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Jennifer Bjorhus

Reporter | Environment
Phone: 612-673-4683
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Jennifer Bjorhus is a reporter covering the environment for the Star Tribune. She was a business reporter for much of her career but in recent years focused on criminal justice issues, including police use of force and responses to sexual assault. 

Bjorhus previously covered a range of topics for major metro newspapers, including the Seattle Times and San Jose Mercury News. She lives in St. Paul with her husband, Ranjit, and has two sons and a cat.
Recent content from Jennifer Bjorhus
Gertrude “Trudy” Rappaport

Holocaust survivor Trudy Rappaport dies at 101

Rappaport always credited pure chance for her survival, her son said.
Former Minnesota Pollution Control Commissioner John Linc Stine.

New email deepens mystery over PolyMet water permit

Environmentalists say agency chiefs tried to suppress concerns raised by federal regulators.
Equipment and rail cars from the mine's LTV Steel processing days.

Two new lawsuits say PolyMet permits violate federal laws

PolyMet near construction phase of copper-nickel site.
Lori Swanson, shown in a file photo when she was Minnesota Attorney General, will appear before a congressional subcommittee Tuesday along with a 3M C

Lori Swanson, 3M square off over PFAS at U.S. House hearing

The hearing comes as the House considers dozens of bills to limit the "forever" chemicals.
Equipment and rail cars from the mine's LTV Steel processing days.

EPA broadens scope of its probe into PolyMet water permit

The EPA's findings from the PolyMet case will be incorporated into a nationwide audit.
Using tap water as a basis for comparison, far left, Minnesota River basin samples showed a 50% reduction in sediment, second from left; average sedim

Workhorse Minnesota River needs $360 million cleanup, state report says

Regulators said Minnesota must find a way to cut the river's sediment levels in half.

Water Gremlin had tried to move some operations to Wisconsin

Revelation is latest in pollution scandal that has triggered calls for investigation.
Neighbors concerned about pollution from the Water Gremlin plant in White Bear Township demonstrated outside MPCA headquarters Thursday.

State of Minnesota seeks partial shutdown of east-metro factory linked to air and water pollution

Angry neighbors say the MPCA should do more to protect the community.
A sign at an entrance on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

University of Minnesota gets $20 million for more research on 'green' plastics

The five-year grant, announced Tuesday, will fund basic research on the polymers, or molecules, used to make plastic plus community outreach.
PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry was among the company executives who met with Gov. Tim Walz last Thursday to discuss the project's timetable, finances and labo

Walz presses Glencore execs on PolyMet's financing, labor plans

Governor wants financial protections, union jobs.
Tiny plastic beads can slip past water treatment plants and into the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes' latest pollution threat is 'microplastics'

Researchers suspect a key source of the microplastics might be clothing fibers washed into the water from household laundry. They are testing other Minnesota lakes to gauge the impact on wildlife.
The PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., shown in 2018.

Broad group of Minnesota lawmakers voices support for PolyMet

In a letter to Gov. Tim Walz, the bipartisan group says opponents are making a last-ditch effort to block the copper-nickel mine.
If a Minnesota court determines there were “irregularities” serious enough to compel a new or revised water quality permit, it could spell delays

Minn. judge sets rules for inquiry on disputed PolyMet permit

Mine opponents have alleged irregularities in the way Minnesota approved the mine's water quality permit.
Equipment and rail cars from the mine's LTV Steel processing days.

Minn. Court of Appeals stays a crucial PolyMet water permit

Minnesota judge cites possible irregularities by state and federal regulators.
Tailing ponds can be seen over a small berm at the planned site of the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project near Babbitt, Minn.

What you need to know about the PolyMet and Twin Metals mines

Here are answers to common questions about the two planned mining projects in northeastern Minnesota and the controversies surrounding them.
The site of the PolyMet copper-nickel mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

In win for PolyMet, court upholds Minnesota's nonferrous mining rules

The state Court of Appeals has affirmed Minnesota's rules governing hard-rock mining, delivering a blow to environmentalists who challenged them as too vague to protect…
An aerial view shows flooding triggered by a dam collapse near Brumadinho, Brazil, in January.

PolyMet critics say firm relied on engineer connected to mine dam failure in Brazil

It's cited in the argument in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which is deciding a challenge to mining permits granted to PolyMet by Minnesota regulators.
In this Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Eric Olson, right, gathers his tools as contractor Robert Radotich uses a backhoe to dig areas so the soil stratifica

DFL lawmakers call for all state permits on PolyMet mine to be suspended

PolyMet, the state's first hard rock mine, is fully permitted and moving toward construction.
FILE - In this April 14, 2011 file picture the Glencore headquarters in Baar, Switzerland is photographed.

