MN-08: Stewart Mills says American pipelines should be built with American steel

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills disagree on many issues, but building American pipelines with American steel isn’t one of them. Mills said on Monday that using domestic steel for pipelines is “just common sense.”

The national controversy over the source of steel used in pipeline construction was pushed to the forefront in Minnesota on Aug.6 when Mike McFadden, a Republican seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Al Franken, stated that he supported using unsubsidized foreign steel if it was cheaper than domestic steel. The predicted furor erupted across the Iron Range and threatened to spill over into the race for 8th district congress on Aug.11, when Nolan criticized McFadden’s position as “indefensible” and used it as a springboard to call on Mills to disclose his position on the issue.

“Stewart Mills III is a multi-millionaire with a financial stake in the oil and gas business. He’s also been campaigning with Mike McFadden all over the 8th District. Mills has a vested interest in building cheap pipelines, since it means more money in his pockets. Iron Rangers deserve to know whether he too would choose to import cheap steel from China in order to protect his own wealth.” Nolan said in the statement posted on Facebook.

But Mills supports the use of domestic steel.

“The Iron Range has long been the backbone of our part of Minnesota, and it’s just common sense for me that American pipelines should be built with American steel,” Mills responded in an email

“Miners and their families deserve a strong voice in Washington, but Rick Nolan doesn’t stand for their values. He claims to support American steel and steelworkers, but then turns around and votes against projects like Keystone XL that would benefit them. I’ll always stand up for Iron Range miners and their families”

Nolan and Mills each bring a certain level of expertise to the debate, but from different ends of the pipeline.

Mills’ personal financial disclosure reflects an ownership interest in Crow Wing Oil Company, a privately-held wholesale distributor of oil products. The company does not explore and drill nor process and refine, transport and store oil and gas. It simply purchases and sells end products.

Nolan lived and worked in the Middle East while serving as an investment advisor to the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi controls 95 percent of the oil reserves in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 94 percent of its gas reserves. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the UAE “is one of the 10 largest oil and natural gas producers in the world.”

Since Nolan and Mills agree on using domestic steel when building pipelines, they are now free to quibble over who really supports the projects or workers. But another comment in Nolan’s statement grabbed the attention of Iron Rangers and did not go unnoticed by Mills.

“The strongest, safest, most reliable steel in the world is mined and processed by Minnesotans right here on the Iron Range,” said Nolan, prompting Mills to add “Just one final point – I would suggest that Rick read up on the difference between iron and steel (there are no steel mills on the Range, Rick!)”

A low-grade iron ore called taconite is mined and processed on the Iron Range. Steel is an alloy. Northern Minnesota has not produced steel since the early 1970s, when United States Steel closed their steel-making and finishing operations in Duluth.

Nolan’s facebook post remained unedited as of Tuesday evening.

Wednesday morning update: Nolan deleted the post.

Rick Nolan for Congress Steel Aug 11 2014

MN-08: Chip Cravaack’s False and Misleading Ad Reflects A Bad Case Of Steelworker Envy

Rep Chip Cravaack lost the coveted United Steelworkers endorsement to former Congressman Rick Nolan last month, prompting a whiny temper tantrum that echoed across the Iron Range. Cravaack’s jealousy over Nolan’s big endorsement has now morphed into a serious case of steelworker envy with the airing of a desperately deceptive mining ad purporting to be filmed on the Iron Range.

The ad titled “Good Man” features two Iron Rangers discussing mining and Cravaack visiting with workers. The release that accompanied the ad reads:

A strong and vibrant mining industry is key to creating good-paying jobs for Minnesota workers and their families…. I am thankful for the support of so many former and current miners throughout this far-reaching district,” said Chip Cravaack

To say this ad offers no credible evidence of support from Iron Range steelworkers is an understatement. Consider the following:

1. It was shot at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Facility in Hinckley, not at a mine on the Iron Range

2. The retired miner is not a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), and the active miner is viewed as a renegade who once tried to sue the USW for not advocating enough for workers, and reportedly threatened to run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

3. Cravaack is shown with 49ers, not steelworkers

Talk about compensating for one’s shortcomings!

