectives, creating balanced reporting over our public airwaves, invoking campaign finance reform that takes the power out of powerful corporate interests and delegates it to the people.  Our political campaigns should not cost billions of dollars.  Our political officials should not have to campaign for more and more money during their terms of office in order to retain those offices, leaving little time to do the jobs that their constituents put them in office to do.  Our positions of power should not be places of profit.

One of the frightening aspects of corporate greed and minority rule is its insatiable thirst to take from the social security trust and give it to Wall Street.  Over the past several years, it has become clear to me that there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning social security … a savings account made possible through regular paycheck contributions, contributions that must continue to keep it solvent.  Therefore, it is not part of the national budget, but a trust account. If one didn’t pay into the account, one would not receive social security; and one receives only what has been earned. In that regard, it is an entitlement … a trust between the government and its citizens that their savings would be there when they retired.

Social Security was never intended to be an investment program, privatized for the profit of Wall Street executives and investors who have the money to gamble. Money has been taken from the pay checks of so-called “baby boomers” at twice the previous rate of the generation before, to build a surplus that will fund retirees into the future, and with modest changes could continue to support our children and grandchildren when they retire.  In a broader perspective it could be the foundation for Universal Basic Income and make it a boon to all. Worrying the younger generation needlessly with misconceptions about the solvency of this program, and pitting one generation against another plays only into the hands of Wall Street and does not secure a future for the younger generation.

Privatizing social security would put secure funds at risk subject to the whims and manipulations of the market, leaving the working generation responsible for paying taxes to support what the baby boomers had already paid for, in addition to funding their own market accounts and paying transition costs of switching to privatized accounts (estimated at trillions over the first twenty years).  A bad trade at best, privatized accounts in lieu of Social Security Benefits would make us all less secure.

We have much work to do under a President Biden and Kamala Harris.  With good leadership focused on the welfare of us all, great things are possible.

For Love is Lord of All …


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.


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 ….




MPCA Rainy River Headwaters Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report 2017



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 Facts and Human Society


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 …. world article on Dejoy

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

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:

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

Water uses and percentages in our bodies …:

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

Quick Wikipedia facts on water:

For love of wilderness and the health of our waters.

Anita  Dedman-Tillemans

August 2019

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:,14863


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

Truth and Opinion


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

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?

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.


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

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



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:  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.

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.


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.

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 lands.

In spite of these attributes and many others, this is exactly where the DNR proposes to permit a copper sulfide mine, a mine, which will leave pollution for a minimum of 500 years and may reach the dimensions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing if precedent follows.

Could dimensions of copper-sulfide mining reach the proportions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing Minnesota? Babbitt, a doorway to the BWCA at Birch Lake and the location of the proposed NorthMet copper mine, is located in the Laurentian Uplands, a recharge area for three of the greatest river systems in North America.

The guarantees are many:

  • We need water to survive in its natural state for maximum health .
  • The NorthMet Project and copper mining will pollute the water and land.
  • Filters used in the mining process will change the water’s composition and these filters will also need disposal.
  • Tailings will be stored in an aging earthen “containment” pond, which leaks and leaches and will continue to do so.
  • Waste piles will leach and leak, as well, into the unforeseeable future.
  • Release of toxins into the environment is inevitable through natural processes and accidents.
  • Waste piles and ponds are subject to natural disasters, which cannot be planned for and which have not been fully accounted for in the permitting process.
  • Wetlands will be destroyed through mining processes directly and indirectly.
  • Habitat for wildlife will be degraded.
  • Transportation corridors will spread the toxic effects beyond the mine’s footprint.
  • As water seeks its level, pits will fill with water continuously as long as the pits are in use, thereby mining water as well as rock.
  • Since mining will occur in the Laurentian Highlands, a recharge area for three major watersheds on the North American continent, the risk of water pollution, the risk of damage to artesian wells (contained aquifers) through depressurization, and the risk to more than one watershed is possible.
  • Because the area has multiple substrata at complex, varying depths with bedrock fractures and diverse materials, unknown factors will ultimately determine pathways for copper sulfide mining pollution and these could appear in unexpected places.

  • Damage to these waters will reach in and out of state, and in and out of this country.
  •  The profits will move out of state and out of this country.
  • The jobs will last a relatively short time compared to the 500 years of pollution left behind.
  • As the wilderness goes, so will the wilderness tourism.
  • The responsibility for clean-up will most likely remain in Minnesota as a burden to the taxpayer when the mine is closed and the company dissolved.  Since no corporation can guarantee solvency for 500 years or stay in business for long on charity, what other outcome could be expected?
  • In spite of any guarantees to the contrary, no amount of money will return this unique wilderness to the citizens of Minnesota.
  • The meaning of North Country will be changed forever.

For all of these reasons and more, I object to the NorthMet Project and a copper mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota.


The comment portal is open on Polymet’s permit to mine application until March 6, 2018 at:

Text links to the draft permit and outlines as well as information on how to make comments and submissions are located at:

 Please make your comments or objections by March 6, 2018.

For the sake of our wilderness and our water.  Anita



Doing Business

What does it mean to “do business”?  Do we plan for all outcomes to our best ability and consider the quality of air, water, the health of our planet, beforehand, as the bottom line and love the ultimate business of all?

In a world where success is measured by the size of a bank account, living becomes a battle between the richest and the rest, where profits determine long term outcomes in a destructive race to exploit our natural resources for short term gain.  This current measure of success is a fool’s game in opposition to the health of this planet .

As harsh as it may seem, our leaders, in essence, are the face of our own choices.  In a democracy, we can change the status quo in our own day to day business by making choices that are true to our better selves.  When we support those enterprises that act on healthy instincts, instincts based on love, we increase the wealth for all.  When the leaders of business choose based on love for the health and well-being of their own children, grandchildren, they will naturally choose to act in ways that will be more beneficial to all.

There are over 170 million pieces of debris in orbit around the Earth, with over 8,500 known items in low Earth orbit accounting for more than 5,500 tons in 2008.  According to a 2011 report by the US National Research Council, the amount of debris had reached a critical level.

This, a present day conundrum, since the rush to launch various products into orbit has failed to address the necessity for eventual safe disposal, as we so utterly failed in the nuclear industry. Leaving the orbits around Earth with enough waste to look like the rings of Saturn, resultant waste endangers further launches and those of us on the ground with potential out-of-control collisions in orbit and an average of 200-400 hunks of metal waste falling to Earth every year.

Will robots, further technology, promised solutions be enough to remove the pollution in space, our air, on the ground, and in our waters before the progress we hold so dear destroys any chance of renewal?  The solutions we seek require nothing less than a whole-hearted change in the way we do business and this means every one of us.

There will be changes no matter what we do now; but without the love that comes from a respect for the natural world, for the health of this planet and the well being of our progeny, those changes might not be what we want. Out of necessity, though, they will be what nature requires.

Roll call on a vote to suspend rules and pass the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act

HR 3115 Roll Call votes 11/28/2017-7:07pm


How are we to reconcile the pollution of our waters with clean energy requirements?

Representative Nolan tells us that copper mining in the Arrowhead will be good for jobs and good for the environment.  Two arguments, it seems, that have weight in a society that values money above all else and gives short shrift to the fact that there are unresolved issues even with green technology, as with all new technologies.  The byproducts of our decisions today will remain after the jobs are gone.

Will we make the same mistakes that we made with the promise of nuclear energy?  Will we fail to manage the byproducts and waste any better?  Will we discount the dangers while we struggle to advance the benefits at all costs?  Fossil fuel as the primary source of energy is on the wane, for good reason; and alternative energy and its components are becoming profitable.  Will we give up the promise of green technology by ignoring the problems for the sake of profit and a quick fix?

An accounting is best made now, before we dive into making poor choices with utterly tragic consequences.  What more important than water?  We can live without the new technologies from precious metals and mining.  Can we live without potable water, jobs or no jobs?

The paths to new energy sources are being made now.  Will we fix a course that will eventually lead to a dead end as it has with nuclear energy?  Consider the disposal of batteries and the pollution from mining of “precious” metals for these technologies that will make “clean” energy a joke if it is not handled with care?

Avoiding these discussions by praising job creation and claiming that a mine in one of the most water dependent regions in the world will be good for the environment does not cut the mustard.  Passing a bill like HR 3115 will not make for a better world.

There are solutions in the making and possible solutions given time.  Consider recycling of metals already above ground, passive remedies, more efficient modes of use and reuse ….  Some of these solutions are not as profitable in the beginning, but may be far more in the end.  Consider those who will pay for poor decisions made today.

Will our best shot be to trade the vitality of our waters and our wilderness for short term profit?  Or will we finally take money out of the mix in order to make our best most important decisions.  Is this possible?

An Open Letter to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

The watersheds of the Mississippi, the Rainy River and the Great Lakes have their source in northern Minnesota, particularly in the Laurentian highlands of the Arrowhead, a wilderness that knows few equals in this regard.  Minnesota citizens, then, have a global responsibility to preserve this vital, rare and important aquifer from exploitation.

For over one hundred years, the state of Minnesota has condoned mining in the Laurentian Divide.  For over one hundred years the Missississippi and the St Louis Rivers, the Great Lakes and the Rainy River watershed have suffered from our failure to see the significance of these waters.  Elevated levels of lead and mercury … not including acid rain from the coal-fired plants supporting mining operations, smelters and other correlated equipment have done their part to interfere with vital natural processes.  Have we learned from our past mistakes?

In spite of this over one-hundred year history of mining in Minnesota and the correlated air and water pollution, failed infrastructure and inadequate protections, the state continues to promote mining activity.  Desperate measures to sustain an industry that will fail, that will pollute vital water reserves, where there can be no adequate protections in this water rich area, in an ecology that has no precedent on Earth, will serve no one in the long term.

Copper mining will destroy our water resources and our one of a kind wilderness in Northern Minnesota.  I was disappointed to have read that you support the NorthMet Project.


Anita Suzanne Tillemans


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


Link to articles on arterutan concerning copper mining in the Arrowhead:

Arrowhead Aquifers and the Hill of Three Waters

Arterutan site link to other content on the Northmet Project




What price wilderness? Ask your reps to vote no on HR 3115.

Superior National Forest’s land exchange with Polymet effectively trades wilderness mandated for protection into the hands of the copper mining industry, one of the most polluting industries known to man.  The question comes up:

What price this northeastern Minnesota wilderness at the headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes and at the heart of three of the greatest waterways in the North American continent?

The proponents of this bad deal will tell you that these wilderness lands are not “productive” and that this exchange will benefit the school children in the trade or some such …. that there will be hundreds of jobs, that the lands received by the NSFS in the swap are much more contiguous and will allow better management of forest resources, give greater access, more financial benefit and so on ….

