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Is MN Ag Department Playing Politics With Farmers’ Water Tests?

The politicization of science may be good for researchers lining up for government grants but not so much for their credibility.   It's already happened with global warming. The data have been manipulated and misconstrued by government agencies and activist scientists to the point where anyone who's less than a true believer has little confidence in its reliability, much less concern over the alleged conclusions. Now Brown County commissioners and farmers worry the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a similar hidden agenda with the state's offer to test residents' well water for nitrates. The county board turned down the state's generosity, skeptical...

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Controversial State Water Regulation Slapped Down

You know there's something really questionable about a regulation when both industry and environmental activists strongly oppose it. But that's what happened with a controversial water quality proposal from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that was shot down this week by an administrative law judge. The Duluth News Tribune account portrays the ruling as a slam dunk that bordered on a rebuke. A state administrative law judge has flatly rejected a plan by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to abandon the statewide 10 parts-per-million limit for sulfate pollution in wild rice waters in exchange for a lake-by-lake system with varying limits. Administrative Law Judge LauraSue...

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MN Sheriff Uses Obscure State Law to Take Over Wolf Kill Investigations

[caption id="attachment_8915" align="alignright" width="176"] Douglas Co. wolf[/caption] The argument over the sustainability of northern Minnesota's wolf population ended long ago, at least among the folks who live there. The latest proof of proliferation comes from an extraordinary photo in the Echo Press of a 100 pound wolf roadkill north of Alexandria in west central Douglas County documented by a local deputy. Alexandria and areas to the north such as Parkers Prairie and Fergus Falls are not within the current borders of what is considered wolf range in Minnesota. However, the last time those borders were examined was the winter of 2012-2013. In an interview,...

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Strib’s Sustainable Food Series Panned by Ag Experts

The Star Tribune recently featured a high-profile series on Minnesota's most important industry--agriculture. But right off the top the paper's coverage appeared to be driven largely by the tastes of organically inclined subscribers. Much of the food industry has rallied around the idea of “sustainability,” which in the most precise definition refers to the ability of a food system to last over time. But the word has become a broad banner for issues like animal welfare, soil management, fair farm wages or climate change. A blatant political agenda tainted "the future of food" coverage for some readers. Turning to a fringe group...

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Minneapolis Adds $2 Million Climate Surcharge to Utilities

When it comes to innovative ways to wring more revenue out of residents,  you've got to hand it to Minneapolis.  The Minneapolis City Council plans to hike utility bills next year by $2 million over and above the already higher than ever gas and electric rates on the books. Why? The Star Tribune headline says it all: "Minneapolis is using electric bills to fight climate change."And ratepayers are supposed to feel as good about their involuntary contribution as their elected officials who imposed it. The City Council raised its franchise fees — payments that Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy collect from customers...

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Feds Reverse Controversial Ban on Northern MN Mining

Northern Minnesotans looking to reverse the Obama administration's last-minute arbitrary ban on mineral exploration just got an unexpected holiday gift out of the blue to the shock of just about everyone, including the Star Tribune. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday unexpectedly opened up access to hard rock mining on the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs, reversing an Obama decision that might have protected the wilderness indefinitely. In an opinion posted on the agency’s website, officials said that contrary to its decision a year ago, it does not have the discretion to deny Twin Metals its leases for copper...

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Early Christmas Present as Township Kills Western MN Wind-Solar Project

[caption id="attachment_8723" align="alignright" width="236"] Pelican Lake, Otter Tail Co.[/caption] It's not often the so-called little guy gets to take a victory lap, especially after challenging the well-connected green energy industry. But the Fargo Forum reports the residents of Dunn Township on Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County just overcame the odds and pulled the plug on a nearly 500 foot wind turbine and solar system proposed for their corner of paradise. "We have cancelled the community based renewable project, which was a wind/solar hybrid project," Lake Region CEO Tim Thompson said in an email. "The project was being developed by Juhl Energy...

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The High Cost of Our Failing Wind Policies: Why Minnesota’s electricity costs are above the U.S. average and emissions are rising

This op-ed appeared in the Star Tribune on December 14, 2017.  Star Tribune file photo. Like many states, Minnesota is on the bandwagon for renewable energy, especially wind power. Despite all of the hype about falling wind power costs, Minnesota's energy policy is starting to exert upward pressure on electricity prices, and it is notably failing at its chief objectives. America's fixation on renewable energy dates to the energy crisis of the 1970s, when it was thought that oil and natural gas were quickly running out and that we needed brand-new energy sources. Today, we are told that we need to develop...

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Minnesotans’ Electric Rates: Gone With the Wind

Minnesota has been on the cutting edge of mandating renewable energy quotas for the past decade. But to what end? Center of the American Experiment answered that question in our recently released report, Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure. You can download and read the report here. Or you can get the Cliff Notes version in an op-ed in Thursday's Star Tribune by the report's co-author Stephen Hayward. Here's the gist of Hayward's overview. Minnesota has met its political mandate of supplying 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources, but the effects of this target are disappointing and worrisome...

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Pipeline Remains On Hold But Not Protesters

Construction on replacing Enbridge 3 with a far superior pipeline hasn't even gotten underway yet in Minnesota. In fact, the project hasn't even received regulatory approval from the state yet, thanks to stalling by the Dayton administration. But the Duluth News Tribune reports that hasn't stopped pipeline protesters from getting a head-start on their job anyway.   Three Duluth residents were cited for trespassing on Friday after occupying Enbridge's downtown office to demand that the company abandon its Line 3 replacement project. Donna Howard, Mark Daniel Hakes and Michele Naar-Obed delivered a letter to Paul Eberth, director for the project intended to replace the existing...

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