Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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DULUTH—Northland mining, paper and energy companies are giving a hard pass to Minnesota Power's proposed natural gas plant. What's more, according to testimony filed on their behalf, these businesses would rather be subject to occasional blackouts and pay less for power through a scheme known as interruptible rates if it helps keep the plant from getting built.
Minnesota is on track to have its deadliest winter on the ice in years. And it's only December. Five people have died after falling through the ice on Minnesota lakes so far this season, the most since five died over the entire winter of 2014-15, according to the Department of Natural Resources. "With the fluctuating temperatures we've seen, that hasn't created that nice, solid, clear ice," said DNR spokeswoman Lisa Dugan. "Ice is never 100 percent safe."
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission tapped the brakes on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline permitting process on Thursday, Dec. 8, saying the massive environmental review for the project is still missing a few fine points. With a 4-1 vote after a daylong meeting, the PUC instructed the Department of Commerce and other agencies to refine three technical areas of the final environmental impact statement and to ensure a tribal cultural resource survey is complete before construction begins.
DULUTH — When five people gather next year to determine the destiny of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline, their task will be to decide, simply, whether or not the thing is needed. Only it's not that simple. "It's a multifactored test. There's many different aspects the commissioners can stand on, and they're going to need to look at the evidence," said University of Minnesota energy law professor Alexandra Klass. "Right now we don't even have all the information and data in."
ST. PAUL — Another round of statewide public hearings starts Tuesday, Sept. 26, on the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement. This set of hearings could be among the last before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission makes its decision on whether or not to grant the pipeline a certificate of need and route permit. That decision is expected next spring; Enbridge hopes to have the pipeline up and running in 2019.
DULUTH, Minn.—The Minnesota Department of Commerce has come out against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement, raising the stakes in an already contentious battle over the oil pipeline's fate.
DULUTH — More than a third of the iron ore shipped out of the Twin Ports so far this year has left the country. The Duluth-Superior Port Authority reported that through July about 35 percent of all taconite shipments have been taken to Quebec, and spokeswoman Adele Yorde says that is "primarily for export" elsewhere. Typically about 30 percent of taconite shipped locally is bound for Canada. "Much of that rise is attributable to a surge in U.S. iron ore exports from Minnesota mines to steelmakers in China and Japan," the port wrote in its summer magazine.
ST. PAUL — Despite a massive new document having "final" in its name, this pipeline permitting process is far from over. On Thursday, Aug. 17, the state released the final environmental impact statement on the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project, another step toward the approval or denial of a new oil pipeline across Minnesota. The document makes no recommendations but instead provides a framework for continued debate over the pipeline and, ultimately, a decision by the state Public Utilities Commission.
SUPERIOR, Wis.—Canadian oil company Husky Energy is buying Superior's oil refinery for $435 million. Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P. said Monday it is selling the plant following months of speculation about a potential sale. Both companies said that while the name on the side of the holding tanks will change, little else will, as all 180 employees will be keeping their jobs.
DULUTH — If a FitBit can make us better at working out, maybe it can make us better at working, too. That's the basic premise behind a nationwide study looking at work performance using wearables, smartphones and other technology that can track responses to different tasks.