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Renewable Energy Standard Could Be a Blowout

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith wants 50 percent of Minnesota’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. The current renewable energy standards enacted under Governor Pawlenty is “25 percent by 2025” and “30 percent by 2025” for Xcel. But this goal is a shot in the dark. While the recent sunny weather and windy days may have helped keep wind turbines spinning and solar panels glowing, heavy reliance on renewables could leave us groping for the light switch. Wind and solar energy are not reliable, and if the state is hoping to generate half of its energy from these sources, there better...

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Will Legislators Bag Minneapolis Plastic Bag Ban?

It may not be too late to save freedom of choice at the checkout line in Minneapolis. All Minnesotans' ability to choose between paper or plastic at their local grocery store would remain secure under legislation gaining momentum in the Minnesota House. The bill forwarded by Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) bars local governments from enacting ordinances that ban bags--plastic or otherwise--or putting a fee or tax on using grocery bags provided by merchants. The measure would also retroactively roll back plastic bag bans like the 1,200 word Minneapolis ordinance set to take effect on June 1, 2017.  The state law as drafted...

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Residents Furious as City Levels Hundreds of Trees to Sell Wetland Credits

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. But in one suburban Blaine neighborhood, you can't see the forest because the city leveled the trees without warning as part of a 500 acre wetland restoration project. A Star Tribune photo shows what's left--bare ground. More than 1,000 trees by some estimates were mowed down in January to the utter shock of residents, whose homes back up to what used to be a treeline along the swamp--all in the name of the environment. Richard Holmes said he and his wife have lived along the ocean in Florida and next to a lake in...

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Pollution Agency Tells Minnesotans to Stop Buying Stuff

If there were such a thing as environmental justice, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency would cease and desist from distributing the taxpayer-funded Living Green 365 monthly newsletter.  Did you make a resolution for the New Year? Was it to buy lots of new stuff, online or otherwise? (Didn’t think so.) We’ve got a hunch, dear Living Green 365 reader, that your hopes for 2017 include keeping our air and water clean, and not using up finite natural resources. Those are big goals. Psychologists suggest that people keep the big ideas of their resolutions in mind, but break them down into manageable steps they...

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St. Paul Residents Trash New Recycling Program Problems

It hasn't been a Eureka moment for St. Paul residents dealing with the city's newly implemented recycling program. Word on the curbside is that the project that's designed for residents to increase their participation in recycling remains a work in progress. Mounting frustration among homeowners has led to thousands of complaints over pickup delays and logistics pouring into the city and hauler, Eureka Recycling. At least Eureka appears to be relying on a fleet of trucks, instead of the bicycle recycling carts the company tested out a few years back.  And city officials now emphasize the positive by pointing out in...

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St. Louis County Turns to Trump to Overturn Obama Mining Ban

A month before leaving office, President Obama basically banned copper mining in the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota with a stroke of his pen. The post-election executive order went over big with environmentalists, but not so much with union members and businesses. They warned the ban would not only kill the Twin Metals copper mine, but also thousands of hard-to-come-by jobs and billions in related investment on the Iron Range. Like much of the previous president's agenda, however, what lives by the pen may be destined to die by the pen. Local media accounts indicate the St. Louis County Board,...

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Star Tribune common sense and the Gorsuch nomination

Dang if the Star Tribune isn’t surprising the heck out of me with their third reasonable editorial in the span of 11 days.  Perhaps my faithful support as a paperboy and subscriber going back almost 40 years is starting to pay some dividends. First they penned “Take prudent steps to keep protests safe” where they basically agreed with Republican efforts to more effectively deter protesters from shutting down highways sent a vital message that recent protester behavior is unacceptable.  I praised it as a vital step forward toward restoring order and public safety. Then on Wednesday they communicated some important energy truth...

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Why Green Energy Subsidies Don’t Pay

Look for renewable energy subsidies to get much closer scrutiny under a new administration in Washington and new legislative majorities in St. Paul. But a recent Star Tribune story celebrating taxpayer-subsidized green energy projects in Twin Cities suburbs demonstrates how far we have to go. Fortunately American Experiment's Kim Crockett sets the record straight in a rebuttal headlined "How Much is 'Green Bling' Costing Your Town or City?" in today's editions. It's based on a 2014 study American Experiment conducted to audit claims that feel-good solar and projects make economic and environmental sense. Currently, cities are using federal and other grants to offset the...

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Key points about the Dakota pipeline you probably never heard

There was a surprisingly amount of energy truth contained in a November Washington Post editorial about the Dakota pipeline protests: How did the out-of-state activists protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline arrive at the North Dakota site? How were the sleeping bags they will use when the high plains winter arrives manufactured and shipped to the stores at which they were purchased? What are the plastics made of in the phones they have been using at Standing Rock, N.D.? The Post spoke truth to passion by explaining that oil is “energy dense and easy to transport” and “[p]ractically nothing modern Americans do — including...

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2016 El Nino Warmth Not Statistically Warmer than 1998 El Nino Year

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just reported that 2016 was the 2nd warmest year on record in the United States.  Former NASA climatologist Roy Spencer’s global satellite dataset of the lower troposphere temperature found the 2016 El Nino year to be a record, but only a statistically insignificant 0.02 degrees C warmer than the last big El Nino year in 1998.  That a slowly warming world would tie a temperature record during an El Nino year is not remarkable or alarming, and everyone expects 2017 to be significantly cooler.  With a cooler 2017 the 18 year warming pause should...

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