Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Kirsten Powers’ latest column is, being charitable, misguided:
Pope Francis will release a teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on Thursday that’s thought to be the first in the church’s history to focus on the environment. A leaked version of the document endorses the notion that human activity contributes to climate change and that this menace disproportionately harms the poor.
Many U.S. conservatives are not pleased, believing that that the Vatican is blindly bending to elite opinion and stepping out of its lane. Leave the climate change issue to the politicians, they argue. Some conservative Catholics have expressed concern to me that Pope Francis is pulling a “reverse Galileo” by endorsing science that could turn out to be wrong, thus harming the credibility of the Catholic Church.
Perhaps there should be more concern in the alternative. If the science is correct, then how would the church’s silence in obeisance to conservative climate skepticism enhance its credibility? After all, the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced in 2014 that the scientific consensus that “climate change is happening, and human activity is the cause” is as airtight as the “science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases.”
Climate change isn’t science. It’s conjecture built on models that don’t use accurate temperature data. The process itself is flawed, too. They don’t use the double blind procedure. That’s the gold standard in scientific testing because it ensures that the person who does the data analysis doesn’t do the data collection or inputting the data.
As for this consensus, it’s overrated when the scientists are corrupt. This is the Hockey Stick graph used in the IPCC’s report:
Here’s the modified hockey stick graph used in a later release of the IPCC report after scientists objected to the first Hockey Stick graph:
Those graphs don’t look like each other. At all. So much for consensus and the airtight nature of the science.
The Catholic Church’s credibility won’t crumble because of Pope Francis’ encyclical. Pope Francis’ credibility, though, is already struggling. Thus far, he seems more like a far left activist than a pontiff.
I’ve written before about Pope Francis’ trip into the world of climate change. When he was picked to be pontiff, he wasn’t picked to be a delegate to UN climate change events. That hasn’t stopped Francis from throwing the weight of his office behind his ultra-liberal causes:
Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.
Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.
I wasn’t aware that Pope Francis had gotten a doctorate in climate science. If he hasn’t gotten that type of degree, perhaps he should stick tradition papal responsibilities like preaching the Gospel and explaining who Jesus Christ is.
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment, which certainly pertain to Christian leaders, instructs those leaders to “preach the Gospel wherever you go” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s difficult to understand how writing encyclicals about climate change fits in God’s job description for Christian leaders.
“Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it,” he wrote in the draft. “Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity.”
Perhaps, this is Pope Francis’ attempt to be relevant beyond the church walls. Perhaps he’s just an attention-seeker. Perhaps it’s both. Either way, his upcoming encyclical is based on junk science.
This encyclical doesn’t meet the church’s definition for encyclicals:
From the nature of the case encyclicals addressed to the bishops of the world are generally concerned with matters which affect the welfare of the Church at large. They condemn some prevalent form of error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, exhort the faithful to constancy, or prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.
It’s difficult to see how this encyclical about climate change will highlight the “dangers which threaten [the] faith or morals” of the church or “exhort the faithful to constancy.” This encyclical seems more political than biblical.
It’s bad enough when politicians think that they’re scientists. It’s worse when pontiffs think they’re scientists.
A friend of mine sent me this table to illustrate how much environmentalists’ policies have hurt families in St. Louis County:
Terry used U.S. Census Bureau information to compare St. Louis County’s median household income with Minnesota’s median household income.
As you can see, Minnesota’s median household income for 2008-2012 was $59,126. The median household income for St. Louis County was $46,231 for the same time period. That doesn’t tell the entire story, though. Terry’s table does a better job of highlighting the differences.
Eveleth, which is part of the heart of the Iron Range, has a median household income of $35,500, which is $23,626 less than Minnesota’s median household income.
Not coincidentally, the Iron Range gets the most of the Metrocrat environmental activists’ attention. That’s because the activists’ highest priority is preventing mining. It isn’t coincidence that cities and counties that have the highest poverty rates and lowest incomes are the cities and counties that get most of the environmentalists’ attention.