Cravaack is trying to parlay a very misguided endorsement from the 49ers into an implied endorsement from SOAR and USW, both of which have endorsed Nolan. And how arrogantly insulting that Cravaack thinks Rangers won’t notice. Packsacker Chip Cravaack may not know the difference between steelworkers and 49ers, or between Hibbing and Hinckley, but Rangers sure do.

This deliberately misleading ad is devoid of all credibility and is just the latest of many desperate attempts by Cravaack to deceive voters into believing he has support of Range steelworkers.

Only an outsider or one truly clueless would think this ad is going to be effective with its target audience. Insulting the intelligence of voters from across the Iron Range is not a winning strategy, something Chip Cravaack would know if he were actually a Minnesotan.

MN-08: Cravaack Campaign Crying Crocodile Tears Over Nolan Ads

“He doesn’t even live here”

Former Congressman Rick Nolan and an Iron Range steelworker uttered those simple words about Chip Cravaack in recent tv ads and in doing so triggered what can only be described as a tantrum en masse from supporters of Cravaack. And the Cravaack campaign immediately began whining about that statement being “an outright lie”, firing off indignant letters to media outlets demanding the ads be pulled.

Their indignation absolutely reeks of crocodile tears.

Two years ago, that very same statement was not only directed at Rep Jim Oberstar, but was a central theme in Chip Cravaack’s campaign against the Iron Range native. And Chip even argued the test of where one lives is where their kids go to school. Here’s Chip in an interview making those points:

And unlike Nolan and the steelworker, Cravaack didn’t stop there. In this interview, Chip goes after Oberstar’s family, makes some pretty strong allegations about the Range native’s ties to the district, and argues that just because Oberstar owns a home in Chisholm that doesn’t mean he lives here:

Well isn’t that special?

And it gets better. In an October 23 2012 interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, Cravaack is STILL making that claim, this time in a rather bizarre defense to Range native Nolan’s emphasis of his 4th generation roots in the district:

Cravaack rejected the contention of his opponent, Rick Nolan, that the DFLer has a better perspective to represent the district because he’s lived here longer and because Cravaack’s family moved to another state for reasons related to his wife’s profession and other family concerns. “It’s a hollow argument that doesn’t resonate,” he said of Nolan’s statement. “Jim Oberstar lived out of the district for decades. I’m taking care of my family.”


Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Chip Cravaack and his campaign are truly delusional if they think they can sneak this one by voters in northern Minnesota. Even MPR predicted this issue would come back to haunt him after moving his family to New Hampshire:

As someone who ran accusing Democrat Jim Oberstar of being out of touch with the 8th District, it’s probably fair to assume the Democrats who want to run against him in 2012 may have a few things to say about the New Hampshire homestead.

Your crocodile tears are fooling no one, Chip.

It’s over. Go home to New Hampshire. Go.

The Nolan Campaign ad can be viewed here

The DFL ad can be viewed here

MN-08: Mining Issue Separates A Ranger From A Packsacker

As election day rapidly approaches, mining and Medicare are lining up as the key issues in the race for 8th district congress between Rep Chip Cravaack and former Congressman Rick Nolan of the Cuyuna Range. But on the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota, mining takes center stage and it is this issue that separates a Range native from a packsacker more than any other in the race.

Both candidates have voiced support for mining, but being pro-mining on the Iron Range is not as clear cut as one might think. Mining has created a classic love-hate relationship between Rangers and the mining companies; love the mining, but not the mining companies. It’s a nuance that most outsiders don’t get, and this is in fact the major difference between the candidates in the race for 8th district congress. Chip Cravaack’s determination to roll back rules and regulations in order to give mining companies free reign makes him a much hated ‘Company Man’, one who would likely have told Jim Oberstar’s dad to just shut up and vote the right way if he wanted to keep his job or fired Veda Ponikvar’s father for union organizing. In contrast, Rick Nolan’s commitment to protect workers and the environment makes him an ally of miners and is an extension of the common good that anchors the moralistic political culture of the Iron Range.

