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    March 12th 2024 Recycling everything, MN’s Zero Waste Coalition

    Hi Folks

    Our next climate meeting will be March 12th at 4pm in the Ely Field Naturalists Resource Center above the NAPA store. The meeting will be both in person and zoomed.

    This month we will be hosting members of the Minnesota Zero Waste Coalition–including Eureka Recycling (a mission-based waste service provider), the MN Environmental Justice Table, and rural advocacy organization CURE represented by our own Maggie Schuppert and Hudson Kingston. The conversation will dig into how the growing Zero Waste movement is tackling the waste crisis in Minnesota–by reducing waste at the source, redesigning systems to support reuse, and conserving resources and promoting sustainability within our communities—and share what is happening this session at the Legislature to move Minnesota towards a zero waste future.

    You can find more about Eureka here:

    more about the MN Environmental Justice Table here:

    and more about CURE here:

    Here is our zoom link:

    Topic: Ely Climate Group Meeting
    Time: Mar 12, 2024 4:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
    Join Zoom Meeting
    Meeting ID: 896 7687 7021
    Passcode: 591585

    You can find our YouTube channel here to review recent recordings:

    You can find our blog here:

    Hoping to see you 4pm Tuesday March 12th



    Feb 13th 2024 Clean Energy Resource Teams

    At our meeting in January, Hudson made a compelling case for heat pumps. During the Ely Winter Festival we had the opportunity to see and drive a variety of electric vehicles on display at Ely’s DQ. These technologies are becoming more known and accepted, and certainly help us reduce our carbon footprint. But making changes is not easy. We have lots of questions, for example:

    What is the range of an EV in cold weather?

    What will a heat pump cost and is it noisy?

    Do I have enough electrical power at my home for all this stuff?

    What does LCP or (Minn Power) charge per kWh for a heat pump or EV charger?

    What about all those federal and state tax incentives and rebates we hear about?

    Our February meeting features Nik Allen from CERTs (Clean Energy Resource Teams) to help us find some answers. Thank you Nik! Here is an excerpt from the CERTs web page:

    The Clean Energy Resource Teams work across the state of Minnesota to provide residents with the best unbiased resources, tools, guidance, connections, funding and financing opportunities, events, and stories to get your projects done. Best of all, we’re not trying to sell you anything: our resources and tools are free.

     You can find more information here:

    You can find the recording of the meeting here:

    Jan 9th 2024 Heat Pumps

    Jan 9th 2024 Climate Meeting Heat Pumps  This is a pdf summary

    You can find the full recording of the meeting on you tube.

    Either search on you tube for “Ely Climate Group” or go here:

    December 2023, planning session

    Notes on Dec 5th 2023 Meeting notes, BJ


    We met at Mary Louise’s home to discuss how to proceed in 2024. Many thanks Mary Louise for the good atmosphere and to all who contributed. Before the meeting, I asked Ted Spalding, who started the group several years ago and now lives near the twin cities, to write about how the group started. Here is his story:


    I got interested in global warming in the 1960’s. I have no background in science but I bought into the idea of global warming, and have remained interested to this day. One day about 12 years ago I passed a legal pad around the room at Tuesday group. That’s how we got started.
    Don’t ever give up. Unlike Sisyphus your group along with millions of other groups around the world will get the rock to the top. All we have to do is defeat entrenched business interests, entrenched lobbyists for fossil fuels and against global warming technologies, whole nations who think global warming is a hoax (ie the United States) and on and on. I think success might be found by a two pronged approach. You work in two directions at once simultaneously. Top down and bottom up and where they meet you may have a solution.

    GOOD LUCK for the sake of all the BIOSPHERE.

     Thank you Ted, we are still going. We discussed our objectives, our meeting time/dates/locations, how to involve more of our community and be more effective. Here are my notes, and comments from others. If you have good ideas for the group that are not discussed here, we would love to hear them!


