Another Big Win for Minnesota’s Iron Range – U.S. Forest Service Approves PolyMet Land Exchange!
PolyMet’s NorthMet mining project received a major boost this morning as the U.S. Forest Service announced approval of the land exchange critical to moving ahead with the creation of hundreds of good paying jobs for our region.
In a major step toward creating hundreds more good paying jobs in our region, the U.S. Forest Service announced this morning that they have finally agreed to the land exchange necessary for PolyMet to move ahead, access the NorthMet copper-nickel deposits and begin mining under the vast lands known as the Duluth Complex.
I’m particularly proud to have been helpful and useful in advancing that decision by bringing together multiple state and federal agencies to speed and coordinate an approval process that had been bogged down for over a decade, at a cost of more than $200 million, with no one person in charge. To fill that void, for the past two years our Congressional office has taken the lead, holding regular meetings with representatives of the Forest Service and all the various agencies involved to keep the approval process moving toward today’s positive outcome. After the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers issues its final Record of Decision on a Clean Water Act Section 404 provision (for dredge and fill of wetlands), all the federal environmental review components will be in place. Then the State of Minnesota will move ahead with the financial and environmental guarantees necessary to launch a new era in 21st Century mining here in Northern Minnesota.
The land exchange will benefit both the taxpayers and PolyMet. By law, the monetary values of the lands are basically equal. The 6,690 acres of private land PolyMet will cede to the U.S. Forest Service include access to trails and recreation, abundant timber resources, a huge tract of wild rice water at Hay Lake, and almost 2,000 acres of wetlands. So the deal brings with it a nice net gain in wetlands for the Forest Service. The 6,650 acres of contiguous land PolyMet will receive is already mining friendly, surrounded by existing mining operations.
Remember, beyond Minnesota’s Iron Range, PolyMet’s NorthMet project has powerful implications for our entire Nation in helping meet our growing demands in defense, manufacturing, high technology, health care, environmental “green” industries and medical research. It’s exciting stuff and rest assured 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.
Dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics? What in the World Were Republicans Thinking!
Click the image above to watch my message.
For the life of me, I don’t know what the Republicans were thinking by starting off the new Congress, which they control, with a behind closed doors effort to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). I’m so glad we were able to push this idea to the back burner, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give President-Elect Donald Trump credit for an assist in our success.
By way of background, the OCE is an independent office established some years ago by a then Democratic majority to help ensure that members of Congress and their staffs adhere to the spirit and the letter of strict ethics rules. It’s absolutely necessary to restoring Americans’ confidence in our government, and Congress in particular. If there are things that need fixing in the Office of Congressional ethics, then by all means let’s fix them. But we can’t fix that office by doing away with it. Instead, we’ll fix it after an open debate and discussion in which the American people have a seat to watch and make their own judgments.
A Post-Holiday Gift to Big Banks and Corporate Special Interests
Federal agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) issue rules and regulations to implement the laws Congress passes and ensure that Americans receive the protections and services they are entitled to under our laws. A new Republican measure would drastically impede this process.
Republicans last week launched an all out attack on rules and regulations necessary to ensure the integrity of Social Security and Medicare and protect Americans from dirty air and water, dangerous workplaces, unsafe food, hazardous toys and questionable drugs. An outright gift to big banks, powerful corporations and special interests, their so-called “REINS” Act would kill any major rule issued by a federal agency that both the House and Senate fail to approve within 70 legislative days. That includes financial reforms necessary to stop the kinds of Wall Street abuses that caused the great depression and the loss of millions of good paying jobs just a few years ago.
To be clear, Congress passes the laws and policies that are implemented through the regulatory process. If those rules and regulations run afoul of Congress’s intent, there is a process already in place for us to veto them. But this new Republican measure effectively turns the process upside down by requiring a majority vote by both the House and Senate before major rules and regulations can take effect. Given the existing gridlock and backlog in Washington, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how important new protections for American families and workers would be bottled up and left to die under this new system.
It remains to be seen if President Trump would sign legislation that could prevent the federal agencies he oversees from imposing regulations he supports. And we will see, as well, how the American people react to this threat against Social Security, Medicare and the very health and safety protections that have helped double life expectancy in our Nation over just a couple of generations. All in all, I predict this fight is far from over.
Divisive House Measure On Israel Undermines U.S. Foreign Policy and Prospects for Peace
I have joined more than 100 of my colleagues in cosponsoring a resolution in support of Israel and a two-state solution to bring a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Last week I made the difficult decision to vote ‘no’ on House Resolution 11, a measure that strongly criticized the Obama Administration’s refusal to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which called on Israel to halt settlements on lands captured during the 6 day war in 1967.
To be clear, I opposed the resolution because it came to the House floor under a Closed Rule, denying Members of Congress the opportunity to consider amendments and alternatives. Moreover, H.R. 11’s divisive elements undermine decades of bipartisan U.S. support for Israel and potentially diminish prospects for a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Make no mistake – our loyalty to Israel is unwavering. My decision on this particular amendment came only after intense study and consideration of an issue that became contentious and hotly debated. This issue is simply too important for partisan politics – so I’ve joined more than 100 of my colleagues in cosponsoring an alternative resolution offering support for our commitment to Israel and support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Reading the 7th Amendment to the Constitution – the Right to Trial by Jury
Click on the screen above to hear me read the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees Americans the right to a trial by a jury of their peers.
