Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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"This is an upgrade. We are renewing infrastructure, and if anybody wanted to renew a road, airport, bridge or building, most people would say that makes sense. We're trying to upgrade the safety and reliability of this very critical infrastructure." — Enbridge CEO Al Monaco
DULUTH—By the end of the month, the fate of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline should finally be known. After years of technical research and public hearings, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote June 27 to approve, deny or put conditions on the contentious oil pipeline that would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota. Though there is still a chance the decision gets pushed back, those for and against the project are preparing protests, celebrations and lawsuits.
DULUTH — For high school students, having a job is less a rite of passage than a novelty these days. In Minnesota and across the country, fewer teenagers are working despite all sorts of opportunities to pick up that first paycheck. And without early job experiences, the workforce of tomorrow may not be equipped with workplace basics.
DULUTH — For decades, the majority of the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior, Wis., lived under the threat of a concentrated chlorine spill, which could have spread over 10 miles and sickened up to 128,000 people in an unlikely, though technically possible, worst-case scenario. Then in 2006, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District decided to do away with the risk altogether.
SUPERIOR, Wis. — As burning asphalt poured a plume of black smoke over Douglas County on April 26, a 15,000-pound chemical bomb was ticking. If everything had gone wrong that tense day, a vapor cloud of toxic hydrogen fluoride could have spread from the Husky oil refinery across the Twin Ports, injuring thousands. Firefighters averted that worst-case scenario and extinguished the fire late that night. But the risk remains, and it probably will for years to come.
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.
DULUTH—"Rabble rouser." "Dedicated public servant." "Thank you." The tributes came pouring in Friday morning, Feb. 9, as U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced he would not run for a fourth term representing Minnesota's 8th District in Congress. The DFLer from Crosby weathered increasingly tight races in a geographically massive district that is starting to lose its solid blue hue. After initially campaigning to hold his seat in November, Nolan now intends to serve out his term and "pass the baton to the next generation."
DULUTH — It was day care — in-home, small-group, family day care — that helped make Steven Tanski the thoughtful young man he is today. "Not only did it allow for both of my parents to work full-time jobs without having to worry about me, I also learned so many different things while there," the Hermantown High School senior said. "Cindy and her day care ... left a lasting mark on my life and will continue to for the rest of my life." Future generations might not be able to say the same thing.
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.