    January 2024 Meeting

    Next meeting Jan 9th at EFN at 4pm. Note new time. Zoom and in person. Community notices to TimberJay and Echo. Main topic to be heat pumps with local plumber explaining how they work and what it takes to have one installed. Do they work in winter? Comments from Hudson and/or Maggie on their personal experience with one, IRA rebates/tax incentives.

    February 2024 Meeting

    Possibly more IRA info about household or local business deductions and tax breaks. Recruit speaker from CCL or CERTS? Date, time, place TBD. If liaison with school or college can be re-established take the meeting to them and select topic of mutual relevance. If this is a Tuesday dates are Feb 6th or 13th. Note there is a possibility of Meghan Salmon-Tumas Northland College, Ashland WI visiting Feb 13th for TG and/or CC arrangements not yet decided. (If MST visits this would also work well for Bill’s Nature Nights, or for a “special” lecture at the college, would we want to make either option be the CC meeting for that month?)

    Note: There are 6 EV chargers at the DQ. Hudson/CURE/CERTS plan an EV event in the DQ parking lot in February. Details TBA. We should be there for support.

    Thoughts for more meetings:

    Plan discussion around a book or video. Hudson suggested Wellstone’s “Powerline” as an example.

    Ideas for topics: biomass, plastics, agriculture energy and carbon, the electric grid, the Midwest hydrogen hub, COP28, population, health & climate (HPHC)…  Send your suggestions.

    We have a lot of possibilities for local speakers and we also have summer visitors and we can recruit zoomers from almost anywhere.


    General thoughts on purpose and activities of the group:

    Members like the monthly meeting format where we can explore new topics. We are happy when members write LTEs and call their representatives but these activities are personal decisions.  We recognize the good work done by our colleagues at CCL and value our increased interaction with them especially recently over the important topic of clean steel and potentially in the future on details of the IRA. Our climate group and CCL are complementary. One is small independent and local, the other strategically organized and national. Continued collaboration is sensible whenever our objectives overlap.

    In addition to monthly meetings members are interested in pushing for local changes. Discussions on how to do this covered a variety topics including more trees for Ely, especially around Zups, a dark sky initiative, electric school buses, solar panels for the school/college, and more. It was agreed that since we are a small group we should adopt a single direction for our efforts and that not every member of the group would want to participate. There would likely be other locals interested to join in the effort, this would bring more contacts and experience. In order to plan for this we have our first COMMITTEE with Barb and Maggie recruited to start it off. Who else should we recruit? Enhance your resume, please volunteer!



    Nov 7th 2023, Aaron Kania District Ranger

    November 7th 2023 “Managing Forests” Aaron Kania, Kawishiwi District Forest Ranger

    Aaron talked about how our forests have changed from times before Europeans arrived to the present and what we may expect in the future as our climate changes. Indigenous people used fire to clear the understory hence avoiding many severe crown fires. Our current dangerous situation includes a dense understory from a history of suppressing fires, extremes of climate including droughts, and close contact between people and forested land. He covered how carbon is stored in the forest and how it cycles through decay and regrowth.

    This was a rich discussion, thank you Aaron.

    We recorded a zoom of this discussion. You can find it here:

    Passcode: aevu1+kC

    Here are 2 more good resources about forests, fire and biodiversity:

    First a video from the US Forest Service recommended by Aaron:

    Second a short report in Politico on an article in the journal Nature. This was found by Becky:

    Letter to editor TimberJay Oct 27th 2023

    The Iron Range can benefit from the fight against Climate Change

    Many of us are concerned about climate change. Northeast Minnesota is home to the MN Northland Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and to the Ely Climate Change Group. A recent combined meeting of these groups viewed and discussed the 24 minute video on opportunities for iron and steel in MN made by CCL.  You can watch it on YouTube here:

    The manufacture of steel contributes around 7% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Minnesota is the major source of iron ore in the USA and MN exports its iron ore to other states, some in the form of taconite pellets and some in the form of direct reduction grade (DR grade) pellets. All the processing of these pellets into direct reduced iron (DRI) and finished steel occurs in the rust belt, with the jobs and associated “value added” going to other states (like Ohio).

