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Dayton vetoes multiple right-wing bills

by Dan Burns on May 23, 2015 · 1 comment

capitolsculptureGood deal. The link has video of his news conference. Actually, as these bills contain way too much from the ALEC wish-list, none should have made it through the DFL-controlled Minnesota Senate to begin with.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made an expected special session of the legislature even more complicated by vetoing two more bills on Saturday. He has vetoed the omnibus agricultural, environment and natural resources bill and the omnibus jobs and energy bill.
Dayton said the first bill undermined decades of environmental protections and the second one fell short in funding several critical areas.
The governor did say he signed the omnibus state government finance bill despite a section that outsources some duties of the State Auditor to private auditors. Dayton said he would make fixing that section a part of any special session he calls.
(The Uptake)

From Eric Ferguson:
Any chance the special session could also bring back the Political Contribution Refund (PCR)? Every bit to water down the influence of dark money helps. The PCR was killed in the finance bill.

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Iron mines, electric utilities and the biofuel industry came out winners in energy-related measures passed at the close of the Legislature.
But people with rooftop solar panels now face fees from municipal and cooperative electric companies, which convinced lawmakers that homegrown generators don’t pay their fair share of the power grid.
The energy measures, contained in agriculture and energy-jobs bills, are now before Gov. Mark Dayton, who said Tuesday he was still studying them.
(Star Tribune)

From Bluestem Prairie, here’s information on how this was railroaded at the very end. Also, regarding the energy/environment legislation from this session, there is a Keep Minnesota Clean event planned for Thursday at the governor’s mansion.


A few related notes:
– Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated that he may use line-item vetoes in budget bills. I’m generally against the line-item veto in principal. I think it gives governors too much power, and for evidence of that I can certainly cite the atrociously partisan ways in which it was abused by Dayton’s predecessor, the worst governor in the state’s history, Tim Pawlenty. But, all things considered, I support Dayton doing what he’s gotta do, here and now, with the tools he has to hand.


amd_300(Update: Looks like we won’t get that veto. Damn. Governor Dayton’s explanation, and I suppose that it does make some sense, is included in this MPR article.)
This passed the DFL-controlled Senate 35-30. What a load.

“No one should be under the impression that this buffer law will clean up our waters,” said (MEP Executive Director Steve) Morse. “It is significantly weakened from the Governor’s proposal. While it will have a modest positive impact, the waters of Southwestern Minnesota will remain unswimable and undrinkable. We have a long way to go to making the transformative change that the Governor envisions.”
…Raiding Dedicated Environmental Funds: Even with $1 billion on the bottom line, this bill raids funds that are to prevent old landfills from contaminating our groundwater and surface water and clean up the pollution where it occurs…
Surprise Sulfide Mining Amendment: The bill exempts sulfide mining waste from solid waste rules. This amendment was never introduced as a bill or heard in any committee, and its future effect is unknown. Exempting as-of-yet unknown waste streams from potential sulfide mines is an unnecessary risk to water quality and public health…
Polluter Amnesty: A polluter amnesty provision delays enforcement and waives penalties for regulated parties that self-report violations of environmental regulations. This provision needlessly strips the MPCA of its powers to hold polluters accountable for protecting our natural resources.
(Minnesota Environmental Partnership)

I’m not suggesting that online petitions suffice to change the world. But they certainly don’t hurt (just to cite one example, a lot of sane and rational federal judges were able to be confirmed, last year, largely because of online activism), and you can let Governor Mark Dayton know, here, that you’re with him, should he choose to veto this contemptible travesty.

In a related move – MN Auditor Rebecca Otto dared to suggest that Big Mining be required to put down some sort of legitimate surety, before poisoning Minnesota’s water – we had this.

DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto is hoping Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes the state government finance bill that House and Senate leaders negotiated in the closing hours of the 2015 session.
Otto objects to language in the bill from House Republicans that would allow county officials to bypass her office and get audits from the private sector…
Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the privatization of audits would be “like the fox guarding the chicken coop.”


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Grasslands-menggu(Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.)


Today it’s about energy and the environment. One doesn’t have to see much of farm country to realize how well solar could work, with panels not only on the roofs of the main house but also the barn and outbuildings. A family could even make a few extra bucks selling electricity to the utilities. But if you’re politically dependent on the Kochtopus and their ilk, who owe most of their fortune to Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, that sets your perspective. Period.