Minnesota Attorney General Ellison asked to step in on Glencore's purchase of PolyMet

The letter to Ellison is the latest call for greater oversight of PolyMet, copper-nickel mining.
Not since the battle of 1978 to designate the BWCA as a wilderness area has the town of Ely been so divided. This time it's the possibility of Copper/

Twin Metals says it will store waste differently at Minnesota mine

The company said its proposed copper-nickel mine near Ely will have safeguards to prevent pollution feared by environmentalists.
The PolyMet tailings ponds could be seen over a small berm.

Leaked memo raises new questions about water permit for PolyMet mine

The memo could play a role in three inquiries now examining how federal and state regulators handled the critical permit for PolyMet Mining Inc. and its proposed Minnesota copper mine.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered a review of the state's handling of a key water quality permit for PolyMet Mining.

Swiss mining giant Glencore gains majority control of PolyMet

Critics worry about Swiss mining giant's ownership in the event of future pollution.
Fall Lake, near Winton, Minn., part of the Boundary Waters, a vast landscape of federally protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada, Ap

Watchdog sues White House for Twin Metals lobbying details

The group's goal is to shed light on how Antofagasta, the powerful Chilean mining company that owns Twin Metals, lobbied to get its crucial mining leases renewed after the Obama administration ruled that the mine posed too many environmental risks.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered a review of the state's handling of a key water quality permit for PolyMet Mining.

Appeals court orders review of 'irregularities' in PolyMet permit

Ruling raises additional questions about the proposed copper mine on the eve of PolyMet's shareholder meeting in Toront

Lawmaker calls on state legislative auditor to investigate handling of PolyMet permit

He says review expected to start immediately.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., had been the subject of a multiyear permit battle.

Union: Leaked email shows 'malfeasance' in handling of PolyMet permit

Federal officials had multiple pollution concerns that were never entered in the public record.
Conservation Corps volunteer Sarah Curran planted and marked trees in southeast Minnesota.

Part 2: Invasive grasses choke birds' habitat as climate changes

Fluctuating levels on Mississippi, ushered in by warming climate, doom floodplain forests.
The Polymet tailings ponds could be seen over a small berm.

EPA watchdog will investigate key permit for PolyMet mine

Retired agency attorney calls permit process "unethical" and "bizarre."
Nick Egger, the public works director for Hastings, checked indicators on a tank at a facility that removes nitrates from his city’s drinking water.

Landmark farm rule aims to protect Minnesota's drinking water

Hoping to cut nitrate levels in drinking supply, Minnesota regulating fertilizer use
FILE - This Feb. 24, 2019 file photo shows containers of Roundup weed killer are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco.

Roundup lawsuits mount in Minnesota

A wrongful-death suit is the latest Minnesota claim that Roundup has caused cancer, joining thousands from around the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum

Congressional Democrats order Interior to finish cancelled environmental report on Minnesota copper mining

Rep. Betty McCollum calls Trump Administration's decisions "inexplicable."
3M's agreement with Lake Elmo settles a lawsuit that had been pending in U.S. District Court for years. The bulk of the money is expected to be used t

3M will pay Lake Elmo $2.7 million to settle yet another PFC lawsuit

3M settlement also gives the city 180 acres of 3M farmland.
Vendors showed off electric cars, e-bikes, an e-school bus and rooftop solar systems at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s electric vehicle sh

Beyond the grid: Minnesota drivers start journey toward zero carbon

Transportation is now the leading source of carbon emissions in the state, and mile by mile, Minnesotans who worry about climate change are focusing on it as the way to cut greenhouse gases.

Conservation groups ask Court of Appeals to strike down Minnesota's metal mining rules as too vague

Case is first legal test of environmental rules for copper-nickel mining.
Drillers for Twin Metals, at a site near the Kiwishiwi River, pull a core sample from the drill pipe.

Federal agency renews Twin Metals mine leases in Minnesota

Interior Department ruling cheers mining supporters, greeted as "abominable" by environmentalists.
An aerial view shows flooding triggered by a dam collapse near Brumadinho, Brazil, on Jan. 25, 2019. P)

Minnesota lawmakers weigh tighter safety rules for toxic mine waste storage

State's rules on tailings dams for metal mining haven't been changed since 1993.
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2011, file photo, a core sample drilled from underground rock near Ely, Minn., shows a band of shiny minerals containing copper

McCollum grills Trump official about copper mining in northeast Minnesota

The exchange at a congressional budget hearing came days after retired Forest Service employees expressed alarm about Twin Metals.