Will any greater access, the amount of jobs from mining and “productivity” pay for the pollution of this valuable resource, our waters, for hundreds of years?  Since one of the insidious products of copper sulfide mining is bio-available mercury, how will school children profit from this; and how does one” clean up” the damage?

I wonder.  Is money and profitability the only statistic of prime importance on a balance sheet?  If so, then what of clean water, clean air, the health of our plant and animal life, the mitochondria, the fungus and the insects and birds?  Let’s consider the health of our children if not our own.  What is the price of a child’s life, the price of wilderness?  We are not only trading lands in this swap.  It is much deeper and much more damning than this.

Money will not give us the things we need in the long haul … and our children will benefit far better from clean water.  Wilderness is our filter, it is literally our blood and our bone, it is our base.  Whatever benefits wilderness benefits us.  Copper sulfide mining is not one of these.


Comment on dam safety permit applications for Polymet by October 16, 2017

Dear Commissioner Landwehr:

Re: NorthMet Dam Safety

I am writing to express my concerns about the recently released dam safety permits for the PolyMet Mine. There are insurmountable problems associated with these permits and the proposals made by Polymet, a company that has never operated a mine before and will not use the newest technology recommended by your agency’s contractors.

It is common knowledge that these earthen dams are unsafe and cannot, in all truth, be guaranteed to hold up over time, especially the hundreds of years that they will be expected to endure.  They will eventually fail and release toxic sludge and pollution into the watershed below, a watershed without precedent, affecting communities and structures downstream to the Lake Superior basin and possibly into the Rainy River watershed.

The DNR is tasked to protect our resources for the benefit of Minnesotans.  Does the DNR do this by permitting a private for-profit copper sulfide mine, the NorthMet project, to use a dam for its storage of toxic sludge and tailings that has weakened over the 40+ years of its life already, known to leak into the aquifer sending toxic waste downstream and into wetlands surrounding the area?  What can be expected after 500 years?

Please say no to these dam safety permits and send an undeniable message to Minnesotans, who by the majority of comments do not want this toxic and hazardous project polluting our northern waters and ecosystem.



Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

October 12, 2017

Do not allow the EPA to withdraw the proposed 404(c) protections for Bristol Bay … Please make your comments by October 17, 2017

Comment submitted October 12, 2017:

Like a beacon, under scrutiny for mining of copper resources, stands the Bristol Bay area.  For thousands of years, supporting the long term health of communities, this area has been and continues to be a rich natural resource for fish and wildlife, including one of the richest salmon spawning grounds in the world.  This proposal will remove the Proposed Determination of the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska (July 2014), which would have served to protect this watershed from exploitation and destructive practices; while the Pebble Limited Partnership, seeking private profit in a relatively short term, tells us that the area is depressed and people need jobs.  This, they tell us, even though the jobs will be gone when the boom is over and the lands and waters fouled forever.

The associated earthen dam alone, which will be expected to hold toxic sludge and tailings byproducts from copper sulfide mining, into perpetuity, could not stand the test of time in this ecologically fragile area located in an earthquake zone.   In addition, repercussions from an onslaught of torrential rains and weather conditions over time associated with a changing climate can be guaranteed.  A failed dam would be tragic enough, but this does not preclude ongoing degradation during construction, operation and maintenance from blasting, transportation corridors, dewatering, dispersal of contaminants into the watershed, noise pollution and air pollution in the midst of a pristine invaluable natural environment.  Fifteen years of research and study into a copper sulfide mine’s possible effects in this sensitive area have only made the proposed mine more toxic.

Copper-sulfide mining in the Bristol Bay watershed would be devastating on our fresh water resources, the health of communities who depend on this watershed, the flora, fauna, unspoiled lakes like Lake Iliamna, the long term profitability and viability of world class salmon and sports fishing, tourism and natural habitats.  As if these things were not enough, how does monetary profit compare to true wealth?  Do we choose short term boom and bust economies over the health of our planet?  What is true wealth but an environment like that in the Bristol Bay watershed; and who in their right mind would give this up for any amount of financial gain?  This watershed would be changed forever by permitting any copper sulfide mine to operate within its boundaries.

I formally and respectfully request that the proposal herewith to withdraw proposed 404(c) protections for the Bristol Bay area be denied.  The withdrawal legalese found under the name “Proposed Determination to Restrict Use of Area as Disposal Site: Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska; Proposed Withdrawal” will allow the permitting process for this mine to begin, an outcome that we cannot sanction for the sake of future generations who depend upon decisions we make today.


Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

October 12, 2017

When Predators Rule

We are in a world of illusion in which words have become an important path by which the powerful rule.  These words should surprise no one … and yet, truth be told, most of us want to believe that our particular truth or illusion isthe truth” and so, believe what suits us.  As someone close to me once said, to paraphrase, “truth is relative.”  With this view, as the old saying goes, we will fall for anything.  Is this a problem or a necessity?

Is this what the cycle of life demands since everything, eventually, falls apart? Doing what seems to come naturally when predators rule may be impossible to avoid, the fear and ignorance that keeps us from seeing beyond the surface.  In order to survive, though, isn’t it necessary that we conquer those fears that keep us in the dark?

Creative to a point, we may find solutions to immediate needs; but do we see beyond to a broader and more enduring perspective? Do we need to?  Will we be capable of going beyond our own immediate, visceral needs to a higher and more meaningful way of living?  Time it seems will tell.

I wonder what lies below the surface of our present dilemmas and apparent societal quandries? What might be possible if we stop believing, out of convenience, that truth is relative?

on Beauty …

We see beauty for good reason – not simply as an abstract, but because it is a beacon so essential to life.  With appreciation, we become stewards, moving in harmony with the seasons, accepting the nature of things, rather than seeking dominion. Through awareness, comes a morality that sustains us.

What is morality but good stewardship, a system that sustains and supports all life without judgment?  When we are lost, beauty in many guises stands above all else to light our way.  In the darkest of times, it is our appreciation that gives us strength and understanding. Where our paths will lead we cannot know, nor do we need to know.  We see beauty, we know joy, and our lives are made whole.

The happiest people know this.  They are ever-present and realize that the substance of their lives lies in the beauty of the spheres, moment to moment.

On equality …

Black lives matter, of course, but we need action… and words can segregate us.

Language is a problem because when we claim one thing, then the opposite seems just as likely. Hard to fight the repercussions that come from these kind of statements.

Of course, we know in retrospect what is meant and why it’s being said. Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered from prejudice and tyranny especially black lives in this country; that is, anyone with a heart feels the shame and the sadness.

Women have suffered, immigrants are suffering now in this country, children go to bed hungry at night, the poor, always, and this knows no boundaries, however defined. When will we learn as a community in mass that this kind of segregation happens not only in practice, but first in words.

(to be continued)

What harm could mining do in the watershed of the BWCA and headwaters of the Mississippi River?

In light of the ongoing process to permit the Polymet to mine copper in Babbitt with a processing center in Hoyt Lakes, I am reposting my article first published in November, 2012:

A view of Northern Minnesota as the battle rages for copper, sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.


America Incorporated or American Democracy?

I have long believed that our democracy was at risk through negligence.  Too many distractions: television, internet, shopping for things that money will buy, constantly processing useless and energy robbing information ….  We mistake a movie or sitcom for life, friends on social media for family, big houses and fancy cars for worth; and, in the process, miss the very life-giving force of living a life that is true to our own real needs.

It takes effort to develop these things and face-to face contact with our sleeves rolled up. It takes affection, appreciation and attention for this democracy to survive, all of which is at the heart of love.

May love prevail in this country.


What is the difference at the heart of any religion, when truth and kindness reign?

Kindness and truth are at the heart of all religions.
Quotations from the Muslim Prophet Muhammad:

On kindness:
Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith.
None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
He who helpeth his fellow-creature in the hour of need, and he who helpeth the oppressed, him will God help in the Day of Travail.
They will enter the Garden of Bliss who have a true, pure, and merciful heart.

On riches:
It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path which leads to bliss.
O Lord Keep me alive a poor man, and let me die poor and raise me amongst the poor.
Seek for my satisfaction in that of the poor and needy.

On truth (heaven, self-knowledge):
Heaven lieth at the feet of mothers.
He who knoweth his own self, knoweth God.
Learn to know thyself.


Where will the quiet places be found, the wilderness areas that sustain all life if we, as a society, continue to place money above all else?

Understanding the true meaning of success was a journey through a maze of propaganda and a lifetime of searching for the truth.  I searched in the first place because I understood viscerally that propaganda was leading me in the wrong direction.  It did not make me happy to follow these trails.  I did not find true wealth in money and material things. Truth for me was found in the humanity of a smile, the beauty of a sunset, the warmth of firelight … and so I found that success in my life was inextricably linked to beauty, and that knowledge of this truth was the only thing that could bring me the happiness so important for its realization.  It required me to reach outside of myself into a larger landscape to fulfill the admonition:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Jesus of Nazareth

Truth and kindness, then, made its way into my formula for success.  Suited to every individual bar none; and the difficulty lies within ourselves, our own ability to see beyond the mundane sphere of our lives to the greater world around us, in order to know true success.

What would this planet be like if we took it upon ourselves to make this our life’s mission; and if we understood that whatsoever we do to the most humble of us we do to ourselves?

It does not mean going out of our way to do good for others. Leave someone alone, if need be.  Show respect as you would have it … a simple smile or a greeting.  What would you want?  What would you expect if you were in their place?  This kind of success knows no boundaries and no static definition.  It is defined by the people who live it.

For a better world.

In the Shelter of a Tree


One can view this house on the way to Silver Lake by bus.  The tree on its east, now gone, was a reminder of the elms that stood majestically along the boulevards in Minneapolis over 45 years ago.  These trees have been taken down in great numbers … because, it seems, it was more cost effective to lumber them than to save them.

Trees are money of course.  Never mind that they harbor and nourish wildlife, birds of all kinds and others, including humans, that require the shelter, the food, the shade, breadth and breath of an old tree.

Heart-sick watching these giants being harvested in the city of Minneapolis … to make room for more big box houses and parking lots, water parks, roads, sidewalks, and for pulp, mulch, or table tops and doors.

When will we, as a society, learn that old growth trees are essential … that we need clean air … clean water … and earth that is growing?  In this regard, trees are vital.  Money will not provide this. We will continue to see species extermination until this is learned in earnest throughout the whole of human society.

Do we own our technology, or does it own us?  Do we own our possessions, or do they own us?  Will we be happier with bigger houses and fancier cars, trips to somewhere else when we have no true investment in the places we live? Better not to grow any investment if it means destroying our base and, with it, the living legacy of our old trees.

