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DULUTH — One-third of wildlife species in the U.S. are at risk of extinction, 40 percent of the nation's freshwater fish are now rare or imperiled, more than 150 U.S. species already have gone extinct and another 500 critters that haven't been seen in years also may be gone forever.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Wednesday, March 28, said it has filed a response defending its proposed wild rice sulfate standard that in January was panned by a state administrative law judge. PCA officials say their proposed sulfate pollution standard is a good compromise that protects wild rice in places where sulfate pollution might damage it, but also allows more sulfate pollution in lakes and rivers where it may not harm the plant.
DULUTH—The proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes will cost nearly $1 billion to build if it's permitted, but will earn a $173 million annual profit for 20 years for the company after taxes and other expenses. That was the report Tuesday, March 27, as the company released its new technical and economic viability report aimed at investors and regulators. It's the first major update on the project's costs and projected revenue in five years.
DULUTH — The $1.3 trillion federal budget bill passed by Congress this week and signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 23 includes $4 million for the federal government to purchase state land within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The money will buy outright more than 51,000 acres of state land in small parcels across the lake-studded wilderness.
STEPHENSON, Mich.—Federal regulators are saying not so fast to a proposed open-pit mine in the southern part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Environmental Protection Agency, in a recent letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said it was objecting to the state's wetlands permit for the Back Forty zinc, copper and gold mine proposed by Canadian-based Aquila Resources. The EPA also cited shortfalls in how the mine project would impact Native American cultural resources.
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."