I was honored to participate last week in the reading aloud of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House. Reading the Constitution from beginning to end is a relatively new tradition we began four years ago at the onset of the 113th Congress. It’s an excellent way to remind ourselves and the American people of the brilliance and resilience of the document our Founders wrote way back in 1789. Every member has the opportunity to read a piece of the Constitution.The section we read depends on what is due to be read when our turn comes at the podium. I read the 7th Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to a trail by a jury of their piers. The Founders viewed this Amendment as critical to the foundation of a legal system that protects and ensures the rights of all our people.
Dayton Jobs bill Aims More Than $100 Million for Minnesota’s 8th District
Governor Mark Dayton’s has proposed legislation to invest $1.5 billion in essential projects to create almost 23,000 good paying new jobs across Minnesota, including more than 3,000 jobs here in the 8th District.
While those of us on the House Transportation Committee wait to see the $1 trillion plan President-elect Trump intends to purpose to revitalize our transportation infrastructure and create millions of good paying jobs, Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith have submitted an ambitious jobs plan of their own to the Minnesota Legislature. I hope state lawmakers will act quickly and in a bipartisan way to consider it. The Governor’s proposal, which includes a number of major projects here in the 8th District, would be expected to create some 23,000 good paying jobs across our region and throughout Minnesota. Here’s a quick snapshot of projects he has down for the 8th District – all told more than $100 million.
- $21 million to upgrade Duluth’s 80-year-old downtown steam heating system
- $10 million to for improvements to the Port of Duluth, along with those in Red Wing, Winona and St. Paul
- $6.6 million for runway construction at Duluth International Airport
- $3 million to help finish the new terminal building at the International Falls-Koochiching County Airport
- $70 million to repair and rebuild bridges across the 8th District and throughout Minnesota
- $28 million for a new Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building on the campus of University of Minnesota Duluth
- $7.5 million for building improvements at Hibbing Community College
- $3.5 million for an Oil Train Derailment & Pipeline Safety Center at Camp Ripley
- $3.5 million to renovate the Brainerd Readiness Center to meet the needs of the Minnesota National Guard and Minnesotans during emergencies
- $3.5 million to develop a fisheries management station on Lake Mille Lacs to hep address the declining walleye population
Our Week in DC
We discussed the Twin Metals project and mining in Minnesota with Twin Metals executives.
Our Week in Mt. Iron
Our Field Representatives Jordan Metsa and Tom Whiteside attended the annual Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) dinner. Guest Speakers included PolyMet President and CEO Jon Cherry, who praised our work, saying, "In my opinion, Congressman Nolan puts mining first, before politics. He is a true champion for mining." State Representative Rob Ecklund added that, "Nolan stepped up and helped the Range Delegation defeat The anti-mining Resolution 54." The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) works closely with the Iron Range Delegation, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), and area economic development entities to further community development and quality of life for all member units. The Executive Director is Steve Giorgi and the President is Hoyt Lakes Mayor Mark Skelton.
Our Week at the Minneapolis VA
Our Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the monthly United Veterans Legislative Council of Minnesota meeting at the Minneapolis VA. Here's Chaz Johnson who worked for retired Congressman Kline getting recognition for his years of service to veterans.
Coming Up in Washington
• The Senate’s budget resolution, which sets up a hasty repeal of the Affordable Care Act is on track for adoption in both chambers of Congress this week. The Senate has plans for a marathon voting session mid-week and the House is expected to vote on the budget resolution before leaving on Friday.
Baby It’s Cold Outside!
20 below zero in Minnesota is a great excuse for an extra 9 holes of snow golf.
We Minnesotans are proud of our long cold winters, with our 8th District leading the way. We view our winters as “character building” - one of many reasons why, to us, Minnesota is the Number One best place in our Nation to live. So when the website thrillist.com conferred on us the distinction of having the “worst” winters in America, we accepted it enthusiastically as a badge of honor. This year, we proudly beat out Michigan (2), Alaska (3), South Dakota (6) and Wisconsin (7) for the honor. Here’s part of what Duluth News Tribune reporter John Meyers had to say in covering Minnesota’s icy victory:
“In an online world of seemingly endless lists, ranking Minnesota first in winter horribleness seems contrary to the plethora of other sites that consistently rank the state as among the best in the nation — for economy, well-run governments, outdoor recreation, health care and quality of life. But the thrillist authors shoveled on the insults. And with the temperature hitting 12 below zero Wednesday in Duluth, the wind chill at 39 below zero and the forecast high for today at a frigid 5 below zero, it’s a little hard to argue with them, don’tcha know. (Bagley, Minn., had 50-below-zero wind chills Wednesday.)”
Nolan in the news...
Business North: Trails Act could create interstate trails system
Duluth News Tribune: Representative’s View: Northland benefits if Trump embraces tax, trade, other reforms
Hibbing Daily Tribune: A Nod to Nolan
Hometown Focus: U.S. Steel will reopen Keetac mine; production anticipated to begin in March
Mesabi Daily News: Thank You U.S. Rep. Nolan
Grand Rapids Herald: Rep. Rick Nolan on H.RES. 11
For more on the issues in this newsletter...
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