I miss the canopy that stood over the boulevards in Minneapolis when I arrived almost 50 years ago … replaced by saplings, which are being trimmed regularly to optimize board feet when harvested. The arbor that arched over our streets cannot be replaced in an entire lifetime.  What kind of world are we making on our way to making money?


Supreme Court of Minnesota decides that a ballot initiative on minimum-wage is the sole discretion of the Minneapolis City Council:

The Supremacy Clause of our United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) established the Constitution as supreme law of the land, becoming the cornerstone of our political structure.  It established that no matter what the federal government or states wish to do the laws made would have to comply with the Constitution.

In deciding A16-1367 , did the Supreme Court of Minnesota comply with the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the …  right of the people  … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”



A16-1367        Tyler Vasseur, et al., petitioners, Respondents, vs. City of Minneapolis, et al., Appellants, Ginny Gelms, in her capacity as Elections Manager, Hennepin County:


Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Daniel P. Rogan, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent Ginny Gelms

“The district court erred in granting respondents’ petition pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 204B.44(a) (Supp. 2015), and directing the Minneapolis City Council to include a question regarding a proposed minimum-wage amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter on the ballot for the general election because the City Charter vests general legislative authority solely in the City Council.”

Acting Justices, Judge Randolph W. Peterson and Louise Dovre Bjorkman.

(Took no part, Justices David R. Stras, David L. Lillehaug, Margaret H. Chutich and Anne K. McKeig)

In conclusion, the Mn Supreme Court decided that:

 “Minneapolis residents are not permitted to directly implement legislation by petition” that their elected representatives, “so far, have refused to” pursue), rev. denied (Minn. Aug. 25, 2005).5

 Is it time for an amendment to the Minneapolis city charter?

On the Bluffs over Wakon-teebe


The pictured overlook stands on the bluffs above a cave that the Indians named wakon-teebe, known by various names as Dwelling of the Great Spirit or Mystery, House of Spirits  and the Spirit House.  It contains a crystal pool fed by spring water that had reported flows of 25 gallons per minute and held ancient Indian hieroglyphs, until they were destroyed by railroad construction.  A shadow of the original visited by Jonathan Carver in 1766, this cave stands on the banks of the Mississippi in the bed of what was once the great river, Warren, which discharged glacial waters from the largest lake ever known, Lake Agassiz.

What stood thousands of years took relatively little time to desecrate.  St. Paul & Chicago Railroad condemned the strip of land along its river bank, dug it down and nearly destroyed it.  Most of what was carved away held the cave’s petroglyphs.  The entrance is now sealed by a steel door following habitation during the Great Depression, curiosity seekers and landscaping for public and private use, all of which could not help to change the essence of what it was for thousands of years to the Native Americans.  The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to this “spirit cave” and there have been improvements in the surrounding park.

The bluffs above wakon-teebe, designated Indian Mounds Park, hold sacred burial mounds many of which have been destroyed for expediency.  Only six were spared of at least 37 known in the area, to be registered as historic preservation sites.

At the overlook above the cave, garbage was strewn everywhere, the only two garbage cans, overflowing … plastic bags, pop cans, trash in abundance down the side of this bluff.  Votive candles on the stone walls below a solitary old tree testified to the still sacred nature of this place, where a vigilant bald eagle perched above the river valley.

Views from the bluffs are breathtaking and reveal the immensity of this river valley, filled now with artifacts of our “progress” — an airport, trains and tracks, barges and, among other things, Pigs Eye Waste Treatment Plant, while the Great Spirit has, evidently, been evicted and locked out, perhaps perched in the old tree above the cave.


Setting Precedent / The Danger of Copper Mining at the headwaters of the Great Lakes

The state of Minnesota made a mistake in the late 1800’s by permitting a mine at the Hill of Three Waters in what is now known as the Hull Rust Mine.  By diverting the attention away from the actual fountainhead of the Mississippi so that mines could be established, and declaring the “official” head at Lake Itasca, a 2 mile square lake in the far west of the state, this made mining possible on the Iron Range; and has been a primary cause of pollution in the great Mississippi River and its wetlands at the source.  It has also set precedent for more mining in the highlands of the Laurentian Divide, the primary recharge source for three great rivers of the world, that of the Mississippi River, Rainy River and the St Louis River (extreme headwaters of the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway).  Now we stand to see another precedent set, one for copper mining.

DNR approval of the FEIS for NorthMet in March 2016, and subsequent opening for Polymet to proceed with applications for permits has opened the potential of a floodgate of pollution from copper mining in one of the most water rich and water dependent ecosystems in the North American continent, at the headwaters of three great rivers ….  There is, literally, no other place like it- because of this.

Links to information on the NorthMet Project in Northern Minnesota

If these permits are approved, allowing for a reduction in air and water quality and destruction of wetlands just south and along the border of the BWCAW, it will open the door to United States Forest Service approval of the land exchange, an exchange that Polymet cannot do without.

If the USFS approves the land exchange, this would be forfeiting its authority to mining interests over lands that were set aside for protection. The Forest Service would be trading, not only lands, but a trust that these ecosystems would be protected from exploitation for generations to come.

Polymet will be mining water resources, destroying wetlands, by their own admission; and, in effect, degrading natural resources, flora and fauna, with its lease to continuously extract metals in an open-pit mine. They will be requiring permits to do all of this, including permits to take endangered species on lands that the Forest Service was given in trust.

In addition, this would help establish precedent that could facilitate more land exchanges of this type. By trading these lands, USFS would, essentially, be demonstrating a lack of will in exercising its authority and create a barter system that conflicts with the role as steward.  It would allow exploitation and cannot be reconciled with this public trust … water being their most sacred trust.

The entire state and beyond would pay the price.

Status and submissions for Polymet’s air quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s water quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s request for 401 certification (NorthMet Project)

Highlights of second quarter 2016 as reported by September 15, 2016

May sanity prevail.

Fruits of Fossil Fuel

We can all agree that the advent of fossil fuel extraction and use has changed our world.  What does this mean?

Benzene is found in the air from burning coal and oil, at gasoline service stations, and in motor vehicle exhaust.  Some effects from short term inhalation are impaired driving from dizziness and sleepiness, and unconsciousness (at high levels).  It is known to cause irritation to eye, skin, and respiratory tract as well as creating changes in the composition of red blood cells, increased incidence of leukemia, risks to the fetus in pregnancy among other toxic risks.  It is known by the EPA as a known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) are known to cause acid rain which affects our waterways and forests, destroying these natural environments ability to sustain life.

Petroleum Coke (Pet Coke): abundant toxins in heavy dust from bitumen: chromium, vanadium, sulfur, selenium … being used now in coal-fired power plants and emits 5-10 times more CO2 than coal.  Even so, it is excluded from most assessments of climate impact because it is considered a refinery byproduct.

Formaldehyde (from natural gas) a carcinogen with known links to leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancers, a potent allergen and DNA alterative, also contributes to ground-level ozone.  It is commonly used in fracking for which the industry does not report details of its use.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) an entire class of toxic chemicals which are known as carcinogens and genetic mutagens are endemic in the production of oil and gas. We can already see the effects on wildlife after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mercury, largest single source of airborne mercury emissions in the U.S is from coal-fired plants from and is known as a dangerous neurotoxin.   It will affect the brain development of a child, delaying walking and conversation, attention span … high doses in the womb and in infants can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness.  In adults it is known to affect a person’s ability to reproduce, can cause memory loss, numbness in the extremities ….

Silica Dust or crystalline silica (frac sand) is a carcinogen and breathing silica dust can lead to silicosis, which is a form of lung disease with no cure. Commonly used during fracking operations, each stage of the process requires hundreds of thousands of pounds of silica quartz–containing sand. Millions of pounds may be used for a single well.

Radon used is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas which though it comes from a variety of natural sources, the fracking industry represents a significant new and increased source of radon exposure to millions of citizens. Radon is released into local groundwater and air during fracking operations. It also travels through pipelines to the point of use—be it a power plant or a home.

Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) / Hydrogen Fluoride from oil and gas production is one of the most dangerous acids known and can damage lungs, moving into deep tissue, including bone, where it causes cellular damage.  It can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

These are only 10 of the toxins attributed to the fossil fuel industry but there are other far reaching effects of oil, gas and coal production.

Greenhouse gas-induced climate change

Massive highway systems and traffic jams

War and increased Military, being one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels

Loss of Wilderness

Pollution of the aquifers and air

Mountain-top removal

Earthquakes from fracking

Mining of water reserves

Species extinctions …


The automobile:  Could Henry Ford have imagined the long term results of widespread personal automobile use, the massive highway systems, the infrastructure to supply oil, pipelines through aquifers, offshore drilling and spills in marine ecosystems to supply an insatiable thirst for energy and wealth from its production, the danger to our air, water, foods and our health … the health of not only our species, but all others on Earth at stake?

Ford was a pacifist and believed that mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers would make life better for all. He believed that consumerism was a key to peace.  Has it been the answer?  Is money and access to all manner of disposable goods the panacea for what ails the human race? Are we all richer for having this kind of access?  The more money we have the more is spent … better yet to provide a life worth living to all in a fair and equitable world where money does not rule. Has material accumulation made us richer and created a peaceful world?  The results are obvious.

There is no end to this kind of consumption, because it never truly satisfies. While the renegade fossil fuel industry destroys sacred lands in North Dakota, the news media turns a blind eye and consumers head to the gas station to fill their tanks.

On the shore of the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforest


We walked along the shore looking out over the Pacific Ocean, wandering around giant cedars that had drifted up along the shore … nature’s taking  …. and yet mankind continues to take so much more – clearing  mountaintops of ancient stands of cedars in the Olympic National Forest.  Giants felled, and man the so-called “conqueror”.

Was this path intended all along?  Civilizations have come and gone for much the same reasons; and we never seem to learn that these resources are finite.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Seems the only answer to this dilemma; and yet, where are we along that path?

Photos of Clearcutting on the Olympic Peninsula

Fall color?

To take a trip to look at the leaves, observe and enjoy the changing season perhaps might seem a distant and impractical use of limited time in a busy schedule, but don’t we all need this at some point in our lives?  Isn’t it a necessity to enjoy whatever color lights your path along the way? It has been said so many times that life is all about moments and that the best things in life are free.   In spite of this age tested advice, we have traveled too far away from true wealth, so that we can make a life that looks good on a balance sheet.