In summary, Rep. (Pat) Garofalo’s (R-Farmington) bill would dismantle most of Minnesota’s efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repealing the laws that support these efforts. He totally sabotages solar…
Six, the last thing to highlight is by no means the least. The bill comes down hard on all things solar. It would allow the solar energy standard to be met “through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable eligible energy technology” which, of course, is intended to gut the solar standard. The bill would also end the solar energy incentive program and change net metering.
The argument used by utilities and its fossil fuel friends against net metering is that it shifts costs to other rate payers. The anti-solar folks brought a witness from Boston to Rep. Garofalo’s committee who made that argument. However, he was very selective in the data he used and excluded the solar benefits of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases. Our Pollution Control Agency estimates that air pollution costs Minnesota $30 billion a year. The “b” is not a typo.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

It looks like Governor Mark Dayton’s buffer zone proposal won’t happen, this session, except maybe in a substantially weakened version, despite:


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Happy Mother’s Day 2015

by Dog Gone on May 10, 2015 · 0 comments

Here is an extraordinary example of motherhood the hard way, from the animal kingdom a little over two months ago — a bald eagle keeping a nest with two eggs warm, in spite of horrific quantities of snowfall. These are Pennsylvania eagles, but they could as easily be Minnesota bald eagles, given how fortunate our state is to have a large bald eagle population.This video seemed particularly appropriate, given the snow to the west of us in SoDak, and the forecast for later today and tomorrow of snow in some parts of Minnesota as well. (Don’t put away those scarves and mittens quite yet moms!)



Here is the link to the eagle cam, live, if you would like to see how events have turned out since the snow video.


And a follow up story on the mom and dad eagles, and their now hatched young eaglets, a story that should ring true to every mom who has spent years of her life cleaning up………….stuff (some of it especially not nice). The story goes a long way towards explaining why the live feed looks a lot less clear than the snow footage.


A week and a half later, the camera view is better, but still not as clear as before.


From the Evening Sun:

Bullseye! Bald eagle cam nailed by waste, Game Commission says
For months, millions of viewers across the world have been glued to the eagle cam located next to a nest in Codorus State Park near Hanover, watching the eaglets every moving including, yes, relieving themselves in the nest.
There’s been a few close calls but the eaglets have missed the camera entirely.
They didn’t miss this morning.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission confirmed in a tweet this morning that the camera “was hit by eagle waste.”

This is a screenshot of the eagle cam, which has been obscured by eagle waste on Thursday. (PA Game Commission)

A shot of the eaglets in the bald eagle nest at Codorus State Park via the live feed provided by the PA Game Commission. (Courtesy of PA Game Commission Eagle Cam)
For now, the camera remains on, but the view of the eagles is hazy at best. Officials from the Game Commission say they hope that a future rain storm will help clean the camera and clear the image.
For once, it’s a good thing. Rain is expected Thursday and Friday.
And if you were wondering, the Game Commission will not be climbing up there to clean the camera.
“The eagle camera will remain in place until after the eaglets fledge in late June or early July,” the Game Commission wrote on Facebook. “At that time, it will be taken down for maintenance.”


A week ago, the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture claimed that avian flu wasn’t going to be spreading.From the Daily Iowan, a week ago today  (emphasis mine – DG):|

Avian Flu not expected to spread in Iowa
The meat, eggs, and other products from millions of Iowa poultry infected with the H5N2 avian influenza won’t make it to the dinner table, but that’s not the only problem two infected farms could create for the state.
The H5N2 strain of avian influenza currently has not been found to transfer to humans in any way, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said Monday during a conference call.
He said the two Iowa farms that have confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic version of the avian flu could present problems for a variety of people.
“There is other financial impact here as well,” he said. “Each [egg] layer will eat around one bushel per year of corn, so once these birds are euthanized, they won’t be using corn for a while.”
…The infected population includes 27,000 turkeys in Buena Vista County and 3.8 million egg-laying hens in Osceola County.

“Northey said no other farms are currently under investigation and samples tested from farmers in those areas have all been negative.
“We believe this is not going from farm to farm,” he said. “We do not believe this is spreading in a way that is likely to create other problems on other farms.”


Yeah, THAT appears to be completely wrong, per this timeline update.