There’s another worthwhile comparison to make, this time between Chisago County and International Falls. The median household income in Chisago County is $67,075. The median household income for International Falls is a paltry $30,094, a whopping difference of $36,981.
International Falls, where the MHI is $30,094, has been governed by Democrats since before I was born. FYI- I’ll turn 58 in July. Chisago County, where the MHI is $67,075, isn’t governed by liberals. Environmental activists haven’t paid much attention to Chisago County, either. Again, it isn’t coincidental that the income disparity is breathtaking between Chisago County and International Falls.
Chisago County has a diversified economy with relatively few environmental regulations. Environmental regulations heavily influence International Falls’ economy even though they aren’t technically part of the Iron Range. They’re affected by environmental regulations on the logging industry and because of their proximity to Superior National Forest, aka SNF, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, aka the BWCAW.
Organizations like Friends of the Boundary Waters, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, the Sierra Club and Conservation Minnesota have worked overtime to keep the Range’s economy from flourishing. They’ve done everything, including lying, to stop PolyMet from becoming reality.
These organizations didn’t hesitate in trying their time-tested method of fear-mongering, which Harlan Christensen exposed in this article. Here’s how he started his article:
“Minnesota and mining: Our children, our waters and wild rice are political pawns,” published April 15 by Ely resident C.A. Arneson, paints a frightening picture of political intrigue and dangers to our children and communities. With this masterpiece of environmental fear-mongering, Arneson reveals a disturbing problem with the environmental lobby in Minnesota.
Here’s how Mr. Christensen exposed the environmentalists’ fearmongering:
I will not argue Arneson’s contention of sulfide effects on wild rice and methyl mercury. What I will argue, however, are some key omissions.
Important MPCA evidence and other scientific studies offer evidence that rice beds and waters containing elevated levels of iron significantly reduce mercury methylation and make sulfide nontoxic to wild-rice seedlings. Iron makes the difference, and we are talking about the Iron Range, right?
Organizations like the Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and others know the mitigating effects iron has on wild rice seedlings. Mr. Christensen highlights things in this paragraph:
The March 2014 MPCA Wild Rice Sulfate Standard Study Preliminary Analysis revealed that iron presence in mud at levels greater than 1 milligram per liter causes sulfide to bond with the iron and renders it nontoxic to wild rice. Field testing revealed a whopping 8.0 to 84.6 mg/L of iron present in waters throughout the proposed future copper/nickel/PGM mining area in northeastern Minnesota.
This is proof that these environmental organizations are using any tactic to prevent PolyMet from happening. Gov. Dayton has said that he won’t take a position on the PolyMet project until all of the studies are done, which sounds reasonable…until people realize that a ton of verifiable, pertinent scientific information is already known.
Gov. Dayton’s position to not take a position isn’t based on a shortage of scientific information. Gov. Dayton’s position is based on his wanting to have it both ways politically.
This proves the age-old axiom that the DFL will always do the right thing…when it’s the only option left.
Technorati: Iron Range, Eveleth, St. Louis County, International Falls, Median Household Income, Federal Poverty Level, Chisago County, PolyMet Mining, Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota, Environmental Activists, Mark Dayton, Special Interests, DFL, Election 2014
Thanks to George Will’s response to Chris Wallace’s question about climate change, we have clarity on the issue:
Here’s a partial transcript of Brother Will’s response:
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: …I’m one of those who are called deniers. And the implication is that I deny climate change. It’s impossible to state with clearer precision the opposite of my view, which is that, of course the climate is changing. It’s always changing. That’s what gave us the medieval warm period. That’s what gave us, subsequent to that for centuries, the little Ice Age. Of course it’s changing. When a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science, says the debate is over, you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he’s losing it. So I think, frankly, as a policy question, Chris, Holman Jenkins, Kim’s colleague at the “Wall Street Journal” put it perfectly. The only questions is, how much money are we going to spend? How much wealth are we going to forego creating in order to have zero discernible effect on the environment?