    A new and much cleaner way of making steel uses DR grade pellets and electric arc furnaces to produce direct reduced iron using green hydrogen made with renewable energy. We are excellently situated to do this process here in northern MN, right at the mine sites. We have the iron ore (no one else has this), we have access to large amounts of renewable energy (wind and hydropower), we have a well-developed transportation network, we have the water and the brown field sites ready for development and we have the labor force wanting good paying jobs.  MN was selected recently as one of the Department of Energy Hydrogen Hub locations. The demand for “green” steel continues to increase as people become more concerned about climate change.

    There can be side benefits to making DRI here. For example Form Energy makes iron-air batteries designed to run for 100 hours for the management of renewable energy on the electric grid. These batteries need DRI. Xcel is planning to install these batteries (10MW, 1000MWh) at Becker MN (the Sherco site). Many more will be needed as the electric grid transitions from fossil fuels to wind and solar power. Form Energy is building a battery plant in West Virginia. They would find ideal conditions to build their next battery factory in MN next to a DRI plant.

    Another application for the highly reactive DRI material is to decrease the sulfate in water discharges that inevitably come from the mining and production of iron. An inexpensive procedure that cleans discharge water has been developed in Babbitt by ClearWater BioLogics. DRI is essential for this.

    National Renewable Energy Lab and MN NRRI research shows that Minnesota leads all other states in the most cost-effective development of these clean-energy and iron-based industries.  Now is the time to push for these initiatives before these opportunities disappear to competing states.  The Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provide enormous funding for exactly these types of projects that develop and use technology to reduce CO2 emissions and generate well-paying, sustainable jobs.  Please let your state and federal legislators and local leaders know you support this future for Northern Minnesota.

    Barb Jones for Ely Climate group; Jeff Hanson, Brett Cease, Mike Overend, Eric Enberg, Charlie Orsak, Katya Gordon and Russ Mattson for the MN Northland Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

    Oct 10th Green Steel and Northland Opportunities, CCL and Jeff Hanson

    You can find the CCL video (24 mins) here:

    You can find the zoom recording of our Oct 10th meeting (including both video and discussion) here:
    Passcode: 14Y#t=5C

    Let your lawmakers and newspapers know you support these opportunities
    Rep. Pete Stauber
    Sen Tina Smith
    Sen Amy Klobuchar

    Sen Grant Hauschild 
    Rep Roger Skraba
    Find your legislators
    Ely Echo

    SAMPLE – use this, or make changes, or write your own
    Dear legislator xxxx
    Climate change affects us all. In northern MN we need to use our resources to help reduce pollution from the iron and steel sector. We mine iron ore but then ship it away for processing and do not clean up the pollution affecting our waters and wild rice beds. Instead we could process the ore locally using our plentiful green energy supply, and we can also address the sulfate pollution to clean our lakes and rivers. This would produce clean steel which is needed in increasing supply for the energy transition and for iron-air batteries like those developed by Form Energy. It would also create clean environments and local high paying jobs. Our colleagues at Citizens’ Climate Lobby have made a short video on the topic. You can find it here: Funding is available through the Inflation Reduction Act. MN has the ore, the clean wind power, the transportation infrastructure and the workers. We need to seize this opportunity.

    Finally there is a meeting of the Mineland Vision Partnership (MVP) meeting focused on Climate Change in Chisholm on November 8th 10 – 12am.  This meeting is open to the public and you may wish to attend. The CCL team will be making a presentation. MVP’s website states MVP is open to the public and encourages all interested stakeholders, whether private property owners, mining company representatives, business and community interests to engage in the organization’s activities.”

    Thanks to our Northland CCL team for their leadership.



    Sept 5th 2023, Randy Kolka on Mercury in the Environment

    Randy is the lead scientist on mercury related research in Forest Service Research. You can find his bio here:  He has been working on mercury cycling in northern Minnesota since the mid-1990s, starting with his PhD dissertation.  Much of his mercury research is on the USDA Forest Service’s Marcell Experimental Forest just north of Grand Rapids.  He also leads the important SPRUCE experiment (Spruce and Peatland Responses under Changing Environments) which some of us have visited.  Randy is an adjunct faculty member at six universities in the US and Canada and has nearly 300 scientific publications.

