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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
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.
“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.