sorry we're closedI wrote about energy and environmental issues last month partly in reaction to a Strib Opinion Piece from the Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s (MEP) Steve Morse. Morse had written that Minnesotans supported mining, so long as it is safe. Morse’s definition of “safe” means that mining would probably never be permitted in Minnesota. So I was glad to see a response to Morse today by our Northern neighbors, Lory Fedo from the Hibbig Chamber of Commerce and John Grahek, president of the Iron Range Building Trades. Fedo aned Grahek point out that the mining we do here is subject to the toughest standards in the world–and that other countries (they named China and Russia) mine with less regard for pollution, among other first world standards. By depending on foreign imports rather than mining here for the metals we have and need, world wide pollution increases, not to mention the loss of good jobs and a way of life up North. Good Strib Counterpoint: Minnesota is prepared for mining.

Here is the old post: Free Markets require reliable and reasonably priced energy to grow, so a big issue in 2011 will be energy. As Christina Pierson chronicled in her recent commentary, Minnesota’s energy policy, if you can call it that, has been driven largely by environmental concerns—real and imagined. Elected officials and bureaucrats have catered to the green lobby and used their regulatory and pricing power to co-opt and/or silence business and the energy industry. Critics of the science behind global warming, like our dear friend Lord Christopher Monckton, are attacked as “deniers” (like holocaust deniers), while the “believers” insist that the science is settled—there is no room for debate. The result is a confused energy policy that signals to existing industry and would-be investors that Minnesota is a hard and expensive place to do business.

Even though the science behind the global warming has been discredited, the green lobby now includes industry—everybody wants to be perceived as green. Go to almost any corporate website and you will find a section on how the company has gone “green.” There is now a green industry catering to this corporate desire to be perceived as friendly to the environment. It’s the new mantra at home, at work and at school. And in the tax code.  

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development declares, “ We’re moving to a green economy, a sustainable economy. Energy in the future will come from the sun, the wind, the waves and even algae. There will be a need for trades-people who understand conservation, attorneys who comprehend cap trade, energy employees who “get” smart grids and co-generation.” Wow.

We believe that people should be responsible for the messes they create. Thus, if industry pollutes the air or water, it should build the cost of prevention and clean-up into its costs. But we also believe that you have to crack a few eggs to get an omelet. More to the point, you have to cut deep into the earth to get precious metals out for the high-tech industry, drill where there is oil and gas, mine where there is coal, and so forth. You have to build plants, power grids, roads and bridges. China understand this.

We have to strike a balance between economic development and the environment—we admit this is a difficult task that may involve trade-offs we do not like. But we trust a market based approach (free markets based on private property rights and contracts), rather than the  top-down bureaucratic approach favored by the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and Saint Paul—not to mention the well-funded and politically connected left –wing environmental crowd that is hostile to growth and a way of life favored by many Minnesotans.

And we know that first-world countries are the cleanest places on earth. Why? Free markets and free people have the wealth and desire to clean up after themselves. Relegating our economy to second or third world status in the name of the environment will only create pollution and poverty. And all the bloviating about green jobs and a green economy fails to acknowledge the real costs of “going green” along with  less than promising results and a heavy reliance on tax-payer subsidies. Going green can be just one more choice in the marketplace but it must stand on its own.

Minnesota's Iron RangeWe’ve collected recent articles for you that give an overview of what we call “Energy, Environment and Transportation” or “EET” as we head into 2011:



Nuclear and Coal Moratoriums: Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who will chair the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee is promising quick action on a number of fronts, including lifting the nuclear and coal moratoriums in Minnesota. Don Davis from the Forum of Fargo Moorhead interviewed Representative McNamara and Steve Morse from the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

Clean Water, Mining and the Fall of Jim Oberstar: Representative-Elect Chip Cravaack beat Jim Oberstar in Minnesota’s 8thDistrict in part because of his support for ObamaCare, but Oberstar also had a tin ear when it came to finding that proper balance between development and the environment—he even went so far as to call constituents names— “Flat Earth Society” members. Heck, these good folks want to live up North and they need good jobs!

The Washington Examinertalked to Don Parmeter about the issue: “Don Parmeter — a native of northern Minnesota, 35-year veteran of environmental politics, and co-chair of the National Water & Conservation Alliance — said the entire district was worried about a different Oberstar monstrosity: the Clean Water Restoration Act. Oberstar wrote and introduced it as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Unbelievably, it removed the word “navigable” from “waters of the United States” and substituted a list of more than 15 kinds of wet places (including “sandflats”) and all watersheds, ending with the horrifying clause “are subject to the legislative power of Congress.”

Parmeter said, “Federal control over all watersheds means every square inch of America. It wasn’t even about water, it was a total land grab. And the media began to report it. It never passed.”

Biomass in Minnesota: Two of Minnesota’s freshman legislators published this opinion piecein the Strib this week, about  the EPA’s new rules regulating biomass: “On Jan. 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will implement its “Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule,” which will regulate emissions from the combustion of renewable biomass the same as emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels…. These regulations are a sharp departure from longstanding policy and scientific data that consider emissions from the combustion of biomass to be carbon-neutral, since biomass is produced from byproducts of forests that soak up carbon in the forest lifecycle…. Bipartisan elected officials, well-regarded scientists and the forestry industry have all expressed support for renewable biomass and have asked the EPA to abandon its plans to regulate woody biomass and reclassify biomass power as carbon-neutral.” (Carolyn McElfatrick and Kurt Daudt, both Republicans, will represent Districts 3B and 17A, respectively, in the Minnesota House starting next month.)

Ethanol Subsidy: Despite surprisingly strong bi-partisan support for ending the subsidy, it will continue for another year. The subsidy was tucked into the tax deal passed by the lame duck Congress. You can read about it in  Reuters  “The 45-cent-a-gallon tax credit and the 54-cent tariff were to expire on December 31. A one-year extension means Congress will face the contentious biofuels question again next year. Senator Dianne Feinstein was rebuffed in a last-ditch attempt to cut the tax credit and the tariff to 36 cents each. Senate leaders declined to call a vote on her amendment.

Wind Subsidy:  Here is an update from the Wall Street Journal. Ethanol isn’t the only heavily subsidized energy source that won a multibillion dollar jackpot in last week’s tax deal. The other big winner was the wind industry, which received a one year extension of a $3 billion grant program for renewable energy projects.”  

These are your hard-earned tax dollars at work.