While Cravaack sees mining through the very narrow jobs-only lens typical of an outsider, Cuyuna Range native Nolan understands that mining is much more than that. Mining is a part of our culture and a source of pride; steel made from Iron Range red ore built a nation and won two world wars, and taconite continues to fuel the domestic steel industry. In addition, the taconite production tax is a major source of revenue for our cities, schools and counties, and state mineral leases generate millions of dollars for students throughout the state. Any candidate who hopes to carry the heavily DFL Mesabi Iron Range on election night must understand what mining really means to Rangers and be on the right side of the worker v company man nuance of the mining issue.

Rick Nolan’s pro-worker position on mining harkens back to the roots of the Iron Range, to the core of who we are, to the common good. Chip Cravaack’s company man position evokes bitter memories of oppression by the Steel Trust, of the bad old days when the mining companies were allowed to sacrifice worker safety and the environment for profit margins.

The choice Iron Rangers must make on November 6 is simple: Do we want to maintain the hard fought status quo of being equal partners with the mining companies or do we want to return to a time when the mining companies had the power to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to whomever they wanted?

The Ranger or the Packsacker.

Seems like a pretty simple choice.

MN-08: Chip Cravaack Whines After Losing Steelworkers Endorsement To Rick Nolan

Losing an endorsement does not indicate the process is unrepresentative. It just means they don’t like you. Not a difficult concept to grasp unless you are US Rep. Chip Cravaack.

The United Steelworkers District 11 announced Wednesday that the union is backing former Congressman Rick Nolan over incumbent Chip Cravaack in the race for 8th district congress. Most candidates for elected office behave like adults, taking such losses in stride.

But not Chip Cravaack.

In the wake of losing this key endorsement to his DFL-endorsed challenger, Cravaack is behaving much like a fourth grader who gave only three correct answers at a spelling bee, whining ‘no fair’ while jealously eying his classmate who rightly won the contest.

Clearly joining their candidate in the throes of a panicked tantrum Wednesday afternoon, Cravaack’s campaign issued a Karl Rove-style press release in which they first suggested the Steelworkers had in fact endorsed Cravaack (citing support from three steelworkers), went on to once again misrepresent Nolan’s position on mining, and then implied that the USW is continuing a trend of endorsing candidates who are anti-mining.

Indeed, while Rick Nolan was on stage accepting his hard earned award, Chip Cravaack was jumping up and down whining ‘me too’, and petulantly accusing the judges of not knowing how to spell.

Three correct answers do not win a spelling bee, and support from a few steelworkers doesn’t win an endorsement from an entire union. And suggesting that United Steelworkers District 11 would endorse someone who is anything less than 100% supportive of mining and the jobs it creates is just plain stupid.

And desperate. Really, really desperate.

The reality is that Cravaack entered the contest and he lost.

He lost because the Steelworkers see what other Rangers see; that Chip Cravaack has done nothing to create jobs on the Iron Range, Chip Cravaack is nothing but a shill for the multi national mining companies, and Chip Cravaack is not an advocate for workers on the Iron Range.

Cravaack has often stated he wants to be judged on his record. USW District 11 did just that. Cravaack needs to stop whining and accept the consequences of his actions like an adult.

Archive Post Of The Day: Why Did Chip Cravaack Hide Ties To Mining And Metals Industry?

(Originally posted at MPP on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:06:40 AM CST)

While Chip Cravaack was wooing the voters of northeastern Minnesota during the last election, he failed to mention that his brother is a sales executive with steel processor Hynes Industries of Ohio.

In fact, there is evidence that suggests that he deliberately hid the information from the voters. John Cravaack contributed to the campaign, yet the campaign did not disclose employer information on their FEC financial report, instead listing “information requested”. It seems odd that a campaign that Cravaack repeatedly espoused as a small, tightly knit, military-style operation would not be able to provide employer information for the brother of the candidate.

Even more troubling is that John Cravaack also serves as a director of the Metals Service Center Institute, a trade association that “supports and represents the interests of metals users”.