Too many people are living on a see-saw in a volatile financial market.  The “worst in us running the rest of us”.  As vested pensions were replaced by market driven portfolios, retirees, then, were chained to perpetual investment strategies at a time when enjoying the fall color might be warranted.  A lifetime of  paying into social security (double for baby boomers) and medicare, wall street retirement plans, insurance policies, mortgages and rents have left retirees wishing they could take that time. While young people with a lifetime of college debt ahead and low paying jobs, high rents and food costs are literally immersed in a world that sells everything but the things they need for happiness.

Perhaps we could all use a little color.


The danger of frac sand mining in southern Minnesota …


It was a new experience to see Perrot State Park.  A beautiful place along the Mississippi River.  And yet we were advised not to drink the water from the campground faucets ….

A few years back, with a friend, I drove south beyond Wabasha, along the Minnesota side of the Great River Road.  This should have been the growing season, full of life … flora and fauna … birds flying and sounding in the wetlands and, even so, there was utter silence in the middle of this day near the place where there are frack sand mining operations, operations that you cannot see from the road … though their presence is becoming more and more evident through the years.

How long will we allow corporations to profit from the destruction of our environment, the loss of water and air quality, the diminishing quality of life?  How long will it be before we experience a silent spring?


The Looming Prospect of Copper Mining in the Uplands of Minnesota’s Water Legacy …


As I read the continuing saga of Polymet and it’s efforts to mine copper in the northern woods of Minnesota, I remember the over-40 years since this abominable prospect first showed its ugly head … a distant cry that seemed unfathomable, impossible.

It has been almost 50 years since my coming to Minnesota and since I saw this land of 10,000 lakes and the “mother of waters” for the first time, Lake Superior, a dream, an unimaginable, unbelievable natural wonder.  Naive and in love with this beautiful land, I could never imagine that we would poison the air and water, Minnesota’s blue-sky lakes and waterfalls, streams and wetlands with the castoffs of the mining industry and the coal burning plants used to support the mining process; but, this is what we have done.  Now we know what pollution can do.

Do we stand up and say “no more”?  Have we said to Polymet … “don’t even consider this prospect”?  No.  Through the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has sold the prospect of more mining, more lumbering, more degradation .. all for the sake of financial gain in a short term view.

But what of the long term?  We await the deciding. After many years of NO from the people in Minnesota, the DNR, the US Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers still hold the prospect over our heads.  How long does it take to say NO?


A Man of His Word

No matter what happens at the Democratic Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the Presidency has deepened our awareness of politics in the United States of America.  We’ve seen biases in the media, state primaries, the falsification of our democratic process by allowing super delegates and corporate money into the process giving unfair advantage and influence, allowing multiple votes for officials and corporations. Bernie’s  campaign has been an example of what we need, men and women of their word who work for their electorate and do not take money from lobbyists and corporate interests.

By all that is intelligent and rational, politics as usual needs to change, because bribery by any other name is still bribery and should be illegal.  Campaign finance reform and laws concerning lobbyists need to be implemented to get money out of politics.  Our public airwaves belong to the public, not to corporations.  Elections need paper ballots that can be counted and validated, not touch screens and corruptible systems …. there is so much work to do.

We are still in the process of selecting the Democratic candidate for President of these United States and th Democratic Convention will begin next week on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA.  The 2016 Party Platform has been posted online and our work has only just begun … This document is ready for public input and submitted by the 437 DNC members who are also superdelegates.

There are 719 superdelegates in all, and since it serves a democracy to have an open and a fair election process, I have made a sort of this  in alphabetical order with last name first sorted according to preference:

Hillary Clinton, OMalley, Bernie Sanders and Uncommitted

Email contact when available to me during this sort has been given.  Let your preferences be known with respect, the only way to make a positive change.

For the sake of our democracy.


Loss of Innocents: The Politics of Fear and the Use of Deadly Force

Observing events of the past week, and in a quandary over the number of gunshots used in many of the police motivated killings, I wonder about over-the-top use of force in these cases.  Any officer, especially those given the responsibility of carrying guns, should be emotionally mature, competent, and trained in non-lethal methods of engagement, as a priority.  Even when a first bullet might be motivated by the expectation of lethal force, what can be the motivation for a second, third, fourth, and fifth?

In the cases of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, these were innocent victims, victims who cooperated with police to their demise.  What does this teach a wary public when there is no accountability, and how does this benefit the men and women in blue who use reason and apply caution in their handling of dangerous situations?  We are all put in danger.  Fear and loathing turn the ethos of “serve and protect” into a farce and make a good police officer’s job even harder, with hair-trigger reactions on all sides.

What must be done to move our system toward sustainable and positive outcomes in these situations can only be done through police training and education where prejudice and ignorance have no place.  The harm has already been done when we place guns in the hands of police officers who do not know how to apply respect and compassion with listening skills.  We do not have a problem with “super-predators” in our black communities any more so than in our white communities and our institutions, institutions that marginalize the powerless and create desperate men and women on all sides … men and women who will do what they think necessary, having few options, out of fear, to do what is right.

The shootings of Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile this past week by police, and those of police officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith, Sr CPL Lorne Ahrens  in Dallas, who were protecting and serving community members in a peaceful protest, prove this point.  Observe the politics of fear in the use of deadly force where fear and loathing beget violence, and violence begets more violence, a very old story.  Three innocent black men were shot dead by police, police who are now on paid leave or at a desk job (none are in jail); while the black man, Micah Xavier Johnson, who shot police is dead – killed by a bomb, no less.  All of these killings were the product of fear and loathing, a failure in our culture to deal with the heart of injustice.

What can be done to change this pattern of violence in America today?  Certainly not more violence; because violence comes in many guises – not the least of which is social.  The culture needs to change.  Rather than a militarized police force with additional “troops” and equipment, perhaps institutional evolution motivated by kindness and truth … since the first thing sacrificed in these deadly encounters is compassion; and in the aftermath, truth.

Philando Castile


Since the killing of Mike Brown, there has been an awakening across this country and the police force needs a revamping in our communities with accountability to a citizens’ board of review.  No innocent should be handled in the way that Philando Castile was handled by police.

In spite of the odds, young people of color are making a difference with very real courage.  In spite of the danger, they are willing to stand up to injustice.  In spite of a system that works to deny them equal opportunity, many are managing to live a life as Philando Castile, doing great good.

We cannot accept the status quo because we all lose when we lose souls like these.

Saplings, a canopy do not make.

In forest ecology, a canopy defined by the upper layer of all forests is a habitat zone formed by mature crowns of trees and containing a diverse system of organisms in a healthy ecosystem. It is a cover, and an environment so different than one without.

In terms of many urban areas, this canopy is quickly being destroyed in the name of “healthy forest” initiatives and for urban development, while saplings are given the impossible task of “replacing” what they cannot replace.

  • Faced with higher temperatures annually, middle-aged trees, as well as saplings are dying from drought. With less tree cover and more concrete, more heat, a vicious cycle of deforestation ensues and escalates.  Our canopy in Minneapolis, at less than 32 percent, continues to diminish.
  • Much wood is being used for energy purposes and for other commercial interests; so, through short-sighted practices and views, these mature trees become worth more dead than alive.
  • Rather than divert a road, create a sustainable alternative, short term development projects, new over-sized homes and housing developments  apply expediency over sanity.  It takes time to treat a pattern, to water a tree and keep it free from disease and pests.  It costs money too, sometimes.
  • Suffice to say, with less water and higher temperatures, a tree has no stamina to fight disease and infestations.  It certainly cannot survive a chain saw aimed at its destruction.  Witness the wholesale destruction of mature ash trees along one boulevard after another in Minneapolis.
  • Public policies that prioritize cutting down healthy trees from fear of infestation or disease, rather than watering and wise tree care, replace our canopy with saplings that have even less prospect of survival.

A canopy of mature trees, some that have stood for one hundred or more years cannot be replaced by saplings, no matter how many we plant.  Management practices  need to change to a holistic approach, understanding that all things, even emerald ash borer, has its place in this system.  Insecticides and removal should be emergency management options only.  Wouldn’t it be better to maintain a healthy forest, one that is managed long term to retain its canopy, with an urban forest management system that has teeth?

Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.
Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.



Leave the trees, please.

tree_3003On my walk this morning through a neighborhood of old trees, some over a hundred years old, I headed through one block where the canopy covers like a rain forest and cools like a mountain stream.  As I approached, unmistakable sounds of heavy equipment and saws broke the silence.

Another one and a half story home, built prewar, sold to be replaced with the newest rage, cathedral ceilings and marble; so the old white oak tree in its yard, towering over 80 feet above, was trimmed and removed … no replacement possible.  An old story where money matters most.

Old trees, more than commodities, more than board feet, outlast the structures that replace them, but for the next fad or money making development on horizon, which always seems to be of more consequence than these towering testaments to life.  Never mind the hundreds of species that depend on a tree of this size.  Never mind that it will take another hundred years to replace.  Never mind the shade and the oxygen it supplies.  Never mind the peace and tranquility it provides, the forests and the streams that owe their existence to these monuments!

This old tree could have lived another hundred years providing shade and shelter for so many.  It was not to be, though; because, you see, somebody needed to make money and that old tree was in the way.  Mankind must have his cathedral ceilings to replace the true cathedrals in nature, while millions of trees die from drought in California, and millions more from short-sighted views concerning real worth. Money blinding and narrowing the view, there appears to be no value in the life of an old tree.

As a society may soon realize in our actions, only too late, that one generation plants the trees that the next generation will enjoy; and, that we are quickly destroying our base.

An Artist’s View of the Jamar ONeal Clark Story

There are too many troubling aspects of the Jamar O Neal Clark killing and events leading up to the  fatal early morning hours of that November night – an event that actually began with a series of episodes over many months involving police brutality.  He had a case and that case ended with his death.

If we see with our hearts’ and not just with our minds’ eyes, there is no doubt that this young man was denied his rights and essentially murdered in cold blood; and that the account by law enforcement has been manipulated, not to serve the public good, but to serve its own interests.  The irony, then, is that this kind of “justice” serves no one, least of all the police department.