EPA seeks public input on petition to limit glyphosate

The weedkiller is found in Cheerios and other oat-based foods, snacks.
Thousands of barrels of hazardous waste were buried in the Waste Disposal Engineering Landfill in Andover, Minn., in the 1970s.

Cleanup of high-risk Andover landfill gets underway

With funding in hand, the state will remove more than 6,000 rotting barrels of hazardous chemicals from the site.
In 2012, White Bear Lake's water level plummeted from a combination of drought and groundwater pumping. Water levels have rebounded since then.

White Bear Lake groups lose water level case on appeal

The Minnesota Court of Appeals sided with the state Department of Natural Resources, saying it has adequately regulated groundwater use in the community.
In 2006, a hydraulic shovel scraped up 50 tons at a time of taconite ore chunks and dumped it into a 240-ton dump truck at United Taconite in Eveleth,

Mining firm to pay $500,000 for air pollution on Minnesota's Iron Range

Environmental group calls the federal court penalty inadequate.
Yellow law enforcement line with police car and lights in the background.

Fatal police encounters since 2000

The Star Tribune collected the names and stories of everyone who died after a physical confrontation with law enforcement in Minnesota since January 2000, and continues to update this database as new incidents occur.
Mining in northeastern Minnesota has raised hopes for the region’s economy but also concerns about damaging the environment.

Minnesota group ramps up court challenge to Trump rulings on Twin Metals mining leases

An abrupt federal turnaround on lease approvals violates federal law, they argue.
Lois K. Gibson

Lois K. Gibson, DFL force and bold champion of the arts, dies at 92

Lois K. Gibson’s many letters published in the Star Tribune and its predecessors over nearly half a century document her deep engagement in the world…
Minnesota United supporters put their scarves up after the first half of the inaugural game at Allianz Field Saturday.

Excited soccer fans converge on St. Paul, testing traffic as they come and go

Most said gameday treks to and from the new Allianz Field went smoothly.
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, file photo, migratory birds fly over Mad Island, Texas.

Twin Cities named one of worst urban areas for migrating birds

The poor metro area ranking was the result of its bright nighttime lights and location in a flyway with a huge volume of birds pouring through.
Then-Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's spoke about the task force's final recommendations on how to reform sex assault investigations during a

Mpls. revises handling of sex assaults, focusing on 'compassion, accountability'

The new standards are based on a model policy recently devised by the state's police oversight board, as well as a set of sweeping recommendations from a task force appointed last year by then-Attorney General Lori Swanson.

Minn. lawmakers aim to reduce salt runoff from sidewalks

Bills in the House and Senate would create a state program to certify the professionals who apply salt to sidewalks and parking lots, so they know how to best control ice without using excessive salt.
Minnesota considers banning TCE following emissions problem in White Bear Township

Minnesota considers banning TCE following emissions problem in White Bear Township

The hazardous industrial solvent remains in wide use despite high toxicity.
Former Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, shown in 2015.

Former Minnesota DNR commissioner will head Boundary Waters advocacy group

Tom Landwehr to head up fight to stop proposed copper-nickel mine.

White Bear Township company to pay $7M to settle air pollution violations

Water Gremlin's pollution continued for more than 15 years, state officials said.
This 2016 photo shows the Flint Water Plant tower in Flint, Mich. Prompted by the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, the state of Minnesota exa

Removing lead from Minnesota drinking water could cost $4B, but benefits could be double

The lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, prompted Minnesota's review.
The Minnesota State Capitol as seen from downtown St. Paul. Funding for a cleanup plan at the WDE Landfill in Andover remains snarled in the Legislatu

Clock is ticking on Andover landfill – and chemicals are leaking

Funding for a cleanup plan at the site in Andover has stalled in the Legislature.
The Environmental Protection Agency Building

Watchdog sees sharp drop in EPA enforcement, cites two Minnesota cases

Report spotlights two pollution cases in Minnesota.
Thanks to the huge public lands package that passed the U.S. Senate, a large gap in the North Country National Scenic Trail’s Minnesota section will

A reroute and redemption, finally, for Minnesota's national scenic trail

Landmark conservation bill would safeguard land in northern Minnesota.
Most of the Minnesota River basin land is agricultural, and water quality is tainted by aging septic systems and animal runoff.