April 20 – The biggest outbreak so far as H5N2 is confirmed in 3.8 million egg-laying hens in Osceola county, Iowa. The finding in the country’s top egg producing state prompts Mexico to expand its import ban to include live birds and eggs from Iowa.
April 27 – Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and the USDA say initial tests have found probable bird flu outbreaks at five commercial poultry sites in Iowa containing more than 6 million birds. One site was confirmed as positive for HPAI a day later. If the other four are confirmed, the country’s outbreak would reach more than 15.1 million birds, just short of the largest-ever U.S. avian influenza outbreak of 17 million birds in 1983 and 1984.
April 28 – The USDA confirms H5N2 in three more flocks, including a flock of 1.7 million chickens in Sioux county, Iowa, bringing the state’s confirmed tally to more than 5.5 million birds. The three new confirmations lift the nationwide confirmed total to more than 11 million birds. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)

In other news, it has been incorrectly reported that Koch brothers’ sock puppet Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin re: bird flu; what Walker actually did was write an executive order to send out a few National Guard troops to help distribute water to areas affected by avian flu. What you WON’T find in Wisconsin is any reference to the role of global warming on the changing migration patterns of wild birds – a documented fact, as is that the original infections came from migrating wild birds; and you won’t find any acknowledgement from Walker or any WI bureaucrat as to the role of global warming and the increase in pathogenicity in so-called ‘high-path’ avian flu strains spreading, and mutating.

It remains to be seen how this avian flu outbreak progresses; some scientists expect it to continue to get worse.  Some scientists appear to be hoping that warmer weather might actually slow the outbreak and spread of avian flu, but lacking in confidence that this will be the case.  ALL of the scientists who have studied avian flu expect a big escalation of avian flu in the fall, when we have the migration of waterfowl from Canada heading south over the same ares, with additional concern that it will affect other bird populations including potentially pheasants.  This will in all probability lead to additional adverse affects not only in the ag sector, but in the tourism sector as it affects those who hunt both wild or domestic raised waterfowl, but also if it spreads to pheasants, which is already feared by those who raise pheasants for game preserve hunting (although shooting tame birds doesn’t really seem like ‘hunting’ imho).From, near the intersection of So.Dak, MN, and Iowa:


SPENCER, SD – South Dakota pheasant producers are closely watching the bird flu battle. They’re concerned the strain that’s already hit turkey and chicken farms might also infect their flocks.
Royal Flush Pheasants near Spencer, South Dakota raises about 10,000 pheasants every year.  Many of those birds end up in private hunting preserves.  An outbreak of bird flu could cost the Royal Flush a king’s ransom.
Pheasants supply South Dakota’s economy with a profitable nest egg.
“Cafes and restaurants and gas stations and hunting supply stores and that type of thing, it’s a big business in South Dakota,” Royal Flush Pheasants owner Denny Rowley said.
But these hardy and valuable ringnecks wouldn’t stand a chance against the ravages of bird flu.
“A pheasant’s a kind of tough bird, it’s got cold winters, it’s got hot summers, it’s got pesticides, insecticides, you got guys shooting at it all the time, some coyote or fox is trying to eat it all the time, it’s funny there’s any of them here, you know,” Rowley said.


The increasing cost of chicken and eggs, the decreasing supply of chicken and eggs, both in grocery stores and in restaurants, both sit down and fast food retailers, and the ripple effect of the avian flu on other sectors of our economy is very likely going to create greater problems reflecting in areas of wealth and income inequality, food insecurity, government cutbacks in food insecurity assistance, and in seasonal employment.


So far, the mainstream news has focused on relatively trivial issues, like the possible prohibition of poultry at the Minnesota state fair.  I predict that the problems associated with bird flu and with climate change / global warming as it affects US exports and US food supplies, and US public health concerns, is going to be a much more significant set of issues for the 2016 presidential race, senate races, and state level races than is currently predicted.  Most of all, I would expect that the division between global warming deniers and those who recognize the reality of the science as predictions become fact will  result in significant swings in our national, regional, state and local politics.  We are at a point where the impact which to many had seemed theoretical is now becoming real, in people’s back yards and gocery carts.  Deniers are going to be finding themselves on the hot seat, and that hot seat is only going to get hotter for them.  Look forward to the (metaphorical) smoke of roasting conservative political tushies on the grill coming to politics near you. (Hint, it smells a bit like burning pork, only more acrid and acrimonious.)


No surprise, we have more bird flu in Minnesota, not only among turkey farms but now outbreaks at chicken farms.  Governor Dayton is releasing additional resources to combat the spread, up to and including making the National Guard units available to help.


Gov. Mark Dayton has declared a state of emergency in Minnesota in response to the bird flu outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 2.6 million turkeys and has now spread to a chicken farm for the first time in the state.

The Star Tribune reports that the governor’s order activates “an emergency operations plan” to provide support to attempts to quell the outbreak, and also says that National Guard personnel can be mobilized if necessary.

