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Low-Cost Natural Gas Saves Thousands of Lives By Lowering Heating Bills

Natural gas is a powerful resources that is saving thousands of lives every single year. That's the conclusion of a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled "Inexpensive Heating Reduces Winter Mortality" The abstract of the paper states: This paper examines how the price of home heating affects mortality in the US. Exposure to cold is one reason that mortality peaks in winter, and a higher heating price increases exposure to cold by reducing heating use. It also raises energy bills, which could affect health by decreasing other health-promoting spending. Our empirical approach combines spatial variation in the...

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Minnesota – Above average for population growth, below average for employment growth, top for unemployment growth

In the year from June 2018 to June 2019, Minnesota ranked 17th nationally for population growth, 34th nationally for employment growth, and 1st nationally both for the increase in the number of unemployed and the percentage point rise in our unemployment rate. ...

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Capitalism is Saving the Planet Part Six: Minnesota Forests Are Flourishing

Did you know that Minnesota's forests are flourishing? According to research from the U.S. Forest Service, forests account for 17.7 million acres of land in Minnesota out of a total of 54 million acres, meaning forest cover about 35 percent of the state. Furthermore, this number is increasing due in no small part to the fact that 51 percent of forested land in Minnesota is owned by the timber industry. From 2012 to 2017, Minnesota's forested land area increased by 755,000 acres, which equates to an increase of 1.7 percent. During this time, the number of live trees increased by one billion...

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St. Paul Green Party Mayoral Candidate’s Paper Straw Response to my PiPress Article Doesn’t Hold Up

Last week I had an opinion editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press discussing how Minnesota's foray into wind and solar has led to higher electricity costs for no measurable environmental benefits. This prompted Elizabeth Dickinson, the former Green Party mayoral candidate for St. Paul to write a letter accusing me of using cherry-picked data. However, upon further scrutiny, the logic she uses in her letter to the editor holds up as well as paper straws. This sort of accusation is commonplace, but it does not make it correct. I've posted her letter below with my own thoughts about the points made...

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Midwestern Wind Turbines Were 3 Percent Useful Last Weekend

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. No matter what you did, it was probably more productive than the wind turbines in the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO) territory, where the wind utilized just 3 percent of installed capacity, providing a mere 1 percent of the electricity available on the grid. But just because the wind wasn't blowing doesn't mean there was not a high demand for electricity. In fact, July and August are typically the months where electricity use in Minnesota is highest. Ironically, it is also when generation from wind is lowest. The chart below shows Energy Information Administration data for...

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Iowa Utility: Lower Fuel Costs Won’t Offset Rising Prices

One of the most common ways people are misled about the cost of renewable energy is the belief that wind and solar will save them money because they have no fuel costs. However, a recent comment by an Iowa utility shows that this line of thinking is completely wrong. The comment came from a story in the Gazette entitled "The Cost of Things: Why Energy Bills In Iowa Keep Growing, Electricity Bills Bolster Infrastructure, Wind Development," and I was very surprised the utility was so candid with this information. The article states: But while investments in renewables — MidAmerican also has leaned...

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