State Rep. Steve Green, R-2B, has authored some interesting bills. By “authored”, I suspect I mean “stuck his name on some special interest’s bill, and who knows if he even read it”. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he really believes this stuff. Wait, that’s sort of worse. Anyway…
Let’s start with a bit of tentherism. Green is one of those who buys into that doctrine birthed in John C. Calhoun’s black-enslaving heart that states can ignore whatever federal laws they disagree with. That doctrine, originally intended for the defense of slavery, has never entirely died out on the extreme right, which extremity apparently includes Green, trying to apply it to modern issues with just as little understanding of how the law works.
Green coauthored a bill that calls for the arrest of federal officials enforcing federal gun laws. He seems to be fond of arresting federal officials for implementing laws he disagrees with. Green was one of the Republicans who said they would support arresting federal officials implementing Obamacare in Minnesota. No shock I suppose that there is considerable overlap between the Republicans who want to arrest federal officials for one and the other. Each list is like a handy guide to nutjobbery.
Torrey Westrom is a state senator in the reddish-purple SD12. He’s the GOP nominee challenging US Rep. Colin Peterson in CD7, and presumably he’ll be seeking reelection to his senate seat in 2016 (so yes, sticking to my prediction Peterson wins reelection). He recently gave an interview to the St. Cloud Times where he engaged in double denying, hitting both climate change and the debt ceiling.
Maybe “denial” isn’t quite the right word for the debt ceiling since he plainly knows the debt ceiling is real. He does seem to be in denial about the catastrophe that would be unleashed should the government smack into the debt ceiling and be unable to borrow enough money to pay its bills. If you need a reminder of how we nearly had a financial crisis on the scale of 2008, only this time with a Congress looking to commit sabotage rather than defuse the crisis, read “Why the debt ceiling clash happened”. Sen. Westrom seems to be among those who need the reminder, judging from what he told the Times, “Westrom told the Times that he wouldn’t vote to increase the federal debt ceiling unless Congress strikes a deal with President Barack Obama to balance the federal budget.”
Does he understand that if the government runs out of borrowing authority, bills go unpaid, including bond payments, Social Security, vendors’ bills, payroll, the whole thing? Does he get the long term implications of the government failing to pay its bills not because it can’t, but because it can but won’t? Republicans talked in 2010 about using the debt ceiling to force Democrats to agree to massive spending cuts when they realized they would definitely take the US House, and made good on their threat in 2011. When dreaming of the leverage they would get, they did so realizing how serious the impact would be.
And it really is “mostly.“ I would have to say that the public, the informed part of it anyway, has weighed in. Could well be time for some politicians to reassess.
In all, 52,887 people and organizations took time to submit comments on the proposal, which broke the previous state record for comments by nearly 50,000. An analysis of all of the submitted comments conducted by Mining Truth, found that 51,970 (98.2 percent) of the comments raised concerns about the proposal as currently written. There were 883 (1.6 percent) comments supporting the project, and another 84 (0.2 percent) where the author’s position was not clear…
“The intensity of the opposition to this project is testament to the fact that the mining companies still have some fairly big information gaps in their proposal,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “Since we don’t know how long polluted water from the site will need to be treated once the mine closes, it is clear that there is growing opposition to the idea of Minnesotans shouldering all the long-term financial and environmental risks while foreign mining corporations rake in all the profits.”
I wrote before about Enbridge’s activities in Minnesota, here.
Enbridge has been trying since 2012 to get a presidential permit to expand the Alberta Clipper from its current permitted capacity of 450,000 barrels per day to 800,000 barrels per day.
Thanks in large part to our public pressure, activists have stalled approvals for this tar sands project and others, like the Keystone XL pipeline. So Enbridge concocted a dangerous scheme that essentially amounts to smuggling to get their filthy product across the border.
Instead of carrying tar sands across the border on the Clipper pipeline directly, Enbridge is diverting the tar sands flow to an adjacent 47-year-old pipeline, where it will travel 20 miles across the US border into Minnesota, then back to the Clipper pipeline. Disturbingly, the aging “Line 3″ was not designed to carry toxic and corrosive tar sands crude, yet would be operating at more than double its current capacity.
Yes, this is a proven recipe for disaster: The 2013 Mayflower Arkansas spill was caused by a rupture of the similarly aging Pegasus pipeline, which had been also co-opted to carry tar sands crude.
The Star Tribune confirmed all of this, albeit of course in a much more rhetorically meek way, here.
It looks more and more as if Enbridge isn’t any better than TransCanada (I don’t type that lightly), and deserves similar levels of public scrutiny and pressure.
The image is from the Mayflower spill, via insideclimatenews.org
With so much attention focused on the Keystone XL proposal, it can slip one’s mind that there are proposals from Big Filthy Fossil Fuels for pipelines everywhere.
Citing both environmental and economic concerns, Minnesota’s Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan has expressed his opposition to the proposed route for the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline.