It comes after chicken producer J&A Farms, near Detroit Lakes in northwestern Minnesota, became the first chicken farm in the state to confirm an infection of the deadly H5N2 virus, KSTP reports. The farm has 275,000 hens.

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported the bird flu’s presence in 13 additional turkey flocks in Minnesota. That brought the state’s overall total to 44 across 15 counties.

The deadly avian flu has spread to 13 more Minnesota turkey farms, bringing the total number of birds affected to more than 2.5 million, the state Board of Animal Health announced.

…Since the outbreak of the virus in early March, 7.1 million turkeys and egg-laying chickens have been affected across the Midwest, The Associated Press reports.

Chicken operations in Iowa and Wisconsin have also been hit by the bird flu. There are 16 states now coping with the disease in commercial bird operations.


National  media is running headlines that McDonalds may experience supply problems, with ‘Chicken Mcnuggets as rare as hen’s teeth’.  I don’t eat them, but it occurs to me that might be the only silver lining of a serious global warming related economic disaster to our state and regional economies.  It is beginning to dawn on people that this will affect not only the price of turkey and chicken meat, but also the price of eggs — and presumably therefore a variety of the ‘golden starches’ breakfast menu items as well as the nuggets.
The economic impact goes far further afield than just fast food retailers.  The BBC is reporting protests against ongoing trade negotiations for US ag products to be marketed in Europe as a result of this outbreak.  As with past food safety and disease issues, such as the mad cow problems of some years back, a variety of nations are banning the shipment of poultry products while this epidemic continues.  having the reputation of unsafe or disease-ridden products is of course detrimental to the long term economic strength of our ag industry sector, and a serious concern for the entire country.


The head of the World Organisation for Animal Health tells us why this latest outbreak of bird flu has come as such a shock to US industry. Also, as the latest round of negotiations towards a new trade pact between Europe and the US get under way, we report on the opposition to the proposals, at a protest attended by Vivienne Westwood in London.


I documented here, on the 2015 celebration of Earth Day why this outbreak of avian flu is an issue of global warming, and the cause and effect link to rising temperatures and the spread of these kinds of disease, among both wildlife and domesticated animals, directly affecting our food supply and the affordability of the food we eat (not just fast food).  From the STrib


DES MOINES, Iowa — Some international trade partners are declining to buy egg and poultry products from states affected by a deadly strain of bird flu while others are excluding imports only from counties where the virus has surfaced.

Agriculture officials say the food supply is safe. But Mexico, Japan and Canada are among 33 countries declining to accept poultry products from entire states, including Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer, and Minnesota, the top turkey grower in the U.S.

Other countries, including Hong Kong, limit the ban to counties where the virus has been confirmed.


Conservatives, who as a group receive enormous amounts of funding both directly and indirectly from fossil fuel sources, refuse to address the issue and actively obstruct others from addressing it.  Most recently we have a member of our state legislature doing exactly that, on the floor of the lege, while following the classic tactic of pretending that conservatives are somehow victims and martyrs  for believing things which are factually false – and seriously dangerous to all of us.  I would further posit that it is precisely to take positions that are factual and objective that these legislators are elected, and NOT to be faith based or phantasy driven in writing legislation, voting or formulating policy.  Hat tip to Bluestem Prairie and the Uptake for the video and news item on Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker.  This is EXACTLY what we do NOT need or want in response to the challenges of global warming.  This is the kind of failure to act and failure to think that is why we must oppose conservatives in any position of authority at any level of government, because of failing to address these issue in a manner that is rational, that is objective, that values science not religion as the basis for action.  If we wanted whining, we’d look for two year olds who missed their nap time.


Rep. Newberger grow a pair, and act your age.  You and the rest of the lege were elected to deal with these issues, to voice your opinions BASED ON FACTS NOT FAITH, and to do something about these kinds of problems on behalf of the citizens of Minnesota.  Pull up your big boy pants, buckle up your belt and if necessary add a pair of suspenders, but ditch the crap about being a victim.  DO SOMETHING about the very real problems of global warming; they are on our doorstep, right there where you live in Sherburne County.  But don’t kid yourself – something I suspect Newberger does often; the effects of this problem go much further afield than just Sherburne County, or the state boundaries, or even the national boundaries.  We can’t afford the kind of  political and ideological driven denial that we see next door in Wisconsin, courtesy of Koch brothers’ puppet Scott Walker as he trashes the state of Wisconsin, including by prohibiting any references or planning related to global warming.