There’s actually another question worth asking in light of President Obama’s recent golf outing in California:
Regulations for new coal plants would increase electricity prices by as much as 80 percent, an Obama administration official told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Julio Friedmann, deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the DEPArtment of Energy, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight board that carbon capture and storage technology was still not ready for prime time.
“The precise number will vary, but for first generation we project $70 to $90 per ton [on the wholesale price of electricity],” Friedmann said. “For second generation, it will be more like a $40 to $50 per ton price. Second generation of demonstrations will begin in a few years, but won’t be until middle of the next decade that we will have lessons learned and cost savings.”
This means that the CCS technology the administration is pushing for would increase electricity prices initially, but that prices would come down a bit once better technology is developed. But electricity prices would still be higher than they are now.
It’s disgusting that President Obama insists that he’s the champion of the middle class. The middle class will get hit hardest by this rate increase. While it isn’t technically a middle class tax increase, there’s no question that this is another Obama administration policy that hurts the middle class.
President Obama is the champion of the middle class the way Bonnie and Clyde were bank security advocates.
Technorati: Climate Change, President Obama, Cap And Trade, Medieval Warm Period, Climate Change Deniers, Middle Class Squeeze, Middle Class Tax Increase, Democrats, George Will, Chris Wallace, Fox News, Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal
This morning, I was interviewed by KSTP’s Tom Hauser. Before going further, I’ll just state that Hauser was polite and professional during the interview. Tonight, KSTP ran this story highlighting the virtually empty ISELF building. They also included this video of the segment:
Here’s how LFR was mentioned:
A conservative blogger and frequent critic of spending at SCSU says taxpayers are getting “ripped off” after spending $45 million from the 2011 bonding bill to pay for ISELF. Gary Gross, writing in his “Let Freedom Ring” blog, features pictures of many empty spaces in the building he says were taken by an unidentified professor who questions the building’s use. Gross blames university leaders “for selling legislators a grand vision that they didn’t think through.”
I’ve been a frequent critic of the University’s spending because they’ve made some questionable financial decisions. Further, I’d add that I’m not alone in this thinking.
Most importantly, I’m skeptical of the timeline for filling ISELF because SCSU is facing some significant budget cuts. At the most recent Meet & Confer meeting, the administration announced that they’re cutting their budget for this year “by $2.9 million.” That’s the minimum they’ll cut, however. It’ll be significantly higher that $2.9 million.
It’s important to remember that the administration virtually admitted that they don’t have the money to finish the Hockey Center renovation. It’s imperative to remember that it’ll literally cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars to properly equip ISELF. That’s before talking about how much money it’ll cost to install a topnotch security system. Without the right security, CEOs won’t have SCSU do their research. Speaking of which, some CEOs were interviewed for the article:
Ned Tabat, CEO of Semaphore Scientific, says his company is close to signing an agreement with the university. His business card already features the address of the ISELF building. “There are capabilities here for doing advance nano-fabrication which is the cornerstone of some of the devices we’re developing,” Tabat says. His company is also hiring interns from SCSU.
The CEO of another St. Cloud company, Brad Goskowicz of Microbiologics, says his company has been working with university professors and students for several years, even before ISELF. They’ll likely expand that relationship. “They have expertise in areas that we don’t have and that helps us grow a lot faster,” says Goskowicz.
Mr. Goskowicz just admitted that they were working with SCSU prior to the construction of ISELF, which raises the question of whether ISELF was needed. Would a less expensive option have been a better option?
Beyond what was in the interview, the administration hasn’t answered some troubling questions. First, during the video, they showed Dr. David DeGroote cutting the ribbon. He was relieved of his ISELF responsibilities in March, 2013. First, why was he removed from those responsibilities? Second, why did President Potter give him the prestigious responsibility of cutting the ribbon at their high-profile event?
