Nolan Vows Support for Cliffs’ Plan to Take Over Essar Project and Create Hundreds of New Iron Range Jobs
With Cliffs Natural Resources President & CEO Lourenco Goncalves following our meeting last week in Nashwauk.
Cliffs Natural Resources President & CEO Lourenco Gonclaves has a bold plan to take over the bankrupt Essar Steel project and eventually create hundreds of new mining jobs on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Last week, I joined Governor Dayton and Range leaders in Nashwauk to express my strong support for that effort going forward.
By way of background, when White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met with Iron Range leaders last December at my request, Mr. Goncalves vowed to reinvest in our mining industry in a major way if the Administration would improve market conditions by cracking down on illegal foreign steel dumping. President Obama and his team did just that, and Goncalves proved to be a man of his word. More than 450 miners are back at work in Babbitt and Silver Bay, with another 500 set to return in Eveleth and Forbes next month. And Cliffs has committed to a $65 million investment in new mining technology on the Range.
The project in Nashwauk would be Minnesota’s first new taconite plant in 40 years, and the state’s first direct-reduced iron plant producing a 21st Century product used in next-generation steel mills. If Goncalves can overcome legal hurdles and reach an agreement with Essar’s creditors, the new facility would be another big step toward long-term economic recovery on the Range. Goncalves often calls the McDonough visit “the day that changed everything” for a Range iron ore mining industry that had been economically devastated by illegal steel dumping by China and other trade cheater nations, and events have certainly proved him correct.
Economic recovery on the Range still has a long way to go. But as a result of new tariffs (taxes) and countervailing duties of up to 265.79% on Chinese steel, U.S. steel mills are now operating at 75% capacity, up from 60% in 2015; iron ore prices are rising and have jumped from $40 to nearly $60 a ton; steel imports have decreased 31% for the first five months of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015. And Canada and Mexico have agreed to join forces with the United States to bolster our tough crackdown on illegal foreign steel dumping. Together, our three nations will launch a more united and strategic campaign to enforce trade laws, share critical information and stop illegal steel shipments from crossing the borders we share.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
Following Nolan’s Bipartisan Resolution, 28 Classified Pages
of 9-11 Report Finally Released
I’ve said all along that the American people have a right to know what some of us already know: who financed the Saudi-Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001. So I applaud the release last week of the 28 highly classified and revealing pages of the official 9-11 Report that have been locked in a vault under the U.S. Capitol Building for more than a decade. Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina joined me earlier this year in introducing a bipartisan House resolution urging that these materials be made public.
In fact, I’m one of the few Members of Congress who took the initiative, and was given the special security clearance to enter that locked and guarded room and read the transcripts. As anyone can now see, the information presents a clear and startling case that high officials and contacts within the Saudi government assisted the 9-11 hijackers. Moreover, the 28 pages confirm that much of the rhetoric preceding the U.S. attack on Iraq was terribly wrong. As we all know, that war cost America thousands of precious lives and $3 trillion in treasury.
Second Twin Metals ‘Listening Session’ Set for Ely
This Coming Tuesday
Several hundred people packed the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center for last week's U.S. Forest Service "listening session" regarding renewal of land leases for the Twin Metals mining initiative.
Following my direct call to U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture Robert Bonnie, the stage is set for Tuesday's U.S. Forest Service “listening session” in Ely, where a big crowd of Iron Rangers is expected to weigh in on renewal of exploratory land leases important to the Twin Metals mining initiative. The Forest Service agreed to add the public meeting, set from 5:00 to 7:30 PM at Ely High School, following a petition by Range community leaders and my urgent request to Bonnie, who oversees forestry issues at the agency. During the call, I simply pointed out that Rangers shouldn’t have to make a 226 + mile round trip to Duluth to express their opinions about a matter directly affecting the Ely area.
Nonetheless, scores of Iron Rangers were among the hundreds who showed up for last week’s listening session in Duluth. Pointing out that the lease renewals are all about exploration, Sen. Dave Tomassoni of Chisholm put it this way: “It’s all about holes (in the ground) right now.” Ely Mayor Chuck Novak emphasized that “Renewing the leases would only follow a process already in place.”
So these Range elected officials and other local leaders were making the same point I’ve made again and again: Renewal of the leases that have allowed Twin Metals to explore new mining possibilities deep beneath the Superior National Forest is not to be confused with approval or disapproval of any actual mining projects that might be proposed in the future. Those decisions, which could still take years, will follow a tough and thorough process based on facts and science a process that must not be circumvented.
When I spoke with Under Secretary Bonnie, I also reiterated my concern about the tone and content of the Forest Service’s June 13th statement that seemed to indicate they had already decided against renewing the Twin Metals leases. I again emphasized the importance of using facts and science in the process, and the need for the agency to maintain a neutral and unbiased position as it sorts through public input. In that regard, the deadline for public input is July 20th and you can make your views know by clicking here.