  • Why would the police pull Jamar out of view of the camera and out of the light? Wouldn’t lights and clear video footage have been helpful to assure a doubting public that the police acted within reason to serve and protect this community?
  • The police officers and the EMS deputy, 5’11 and 220 lbs, are big men. Both officers had guns, while Jamar was unarmed, a slim man standing 5’8″, no more than 160 lbs, and only 24 years old.  Were these men armed with reason instead of guns, perhaps this young man would still be alive.
  • As the EMS deputy approached, Jamar stepped back from the ambulance.  Two minutes later, he appeared lifeless with a bullet through his temple … after, it appears, having had his left wrist cuffed by Schwarze while Ringgenberg maneuvered the right hand over his head, without struggle, and slammed Jamar to the ground.  NO time to ask questions or use reason with this young man, to get to the truth of any matter.  Why was any violence necessary?  Why did Officer Ringgenberg use this take-down tactic when he was, obviously, not adept at using it, claiming this slight young man, Jamar, was reaching for Ringgenberg’s holstered gun as that officer lay on top of him and the other officer held a gun to his head. It doesn’t take much in the way of smarts to know that this was a no-win situation for Jamar.
  • By most all witness accounts and  by video evidence, there were no signs of any struggle from Jamar; but the EMS MVR does show Officer Ringgenberg flailing his legs wildly while laying on his back on top Jamar after the take down at the time of the shooting.  Does it seem reasonable that a trained officer would put himself in this position, placing his holstered weapon next to Jamar’s hands, when Jamar could have been easily cuffed standing.  By all accounts except his assailants, Jamar Clark was peaceable as he stood waiting for police officers and the EMS deputy on the boulevard.
  • Rayann Hayes’ says her last memory of Jamar alive was at the ambulance window looking in.  According to Rayann, she was given pain medication and remembers nothing after this in the EMS vehicle.
  • Why are relevant medical records closed to public scrutiny?
  • Why was ambulance #443 not sent to the forensics garage?
  • Why are the run reports for the two ambulances not available to public scrutiny?
  • Did Attorney Freeman take into account conflicting reports on the sequence of events involving the security of EMS vehicle #419 the night of the shooting?
  • May we have an accounting of all officers and attendants involved with ambulance #443 at rest two blocks away from the scene of the crime, before it was driven to HCMC with Mr Clark?
  • What of the red bag placed in Jamar’s transport after he entered, and then another identical (or the same) red bag quickly taken out, before ambulance #443 left?  EMS deputy Trullinger then placed this red bag next to an officer at the crime scene.  There is no red bag documented at the crime scene.
  • Shouldn’t the crime scene have been secured immediately?  As it was, video evidence and key witness accounts indicate that there were many unidentified officers walking in and out of said area.  Yet very few officers give testimony to this.
  • The views of Jamar’s wrists, taken for forensics, are obstructed by bandages, tape and tubes.  Only what appears to be the underside of Jamars’ right wrist is shown with the bandage lifted, and this photo is blurry.  The left wrist on the underside is not shown.  No fluid of any kind was moving through those tubes.
  • Had Jamar died at the scene?  He suffered cardiac arrest with a bullet through the temple that lodged in his brain.
  • Upon exit from ambulance #443, there is no IV on Jamar’s left wrist as it limply falls off the side.  The IV was in his right wrist; and it too fell off the side of his transport.
  • Crucial details are obscured in the videos from both ambulances and at very low resolution (360).  Shouldn’t an EMS MVR be of better quality?
  • If life preserving techniques were being used to save Jamar at HCMC, then, why wasn’t the bullet removed?
  • Any statement that there were no handcuffs because there were no contusions on Jamar’s wrists, presumes that he struggled.  An absence of bruising would have been just as likely if, as witnesses claim, Jamar was cuffed without a struggle.
  • Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg were delivered to the 4th Precinct together in Officer Sworski’s squad car, who self-assigned.  Supervision of a sergeant is standard procedure.  Therefore, there was quite a bit of time for the officers to talk between themselves after the MVR automatically shut off in the 4th precinct parking lot.
  • The gun in question was handled by Sworski before being returned to Schwarze.  This Smith and Wesson brushed Officer Connor’s hat on the dashboard, as well.  NO way to handle crucial evidence from the scene of a killing. Why was it not bagged at the scene of the crime with both Schwarze’s and Ringgenberg’s gear?  Another failure to secure a crime scene.
  • The officers did not provide their clothing for forensics until December 2015.  Is this standard procedure in an investigation?
  • Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg arrived at 4th precinct prior to the incident for break; and so their videos for the day downloaded and the MVR shut off automatically.  It was at 00:40 am that they were called to the scene on a code 3 reportedly arriving at 00:48:14.  Since the officers did not activate their emergency lights on the way to the crime scene, the MVR remained off.  They chose not to activate it manually.
  • With over 60 responders at the scene of this crime, emergency lights flashing, it begs the question, where are relevant MPD MVR’s  from 00:40 to 01:20am on that fateful night?  Surely there must have been something of substance on at least one of these videos.

Freeman’s one-man jury, using the perpetrators’ testimony above all, was flawed by prejudice.  It will not, nor should it be, the last word.   Words and/or manipulations of facts to create preferred outcomes will not make any of this right.  As it is in art and with any act that uses illusion to portray a particular vision, seeing is believing only to a point.  There is no amount of manipulation that will make truth out of a lie.

Man as Nature and Acceptance as a Path


Indigenous cultures understood that man was part of nature.  How far we have wandered from that understanding … to evolve into a creature that deems, or dreams, himself outside the constructs of the natural world, in effect, defining himself as somehow superior to all other creatures and capable of framing 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.


Pondering a picture of an Alberta lake …

Glacier Lake in Alberta
glacial lake in Alberta


I took this picture in the 1970’s of water in the mountains of Alberta. Since that time there have been changes but not to my memories.  How many memories would fill a mountain stream in West Virginia that is now being destroyed by mountain top removal?  How many memories do we, as a species, have of the waters that ran clear and cool before mining, drilling and fracking for fossil fuels?

I  remember the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness before the fires, and before the drills from companies seeking copper, gold and other “precious” metals took its toll.  I remember the stands of thousand year-old cedars in the west as I drove into Seattle to see waves crashing on the shore of the Washington coast … before the Fukushima disaster, before garbage islands and the Exxon oil spill … before so many bad decisions.  The cedars along the highway have been lumbered.  The oceans, and the species that depend on it’s health, are endangered … including mankind.

As I watch the destruction of trees, water, the air and the land  … all to greed and short term profit, I wonder if man will learn before it’s too late, too late for our species and the species doomed by our shortsightedness.  As the Minnesota “Department of Natural Resources'” approval of Polymet’s Final Environmental Impact Study for the NorthMet Project opened the way for the permitting process, we wait … wait to see what matters most.  Water or money?



More news on Northmet …

Bear Head State Park (near the proposed NorthMet Project)
Bear Head State Park (near the proposed NorthMet Project)

For information on the permit process (from the DNR)

and on financial assurance and preparations the DNR is making for the environmental battle ahead .

Permit processing will begin shortly.  One of the permits that will be needed allows for taking of endangered species.  There are timber wolves, Canadian Lynx, moose, many waterfowl and other important species that make this area their home …. not to mention the water.


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


What will happen to fishing through loss of diversity and pollution of groundwater?
What will happen to fishing through loss of diversity and pollution of groundwater?


How many wilderness-related jobs and experiences will be lost?
How many wilderness-related jobs and experiences will be lost?

Moose in the Arrowhead ... already affected by global warming
Moose in the Arrowhead … already affected by global warming

Comment on the TPP

Comment#  1k0-8ncq-3csy :

 TPP Employment Impact Review

Docket number: USTR-2015-0012

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a trade agreement but a treaty and should be subject to due process as all treaties must be. It affects more than trade and will surrender “due process” in lieu of forced arbitration and tribunals picked by the few involved in litigation.

The proposed arbitration process under the TPP will naturally affect a wide swath of people, far beyond those privy to discovery because, unlike a trade agreement, it covers far more than trade; and the potential harmful effects of corporate policies made law, through this process, cannot be fought in courts of the land, but through private arbitration with business profits in mind.

In effect, these kind of decisions may affect those who have no ability or legal right through this “agreement” to protest or even know what is being arbitrated. It will naturally be prejudicial to the interests of those who have the power to present their case and view the details of the case; while the people who, most likely, will be responsible for paying the bills or suffering the effects of these decisions will have no legal input.

Sovereign nations that have agreed to this corporate agreement will not be able to opt out of this agreement as they would in a treaty if, in fact, the voters decided that the agreement was not in the best interest of their country. The citizens of this country would be forfeiting their right to public disclosure and discovery, the right to protect their jobs, their environments, their food through due process to corporate profits and interests decided in closed door binding arbitration.

In conclusion, this Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a pact between countries dealing simply with tariffs and trading arrangements, but a corporate business agreement affecting every aspect of a sovereign nation without allowing the protections afforded by the judicial system of justice in a treaty.

Will we be paying to defend Polymet?

A law firm has already been hired by the state to handle any lawsuits that may result from the ROD concerning the NorthMet Project; and this leaves much to ponder.  Has the decision already been made to allow a copper mine in the headwaters of the Great Lakes?

The irony lies in the fact that most of us do not want to see this precious resource destroyed by copper mining (note the 10’s of thousands of objections from taxpaying citizens) … and yet, we, as taxpayers, might be footing the bill to defend the DNR in these kind of decisions, decisions that have granted the right to mine in water-dependent ecosystems of Northern Minnesota and along the Laurentian Divide.

Send your questions and comments to Governor Dayton and let him know your thoughts.

Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange, Hoyt Lakes, St Louis County, Minnesota

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


As a follow up to my review of the FEIS, November 2015, I have included, as part of this letter, twelve comments and questions concerning the proposed copper mine in Babbitt and associated processing plant in Hoyt Lakes.

Comment #1

How would a land exchange void the responsibility vested in USFS as the steward of public lands presently in their care?

With the proposed land exchange, USFS would be forfeiting its authority to mining interests over lands that were set aside for protection. The Forest Service would be trading, not only lands, but a trust that these ecosystems would be protected from exploitation for generations to come.

Polymet will be mining water resources, destroying wetlands, by their own admission; and, in effect, degrading natural resources, flora and fauna, with its lease to continuously extract metals in an open-pit mine. They will be requiring permits to do all of this, including permits to take endangered species on lands that the Forest Service was given in trust, lands that USFS would need to trade in order for mining to occur.

In addition, this would help establish precedent that could facilitate more land exchanges of this type. By trading these lands, USFS would, essentially, be demonstrating a lack of will in exercising its authority.

This land exchange, essentially, would create a barter system that conflicts with the USFS’ role as steward and allows exploitation. By any reasoning, the land exchange cannot be reconciled with this public trust.


Comment #2

Is it wise to risk the security of the St Louis Watershed, one that feeds the greatest freshwater lake by area in the world, Lake Superior, and lies at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence River?

All life depends upon reserves of water; and the Arrowhead is at the source of one of the largest supplies on Earth. St Louis River, at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway, supplies freshwater to Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. Products of the Laurentide Ice Sheet melt, Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Red Lake formed in the basin of Lake Agassiz, which extended over 170,000 square miles, possibly the largest freshwater lake ever (similar in size to the Black Sea). This glacial lake provided water to northern Minnesota, the Red River Valley and may still be discharging its glacial waters from the fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers of the Arrowhead. The FEIS confirms that bedrock of the region has low conductivity and could take thousands of years to discharge.