The policy agenda of the Metals Service Center Institute is chilling:

The Metals Service Center Institute’s government affairs efforts focus on legislation and regulation that impact the cost and competitiveness of North American manufacturing, and particularly, producers and distributors of carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum in North America.

We support legislation, tax policies and regulations that lower the costs of doing business and encourage free enterprise.

We supported the extension of the Bush-era tax cut extension, see a Deloitte analysis of the legislation.

We oppose the repeal of the LIFO accounting method. Repeal would create tax liabilities that could devastate service centers, producers and their customers.

We oppose the Schumer – Van Hollen DISCLOSE Act , H.R. 5175/S. 3295. This legislation would limit corporate political speech and our constitutional right to influence elections and advocacy campaigns. The bill targets corporations while continuing to allow unions to spend hundreds of millions to support candidates who are not sympathetic to business issues.

We support free and fair trade, which means enactment and enforcement of trade laws that combat illegal subsidies, manipulated currencies and all other mercantilist policies.

We support the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2009, S. 1027/H.R. 2378. This legislation would provide relief for U.S. manufacturers impacted by currency manipulation and its export subsidy effects.

We support labor laws and policies that encourage profitability, opportunities for personal advancement, safety, and workforce development.

We oppose the Employee Free Choice Act in any form. In addition to its elimination of the secret ballot in union elections, we oppose these other provisions:
• Binding arbitration,
• Limits on corporate communication efforts during organizing campaigns,
• Any form of a “quick election”, and
• Increased penalties for corporations without increased fines for similar union activities.

We support energy policies that protect our environment, create reliable domestic energy supplies and work to ensure that North American manufacturers don’t leave for countries with limited or no regulations.

We support regulations that would lead to a cleaner environment that are multiparty and commonly adopted by the entire world community.

We oppose the Waxman – Markey Cap and Trade legislation and its unilateral regulation of U.S. industry.

We oppose the EPA regulation of green house gases (GHGs) under the provisions of the Clean Air

Is it just a coincidence that Cravaack’s statements during the campaign match the policy statements of the steel industry? And did he hide the information because he knew having ties to the steel industry would not go over well on the Iron Range?

The most important question is exactly whose interests is Chip Cravaack going to represent in Congress – those of the steel industry, which also benefits his family, or his constituents in northeastern Minnesota?

Wasn’t it nice when we were represented by Jim Oberstar and we knew where our congressman stood?

Update: The Cravaack Campaign added employer information for John Cravaack to their FEC report in response to this story.

MN-08: Rick Nolan For Congress Sets Record Straight On Mining; Calls Out AAN For False Ads

Rick Nolan supports mining, he supports miners and he supports mining families. He’s absolutely confident we can do projects like Polymet – and do them in the right way.

Campaign spokesperson Steve Johnson reiterated DFL endorsed candidate Rick Nolan’s position on mining Monday in response to ads attacking the former congressman’s record on mining issues. Johnson blasted the television ads aired by Chip Cravaack’s right wing extremist friends,the American Action Network:

The Republican ads are false and misleading, with no relationship to the record or to Rick Nolan’s statements on mining issues. In fact, Chip Cravaack has done nothing on mining during his one term of office but hold meetings and issue press releases. He has been 100 per cent ineffective on mining. The ads are undoubtedly intended to divert attention from that fact.

Equally outraged by the ads defaming Nolan were former Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson, State Rep. Carly Melin, and United Steelworker union member Ray Pierce Jr, all natives of the Iron Range. The three joined forces at a Monday afternoon press conference to defend their fellow Ranger, pointing to Nolan’s track record of both creating jobs and permitting mining projects, and all echoing Anderson’s sentiment:

Rick Nolan is absolutely right on this issue. Rick Nolan does support our mining industry and he’s going to work hard to make sure projects like PolyMet, Twin Metals and our taconite industries take place. Rick supports these projects and understands the challenges they face and he has a track record of being able to get things done, he’s not just talk.

And all three Rangers had harsh words for Cravaack, whom they characterized as “all talk and no action” on mining, with Melin noting “he has done nothing but hold ‘feel good’ meetings in Duluth, a good 70 miles from the Iron Range.”

