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Copenhagen Day One – COP15 President “Let’s Open The Door To The Low Carbon Age”

Copenhagen Day One – COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard opened up the Copenhagen conference today urging what has emerged as the common theme among the media and heads of state attending; action must happen now.

The sentiment was echoed by the worlds media; according to the BBC an incredible 56 newspapers in 45 countries carried editorials “urging politicians to forget their differences and work together to forge an agreement.” The, “point of no return” theme permeates the conference. The sense of urgency combined with the unprecedented public attention creates a perfect storm of action; just what the organizers hoped.

We’ll be covering the event throughout the day, in the meantime you can watch it live here or below if your browser supports iframes.

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Minnesota Budget Deficit At $1.2 billion

Budget officials released their projections on Tuesday, predicting a $1.2 billion shortfall over the next biennium. Both parties issued releases on the shortfall (GOP DFL) and state leaders made statements on the deficit, from MPR:

Job creation was the focus with both sides pledging bipartisan efforts to combat the deficit.

Northern Lights Express Price Tag Revised to Just Under $1 Billion

nlxlogoState officials have revised the estimated cost of the Northern Lights Express to $990 million. The number could become reality if the Northern Lights Express is built using the “worst case scenario.” Federal money could pay up to 80% of the project, but supporters and the state need to find common ground on what the estimated cost is to submit an application for federal funding.

8th district Congressman Jim Oberstar, chair of the U.S.  House Transportation Committee disagrees. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Oberstar said “Those are factors yet to be determined…Resolution of those open-end issues will determine its overall cost. I don’t see the need for a billion-dollar investment.”

The line would spur an estimated $2 billion in investment, according to the Northern Lights Express Passenger Rail Project (NLX). However, headaches started when the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) and NLX found major discrepancies in their visions of the line. Some of the key sticking points are:

  • The number of trains – MNDOT wants up to eight trains costing and extra $140 million, NLX suggests only three or four are needed to run the proposed eight daily trips.
  • The track – MNDOT wants two sets of track running the full length of the corridor from the Cities to Duluth, NLX says only 100 miles of the route needs to be double tracked.
  • Bridges – MNDOT wants to replace every bridge along the corridor, NLX disagrees saying if the route was only single track between Sandstone and Superior, it would eliminate the need to replace as many as four bridges, significantly reducing the cost.

MNDOT and NLX have the next several weeks to hammer out the details before the application must be sent. In the meantime, NLX is sponsoring an informational meeting on Thursday, December 3rd in Cambridge, Minnesota. The open house runs from 4:30 to 6:00pm at the Armed Forces Reserve Community Center – Assembly Hall in Cambridge.

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