In a letter to the Environmental Manager of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, who is evaluating the project’s application, Rep. Nolan spoke of his ongoing concerns, as well as those of local residents, regarding the proposed route’s threat to environmentally sensitive areas of Minnesota. The current route requires the pipeline to cut through vulnerable northern wetlands, porous sandy soil and water tables used for drinking water, and some of the clearest lakes in the state.
“There’s no compelling reason why the Sandpiper pipeline can’t be rerouted to avoid environmentally fragile areas,” said Nolan. “From my meetings and communication with agencies and local advocacy groups, it’s clear there are several alternative routes out there that would take the pipeline south of this region, and thereby prevent a devastating ecological disaster in the event of a pipeline spill.”
(Rep. Nolan press release)
Here’s an overview of the Sandpiper project. Opposition to the proposed route is in fact not a brand new phenomenon.
Today’s featured Dirty Denier is Rep. John Kline from Minnesota. While his denialism is more mild-mannered than the brash, outspoken style of some of his #DirtyDenier$ compatriots, it’s no less dangerous.
After more than a decade in Congress, Kline has racked up an appalling 4 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters. In the previous two years (2013 and 2012), Kline voted in favor of the environment just once. At every possible opportunity, he has voted against clean energy investment and against action to address climate change. He has also supported the dirty energy agenda by trying to roll back bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Kline’s opposition to action on climate change is particularly disappointing. Kline has been pretty silent about the causes of climate change or the costs of inaction. He doesn’t talk about the way Minnesota’s anglers and lakes will be affected by climate change. He doesn’t talk about the way homeowners’ insurance premiums are already rising in the face of more extreme weather.
Who might be happy with Kline’s votes and his silence? Well, take a look at the list of his top campaign contributors. Two of his top five are Boich Companies and Murray Energy, both coal mining companies. They are certainly thankful that Kline voted to allow both existing and new coal fired power plants to continue emitting unlimited amounts of climate-changing carbon pollution.
Kline can no longer hide behind his silence on climate change. Kline’s record speaks for itself and there’s no denying that he’s a Dirty Denier.
Our Advice: Climate change is a serious challenge and your country needs your voice and your vote, Rep. Kline. It’s time to start speaking the truth and helping your constituents in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
(Just gotta throw in a blurb that tonight I will be liveblogging primary election results.)
I recently posted an item that had a reference to a major disaster at a mine in Canada. Specifically, it’s at Mount Polley in British Columbia, and here’s video.
Aaron Brown asked PolyMet about this.
That was the very question I posed to LaTisha Gietzen, PolyMet spokesperson, yesterday. How would PolyMet prevent what happened at Mount Polley from happing at a nonferrous mine in the Lake Superior watershed?
Though the specific details of what happened at Mount Polley aren’t yet known, Gietzen pointed out several differences between what’s known about the Mount Polley mine and PolyMet’s proposal in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.
“We have a high level of confidence that our tailings impoundment is and will remain safe based on the size, design, location, construction and general nature of the structure,” said Gietzen.
Among the observable differences between Mount Polley and PolyMet, Gietzen said the Mount Polley Mine taps into a porphyry deposit in a much hillier location — two factors that influence the toxicity and water pressure in the pond.
“Porphyry deposits often contain higher sulfide levels and clay,” said Gietzen. “The clay tends to keep material in suspension and hamper drainage in tailings. PolyMet plans to mine a low sulfide deposit that does not have appreciable amounts of clay minerals. Therefore the geochemistry of our tailings will be different and the water in our tailings basin will be in the pH neutral range.”
Uh-huh. It is of course not my business to try to dictate to anybody whether or not she should put more stock into what PolyMet has to say, rather than in the clear example of what can very well go wrong when these kinds of mining projects are allowed to happen. I will note that there are many examples of tailings pond failures that had nothing to do with sulfide levels and pH. They were just inadequately designed and maintained from the beginning, because that’s what mining companies do, far too often.
The article’s mostly about the public debate at Farmfest. But this found its way in.
(Sen. Al) Franken said, though, that he has supported measures to guarantee the pipeline is built with American-made steel. After the debate, (Mike) McFadden said he wouldn’t be a stickler for that requirement, just that any steel, even if it comes from overseas, would need to be acquired through “free and fair trade.”
“What I’d love to see is us to use American products where we can, but we’ve got to be cost-competitive where we can. I am a supporter of free and fair trade,” he said. “But I think we’re going off on a tangent right now. What’s real is, we’ve got to get this pipeline built.”
The real fun starts at 2:00, though it’s preceded by a rather bizarre little fantasy from Nutshot about a pro-fossil fuels mega-majority in the Senate. This video is from The Uptake.
Labor leaders in particular are absolutely pounding him.
It’s hard to nail down what the plan for the pipe really is. This 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council noted (on page 3) that a good deal of pipe has already been shipped in from Asia. TransCanada claims that nonetheless most of it would end up being made “in North America.” Me, I always trust what the corporations say. Because I’m as gullible as they make ‘em.