Staff Directory 34031274

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
The fire at Northern Metal Recycling in Becker burned for days but was largely under control — and under ice — Thursday morning.

Firefighters contain intense blaze at Becker recycling plant

City now its turns attention to air and water quality concerns.
The closed LTV Steel taconite plant sits idle near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. The site was later awarded to the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

Boundary Waters Conservation Alliance PAC seeks mining moratorium

New organization will target state and federal races.
Once work begins at PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, this tailings basin will be put back into use. Tailings, rock that does not contain ore,

DNR petitions Minn. Supreme Court on PolyMet permits that were rejected

The state Department of Natural Resources is fighting an appellate court's decision to reject three permits the DNR issued to PolyMet Mining Corp. for its $1 billion copper-nickel mine plan and to order a hearing on them.
In the State Office Building on Tuesday, pro-mining group Jobs for Minnesotans led a press briefing to show solidarity with the mining company they ho

Fans, foes rally as PolyMet petitions high court on permits

PolyMet asked the state Supreme Court to reverse a recent appellate decision that blocked three permits it needs to begin construction on a $1 billion copper-nickel mine project.
Geneva Polsfuss

Geneva Polsfuss, who served as WWII codebreaker, dies at 96

She wouldn't say much about that time, but the rest of her life was an open book, brimming with family, friends and a deep Christian faith, her son said.

Geneva Polsfuss, who served as WWII codebreaker, dies at 96

Geneva Polsfuss would never talk about her work as a World War II code breaker. All her family could ferret out was that she worked…
Part of what would become part of the PolyMet operation near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., shown in 2014.

State environmental agencies rack up court losses on project permits

Heightened court oversight puts brakes on project permits issued by MPCA and DNR.
Minnesota pollution regulators have tried to determine who emits a dangerous pollutant and how much after the revelation last year that White Bear Tow

Report: Some Twin Cities companies emit TCE at levels 30 times the health limit — and more

The MPCA is rethinking how to handle air permits for the toxic chemical.
Ramsey County District Court before Chief Judge John Guthmann.

MPCA again grilled in court over handling of PolyMet mine e-mails

For the second time in two days, a former Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) official defended her decision to delete e-mails related to concerns over…
Attorney William Pentelovitch, shown earlier in the week,offered aggressive questioning Thursday.

Leaked e-mail comes under scrutiny at PolyMet hearing

Testimony by the email's author, a former MPCA assistant commissioner, and questioning by a lawyer for the mine opponents dominated the day.
Former Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine.

Former MPCA leader says delay request to EPA was about efficiency

John Linc Stine defended his handling of concerns that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's office in Chicago had with PolyMet Mining's water permit.
Attorney William Pentelovitch argued for opponents of the proposed mine at Tuesday’s hearing.

PolyMet foes accuse Minn. regulators of destroying evidence

Former MPCA commissioner is expected to take the stand Wednesday.
The hearing will consider allegations that the MPCA, under then-director John Linc Stine, engaged in “procedural irregularities” that suppressed E

Hearing zeroes in on agency's data-wipe of PolyMet evidence

Court documents say state agency wiped two regulators' computers clean.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

PolyMet objects to cameras and recording at permit hearing, fearing 'viral media moments'

The Star Tribune will challenge PolyMet's petition, Senior Managing Editor Suki Dardarian said.
Megan Diediker, a geometry teacher at Park High School in Cottage Grove, had her breast cancer first diagnosed at age 34.

Cancer cases prompt Cottage Grove teachers to demand investigation

They suspect "something in the building" may have played role in nearly 30 cancer cases.
Battle Creek.

PFAS 'forever chemicals' found in foam in two east metro creeks

Remediation at Oakdale disposal site may not be working, and the state ordered 3M to produce a new plan.
Kathryn Hoffman, CEO of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, spoke about the Appeals Court decision on PolyMet's permits in St. Paul on Mo

Appeals court deals setback to PolyMet mining project

The court rejected three permits issued to PolyMet Mining Corp. by the state Department of Natural Resources and kicked them back to the DNR for additional review. The ruling is a major victory for environmental groups opposed to the $1 billion open-pit mine.
Years of unchecked pollution from farm chemicals have brought Minnesota "to the brink of a public health crisis," according to a new report. Above, Un

One in eight Minnesotans drink nitrate-tainted tap water, report says

Environmental group says Minnesota is on "the brink of a public health crisis."
The Kawishiwi River looking toward the proposed Twin Metals mine site.

Twin Metals lease challenge gets heard in court in Washington

Cancellation of two federal leases could block the proposed copper-nickel mine.
Drillers for Twin Metals, at a site near the Kiwishiwi River, pulled a core sample from the drill pipe.

Twin Metals submits formal plan for hard-rock mine near BWCA

The move launches the regulatory process for a mine that could alter forever the country's most visited wilderness and the communities surrounding it.
Tom Landwehr, a former DNR chief, says the copper-nickel project “should never have been resurrected.”

On eve of mine plan, Landwehr asks Walz to block Twin Metals proposal

Former DNR commissioner says the mine would imperil the BWCA.
Aletta Brady.

For this award-winning Minnesotan, the climate crisis is personal

Aletta Brady created a web-based platform, called Our Climate Voices, to humanize the climate crisis by gathering and sharing personal stories.
The Minntac taconite mine in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.

Minnesota Appeals Court rejects water pollution permit for Minntac

Court's decision sends Minntac back to MPCA.
Water Gremlin in White Bear Township.