To clean murky Minnesota River, must control septic systems, livestock manure

Cleaning up bacterial pollution will cost $4 million to $10 million over two decades, according to a new MPCA plan, the state's latest effort to solve a decades-old pollution problem.
Displayed is an Environmental Protection Agency report ahead of a news conference in Philadelphia, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Under strong pressure from

EPA outlines plan for water with toxic chemicals, including 3M's

3M last year settled a state of Minnesota lawsuit related to PFAS, and faces litigation in other states. Environmental and consumer groups immediately challenged the EPA's decision not to push immediately for lower limits on the chemicals in drinking and groundwater.
Nate Kinsey (Richfield Police Department photo)

State high court rejects Richfield's effort to fire police officer

Police chiefs' association says state's highest court "missed an opportunity" to improve police professionalism.
Pig feedlot (but this one is much smaller than the proposed project in Fillmore County)

Farmer drops 'karst country' swine feedlot plan

Proposal drew opposition in southeastern Minn., where many wells are contaminated.
Members of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe are seeking ways to codify their “spiritual connection” to wild rice.

Minnesota tribe asks: Can wild rice have its own legal rights?

Maneuver to inject nature into modern law faces long odds.
PolyMet Mining Cor. proposes to use the old LTV taconite facility to process copper-nickel ore.

Former EPA lawyer challenges regulators on PolyMet water permit

Ex-EPA lawyer says Chicago office "suppressed" employees' PolyMet concerns.
University of Minnesota student Wilson Nyakeri bundled up against the extreme cold felt last week.

Believe it or not, global warming might have caused the arctic blast

As climate destabilizes, Minnesota could see polar snaps more frequently.

Emissions from White Bear Township manufacturer under investigation

Part of Water Gremlin plant is shut down while health effects of toxins are studied.
“You’re dealing with physical evidence, emotion, trauma. This is more than going to a burglary," Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said.

Police undertrained and overwhelmed by rape cases in Minnesota

Inadequate training for police who investigate sexual assaults, along with poor staffing and high turnover, plagues many police departments across the state – resulting in fewer charges against suspected offenders.
Minnesota defines consent as voluntary, but its exceptions for being too drunk to agree to sex are narrow.

How alcohol foils rape investigations

Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor if the victim was drinking, according to a Star Tribune analysis. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

When rape is reported in Minnesota and nothing happens

A Star Tribune examination of more than 1,000 recent sexual assault cases shows pervasive failings by law enforcement — neglecting to interview witnesses, collect crucial evidence, or conduct criminal background checks on suspects. Many cases were never even assigned to an investigator.
A group photo of participants in the Denied Justice series taken in December at the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Minnesota police board approves state's first sex-assault policy

New rules aim to improve the quality of rape investigations and build trust with survivors.
From left, U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips.

U.S. Reps. McCollum, Omar, Phillips ask feds to extend comment period on Twin Metals leases

They noted that the original 30-day public comment period has overlapped with the 28-day partial government shutdown and winter holidays.

Canadian Pacific derailment spills diesel fuel into Battle Creek

A Canadian Pacific locomotive jumped the track and punctured its fuel tank Tuesday night at a rail yard southeast of downtown St. Paul, dumping just…
Kite boarders skim across Bde Maka Ska in front of the Minneapolis skyline in March. The state’s famous winters are warming 13 times faster than its

Minn. one of the nation's fastest-warming states, U scientists say

Cities are warming faster than the rest of the landscape, they tell a panel of legislators.
Sulfate pollution from industrial water discharge can become toxic to wild rice, which tribal leaders warn could be devastating.

Tribal leaders fault state plan, say wild rice in Minnesota is endangered

State report clashes with scientists working with tribes, who say grain is imperiled.
Hoping others receive justice they were denied led many women to add their voices to the series investigating failed rape investigations.

When rape is reported and something happens

As dozens more women have stepped forward to tell their stories, reforms are underway in Minnesota. Victim advocates and rape survivors say they are heartened by the pledges of reform by police leaders, prosecutors and lawmakers.
A quarterly meeting of the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board in 2017.

Group proposes changes in training police to handle sex assault cases

Gov. Dayton ordered the police board to draft improved training and investigation guidelines for handling of sexual assaults in the wake of a Star Tribune series documenting chronic breakdowns in rape investigations.
When detective Justin Boardman realized he was failing sex assault victims, he decided to change — himself and his entire department in Utah.

A better way to investigate rape

Utah's shift is a promising sign of how a state can do more to help rape victims get the justice that so often eludes them — if everyone involved is working with the same priorities.
Survivors Rachel Radford, left, and Emma Top each knew their assailant and saw him sentenced, but both came away feeling the punishment was not severe

Convicted for rape in Minnesota, free from prison time

Felons spend less time in prison in Minnesota, and the state says that's by design.
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