Public Lab Research note

Seeking an Environmental Policy Fellow

by stevie , Bee | April 06, 2022 14:14 06 Apr 14:14 | #30238 | #30238

_Just outside of Bagley, Minnesota, Enbridge attempts to clean up after their frac out on the Clearwater River. This catastrophe went unreported for six months and was not repaired for an additional six months. This is one of several tragedies that Enbridge caused as they forced their tar sands oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. Enbridge caused multiple frac outs and aquifer breeches during the construction of their pipeline- causing damage to our water and land even before tar sand oil began to flow.
The lead image was pulled from drone footage by River Akemann_


Starting: May 2, or ASAP

Commitment Period: roughly 6-8hr/week for eight months from project start date

Fellowship Stipend: $6,600USD in total over the commitment period

Where: This fellowship is open to anyone and is remote; phone in team meetings will be held in CT and be grounded in community efforts in northern Minnesota.

Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written).

About Public Lab:

Join our newest fellowship team on the Minnesota Land and Wild Rice Protection Project to bring about a healthier and more equitable world through community science, open technology, and the advancement of environmental justice. Public Lab supports, develops, and applies open-source tools to further environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of knowledge bearers and practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.

About the Issue:

The beginnings of the Mississippi River run through both Aitkin and Itasca counties in northern Minnesota. These counties are rich with wild rice, wetlands, lakes, forests, and healthy habitat for wildlife. Aitkin and Itasca counties are also historically poor counties. The population is sparse and declining and some communities are concerned about their economies and livelihood. The answer that some have to that is extraction and industry. Currently, there are two proposed projects that threaten the land and the precious manoomin (wild rice) beds, the sacred food of the Anishinaabeg, the people whose land these counties occupy. This project will affect five tribes in northern Minnesota (Leech Lake, Red Lake, Boise Fort, White Earth, and Mille Lacs).

One of the projects is from a North Carolina company called Huber Engineered Woods LLC. They are proposing a 750,000 square foot facility in Cohasset, MN. This facility will require trees from within a 70 to 100-mile radius- 400,000 cords of harvested wood annually to mix toxic materials with to create their product, oriented strand board (OSB) or particle board. Huber has not been transparent about where the lumber for the project will be harvested. The production of OSB requires petrochemicals and glues that create hazardous conditions for workers as well as the environment.

The other project is the Talon Mine that is in the exploration phase in Tamarack, MN. The project would cover nearly 32 square miles of mostly wetlands. This type of underground copper mining is dangerous for the waters, land, and air. Sulfide ores that would be exposed in this project contain metals that can mobilize in the environment. "This type of pollution is commonly referred to as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and has the potential to devastate entire ecosystems. The close proximity of sulfide mines to valued water bodies such as lakes and rivers of the Mississippi watershed intensifies the magnitude of this issue. All of the water bodies in the Tamarack area are linked by multiple aquifers." (

We know we have to rely on each other to keep our communities and environments safe. And so, in response to the two proposed extraction projects, we must work together to gather data on all that we can to try to stop these projects before they break ground. Read more about the Fellowship Team Project and goals here.

About the Fellowship

The major components of this fellowship are to:

  • Research the permits, zoning laws, and any regulations that might impact the construction or operation of a proposed Talon Mine (copper mine) and Huber Mill (OSB board factory) in Northern Minnesota.
  • Research the requirements for the Environmental Impact Statement or similar processes, and how locals and others opposed to the industry might collect data and information to block the construction of the new facility.
  • Create understandable and readable materials for those interested in the project to understand the legal aspects of this work.
  • Help draft, review and share public comment materials for the Environmental Impact Statement and any other open commenting opportunities that arise around this issue.
  • Work to ensure that due process is properly followed which allows for our comments and information to be used in this fight.

The workflow around this fellowship will include

  • Regularly meeting with the fellowship team (twice a month), working closely with the community on project goals.
  • Independent work on your major project components, including research, outreach, and drafting project materials.
  • Share the materials for project documentation on the Public Lab website and other mutually identified media platforms.
  • Advise on mechanisms of support required for the Fellowship team, especially as it aligns with advocacy outcomes.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn methods used by community-led accountability groups who are working with unwanted land use issues.
  • Learn how to use and regularly post documentation on the website detailing the progress of the project team's experiences; working in public to foster a culture of resource sharing and share learning moments.
  • Connect with the Public Lab community remotely through the website. Join the Public Lab monthly and quarterly public events online to share your fellowship experiences and learn more about environmental concerns.

This role may be for you if you are:

  • Detail oriented: You have excellent attention to detail and documentation skills; An exceptional written and oral communicator: You have excellent interpersonal skills
  • Practiced at researching company permits and understanding them. Practiced at reading and providing clarity around environmental law on the state and or federal level.
  • A good communicator with those who hold different expertises.
  • You're a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and ability to learn quickly and adaptively
  • Team-oriented: You work collaboratively with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
  • A collaborator: You've worked with people with different backgrounds, and from different fields and lived experiences; you're able to communicate on environmental science.
  • Tech savvy: You thrive working in a remote work environment and a commitment to use related communication platforms daily to interact with the team (Slack, Zoom, Google Drive etc); you are excited to learn new programs and share about technology and monitoring in the context of advocacy.
  • Self-directed: You work successfully with minimal supervision. You can organize work, set and meet your own internal milestones, and communicate regularly and often when help is required.

This position is closed to new applicants.

Here is our project page!


@stevie has marked @bee as a co-author.

Excited to work on this project as the Environmental Policy Fellow!

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