It’s possible to properly equip ISELF while cutting the SCSU budget by $3,000,000-$5,000,000 this year. It just isn’t the wisest decision because it’d significantly hurt other departments. Robbing Peter to pay Paul might make Paul your ally but it comes with a steep price. In this instance, there’s reason to think Potter would have to rob Peter and Paul to pay to properly equip ISELF.
When Gov. Dayton signed the bonding bill that funded the building of the ISELF building, aka the Integrated Science & Engineering Laboratory Facility, on St. Cloud State’s campus, it was a big deal. Here’s the key part of the statement St. Cloud State issued about ISELF:
The 100,000 square-foot research and teaching facility will be built at 8th Street South and 2nd Avenue on the site of the 801 Building. Classrooms and labs are slated to serve mostly upper-level and graduate-level science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medical technology and radiology classes.
Research in ISELF will support Minnesota companies that are global leaders in medical devices, pharma/biologics, animal science, bio-agriculture and renewable energy. St. Cloud State faculty and students will be able to do more collaborative research with businesses and earn more National Science Foundation grants, said David DeGroote, dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
“ISELF is about putting people in the same physical space to interact and collaborate around projects that are cross-disciplinary,” DeGroote said. “That’s how work gets done in the real world.”
Dr. DeGroote was fired this winter and replaced by Dan Gregory, who is now the interim dean of the College of Science and Engineering, aka COSE. I guess that’s “what happens in the real world.”
Fast forward to today. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in mid-August. Here’s what Minnesotans got for their “$44.8 million dollars”:
That looks impressive. Let’s take a walk inside. What do we have here?
Wow. I wasn’t expecting a big, empty room. Surely, someone’s using the facility. Let’s check another room:
Another empty room. What’s with that? Maybe I’ll find people in a conference room:
Seriously, Minnesota taxpayers got ripped off. Spending $45,000,000 on an empty building is outrageous. I don’t fault the legislators who voted for ISELF. I fault President Potter and Dr. DeGroote for selling legislators a grand vision that they didn’t think through.
There’s little doubt that President Potter and Dr. DeGroote put together a dazzling presentation for the legislators. There’s no doubt that they didn’t do the work to turn their vision into a functioning facility. There weren’t any departments that moved into the building. It isn’t anticipated that any departments will move into the facility any time soon, either.
President Potter’s time as president is littered with the building of shiny new buildings. Five Alive, Coborn’s Plaza, ISELF, a major remodeling of the National Hockey Center and a new parking ramp at the north end of campus were built during President Potter’s time as president. Meanwhile, the school’s enrollment dropped dramatically. Finance directors have come and gone. St. Cloud State is losing between $1,125,000 and $1,500,000 a year on Coborn’s Plaza.
What has President Potter touched that hasn’t turned into lead?
UPDATE: I just looked at the scheduling webpage to see if ISELF was being utilized. According to the spreadsheet, the only room utilized in ISELF is Room 110. Also, a loyal reader of LFR sent this picture of the exterior of ISELF:
Obviously, the shiny exterior hides from the public the reality of an empty building.
UPDATE II: A commenter noted that the flier that St. Cloud State used to advertise the ribbon-cutting ceremony for ISELF was actually a picture of the National Hockey and Event Center. This picture shows the flier:
Clearly, the administration got this badly wrong.
Technorati: ISELF Building, Bonding Bill, Earl Potter, David DeGroote, College of Science and Engineering, Five Alive, National Hockey Center, Coborn’s Plaza, Parking Ramps, Enrollment Declines, National Science Foundation, St. Cloud State
When I read Anti-Energy Secretary Chu’s comments, it explained this administration’s energy policies. Here’s what Chu said back then:
In 2008, Chu had argued that raising gasoline prices, through taxes, would make solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies competitive with fossil fuels.
Doesn’t it sounds like Chu thinks “solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies” won’t be competitive without government interference? Doesn’t it sound like Chu thinks it’s ok for families to experience a significant increase in their cost of living? With campaign season upon us, though, Chu’s singing a different tune:
Energy Secretary Steven Chu reversed his stance on high gasoline prices, telling a Senate committee Tuesday, “Of course we don’t want the price of gasoline to go up. We want it to go down.”
If the election were behind us, Chu’s statement would change dramatically. It’s impossible to think that a true believer would abandon his beliefs. Here’s what Dr. Chu really thinks:
Also on Tuesday, Chu staunchly defended the Energy Department’s loan programs for alternative fuels, as he has since Fremont solar power firm Solyndra went bankrupt last year. He predicted that within 15 years, renewable energy will be able to compete with any new sources of traditional fossil fuels.
“There will come a day; I don’t know whether it’s in this decade or within a decade and a half, but it is not 30 years from today, renewable energy…will be the same as any new form of energy, it will be as competitive,” Chu said.
Dr. Chu is a former “UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel laureate”, which means he understands the difference between emotion-based opinions and scientifically proven facts. It’s impossible for Chu, or anyone else for that matter, to know whether alternative energy will be competitive. It’s possible for Chu to speculate but it’s impossible to know.
In Dr. Chu’s own words, he admitted that alternatives would never be as inexpensive as fossil fuels without direct government interference through excessive taxation or draconian restrictions on drilling. Without that type of intervention, fossil fuels will remain the cheaper alternative, with the exception of nuclear power.
While Dr. Chu says he’d like for gas prices to drop, industry experts don’t see that happening:
As an energy analyst acknowledged by top manufacturers, distributors and end users in the vast and fast-growing U.S. fossil fuel and renewable energy industry, I dispute the conclusions conveyed in the article that suggested the $5 cost per gallon of gas at the pump is fading as a nationwide probability.
My contrary contention, backed by former CEO of Shell Oil John Hofmeister, is not only due to the geopolitical threats posed by Iran, but also the turmoil in Syria, and the loss of production from Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Nigeria, all of which are experiencing oil production threatening internal problems.
In other words, thanks to Dr. Chu’s anti-drilling policies and President Obama’s decision to halt the Keystone XL Pipeline project, Americans will face difficult situations this summer.
President Obama’s and Dr. Chu’s sunny talk are worthless. Their actions say everything that needs to be said.
Earlier this am, I wrote that Mitt’s tax policies sound like liberal social engineering:
At a town hall in Iowa Thursday, Mr. Romney took it further: “For me, one of the key criteria in looking at tax policy is to make sure that we help the people that need the help the most.”
A few minutes ago, I read Jim Hoft’s post highlighting President Obama’s debate quote with ABC’s Charlie Gibson. Here’s the video Jim posted:
ABC ANCHOR CHARLIE GIBSON: You have said, however, that you’d favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, which was 28%.”
It’s now 15%, which is almost doubling if you went to 28% but actually, Bill Clinton in 1997 signed legislation that dropped the capital gains rate to 20% and George Bush has taken it down to 15% and in each instance, when the rate dropped, the revenues from the tax increased.
The government took in more money, and in the 1980’s, when the tax rate was increased to 28%, revenues decreased. So why raise it all, especially given that 100,000,000 people in this country own stock and would be affected”?
SEN. OBAMA: Well Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
With Mitt and with President Obama, it’s apparent that the tax code is a tool in their social engineering toolbox. That’s intellectually disgraceful. It’s shoddy tax policy, too. Mitt’s statement isn’t what the GOP presidential nominee should say. It’s the type of thing that TEA Party activists and GOP primary voters should reject with a whithering wave of criticism.
People are discovering that Mitt’s political armor is riddled with holes. With each discovery, they’re realizing that he isn’t the real deal. They’re realizing that he should be trusted as much as the ministers of junk science. Mitt’s as trustworthy on tax policy as people like John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich are on climate change and population control.