In addition to the glacial waters of Agassiz, others glacial lakes like Norwood, Upham and Aitkin, products of the LIS, as well, have discharged their waters into the Arrowhead of Minnesota. Diverse moraines such as the Vermilion Moraine, left evidence in patterns of glacial till that can be seen around Babbitt, Ely, the Embarrass River area, and Hoyt Lakes, overlain in many areas by lush vegetation and lakes.

Covered by such a luxuriant carpet, the land that Polymet and others want to mine can be as difficult to inspect for existing aquifers, confined or otherwise, as it is to locate existing faults and fractures of bedrock in the area. This does not mean they don’t exist.

The fact that the NorthMet Project prospect lies within the boundary of the Vermilion Moraine, along with the BWCAW and Ely, makes this even more difficult. The potential of water traversing aquifers through fractured metamorphic bedrock, sight unseen, is heightened. No one spot duplicates another, essentially with variations in depth to bedrock by hundreds of feet, coverage of waterlogged vegetation and lakes, and a diversity that is like no other on earth.

Like faults, aquifers can be inferred invariably through their effects. Observe the copious discharge of water from the Big Stoney along the north shore of Minnesota. Observe the waters that so readily flow from the area of the Mesabi Widjiu, in rivers like Prairie River and Swan River from the Hill of Three Waters, the Vermilion River, St Louis River, Rainy River, and the great Mississippi. All one needs to do is observe.

As faults and fractures allow water to disperse in bedrock, these aquifers eventually find outlet in rivers, streams, fens, wetlands, falls, ponds and lakes at varying distances and directions from the site of recharge in the Laurentian Uplands.

According to the FEIS, surficial aquifers surrounding the mine site have a low conductivity, though not as low as bedrock in the same area, which supposedly decreases with depth. In this environment, then, it took thousands of years for glacial waters to make their way to the basin of Lake Superior. These waters can be seen dispersing in rich wetlands and rivers throughout; and they continue to nourish land in the Arrowhead supporting a vast and intricate ecosystem.

Does it make ecological sense to place a copper mine where it can do so much harm to water resources, with the potential of collecting into highly toxic sludge, polluting more and more of the surficial aquifers of the region, as waters are made stagnant and dead over the years?

There will be floods. There will be upheavals, as history proves … waters will disperse, as it is the nature of water to do. What will be left after the mine extracts precious reserves of water from aquifers, seen and unseen, confined or not, to process metals that serve its profit margin? Will there be any wild areas left, named or unnamed, categorized or not when the pollution from concentrates, waste rock and filters have found their way through this valuable ecosystem and the watersheds of the Arrowhead?

Our national security depends upon protection of freshwater resources, and the Arrowhead stands as a source of one of the largest fresh water reserves on earth. No copper mine is worth the risk of degrading this precious resource.


Comment #3

How can protection of a species be reconciled with destruction of habitat and nesting sites?

Since the various animal species do not pay attention to lines drawn on a map, they will trespass naturally. Water knows no real boundaries, either, over time; and time is the key word. In time, all things great and small in this water dependent ecosystem will be affected by actions proposed today in the Arrowhead.

The FEIS notes, that approximately 1,535 acres (58 percent) of mature forest would be lost at the mine site alone, that the species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) found at the mine site would be birds from Table 4.2.5-1 and that they would be “displaced.” The FEIS goes on to state that it is likely these birds would not be injured or killed, though nesting birds could be affected. The FEIS states that the mine would not likely affect individual migratory songbirds or other bird species protected under the MBTA; but would likely affect habitat and nest sites used by them.

How does one “affect” another’s home, without affecting the individual; and, as a matter of course, disturb nesting sites without disturbing the propagation of a species? With time, more species than those cited by the FEIS would be “affected” in the course of their reproductive cycles; and this, in turn, would naturally affect survival of a number of species in the area.


Comment #4

What security is there in a mining economy that depends entirely on the market, one that will not contribute to the real long-term wealth of this area?

Such an economy based on mining depends on the whims of a market. Copper mining will pollute the resources essential to our survival, perhaps into perpetuity, while providing profits and wealth to relatively few people over twenty years, more or less. After the mines have gone, as we see today, there will be masses of unemployed people, desperate, in a failing economy.

Recycling metals is on the upswing and processes for this type of recovery are being more fully developed as the North Met Project is being pondered. This could make mining for copper less profitable in a very short time. The price of commodities will vary, and markets are fickle. As a consequence, copper cannot guarantee a secure future, and certainly not a green economy in the Arrowhead.

Statistics abound concerning the wealth of wilderness tourism; and it cannot be reconciled with a mining scenario. When the copper mines are gone, what will be left? The choice is truly between wilderness and mining. Transport down scenic highways to and from the NorthMet Project will weave a web far beyond the sites that FEIS reviewed. Tourists will be traveling down the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway, along highways and roads to Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, Ely, Babbitt and Silver Bay.

These potential long-term customers will see the effects of mining and it will affect the tourist industry. The sounds of blasting, trucks and drilling are not conducive to wilderness by any stretch; and neither is the potential of streams and waterways polluted with sulfuric acid and other toxins from mining copper.

Atmospheric conditions are unpredictable and Polymet will not be able to control these. The sounds of drilling from exploratory wells for copper and other metals can be heard in the BWCAW at this time. If Polymet gets permission to pollute and take lands in the Laurentian Uplands, there will be little peace for these areas, no chance of true wilderness experience and tourism.

Jobs that create a steady future do not lie in mining a land that, once mined, is degraded. Fields that once grew wild rice, grow no more. Waters that held rich stores of fish are dead and dying. Ecosystems fail and waters need constant treatment. Wetlands that once held diverse flora and fauna are no more.

This is not security.


Comment #5

The FEIS did not adequately address the potential effects of fossil fuels on the atmosphere surrounding the NorthMet Project.

Fossil fuel needs will escalate at LTV and the mining site, fuel and coal needs for the plant and mine, fuel for the vehicles, the crushers, the earthmovers and trains. Acid rain will emerge as an even greater problem, and the FEIS did not address this issue sufficiently. Repercussions will be felt in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, most certainly, from atmospheric effects alone.

Coal fired plants have provided energy to mines along the Mesabi Range for decades and, in the last 50 years, signs of acid rain have degraded foliage and forests in the path of their plumes. Witness dying birch, and mountain ash (that have all but entirely disappeared along the North Shore of Minnesota).

The effects of a copper mine in this fragile ecosystem will reach far beyond the boundaries of the plant and mine sites with potentially devastating effects.


Comment #6

This FEIS does not address known fractures, fault lines within the project site, and those along the Range. What of the Waasa and Camp Rivera Faults? What of the Vermilion Fault?

The effects of faults and fractures have been downplayed in models, which were made to inform the FEIS. The connectivity of bedrock with surficial aquifers assumed to be low, and the upper surface of fractured metamorphic bedrock assumed to be fractured more heavily at the top than down under. This conclusion seems convenient and arbitrary, since these structures cannot be truly known, sight unseen. Is there some reason that Polymet did not use the available information on inferred faults for more in depth field study on these particular areas?

The devil is always in the details. Though details can be used to obfuscate and avoid larger issues, these particular details are major omissions in a study that assumes to represent a truthful picture of the potential risks involved to groundwater from seepages and discharge through cracks, joints, fractures, faults, bore holes, from waste rock, slurry and tailings basins in the Laurentian Uplands.

Inferences are made all the time in science, through reason and implication, through the use of data and study. All knowledge is brought about in this way. To discount information on inferred faults is careless. The FEIS makes its own inferences. It infers that bedrock has low conductivity around the site and plant. It infers that the pollution would not travel far from the sites. It infers that all systems will operate sufficiently as expected over the lifetime of the mine and into perpetuity. It infers that, if a fault is found, it will be dealt with successfully. It infers much in supporting a copper mining scenario. Details and independent, in depth fieldwork is still needed concerning bedrock aquifers, faults and fractures in the area because of their potential for being conduits of pollution into ground water reserves, sight unseen.

Polymet admits seepage will occur, but it continues to minimize the risks through assumptions concerning the conductivity of fractured metamorphic bedrock and sand and gravel aquifers throughout the area. Water will most assuredly traverse aquifers and find the path of least resistance. The FEIS minimizes and leaves these pathways open to conjecture with promises that all will be handled, in time.


Comment #7

Potential effects that can be caused by drawdown in artesian springs, are given little review and field study, limited by assumptions and documents supporting the FEIS conclusion that bedrock geology plays a small part in hydrology of the area.

At the same time, we are assured that if there are, indeed, fractures, faults and confined aquifers found during operation, or that drawdown becomes a problem, these issues will be dealt with at the time. Of course, once an artesian has been drawn down, the chances of drawing it back up are limited. At this point, there does not appear to be any technology that can guarantee the renewal of an aquifer, or restoration of ground waters fouled?



Considering the importance of geology in this complex area of Minnesota, the FEIS omits much in detail.

Ground water in the Laurentian Divide frequently diverges from surface topography and therefore locations of recharge and discharge can be impossible to predict. Polymet’s probabilistic models cannot possibly be informed adequately to address the enormous danger of mining water, drawdowns, depressurization of artesians, and upwelling of brackish water to name only a few dangers posed by this project.

In the process of review, some of the most relevant information appears to be missing from the FEIS, or discounted, much of the obvious geological and hydrological evidence that would prove a no action alternative best for the environment and for the habitants upstream and downstream of the proposed mining project.

For instance, significant evidence on the fractured metamorphic nature of these lands, inferred and actual fractures and faults that have been named, the prospect of artesian springs, other faults and fractures in bedrock that may conduct water from the site, the potential that water inflows are much greater by many accounts have been given short shrift in deference to a computer model fed with data chosen, in particular, for this study. It all seems quite arbitrary, and these omissions are significant.

The area that includes Babbitt, Hoyt Lakes and the transportation corridor are covered with sand and gravel surficial aquifers, which run the possibility of overdevelopment in irrigated areas. This region also includes igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers, where water can be found in cracks, joints and fractures within otherwise solid rock formations. Hoyt Lakes is a land of sand and gravel buried aquifers, which can be a major source of water (eg the Biwabik formation). Further down the St Louis River, in addition to sand and gravel surficial, and buried aquifers, igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers, there are also sedimentary bedrock aquifers. Even though yields from these sedimentary cretaceous deposits are supposed to be low, the possibility that ground water discharges in lowlands from sand and gravel and fractured aquifers, also in the area, certainly exists.

Igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers line the North Shore of Minnesota where there are over sixty water features in falls, rivers, and streams. The St Louis Watershed drains a basin of over 3500 square miles at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway. It appears that waters from glacial lakes, formed during the melt of the Laurentide Ice Sheet might still be discharging into Lake Superior as these waters work their way through the fractured bedrock aquifers of St Louis, Lake and Cook Counties. As noted, FEIS confirms that due to low permeability of the bedrock, discharge could take thousands of years… and so it seems that polluted waters could do the same. Polymet would be long gone before the consequences of copper mining could be fully assessed.

The FEIS avoids much discussion on differentiating major geologic areas, although Ely, Babbitt, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, the BWCAW and the whole of Giants Ridge are encompassed in a single one of these regions. The FEIS avoids in depth review of the existence of confined aquifers (extremely important in the security of the groundwater), avoids discussing in particular dissimilarities in surface composites and bedrock as relates to their conductivity and connectivity, specifics on the variability of depth to bedrock, inevitable flooding scenarios, weather anomalies, likely spills and exposures, drumlin fields, watershed anomalies (for instance, the fact that the tailings pond at the Minntac plant has outgrown what was once the boundary of the Vermilion Watershed, redrawn on maps to put it within the St Louis Watershed). Polymet’s NorthMet Project will increase the size of this tailings pond and so it is crucial to understand fully the hydrology of both surficial and bedrock aquifers directly underlying this tailings pond in particular.

Metamorphic rock is mentioned very little in the FEIS, as it fails to note that most of the Arrowhead is covered by fractured metamorphic rock, and in the area of the project, that sand and gravel surficial aquifers are prevalent as well, major omissions in outlining the geology of the area. Through these errors of omission, the probability of surficial and bedrock transport appears minimal at best. Is it possible to make a valid review of the project’s feasibility without details like this?


Comment #9

Of course, a model cannot take into consideration all of the factors in this extremely complex area of the North Met Project prospect, and so, I wonder, why experiential data from over 100 years of mining was not favored over probabilistic prognostications and limited field study prepared specifically for the NorthMet Project?

The Mississippi is now polluted; the St Louis River, and waters off the North Shore are imperiled. One hundred years is so little time in the course of a history like the Arrowhead, but much damage has already been done. What would be the result after 500 years of seepage from the degraded rotted and rusted infrastructure of a copper sulfide mine?

Studies that fail to use extensive fieldwork and data available from mining experience of the Mesabi Widjiu over the past one hundred years since the late 1890’s are likely to misrepresent the risks involved with a copper mine in the Arrowhead.


Comment #10

Just as the tailings pond at the Minntac plant site outgrew the boundary of the St Louis Watershed into the Vermilion Watershed, will the pits and ponds at the North Met mine site, so close to the northern boundary of the St Louis Watershed, outgrow its boundary as well, reaching into the watershed of Rainy River?

Indigenous peoples have lived in this area for thousands of years. They know the lands and waters of the area. They have honored this priceless parcel that is the Arrowhead of Minnesota and the Mesabi Widjiu. Perhaps unwisely, maybe without a choice, the tribes ceded this territory by treaty in the mid 1800’s. How shamelessly we have treated this land since that time. The quality of water has degraded, wetlands have suffered, the forests have been lumbered, and lands developed and damaged through mining activity and pollution.

If water seepage and inflow has not been predicted realistically for this study, then, the potential for harming watersheds of the St Louis River, Vermilion River and the Rainy River is great. Tribes inform the co-lead agencies that inflows are considerably higher than suggested by the EIS. How has related data from this observation informed the FEIS?


Comment #11

Due to the precedent that a copper mine in Babbitt will set, if granted, the potential for mining pits and tailings basins surrounding the area of the BWCAW watershed will be greatly increased.

Exploratory wells have been made well past the northern boundaries of the St Louis River Watershed, into the Rainy River Watershed, and on the boundary of the BWCAW. As a consequence, if the North Met project for a copper mine is granted, this will create the potential of a succession of mining pits and wells that move from the NE of Giants Ridge into the domain of the BWCA Wilderness. Consequently, the NorthMet Project prospect has the potential of affecting a larger area than the study proposes.

Elevated levels of arsenic can be found in the BWCAW along with brackish waters from exploratory wells. These details cannot be overlooked because it foretells the real possibility of pollution from Polymet’s mine pits traversing aquifers and connecting the St Louis Watershed to the Rainy River Watershed. The potential of surficial and bedrock connectivity from the mine site to this highly diverse geology of the BWCAW region through fluid and interconnected wilderness waterways, glacial moraine and diverse geology is relevant to the discussion.


Comment #12

Relying on probabilistic outcomes that narrow the view and minimize the prospect of pollution reaching downstream seems unrealistic. The potential of downstream contamination throughout the St Louis River Watershed should be given full consideration in any responsible environmental study concerning the prospect of a copper mine in this ecologically important area at the headwaters of the greatest body of freshwater on earth.

The St Louis River Watershed is composed of tilted bedrock planes that lean toward Lake Superior. Some of this can be seen in Jay Cook State Park, downstream from the prospect. The topography of the Laurentian Uplands and the swampy lowlands is diverse, including beds of wavy bedrock and washboard effects in areas like the Toimi Drumlin Field. The diversity of topography is as great as the diversity of flora and fauna. These areas are hardly flat.

Consider that the final drainage of the Laurentide Ice Sheet is said to have occurred around 8200 YBP and this caused sea levels to rise between 2.6 to 9.2 feet. Can the inevitable flow of local waters to the sea be discounted in a study that truly represents the risk of pollution from a copper mine?

Lake Superior is the product of glacial waters that flowed from the LIS and from glacial lakes that grew from the LIS melt. The St Louis River developed in the basin of Glacial Lake Upham. Relative to the age of this earth, the rivers in Minnesota are young, still cutting paths to the sea.

If downstream effects were given due merit, the facts would be clear that the entire Arrowhead of Minnesota would eventually suffer loss and damage from the operation of a copper mine in the Laurentian Uplands. No reassurance will carry the weight of facts before our eyes, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

Please do not permit this land exchange to occur.

December 19, 2015 REVISION

Anita Tillemans



Replace the DNC Chair

Actions taken recently by the DNC to restrict access to the records of one candidate in deference to others, before all facts could be vetted, showed extreme prejudice. Debby Wasserman Schultz’ leadership as DNC chair, through her unapologetic actions, in this case, draws into question the entire process.


By risking the future of one democratically held grass roots campaign, it raises doubt concerning all campaigns.  As a consequence, I ask that Ms Shultz be replaced by someone who can engender renewed confidence in the democratic process that the DNC is vested to serve.


If you would like to see a change in leadership at the DNC, follow the link below:

As we approach a decision on the Polymet Copper Mine …

Mn lake and loon

As Governor Dayton proposes funding for a study to determine Polymet’s finances at the present moment, I wonder how possible it would be to determine those finances into the distant future? Are there any reassurances possible that will predict this corporation’s ability or willingness to clean up the inevitable long term effects of copper mining pollution, into perpetuity? Shouldn’t we consider the already abundant information that promises otherwise?

Grateful that the Governor will be exploring other mines in other areas, I wonder,  is there any other area quite like that proposed in St Louis County on the borders of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area?  Pollution from mining ore has already done harm in this ecologically fragile area, at the heart and head of three great rivers, and Lake Superior, along Giants Ridge and the Laurentian Divide, in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota.

Will we learn from our own experience and say no to any further degradation of an area so rich in natural beauty and a most essential commodity, water?

You will find several articles linked below concerning this area and the proposed copper mine::

Will we through our mining practices continue to degrade our most precious resource … water?

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

The following photos were taken in parts of northern Minnesota, some in the UP of Michigan, Colorado Rockies, Alberta, Canada, and on a beach of the Pacific ocean off the Olympic National Forest … all areas where protection of our environment has taken a back seat to lumbering, mining for ore, frack sand, and/or fracking and drilling for oil and gas.  These lands are threatened through practices that pollute and usually drain (mine) our aquifers of good drinking water.

What is love?


Those who love know the courage it takes … that love is full of pain as well as joy, but they would not live without it.

Love has been so misunderstood, the word used without much real meaning or depth, maligned and misused.

In my search to understand the disparity, I found that Albert Einstein had listed three ideals that “lighted his way”.  These were truth, beauty and kindness.  In his magnificent way of simplifying this beautiful universe, he gave substance to the word love.  Even as he, the mathematician, felt he had failed at finding a unifying principle in physics, it was at the heart of his life’s journey.

Quotes by Albert Einstein:

“When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. 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.”

“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. 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. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.”

Balanced on a precipice …

How many trains will be moving through the Arrowhead because of copper mining?
How many trains will be moving through the Arrowhead because of copper mining?

With approval of a “fast track” to passing the so-called “trade” agreements (or more honestly, treaties … treaties that the public has not been allowed to review), what does our US Congress have in mind?  With the fate of our waters in the balance, the health of this planet at risk and on the block, will for-profit corporations determine the direction for us all?

Lives are in the balance and with so much to lose to the greed of a few, I hear the train a-coming down the track on rails that are long overdue for repair.  So much to do, so little time.

Education and the road to …


nita 4yo SA


The solutions to problems that confront our society are diverse and complex, requiring a deep and broad understanding.  Education, above all, then, cannot be ignored or made trivial … this most vital ingredient, at its best and most true, has creative power.

Every soul, no matter race, sex, creed, economic situation … should have the opportunity to share in solutions.   Since we cannot afford to lose any mind to shortsightedness, through greed, prejudice or the like, respecting every input (whether we agree or disagree) not knowing what we need absolutely, where the best solution may be found or which stronghold of human ingenuity will offer up the needed ideas at any given moment in our history, essential.  Kindness, then, is not only a grace.  It is intelligence at its greatest potency; and motivated by the love that gives strength to see beyond ourselves and a narrow view.

What, then, is opportunity according to  Synonyms: excuse, freedom, hope, moment, space, time, break, connection, contingency, cut, fortuity, go, happening, hour, juncture, leisure, liberty, occasion, opening, pass, relief, room, run, scope shot, show, spell, squeak, stab, turn, fair shake, fighting chance, good fortune, good luck, iron in the fire, one’s move, one’s say, one’s turn, the hunt, the running … are only a few of the words one could use to equate with opportunity.  Time and environment then determine opportunity for most of us, and it is a rare individual that can overcome these two.

The antonyms to opportunity, from this same source, are closing, closure, misfortune, reality, truth and bad luck.  The addition of reality and truth chilled, but it perhaps echoes what we face today … since, for most of the world, lack of opportunity is a reality and the truth that many live.