We are in a desperate struggle to save our planet and ourselves, both as a species and individually, from two inter-related threats, global warming and climate change denial by ignorant crazy people who suffer from magical thinking. Magical thinking is where nutty religious zealots ignore scientifically documented cause and effect, and instead demand we all conform to religious supernatural insanity, that denies reality. Magical thinking requires us to believe that abortion and/or gay marriage in the United States are responsible for natural disasters, while denying the real causes of those problems, human use of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic carbon emissions that are related to greenhouse gases, as well as other problems such as fracking-caused earthquakes.


Their reasoning is that overall planetary global warming can’t be real if you can still make a snow ball. Because Jesus loves us and he wants us to use up finite resources while killing ourselves doing so. We are wrestling for control of who drives the bus, who controls the steering wheel, the sane people or the crazies who want to crash the bus over a very tall cliff, with the bus being a metaphor for the planet, our ‘little blue marble’ hanging in space.


It is not only extremist insane right wing evangelical and fundie religion, it is also corrupt, largely Republican and other conservatives being corrupt taking truckloads of cash, directly and indirectly from the fossil fuel special interests to act against the interests of their constituents – the American people – effectively fiddling while not only Rome but the entire planet burns.


This affects US, right here, right now, and those effects will only become more severe if we don’t succeed in stopping the dangerous right.  I generally dislike polarizing politics, the Us versus Them mentality, but in this particular area, there is no room for compromise, there is only one rational and correct side.  Democracy can only operate if those in power are sane and rational; conservatives are, as a group, NOT either.


turkeys from how stuff

From Science, August 2, 2013, review:

Climate Change and Infectious Diseases: From Evidence to a Predictive Framework

  1. Sonia Altizer1,*,
  2. Richard S. Ostfeld2,
  3. Pieter T. J. Johnson3,
  4. Susan Kutz4,
  5. C. Drew Harvell5

“Scientists have long predicted large-scale responses of infectious diseases to climate change, giving rise to a polarizing debate, especially concerning human pathogens for which socioeconomic drivers and control measures can limit the detection of climate-mediated changes. Climate change has already increased the occurrence of diseases in some natural and agricultural systems,…”


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amd_300A prominent, and admirable, organization does a “Most Endangered Rivers” list.

The St. Louis River is threatened by new copper-nickel sulfide mining in its headwaters that would destroy or degrade thousands of square miles of pristine forested wetlands and streams. The first of the new mining proposals, PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet Project, would destroy 1,000 acres of wetlands, and indirectly impact thousands more wetland acres. It would also require a complex federal land exchange resulting in the turnover of more than 6,000 acres of biologically rich lands from the Superior National Forest and the St. Louis River watershed to mining companies.
(American Rivers)

There was considerable optimism on the part of PolyMet and others that permitting and other matters would have moved along swiftly, even to the extent that they’d have their final permits in hand by now. Negative dice:



Minnesota GOP bill would sabotage clean energy

by Dan Burns on April 10, 2015 · 1 comment

Amargosa_desertIt doesn’t get much more just plain backward – indeed, downright antediluvian – than this.

One, the (GOP House) bill would repeal the quantitative state goals for reducing green house gas emissions and says the state should reduce green house gas emissions “in an affordable manner.” Whatever that means.
Two, the bill would allow either the Minnesota House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed by the Dayton administration to significantly reduce carbon emissions in our energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The plan is being developed in response to the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon. Since the bill would allow the House or Senate to veto any other carbon reduction plan that might be developed, the bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather it’s designed for gridlock.
This new strategy of trying to give the legislative branch veto power over an action taken by the executive branch is a product of ALEC, which gets a lot of its financial support from the fossil fuel industry.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

Wagenius, a DFLer who represents part of Minneapolis, goes on to note much more, if you care to click on the above.

Minnesota doctors on Wednesday connected the dots between proposed changes in Minnesota energy laws and the health of the public, particularly children suffering from asthma.
The Twin Cities Medical Society delivered a letter (see below) to every member of the Minnesota House and Senate that says emissions of power plants “are adversely affecting our environment and impacting the health of Minnesota’s communities,” and urged lawmakers to maintain the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act that Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law.
(The Uptake)

Weeks ago, I mused that perhaps Republican legislators were seeing the need to move toward the center, or at least away from the extreme. That has not been the case. There is still talk about increasing basic assistance for welfare recipients, but other than that, not much to indicate that the legislative GOP is coming to terms with present – and, even more so, future – reality.

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