Around Cook County
A bill declaring the federal Environmental Protection Agency null and void in Minnesota will not get a committee hearing this year.
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, said the bill, HF 3094, was introduced Monday partly in frustration over federal action that could negatively impact the Mesabi Nugget iron plant near Hoyt Lakes
Dill, a co-author on the bill, told WTIP News the bill won’t get a hearing in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs, because it was introduced too late to meet the House’s self-imposed Friday deadline for bills to clear committees.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, was chief author of the bill. She said EPA standards regarding wood burning stoves was her motivation for introducing the bill. The new EPA standards would require wood stoves to burn cleaner emissions.
Dill said members of the Iron Range delegation decided to co-author the bill over frustration with the EPA’s recent decision to revoke a variance for Mesabi Nugget that allows the plant to release pollutants at levels otherwise above state standards. Dill told WTIP News yesterday, all three DFL Range members have now withdrawn their names from the bill.
The bill “is not going anywhere. But it is a little frustrating when the EPA does this stuff and doesn’t tell us,’’ Dill said.
Environmental groups sued to disallow the variance, and the EPA last week agreed to an out-of-court settlement to withdraw the variance. Mesabi Nugget has asked for a 30-day delay in the EPA’s action.
The county board denied a request from George Wilkes and Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project for $4,000 to support a part-time coordinator. After the request on March 11 was denied, with only Commissioner Sue Hakes supporting the contribution, Hakes made a motion to contribute $2,000 instead. That motion also failed, with Hakes and Commissioner Jan Hall in favor of the lesser contribution.
The board, which did give CCLEP $4,000 last year, said the donation was not budgeted for and it wouldn’t be fair to other non-mandated organizations who have been instructed to plan for a 5 percent reduction.
Further investigation into the death of a female wolf that recently left Isle Royale National Park for the mainland determined a pellet gun was the cause of death.The wolf’s remains were discovered on the shore of Lake Superior on February 8. The animal had been radio collared at the Park for long-term study by researchers at Michigan Technological University.
Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said this year several ice bridges had formed allowing for what has historically been natural movement of wolves to and from the island in extremely cold winters.
Green said death was caused by a lightweight pellet that traveled between two ribs causing fatal damage. The wolf was not pregnant and has been returned to Michigan Tech for further research.
On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, the county board authorized Sheriff Mark Falk to purchase two new replacement squad cars and equipment at a total cost of about $95,000, which was budgeted for. Commissioner Bruce Martinson voted against the purchase, saying there was not enough information provided, such as the account balance or mileage on the vehicles to be replaced.
Maintenance Director Brian Silence was given the go-ahead to seek quotes for a new vehicle to be used by the assessor, and to look at alternatives for more efficient use of the vehicles in the county fleet.
Users of the county recycling facility will notice a change beginning this week – expanded hours of operation on Tuesdays.
Cook County Planning Director Tim Nelson came before the county commissioners March 11 with the new plan and several other items.
Nelson, who also serves as solid waste officer, said he has been hearing comments and complaints for nearly as long as he’s been here (10-plus years) about the fact that the Recycling Center does not open to the public until 11 a.m. In response to those requests, Nelson said he is willing to implement a pilot program on a trial basis.
Effective immediately, the center will now open at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays until further notice.
Nelson explained that the reason the center has never been open between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. is to allow employees time to process materials that have come in either from the drop-off boxes at the center or those from remote trailers in other locations throughout the county. Nelson said if the expanded morning hours on Tuesday prove successful and don’t interfere with the work routine, morning hours on other days will be added.
Hours of operation for the Recycling Center are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for Thursday (open until 6 p.m.) and Tuesday (open at 9 a.m.), and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Unfortunately winter still insists upon staying onstage, even though spring is supposed to be waiting in the wings. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Stewart about more snow on the way.