Throughout my life, this has been a heartfelt search … how do we make it possible for all children to thrive, to lead mindful and fulfilling lives?  Teach a man to fish … so the saying goes.  All, even the smallest child, need to be part of something bigger, to feel as though he/she belongs.  We are not fulfilled in this manner by charity, but by kindness … and kindness involves respect for human dignity.  Dignity comes in all forms, suited to each individual and so there is no one solution.  That must be decided by each in one’s own time and way.  Through a full and meaningful education, one is given the tools, the insight to find the way — education that is broad and without prejudice, one that gives the same opportunity to all children in all environments and situations.

In my view, this can only be done through levies that are proportionately drawn from the community as a whole according the ability to pay those taxes, and distributed evenly to all communities.  This would allow those children in poor communities to share in equal opportunity education.  It would require less school busing, less waste in higher income neighborhoods of much needed tax dollars, give needed money to areas that have long suffered dwindling resources, and build stronger communities in all parts of our world ….  It would encourage integration, not only in schools but in housing, creating better understanding between peoples.  Resources, in time, would become more evenly distributed and accessible to children of all environments.  Those environments would become more equitable in time, as well.

It has been said time and again, that there will always be poor.  This said, “the poor” are not a species but a description of circumstances.  We can change those circumstances and make a better world.

Anita Tillemans

April 30, 2015




American Psychological Association (APA):

opportunity. (n.d.). Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

opportunity. Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. (accessed: April 30, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“opportunity.” Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. 30 Apr. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, “opportunity,” in Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Source location: Philip Lief Group 2009. Available: Accessed: April 30, 2015.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@article {Thesaurus.com2015,     title = {Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition},     month = {Apr},     day = {30},     year = {2015},     url = {},

Leasing of Public Lands to the Fossil Fuel Industry … a letter to President Obama

April 25, 2015

Dear President Obama,

Concerning the offshore oil leases and the leasing of public lands to the fossil fuel industry, my father was an engineer, a (geophysics) engineer, who was asked to comment on an earlier oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico over 40 years ago. He noted, at that time, that the smallest of organisms were affected by that particular spill in the 70’s. He was a sincere and intelligent man who gave his best, and logical sense about what was going on.

Many years earlier when I was living in Louisiana with my parents, in New Orleans, we visited Lake Pontchartrain for a meal. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice the effects that drilling for oil in the Gulf was having on the waters of that area, as a wave sprayed us on the dock of the restaurant with bits of tar in the mix. BP found a dangerous alternative to this, by adding dispersant to the spill from Deepwater Horizon, so that much of these “bits of evidence” were hidden from view and now lie well under the surface of the Gulf, where they will most definitely affect the ecosystem from there, sight unseen.

How much more damage is being done out of sight by the fossil fuel industry as we lease our priceless public lands and waters to voracious and destructive corporations who dispose of toxic waste, fracking and drilling vital substructures and formations, very likely causing an increase in earthquakes, poisoning our waters and air, and literally stealing the most precious resource we have, our water, in a time of history when water is quickly becoming a commodity that we cannot afford to waste.

When I voted for you, it was on the promise that you were devoted to alternative sources of energy. By a great many estimates, we have no time to lose. I see the many things your administration has done to contribute to this kind of clean energy, but your support of fossil fuel and consequent increase in oil production has served to offset these positive contributions greatly.

You have such a great opportunity to change our direction, President Obama. Please say no to the use of public lands and substructures by the fossil fuel industry, in effect, trading our most valuable resources to the greed and profit of a few who have lost the foresight to see that they, too, will eventually lose by doing so.


Anita Tillemans

Proposed Clear Cutting in Klamath National Forest

When did we turn the corner from protecting our old growth forests for all, to selling these masterpieces of creation for financial profit? These are public lands that were set aside for all and not the profit of a few.

In clear cutting tracts of these forests, what protection is there against deterioration of the old growth canopy?  What of the species that depend upon these forests and their  established ecosystems?  There are so many questions that need to be asked of the NFS, entrusted as stewards of our lands.

I have included NFS contact below for your comments and questions:

Mother of Waters

I have included photos of northern Minnesota and the Wisconsin and UP shorelines, with a link to my comments on the SDEIS and North Met’s proposed copper mine (submitted in 2014 with over 40,000 other comments: sdeis-comment-web).

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What will the Trans-Pacific Partnership do for artists?

It’s been a long time since I started painting and writing, now over 65 years. It has been and always will be a love. I do it for the love of beauty, for the things that I feel need expression, and as I told someone recently … beauty is not always pretty. You see it in the courage of someone whose trials are heavy and whose courage is strong in the face of all trials… you see it in people who continue to find kindness in their hearts when life has not been too kind to them.

This is why I find the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement so adverse to everything I hold dear. It stifles individual creativity to back corporate profits and corporate taking. It allows only those with power to dictate to the rest of us and tramples this creative force.

Copyright was an idea brought into the play and supported by business, by those who profit from the works of others. Artists and writers have naturally shared their work through the centuries … it is for love that most works exist and it is only love that will endure without manipulation and without contrived vehicles like copyright laws.

In a society where all of us benefit from these resources, artists and writers would be supported to do their work for the good of all. How many stories would have been lost, how much traditional music would have never been heard and shared, built upon … if creative work was done for profit?

Mine is only an opinion; but I believe that art is a gift to be shared. In a society with elevated priorities, it would be appreciated for its true value … and that is not the money it might make.

No Place for a Mine


The Watershed of the St Louis River, headwaters at Seven Beaver Lake in St Louis County east of Babbitt in the Arrowhead of Minnesota on the “Big Stoney” and extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence River is a major source of the greatest freshwater reserves in the world, the Great Lakes. Lake Superior which grew from Lake Duluth into what it is today has been fed for thousands of years by the St Louis River. In addition, the great Mississippi River and the Rainy River have also been fed by groundwater from this region, that of the Arrowhead in Minnesota. The full extent of what lies under and within the massive billion year stone aquifers of St Louis and Cook counties in northeastern Minnesota has yet to be determined. We would be remiss to establish a copper mine in and around this area or continue with any destructive practices that might pollute our most precious resource.

The decision on whether to allow copper mining in St Louis County at the headwaters of the St Louis River has been placed in the hands of the MDNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, Environmental Review Unit, 500 Lafayette Road, Box 25, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025. Their final Environmental Impact Statement will be given for public comment after review of over 40,000 comments made on the last environmental assessment (SDEIS) in 2014.

I believe that the St Louis watershed is as important for the health of our planet as Bristol Bay and the salmon spawning and fishing grounds are in Alaska … both priceless reserves of water and wildlife, which we cannot allow to be polluted at any price. Please support the EPA in their attempts to regulate the mining industry and prevent the destruction of the wilderness, and these invaluable water resources. Watch for the final determinations by the EPA on Bristol Bay, and the FEIS from the MDNR of Ecological Resources Environmental Unit in Minnesota.

I have included a few resources below for contact and information:

Does enactment of the Keystone XL Pipeline Act make sense? Will any amendments make it right? Please ask President Obama to veto this legislation.

Act S.1 was passed by the US Senate.  Debate over and voting on amendments will progress before sending the bill for signing to President Obama’s desk.  Our elected officials need to know that we need clean water more than tar sands oil, with a glut of oil on the market and a need for clean alternatives that do not put at risk our water and air.

We can benefit from time by not fast-tracking extension of a failing delivery system for a product that has better, more productive and profitable alternatives.  One of the flawed arguments is that “if we don’t build the pipeline, there will be more trains delivering crude”:

  • Simply because the oil can be sent by pipeline does not negate the fact that oil will also continue to be sent by rail … whatever way is necessary to get to market; and, as a consequence, it will also find its way into our aquifers whether by rail or pipeline, both methods of delivery are fragile and fail.
  • Even if, as some hope, rail delivery was reduced, the fact remains that, when pipelines fail, they fail out of sight and underground … often leaking for more time than a rail spill before being noticed.  How many are leaking without notice today?

It is said that the pipeline will “grow our economy”.

  • TransCanada is a foreign corporation. They will be making the profit.
  • In the two years that this pipeline will take to build, 42 thousand short-term construction jobs will be available. In the end, there will be 35 permanent jobs in place.
  • The oil will be shipped overseas to places like China after it travels through aquifers in the Midwest, leaking (as these pipelines do regularly) to be refined by international corporate plants in Texas.
  • The price of oil is falling.
  • There is a glut of oil due to overproduction.
  • The trend is toward cleaner and more efficient energy for reasons too diverse and many to list here.
  • Alternative energies like solar would create more jobs and better infrastructure for long–term use of our planet’s resources.
  • How will poisoning our aquifers with tar sands oil, whether by rail or pipeline, grow a sustainable economy?
  • Who will shoulder the repercussions for inevitable pollution and the cost of clean-up?
  • Even if we used American steel for the pipeline, who will benefit and for how long? What more pollution will be created from the mining?
  • If an amendment were proposed to sell TransCanada’s tar sands oil here instead of overseas, would we have enough buyers at prices necessary to make this destructive, filthy, water-polluting, chemical-ridden, expensive process worthwhile?
  • We don’t essentially need another pipeline: Pipelines running from Hardisty, Alberta, to Flanagan, Illinois opened in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and a third pipeline from Flanagan to Cushing, Oklahoma in 2014. This does not include a major expansion of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline in Wisconsin that would carry more of this heavy crude than Keystone XL line has been designed to carry. There are others …. One need only look in Minnesota of 10,000 lakes to know that while we are fighting the high profile XL pipeline, others will be quietly sending and spilling crude into our aquifers ongoing ….

Another argument that fails the test of logic: “Keystone XL will give us greater national security”.

  • How does polluting our ground and water make this country safer?
  • How do we reduce our dependence on foreign oil by sending it out of the country?
  • How would we be more independent if foreign corporations are allowed to use eminent domain to access US lands that they need to make profit,while preventing US citizens from protecting their lands and waters …?
  • How are we safer by fast tracking another pipeline without the necessary oversight?

The argument that this will “build infrastructure we need” is a false one.

  • The most important thing we have to do now in an environment of increasing natural emergencies due to global climate extremes is to build infrastructure that will support a cleaner fuel and reduce our carbon imprint.
  • We need infrastructure, not for pipelines or oil trains, but for more efficient sustainable growth that promotes life not profit at all costs.
  • We need only look at who will benefit and who will profit from proposed infrastructure projects to know whether we need them or not.




Good news for the wolf …


… as U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell determines that delisting the wolf was a flawed decision; and has banned further hunting. An additional two hundred and seventy two wolves were killed this season in Minnesota alone, adding to the total lost since 2012 … and so, this decision is a welcome one.

In the week of the winter solstice, as the wolves prepare their dens and will soon be raising young, may you all have a peace-filled holiday season!