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WASHINGTON—The U.S. House on Wednesday debated legislation that would reopen areas near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota to copper-nickel exploration and potential mining, but stopped short of taking any vote. House members hotly debated the bill that would end an Obama-administration ban on exploration and mining near the federal wilderness. But a memo from the House whip said a final vote was postponed until Thursday, Nov. 30.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, Nov. 28, passed legislation that orders the U.S. Forest Service to move forward with a land exchange giving PolyMet Mining access to the site where it hopes to build Minnesota's first-ever copper-nickel mine. The bill passed 309-99 and would, if it becomes law, nullify lawsuits filed by environmental groups to stop the land exchange.
DULUTH, Minn. — The governments of Canada and the U.S. are making "considerable progress" in cleaning up the Great Lakes but should set time-specific targets for fixing wastewater and drinking water systems, reducing agricultural and urban runoff and eliminating toxic pollutant releases into the lakes. That was the assessment Tuesday, Nov. 28, by the International Joint Commission, the quasi-government, cross-border group charged with overseeing U.S.-Canada border water disputes and with monitoring the health of the Great Lakes.
DULUTH, Minn. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering using sand dredged from the Duluth-Superior Harbor to resupply rapidly eroding Lake Superior beaches along Minnesota Point. The erosion problem, spurred by near-record-high lake levels and made worse during the big lake's epic storms, has eaten away hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand — reaching so far onto shore that mature trees in the Minnesota Point forest are falling into the lake.
ST. PAUL—Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Minnesota state regulators on Wednesday reported finding three children's jewelry products containing toxic levels of cadmium. The jewelry — a butterfly necklace, ladybug charm necklace and penguin charm necklace — were among 89 toys purchased online and in stores by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as part of a joint effort to enforce the state's Toxic Toys Act.
DULUTH, Minn.—Even as zebra mussels, starry stonewort weed and giant Asian carp invade more of Minnesota's waterways, the state Department of Natural Resources is eliminating aquatic invasive-species grants to local groups due to a budget shortfall. In a recent email sent to local government agencies and nonprofit groups like lake associations that conduct invasive-species education and control efforts, the DNR announced it will not offer the grants for the summer 2018 or 2019 seasons.
DULUTH — Piping plovers are still flying over Duluth and Superior, Wis., beaches to nest elsewhere, but their overall Great Lakes population went up significantly in 2017. The diminutive shorebirds have long since migrated south to the Gulf of Mexico, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported Monday, Nov. 13, that a modern record 76 breeding pairs were counted on Great Lakes beaches this summer.
DULUTH — It took eight years, 700 volunteers and thousands of hours in the field but Minnesota has its first new breeding bird atlas since 1936. The new, interactive online atlas is considered the bible of Minnesota's native birds, documenting species that nest and raise their young in the state's forests, prairies, suburbs and cities. Volunteers joined researchers from the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute and Audubon Minnesota, fanning out across 2,353 townships — some 99.5 percent of the state.
DULUTH — If state administrative law Judge LauraSue Schlatter agrees that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency proposal to protect wild rice from sulfate is officially "reasonable," she will be among the few people to publicly say so. Schlatter's job in coming months will be to pore over testimony about the PCA sulfate standard and determine whether the proposal is legal, follows state rules and is needed and reasonable. So far, after multiple public hearings, it seems almost everyone is saying it's not.
ELY, Minn. — The chief executive of Chilean mining giant Antofagasta said his company is preparing an environmental impact assessment for its proposed Twin Metals copper mine near Ely despite federal roadblocks still in place. Ivan Arriagada told Reuters in London earlier this week that he's hopeful the Trump administration will reverse the Obama administration's decision to rescind the company's mining exploration permits for the project proposed for Superior National Forest land.