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“Free” Solar Subsidy Comes Back to Bite Maplewood

Maplewood city officials hit the solar power jack pot back in 2010. After all, the solar panels installed on the community center roof were paid for with "free" money--a massive $310,000 subsidy from taxpayers and Xcel ratepayers. “It seems silly not to take advantage of it,” Maplewood Mayor Will Rossbach said when the City Council approved the project in December 2010. “I think that’s certainly a risk worth taking.” In fact, there was no risk for the St. Paul suburb to take. An American Experiment analysis of the ill-conceived green boondoggle in November put it this way. Under the best case scenario, it would have...

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MN Wind Turbines Shut Down Over Safety Concerns From Ice [UPDATED]

Wind turbines at a Freeborn County wind farm were shut down this week, due to safety concerns.  A longtime American Experiment source got wind of an incident on Thursday involving a livestock truck that was struck by "ice throw" that may have come from a wind turbine at Bent Tree Wind Farm. I got a call that a semi-truck had been damaged by ice throw from a wind turbine on Highway 13, south of Hartland.  Law enforcement was on the scene. The truck was southbound and the ice hit the driver’s side, so I guess that means it had to come from...

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Blaine Homeowners Reject Nation’s “First Certified Green Neighborhood”

Solar power farms generally get built in rural areas, due to aesthetic and property value considerations. So Blaine residents were caught off guard last fall when Connexus Energy and city planners hyped a huge solar installation proposed next to their suburban subdivision as “the country’s first certified green neighborhood.” “If the project proceeds, the entire Sanctuary neighborhood will be powered by clean, renewable solar energy. That will be a first!” Connexus Energy Vice President Brian Burandt said in a November 30 letter to residents. “How will this benefit you? Your home will be served by 100 percent green energy for 25...

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Just Say No: Increase in Gas Tax Would Fuel More Congestion, Reward Bad Policy

The Center joined a national coalition of policy organizations in the letter below which will be sent to Congress next week. Given the terrible congestion in the metro area, and the pot holes in our roads, some might argue that raising the gas tax is a good idea. The problem is the policies that gave us terrible congestion would not change with more gas tax money; more gas tax money would just “fuel” those bad policies. ...

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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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