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DULUTH—The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday, March 15, approved the environmental review for the proposed Enbridge Energy Line 3 replacement oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. The PUC, after delaying the decision in December and saying the Minnesota Department of Commerce needed to answer more questions, this time signed off on the environmental impact statement as adequate. The decision was expected because the commission asked for relatively minor changes at its December meeting.
CLOQUET, Minn.—The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has mailed out 8,500 public opinion surveys to residents in the areas of eastern Minnesota under consideration for reintroduction of wild elk. The surveys went to most rural landowners in and near the three potential elk reintroduction areas and to a random selection of city dwellers in southern St. Louis, Carlton and northern Pine counties. The surveys are part of the band's long-range study to see if an elk reintroduction is possible, practical and popular.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The first zebra mussel babies, called veligers, were confirmed in Lake Winnibigoshish in 2012. By 2016 the first adult mussels were spotted. By 2018 the invasive filter-feeders are everywhere in the lake, located west of Grand Rapids. "They've just exploded in number in just a couple years. It's amazing. They're on every smooth substrate down there," said Gerry Albert, Lake Winnibigoshish large-lakes fisheries specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
ON SIDE LAKE, Minn. — They had ice augers and pop-up shelters and even depth finders, but not a single fishing rod between them. And no minnows, either. From a distance the research team looked like any other group of northern Minnesota ice anglers. Until they took out their secchi discs and zooplankton trap nets and algae-trapping canisters. They pulled sleds loaded with big jugs and small beakers, water pumps, filters, ice chisels and shovels, snow and ice measuring devices and a host of other gadgets and tools.
DULUTH — A new statewide opinion poll appears to show growing opposition to copper mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In the poll, paid for by opponents to copper mining, 70 percent of 800 Minnesota voters said they opposed allowing a copper mine near the BWCAW. That's up from 59 percent opposition in a similar poll in 2017. Statewide, 22 percent of those polled said they supported "sulfide ore copper mining in the areas near the Boundary Waters Wilderness."
DULUTH—If Northlanders really wanted to be like Norwegians we'd stow the cross-country skis and stoic love of cold and buy a Tesla. Norway reached a milestone in December when electric vehicles accounted for 52 percent of all new vehicles sold in the country. All-electric Tesla models were the first and second most popular cars sold in Norway. It was the first time more than half of all new vehicles sold in Norway (or any other country) were electric, and that number is expected to only increase in years to come.
DULUTH—Corporate leaders of Allete Inc., the Duluth-based parent company of Minnesota Power, said Thursday, Feb. 15, that they will take steps this year to control costs, increase efficiencies and "impose discipline" as they "rescale the business" to bolster profitability in 2018. Allete CEO Alan Hodnik told industry analysts in a conference call that if the company can't get increased returns via higher utility rates, Allete will hit its 9.25 percent return on revenue goal "by virtue of discipline with the business."
DULUTH—Northeastern Minnesota's moose population dropped some during the past year, but it appears to have leveled off after the big declines of a decade ago. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that its annual winter moose estimate came in at 3,030 moose, an 18 percent drop compared to 3,710 moose in 2017. The agency said the decline was statistically insignificant.
A timber wolf that had earlier become entangled in a wire trapping snare was shot and killed by a Duluth police officer Saturday afternoon along Rice Lake Road near Marshall School. The wolf had first been reported near Tettegouche State Park on Lake Superior's North Shore earlier in the week, then near the Sucker River outside Duluth. Several people had reported the entangled wolf earlier Saturday along the North Shore Scenic Highway, with the wire wrapped around the wolf's muzzle.
DULUTH—After 13 years, millions of dollars and a winding path through regulatory scrutiny, Minnesota's first-ever copper mine might be on the verge of its last-ever public hearings. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency will hold open-house and public input sessions Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Aurora and Thursday in Duluth on draft permits they have released for PolyMet Mining Corp.