    Factors Influencing Mercury Cycling and Bioaccumulation in Fish

    Cutting-edge research on the Marcell Experimental Forest and other locations in northern Minnesota over the past couple of decades have led to discoveries related to mercury biogeochemistry, atmospheric deposition, hot spots where the bioaccumulative methylmercury is produced and controls on that production, the impact of fire on the transport and bioaccumulation in fish, and how warming associated with climate change influences mercury cycles.  As a result of our long-term mercury research program, EPA and the state Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has used our research in major cases such as the Polymet mine decision, and currently with proposing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) policy for the St. Louis River.

    This talk was recorded on zoom. Here is a link to the video:

    Passcode: E#s^n$g9

    August 15th The Inflation Reduction Act , David Doniger

    David is the Senior Strategic Director in their Climate & Clean Energy Program. You can read more about his work here:

    David has been at the forefront of the battle against air pollution and global climate change since he joined NRDC in 1978. He helped formulate the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement designed to stop the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer, as well as several essential amendments to the Clean Air Act. In 1993, he left NRDC to serve on the White House Council on Environmental Quality, followed by key posts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He rejoined NRDC in 2001 and has since been working to defend the Clean Air Act from assaults in Congress. He is based in Washington, D.C., but spends some time in Ely during the summer.

    August 16th 2023 (one day after our meeting) is the one year anniversary of Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. The IRA is the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history, enabling America to tackle the climate crisis, advancing environmental justice, securing America’s position as a world leader in domestic clean energy manufacturing, and putting the United States on a pathway to achieving the Biden Administration’s climate goals, including a net-zero economy by 2050.

    David will give us his perspective on the status of the IRA at the one year mark. What has been achieved so far, and what we can expect in the future.

    This meeting was recorded on zoom. Here is a link to the recording:
    Passcode: .Xw1Yi@Y


    July 11th Forests and Fires with Doug Lande

    July 11th 2023 climate meeting with Doug Lande

    Doug brings expertise of forestry and fires. Doug is District 2 Supervisor/Secretary of the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). He has a good understanding of local and state agencies. He runs an off-grid solar home.  Our conversation covered both the forest and the trees and how humans and other animals in northern Minnesota are affected by climate change. This is not a summary of the conversation but it is a summary of the useful contacts and links that were discussed.



    Climate Reanalyzer from the University of Maine is an excellent site

    World average temps showing record high temps early July

    CR provides today’s weather maps worldwide with many interesting parameters

    Click on map to advance around the world, click on the topic on the LHS to select the parameter you want to view.

    Check “departure from mean” for temps and SST (sea surface temps)

    Note N Canada is hot, much hotter than average

    Note water around Greenland is cold from all the ice melt



    SWCD website

    Useful forestry video (5 mins) on spruce budworm, ash borer and more

    SWCD  annual tree sale (bare root trees available in spring at Eveleth)

    Free white pines seedlings are distributed by Lake Co. SWCD once a year about the same time as the native plant sale and must be picked up in Two Harbors at SWCD.  This is not guaranteed from year to year.

    Assistance to manage your forested property in Lake Co or N St Louis Co

    SWDC works with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), a division of the USDA, to provide financial assistance to landowners through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Many Lake County landowners (usually with properties 2+ acres in size) have benefited from this program. You can apply for an EQUIP grant without a stewardship plan.



    FIREWISE – a program to help homeowners make their property more fire resistant

    Local Firewise contact for St Louis Co is Gloria Erickson

    For Lake Co Firewise  contact  Aaron Mollin-Kling   651 387 1770


    BOOKS on fire preparedness

    “Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild your Life (A Handbook for Homeowners)” by Linda Masterson

    “Creating a Firewise Property” a folder published by the DNR. Available for download here: