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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
Derek Chauvin

Even to friends, former officer Derek Chauvin was an enigma

Driven to be a cop, he spent 19 years on the streets. "I don't know what happened to him," former colleague said.
Wildflowers in a prairie of Lone Lake Park in 2018. The Center for Biological Diversity doesn’t want to stop the new trail, but rather wants the cit

Minnetonka sued over mountain bike trail through rare bumblebee haven

Lone Lake Park is home to one of the state's largest known populations of rusty patched bumblebees.
Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a news conference Thursday, May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis.

Mayor Frey says Walz hesitant to deploy Guard during riots

State officials said the city did not give them the detailed information they needed to deploy the Guard until the next day. By then, dozens of buildings had been looted and torched.
The Minneapolis Police Third Precinct station, which was evacuated and destroyed in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody in late Ma

How the fall of the Third Precinct station resounded in the Twin Cities

In interviews, people described what the fall of the Third meant to them: a deep betrayal of trust, a loss of control, a symbol of change and a breaking point.
Michelle Gross, founder of the nonprofit group Communities United Against Police Brutality, right, talked with civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armst

Reactions to police reforms go from lukewarm to slap in face

The bill, passed early Tuesday as a compromise product of a divided state Legislature, includes restrictions on chokeholds and neck restraints, training reform.
Minneapolis police officers gathered in May amid the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

'Staggering' number of Mpls. cops are filing disability claims

The total now is closer to 200, out of a sworn force of about 850 and amid a wave of violent crime in the city.
An aerial view looking over Birch Lake toward the site of the Twin Metals underground mine.

DNR deems Twin Metals' plan for copper mine near Boundary Waters 'incomplete'

Regulators publish nearly 800 comments asking Twin Metals for details.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo favors a DFL bill seeking the change the arbitration process for fired officers.

Fired Minnesota officers have a proven career saver: arbitration

More than 80 po­lice of­fic­ers across Min­ne­so­ta were fired and fought their dis­charge in ar­bi­tra­tion over the past 20 years. A­bout half got their jobs back, ac­cord­ing to a Star Tribune an­aly­sis.
David Cornelius Smith with sister Angela Smith. David Smith died in 2010 after Minneapolis police pinned him to the floor, face down, while handcuffed

Family of man who died in Mpls. police custody in 2010 wants to know if settlement was followed

David C. Smith's family asks if the department ever fulfilled its promise to require all sworn officers to undergo training on positional asphyxia.
Imani Jaafar, a lawyer who directs the Minneapolis Office of Police Conduct Review, defended what she called “a very good layered civilian oversight

Minneapolis police officers disciplined in fraction of cases

Each year, hundreds of complaints of police misconduct — from citizens and from inside the Minneapolis Police Department itself — land before a civilian review board tasked with investigating them.
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou

Personnel records shed light on 4 officers charged in Floyd's death

The officers had varied work lives, including military service, according to personnel records from the Minneapolis Police Department.
A recent analysis found that Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Co., which owns this refinery in St. Paul Park, got $411 million in income tax benefits fro

Minnesota companies cashing in on CARES Act business tax breaks

Companies in Minnesota cashing in.
Video filed by a bystander shows then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd. Floyd later died.

A deeper look at the four officers fired after George Floyd death

The three other ex-officers present at George Floyd's death are keeping an extremely low profile and details are hard to come by.
Farmers applied fertilizer to their fields south of Egerton.

Manure, fertilizers overload parts of Minnesota with nitrogen, mapping project finds

Group tracks where nearly 50 million tons of animal waste goes on Minnesota fields, adding nitrates to wells, rivers and lakes.
Minnesota has purchased the Bix Produce Co.’s former cold storage facility in St. Paul to use as a temporary morgue, bracing for a peak in COVID-19

State buys former produce warehouse to store bodies of COVID victims

The 71,000-square-foot Bix Produce warehouse would add capacity for up to 5,100 bodies, according to the request.

Minnesota, other states sue EPA for 'blanket waiver' as nation fights pandemic

Minnesota joins eight others in suit accusing agency of overstepping.
Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill, prominent environmental lawyer, dies of ALS

He led the Minneapolis-based legal team at Faegre & Benson that distributed $1 billion to native Alaskans and fishermen affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The single largest share of approved requests — 43% of the statewide total — came from Speedway.

Minnesota eases environmental safeguards for dozens of businesses, institutions

Regulators rejected seven requests from mining and petrochemical companies.
Jory M. Wiebrand

Alleged serial rapist now charged in 9 cases in Minneapolis, Anoka County

Jory D. Wiebrand remains a suspect in a 2013 assault and robbery in Bunker Hills Park in Andover.
Aerial view looking over Birch Lake toward the site of the Twin Metals underground mine.

Coalition of Minnesota residents, businesses sues again over Twin Metals mineral leases

It's the coalition's second legal challenge to the lease renewals required for Twin Metals to mine on public land in Superior National Forest.
Jory M. Wiebrand

More charges against Ham Lake man in string of sex crimes

Jory D. Wiebrand faces criminal charges in three new cases.
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 moves to restrict toxic chemical after Water Gremlin scandal

White Bear-area residents near a polluting lead plant are credited with pushing the ban into law.
Minnesota pollution regulators will allow Daley Farms of Lewiston to expand without a rigorous study of the greenhouse gases generated by 3,000 additi

State rejects in-depth study on greenhouse gases at Winona County dairy

State says deeper look at controversial expansion plan at dairy unnecessary.
Tony Jones portaged a canoe into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on the famed "Height of Land Portage" from North Lake into South Lake.

Boundary Waters could feel effects from federal plan to change Clean Water Act

Effect would be to speed mine project near BWCA.
A storm sewer drainage pipe empties into the Vermillion River near 18th Street in Hastings.

University of Minnesota tests whether coronavirus is moving into drinking water

The sampling will start as soon as the project financing is approved by Gov. Tim Walz, with the first results expected by the end of May.
The Minnesota State Capitol.

Standoff at Capitol could block Minnesota environmental spending

Lawmakers disagree over using trust fund to finance wastewater treatment projects.
Brooke Morath was isolating at her parents Jeanette and Mike Morath's home in Plainview, Minn., when she got the call that an arrest had been made in

Suspect faces first charges in attacks terrorizing women near U

Jory Wiebrand of Ham Lake is a suspect in 10 assaults and home break-ins since 2013.
“All those gut feelings I had about the investigation were real.”
Brooke Morath, U graduate raped five years ago outside her apartment

Police arrest man suspected of terrorizing young women near U for years

Ham Lake man linked to cases since 2013
“To survivors, we hope this brings some form of closure to everything that you’ve been through,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Sunday, follo

Mpls. police arrest man in series of sexual assaults

Officials said they expect multiple criminal complaints to be filed against the man in coming weeks in the assaults, which date back to 2013. Most occurred in the Marcy-Holmes and Dinkytown neighborhoods near the University of Minnesota.
David Oliver, manager of special projects, held a sample that had metal speckles that he had taken from one of many of the boxes of core samples lined

Environmental group, businesses appeal federal judge's decision on Twin Metals leases

An environmental group, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, and nine Minnesota businesses are appealing a federal judge’s decision on two controversial minerals leases held by Twin…
Drillers for Twin Metals at a site near the Kawishiwi River pull a core sample from the drill pipe.

U.S. Forest Service denies Minnesota request for unreleased research on copper mining impacts

The Minnesota DNR hasn't determined how to respond or what it means for Twin Metals.
Activists say that the number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico was down 53% this season from last.

'Hole in the data': Coronavirus fight puts environmental fieldwork on hold

From monarch butterfly tracking, to river monitoring and wolf recovery, many projects face new hurdles.
The Waters of Edina was one of four dozen facilities statewide reporting outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Minnesota details breadth of elder-care coronavirus cases

More than half of the 24 Minnesotans who have died from the disease lived in nursing homes or assisted-living centers.
This early Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 file photo shows an aerial view of large Icebergs floating as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland. The warming of t

Climate crisis takes the back burner in global pandemic

Advocates hope global resolve over the pandemic is a model for climate action.
Minnesota’s emergency policy is tighter than the EPA’s, MPCA Assistant Commissioner Kirk Koudelka said in an interview Friday.

MPCA relaxes compliance with environmental rules amid coronavirus, but less than EPA

The new federal policy might not affect Minnesota as much as other states, because the state agency handles enforcement for the vast majority of federal regulations.
FILE - This Feb. 10, 2016 file photo shows a former iron ore processing plant near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., that would become part of a proposed PolyMet cop

Minnesota Appeals Court rejects PolyMet air permit, new setback for the planned mine

The MPCA needed to clearly address whether mining firm was "engaged in sham permitting," judges find.
Cases of bottled water at Costo in Maple Grove last Friday, when buying by shoppers had led to limits.

'Crazy' mass buying of bottled water leads to Minn. limits, shortages

Public water supplies aren't threatened by the virus, but some shoppers are acting as if they are.
Aerial view looking over Birch Lake toward the site of the Twin Metals underground mine.

Federal judge hands Twin Metals major win in fight over mining near Boundary Waters

Copper-mining opponents assailed the decision as a "slap in the face."
Members of the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute hoped they could use 3 acres on the southwest corner of the former Roof Depot property to build af

Minneapolis public works expansion raises environmental concerns

Residents developed Indoor Urban Farm plan for former Roof Depot site.
Supporters of mining and a boycott of Fortune Bay Casino held up signs at the Ely City Council meeting.

Ely City Council adopts resolution supporting copper-nickel mines

Council adopts resolution, defers BWCA group's competing motion
A buffer strip of grass and trees along the Rock River west of Edgerton is a good example of the protective strips that help filter runoff.

Nitrate problem worsening in rural Minnesota's drinking water

A new report shows that fast action is needed to control the contamination.
A customer played a slot machine at Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower, owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. A local chapter of the Minnesota Dee

Pro-mining groups boycott Bois Forte Band's resort, golf course

Local deer hunting chapter is the latest to shun Boise Forte businesses in backlash.
New Nature Conservancy director returns to her roots

New Nature Conservancy director returns to her roots

The job change is much like a homecoming for Ann Mulholland, a bird enthusiast whose love of nature deepened after she moved to Minnesota in 1991 and learned to fish, camp and harvest wild rice.
Ginny Yingling, a Minnesota Department of Health hydrogeologist and PFAS authority, talks to local residents at public meeting in Lake Elmo Wednesday

Cleanup of PFAS 'forever chemicals' could cost up to $1.2 billion, exceed 3M settlement

The state is inching closer to selecting projects to treat east metro drinking water.
Anna Wise checks the new demand-initiated water softener in the basement of her Edina home.

Minnesota pollution regulators target salt-thirsty water softeners

Water softeners are a major source of the chloride poisoning in Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams, but they're not top of mind for most homeowners.
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.