Walmart will stop selling Water Gremlin items

State now says that up to 24 children may have been poisoned by take-home lead dust.
“The credibility and transparency of the EIS process for the proposed Twin Metals project is critical to Minnesotans,” said Minnesota DNR Commissi

Minnesota tells feds it'll do own environmental review of Twin Metals project

The state's second copper-nickel mining proposal has generated huge debate over environmental risk.
Testing of water samples last month. Pinpointing the industrial sources of PFAS — beyond the manufacturers who make them — can be very difficult.

Minnesota expands hunt for PFAS chemical contamination in water

Water tests for "forever chemicals" target Dakota, Olmsted, Stearns and St. Louis counties.
A moose is seen near Isabella, Minn., in 2016. Minnesota’s moose population, while steadily declining partly because of a parasite carried by deer,

Moose, other Minnesota species need federal protection, suit against feds says

Conservation group says Trump administration must protect 274 species.

Costly water contamination from chemicals has Bemidji seeking solutions

The PFAS chemicals that have plagued east-metro communities are also in firefighting foams used in several cities throughout Minnesota.
A boat cruising the St. Croix River is seen from the St. Croix River bridge in Stillwater in 2018.

State finds 56% of Minnesota's lakes and streams are 'impaired'

A popular stretch of the St. Croix River was found to be contaminated with phosphorus.
Water Gremlin employees made their way into the lot as its doors reopened for production after being shut down for more than a week over lead concerns

Minnesota's showdown with Water Gremlin intensifies

As cleanup of lead contamination continues, regulators accuse manufacturer of multiple pollution violations.
“We’re happy that our voice got to be heard,” Kevin Kasal, a Water Gremlin shipping clerk, said of the hearing.

Water Gremlin can restart Tuesday as judge approves lead cleanup plan

Judge approves lead cleanup plan and allows plant to open Tuesday.
Cindy Majeske, who has worked in the shipping area at Water Gremlin for 28 years, was surrounded and embraced by co-workers as she spoke to the media

Judge extends Water Gremlin shutdown over lead concerns for one day

Water Gremlin can partly reopen this weekend if court approves a cleanup plan
Jamokia Curry worked at Water Gremlin for two years and left this August. His daughter Ja'Naea, pictured, has tested high for lead. They are photograp

Battle brews over the state-ordered shutdown of Water Gremlin plant

While some employees demonstrated with their children at the Capitol to reopen the plant, others who had worked there have spoken out about fears of illness and health risks.
Free lead testing was offered to Water Gremlin employees and their children at the Vadnais Sports Center on Monday.

State shuts down Water Gremlin after finding lead poisoning in kids

Public health investigators founds that at least 12 children of Water Gremlin workers have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Workers can unwittingly carry the heavy lead dust home on their shoes, clothing and in their vehicles.
The Japanese beetle feasts on more than 300 species, including roses, grapes, apples and linden trees. It is among Minnesota's “Big 3” invasive in

New crop of bugs threatens Minnesota's orchards, fields

Warming winters, longer growing seasons and wetter weather all make Minnesota more hospitable to the invasive pests.
Eric Olson, right, gathered his tools as contractor Robert Radotich used a backhoe to dig areas so the soil stratification can be observed, which will

Minnesota Court of Appeals keeps PolyMet's DNR permits on hold

State Appeals Court keeps 3 permits for copper-nickel mine on hold during legal challenge.
Eric Olson, right, gathered his tools as contractor Robert Radotich used a backhoe to dig areas so the soil stratification can be observed, which will

PolyMet foes ask Appeals Court to reverse copper mine permits

The appeals argued Wednesday are at the core of the groups' effort to stop a copper-nickel mine they see as posing profound environmental risks for northern Minnesota. PolyMet Mining insists it can safely operate a mine that will also generate much-needed jobs.
PolyMet Mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., has been mired in a permitting battle for years.

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.
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.

Permit for Minn. dairy farm failed to consider climate change

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered the state's pollution regulators to reconsider a permit they approved for a mega-dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota.
Loons are among 55 species likely to disappear from Minnesota summers by 2080, though the population appears steady.

Loons likely to disappear from Minnesota, new report warns

Minnesota is one of the country's fastest-warming states, largely because of its northern location and warming winters.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency employee Jake Nelson installs an air pollution monitor.

Minnesota will track urban air pollution by ZIP code

MPCA wants to compare Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhood health statistics with contaminant levels.
New research from the University of Minnesota shows why a stream of new commercial applications for nanoparticles outstripping environmental science c

University of Minnesota research finds potential environmental impact of nanoparticles

The researchers don't know if the mutation is dangerous, but the point is that the battery nanoparticles are doing something unintended, the lead author said.
About 20,000 gallons of liquid manure has leaked out of an above-ground storage tank in Stearns County, near Holdingford.

Minnesota pollution officials monitoring large Stearns County manure spill

Faulty valve led to leak, say MPCA officials checking it.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi

Roseville gets first full-time sex crimes detective

Ramsey County tries to cut caseloads and "do better for our victims."
Twin Lake which border Stan Martin's property has overflowed and taken shoreline.Some of his tree s are now submerged underwater. Millions of gallons

Aging stormwater systems were not built for this volume of rain

Across Minnesota, cities large and small are scrambling to upgrade storm sewers, culverts, roadways and drainage ponds as they find themselves deluged by ever-more intense storms and flash flooding.
Maplewood-based 3M partially idled a plant in Decatur, Ala., that makes PFAS chemicals.

3M idles part of its Alabama plant after PFAS chemicals found in Tennesee River and ground water

Manufacturer's PFAS woes continue with this latest environmental finding.
In this Wednesday, May 29, 2019, Eric Olson, right, gathered his tools as Robert Radotich used a backhoe to dig areas so the soil stratification can b

Appeals Court puts more PolyMet permits on hold ahead of a review

Environmentalists questioned dam safety, other issues at $1 billion copper-nickel mine.
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.
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.

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."