Support Growing for Nolan Legislation to Make Higher Education Accessible & Affordable
Campaign to Make College More Affordable Picks Up Steam
With my strong support, the House last week passed a package of reforms to the Higher Education Act requiring that students applying for college loans be given much more detailed information and counseling to understand the cost of their loans, monthly payments and options.
While these measures are helpful and necessary, much more needs to be done to make college affordable and prevent another generation of students from drowning in college debt. We owe current and future generations of students the same opportunity my generation had to pay for college and graduate with the ability to begin starting families, buying homes and saving for retirement. That’s why I’ve introduced the Underwater Student Borrowers Act to prevent the IRS from slapping huge tax bills on moderate-income borrowers whose college debts have been partially forgiven after 20 years of faithful payments.
As I pointed out in last week’s Monday Report, that legislation is one part of a larger effort to make higher education more affordable and attainable for our nation’s youth. For example, I’ve cosponsored the America’s College Promise Act to allow students that meet strict requirements to access two years of postsecondary education at no cost. I’ve also cosponsored several measures to lower interest rates on student loans, which further inflate already overly burdensome student loan debts. Our Fairness in Student Loan Lending Act would allow student loan borrowers to refinance at the end of each month to a rate equal to the 10-year Treasury note plus one percent. That measure alone could potentially save a borrower thousands of dollars.
Nolan-Sponsored Career & Technical Education Measure
Heads for Floor Action
More than 100,000 Minnesota students are enrolled in career and technical classes supported by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, so I was delighted to see the House Education Committee unanimously pass the bipartisan reauthorization measure I championed along with Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island. According to the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, 87% of the good paying jobs that go unfulfilled in our state stem from the inability of employers to find candidates with the right skills. The improvements in our measure, which now awaits action on the House floor, should go a long way toward filling the gaps.
With support from more than 200 education advocacy organizations, our bill specifically targets funding and support for classes that help students prepare for careers in high technology, advanced manufacturing and other “in-demand” occupations. In giving states more leeway in using funds, the bill rewards innovative programs that have proven to produce results. Our measure also expands career and technical educational opportunities for students with disabilities, language barriers and economic and geographic disadvantages.
GAO to Investigate the Central States Pension Fund Mess
Addressing thousands of Teamsters at a rally in Washington, I said the outrageous cuts Central States Pension had proposed to their hard earned retirement could not be allowed to happen. We won that fight, and now the GAO will investigate how the Central States Pension Fund got into so much trouble in the first place.
First we helped convince U.S. Treasury Special Master Ken Feinberg to do the right thing and reject unfair and unjust reductions to the hard earned pension benefits 400,000 Teamsters have faithfully paid to Central States Pension fund throughout their working lives. Now, Congress’s chief investigative arm, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), has agreed to our request for a comprehensive review of all the factors and decisions that led to the mess at Central States in the first place.
We already know the Central States Pension Fund is in trouble because 13,000 companies used bankruptcy and financial shenanigans to walk away from their legally contracted contributions to the fund. Had those companies fulfilled their obligations, the fund would still be in good shape. We are told the Central States Pension Fund is solvent for the next ten years time we have to use the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, legislation and other means to fix what needs fixing without these outrageous cuts.
Meanwhile, the cold hard fact is that Central States Pension is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 1,400 similar pension plans operating in the United States with $432 billion in combined assets, and 532 of those plans are in serious or critical condition. Ten million people are counting on them for their retirement. If we fail to address this crisis, nobody’s pensions will be safe.
Make no mistake there are powerful forces trying to do away with people’s pensions, and we will continue to fight them on every front. I’m leading the way on legislation to overturn provisions in the law that allowed this travesty on Teamster pensions to happen in the first place, and to ensure that retirees receive every dollar of the pensions they have paid into and earned.
Republicans Turn EPA-Interior Appropriations Bill into Big Win for Corporate Polluters
Americans deserve better than a Republican EPA-Department of Interior funding bill that blocks key clean water initiatives by the Environmental Protection Agency.
House Republicans last week managed to transform the $32.1 billion 2017 appropriations bill to fund the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into an all out attack on regulations protecting our air, water and the public health. Exceeding even our worst expectations, they cut $1.02 billion from the President’s overall request, $164 million from the EPA and $349 million the loan fund to help state and local governments, including communities like Flint, Michigan, clean up their water.
And those cuts were only the tip of the dirty iceberg. Republicans went on to add “poison pill” policy riders to prevent the EPA from implementing its plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. They stopped a program for home lead testing to protect kids from toxic exposure. And for good measure, they blocked the Department of the Interior from issuing new regulations addressing methane emissions from oil and gas extraction conducted on federal lands.
