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How Minnesota Republicans are screwing rural voters Part 4

by Dan Burns on May 15, 2015 · 1 comment

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:
 

A new report released (April 29) by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) provides additional evidence that agricultural and urban runoff is contributing significantly to the impairment of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams. The new study, which monitored half of the state’s 81 major watersheds, takes an in-depth look at the lakes and streams in major drainage areas. According to the MPCA, it is unlikely that current or new clean water funding can significantly improve the deteriorating conditions of many of the state’s waters – unless the state employs new strategies to prevent the pollution from happening in the first place…
 
The study, “Swimmable, Fishable, Fixable?”, found that poor water quality is concentrated in certain regions of the state, especially in southern Minnesota. MPCA researchers noted that in heavily farmed areas, surrounding lakes and streams had high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. These high levels make it difficult to support aquatic life, and in some cases prohibit people from swimming in lakes and streams. The report’s findings conclude that poor water quality in southern Minnesota waters is caused predominantly by agricultural runoff. Urban areas also suffer from elevated levels of water pollution caused by runoff.
(Gov. Mark Dayton)

Contrary to some belief, most farms in the U.S. are still “family farms,“ albeit fewer and bigger than they used to be. They’re the ones who do the work and take the risk, while Big Ag (suppliers and distributors and so forth, like Monsanto and Cargill) gets most of the rewards under the current system. The Big Ag lobby really shouldn’t be trusted.
 

As Bluestem reads about the reaction to Governor Dayton’s vegetative buffer proposal, we’re struck by the sincerity of the stories being told about farmers’ intense affection for conservation.
 
Take, for example, the story told in Minnesota Corn Growers President Bruce Peterson in “Farmers are losing the public perception battle.” It’s not that farmers don’t practice conservation, Peterson says, it’s just that non-farmers’ perceptions and knowledge of conservation is somehow flawed…
 
A similar narrative governs the local guide for Minnesota House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) and freshman state representative Jeff Backer as they explore the ethanol plant in Morris, Minnesota. In Kim Ukura’s article in the Morris Sun Tribune, “Local business leaders share story of ethanol with legislators,” the story of this good news about corn growing is shared:
 

Miller added that the food versus fuel debate over the use of corn is also misleading. Ethanol production uses about 30 to 35 percent of corn produced in the United States, while the rest is either fed to cattle or exported.
 
“We’re not tilling up more ground to make more corn for ethanol demand — our farmers are becoming more and more efficient,” said Miller.

Remember, it’s not public relations or propaganda anymore, it’s story telling…
 
That story should come as something of a surprise to researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose findings are shared in a report by Minnesota Public Radio’s Elizabeth Dunbar in “Study: Minn. converted more wetlands than any other state when crop prices spiked:”…
(Bluestem Prairie)

Also from Bluestem, “Environmental Partnership doesn’t much like this year’s giant ag & environment omnibus bill” pretty well sums up where a lot of things seem to be at right about now.
 

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