Pierce, a millwright at Minorca mine near Virginia and a USW Rapid Response team member perhaps most clearly defined the difference between supporting mining (Nolan) and being a shill for the mining companies (Cravaack):

As a miner I work and see the dangers of mining first hand. I see the pollution that can be created, and as a union member working with the corporations I see how they view their responsibilities on mining and I see ‘profit first.’

…Many union members who came before me fought hard to make sure mines are safe and that mining is done responsibly….Cravaack’s idea to move mining forward is rolling back safety and environmental regulations.

I live here, I work here, I have a family, a wife and 3 kids. We have to drink the water here and breathe the air here so we know its important we have the safety and environmental regulations in place.

Nolan has always been a supporter of mining, not just during election years. I know Rick Nolan’s record for creating jobs as well as protecting the workers. We know our friends will never let that rollback legislation pass. Rick Nolan has worked across the aisle to make sure mining projects move forward in a safe and responsible way.

Chip Cravaack is a pretender, Rick Nolan is a leader.

MN-08: Chip Cravaack Chooses Multi National Mining Companies Over Iron Range Workers

Mining is the lifeblood of northeastern Minnesota, and there is a tradition of 8th District congressmen standing in strong support of the workers who mine the ore on the Iron Range. But Rep. Chip Cravaack has broken with that tradition, choosing instead to stand with the mining companies in Pittsburgh at a time when the United Steelworkers Union (USW) is badly in need of a champion.

The landscape of contract negotiations has changed considerably over the years. In the past, the USW was negotiating with domestic companies who were motivated to seek an agreement because of limited resources. But the steel companies are now multi national corporations with extensive foreign resources. These wealthy multi nationals can withstand a work stoppage at local mines much better than Iron Range workers or businesses that rely on mining for their livelihoods, so they are not as quick to negotiate as in the past and are bold enough to demand significant concessions from workers during a time of unprecedented profits.

The USW was able to reach a tentative agreement with United States Steel (KeeTac, MinnTac) on Sunday, but there is still no agreement with Cliffs Natural Resources (HibTac, UTac) and ArcelorMittal (Minorca). In the past, other contracts were patterned after the one agreed to by USS, which was then the largest mining company. But this is no longer the case, and each company hammers out its own agreement with the union. Contract negotiations between the USW and Cliffs are set to resume again in October, and both sides have agreed to keep the mines operational in the interim. Negotiations with ArcelorMittal have been particularly contentious, and workers at Minorca staged a ‘practice’ picket on Wednesday to show they will indeed strike if necessary. ArcelorMittal is now the largest of the mining companies and possesses substantial resources independent of Iron Range taconite.

This changing face of the mining industry is why the steelworkers need a strong show of public support, particularly from their representative in Congress. So where is Chip Cravaack during the steelworkers time of great need?

Bartending at a bar owned by a Cravaack supporter in Aurora. Having jolly visits at a gift shop near Cloquet and a recreational sports equipment store in Eveleth, both also owned by Cravaack supporters.

To add insult to injury, the store in Eveleth is just one mile from the USW District 11 staff office and 1.7 miles from Local 6860, which represents steelworkers at United Taconite who are currently working without a contract with owner Cliffs Natural Resources. Tensions have been high as Cliffs earlier threatened to hire replacement workers in the event of a strike and had actually brought in trailers to feed the scabs. If ever a union needed to hear words of support, it’s this one.

Yet their own Congressman Chip Cravaack chose not to drive less than 2 miles to stand in solidarity with the steelworkers, with his constituents on the Iron Range. Cravaack has issued no statement of support for these Iron Range workers because according to a staffer “The Congressman doesn’t want to get involved.”

It should now be clear to everyone that when Chip Cravaack says “I support mining” what he really means is “I support the multi national mining companies.”

As the November election approaches, voters across the Iron Range and northeastern Minnesota need ask themselves only one question: Do we want a congressman who stands with the steelworkers on the Iron Range, or do we want a congressman who stands with the big mining companies in Pittsburgh?

That choice will determine the fate of the region’s workers for generations to come.