As I’ve pointed out many times before, the environmental health and safety rules and regulations put in place over the last 40 years have contributed immeasurably to increasing the average life span from about 47 years in my grandparents generation to near 80 today. Nonetheless, powerful corporate interests continue to try and roll back progress simply to boost their profits. I’ll continue to do everything in my power to fight them. Meanwhile, President Obama has vowed to veto this particular appropriations bill if and when it reaches his desk. And well he should. The American people deserve much better from their Congress.
Our Week in DC
Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
Minnesota Credit Union Network
CHI/St. Gabriel's Health Opioid Addiction Event
With new leaders of the University of Minnesota’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)
Our Week in Duluth
Our Field Representative Mark Privratsky attended the Lundorff Drive groundbreaking ceremony and learned more about the possibilities the new Business Park will bring.
Our Week in Mille Lacs
Our Field Representative Enid Swaggert attended the Inauguration of Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin and Councilwoman Sandra Blake of District 1 of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Our Week in Leech Lake
Enid also represented us at the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Inauguration of Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. and Councilman LeRoy Faitbanks III of District 3.
Our Week in Bois Forte
Our Field Representative Jordan Metsa attended the Bois Forte Tribal Government swearing-in ceremony for newly elected Bois Forte Tribal Chair Cathy Chavers and Tribal Council member Travis Morrison. Tribal Chair Chavers spoke to hundreds of attendees about her mission to keep building on the long standing relationships between the tribe, state, and federal governments by working together to create economic opportunities for tribal members and community residents across the region. Chair Chavers also spoke about the need to build upon the successes of the past administration and at the same time making new investments that will unite and strengthen the tribe moving forward.
Coming Up in Minnesota
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will be in Duluth with us on Thursday for a roundtable discussion with transportation leaders and local officials from throughout the region, a tour of the Port of Duluth and other events. Meanwhile, with Congress in recess for the Democratic and Republican national conventions, I’ll be visiting with business leaders, local officials and constituents throughout Minnesota’s 8th District. If you see me in your community, please take a few minutes to stop and chat. I get some of my best ideas from the people I’m so privileged to represent.
Farewell to Governor Wendy Anderson
Governor Wendy Anderson and “the good life in Minnesota” were featured on the cover of the famous August 13, 1973 issue of TIME Magazine.
It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that under Governor Wendy Anderson’s leadership, Minnesota became the envy of the Nation. He was a brilliant and remarkable politician. But time and again, he put politics aside to bring together Democrats and Republicans, business and Labor and people from every corner of our state to advance the common good.
His “Minnesota Miracle” transformed our educational system into a model for the Nation, ensuring that every child would have the opportunity to live up to their full potential in life. His leadership on environmental issues helped ignite a nationwide effort to clean up our water, air and land. And his passion for public service inspired future generations of young men and women to enter politics to help make life better for people. Mary and I and the entire Nolan family join his family and countless friends and admirers in mourning his passing and celebrating his wonderful life.
Nolan in the news...
Ely Echo: Second listening session will be in Ely
Voice of Alexandria: Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan praises new tac on steel from China
Duluth News Tribune: Japanese farmers worry about potential damage from Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
Bemidji Pioneer: Long Voelkner in DC
Walker Pilot-Independent: Longville Airport to receive $335,000 for infrastructure improvements
Hometown Focus: Nolan reports productive conversation on Superior National Forest issues
Business North: Forest Service will host Iron Range listening session about renewal of mineral leases
Hibbing Daily Tribune: Steel tariffs are finalized by ITC
Duluth News Tribune: Both sides steeled for Twin Metals hearings
Hibbing Tribune: Twin Metals mineral leases on shaky ground
Mesabi Daily News: RAMS calls out flawed USFS action
Duluth News Tribune: Cliffs unveils plan for iron plant at Essar site
Minnesota Brown: Cliffs CEO promises iron clad future for Mesabi
Star Tribune: Cliffs CEO paints upbeat picture of potential for disputed Essar Steel site
Business North: Cliffs unveils plans for DRI at Essar site; Goncalves vows Essar in court
Mesabi Daily News: Finding a ‘common goal’
Pioneer Press: Essar moves to keep Nashwauk, Minn., project
Northland News Center: Dayton Addresses Essar Mineral Lease Termination, Holds Public Hearing
KLGR: Listening session last night in Duluth on proposed Twin Metals mines near Ely
Sunlight Foundation: Will the Stop Act end ‘dialing for dollars’ in Congress?
I Falls Journal: Groundbreaking marks start of airport project
Hibbing Daily Tribune: Rangers Drive Support For Twin Metals
Mesabi Daily News: Twin Metals: A Region Divided
For more on the issues in this newsletter...
Click here to learn more about our work on Mining.
Click here to learn more about our work on Jobs and the Middle Class.
Click here to learn more about our work on Government Reform.
Click here to learn more about our work on Higher Education.
Click here to learn more about our work on Environment.