According to this NBC article, Chris Christie will endorse Mitt Romney:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will make a surprise appearance Tuesday to endorse Mitt Romney for president, a week after Christie said he had decided not to run.
Christie is planning a joint press conference with the former Massachusetts governor at 3 p.m. in New Hampshire, NBC News has learned.
This isn’t a surprise, especially considering the fact that Mitt and Christie agree with the global warming junk science:
Says Christie: “I’m certainly not a scientist, which is the first problem. So I can’t claim to fully understand all of this, certainly not after just a few months of study. But when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts.”
There are many attributes and characteristics I like about Chris Christie. Chief among them is his willingness to fight the media and the unions.
I wasn’t clamoring for Christie to jump in and be the Republicans’ savior. Christie’s endorsement won’t change the fact that Mitt’s a liberal who’s attempted to create a conservative image for himself by repackaging himself more times than people should be asked to count.
Mitt’s still a phony. Despite his protestations, Mitt’s still a believer in socialized medicine.
What this genuinely changes is today’s news coverage. People like Sean Hannity and other members of the Shiny Object Media will latch onto this story and tout this as a prized get.
They’re right. To the media, Gov. Christie is a prized get.
After that, though, it all comes down to whether Mitt’s policies will be appreciably better than President Obama’s. It’s a given that his policies will be better than President Obama’s because President Obama’s policies have stunk. It doesn’t take alot to clear that benchmark.
The question that the GOP establishment doesn’t want to ask is whether Gov. Christie’s endorsement means that Mitt Romney’s finally committed to fighting for conservative principles. If Mitt isn’t, which I suspect he isn’t, then the economy will likely marginally improve but the debt crisis likely won’t improve by an appreciable amount.
Endorsements are certainly a significant part of the election process.That can’t be argued. That said, they can’t change the underlying truth of who the candidate is.
If Mitt got the endorsement of every Republican governor and senator, it still wouldn’t change the fact that Mitt’s a liberal with a troubling history of flip-flopping after supporting liberal policies.
Earlier this week, the St. Cloud Times ran this article outlining Sen. John Pederson’s recommendations regarding environmental rulemaking and other common sense sugggestions. Here’s the heart of Sen. Pederson’s recommendations:
Pederson’s proposed water-rule moratorium may have garnered the most criticism of his contributions to the bill.
Rebecca Flood, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, has said it could prevent the agency from completing water-rule revisions in which it already has invested considerable time and resources.
Since he introduced the moratorium as a stand-alone bill, Pederson said exemptions have been added to the moratorium provision in the omnibus bill, which aim to address those concerns.
But its purpose remains the same: to keep water rules static while the state studies all its agencies that regulate water. The point of such a study, Pederson has said, would be to lay groundwork for consolidating environmental agencies.
Dan Fabian’s HF1 legislation was signed into law. HF1 streamlines the permitting process and necessarily opens the door for regulatory reviews. Sen. Pederson’s bill simply says that, with the exception of the MPCA completing their water rule revisions, regulators shouldn’t start with new regulations until the 5 agencies iron out the overlap.
Naturally, environmental extremists oppose Sen. Pederson’s provisions because it would prevent them from getting their wish list enacted:
The bill has caught the eye of environmental groups, who worry that it’s part of an effort by Republicans, who gained control of the Legislature in the last election, to roll back protections for Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and forests.
Steve Morse, president of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, says proposals like Pederson’s are on the vanguard of that rollback.
“Some people feel it’s open season on protection of our great outdoors,” Morse said.
What a drama queen. You’d think that Sen. Pederson had just introduced legislation that would repeal the Clean Water Act and called for total deregulation of the environment. That isn’t what Sen. Pederson is doing.
Because of Morse’s comments, I called Sen. Pederson. Sen. Pederson said he’s asking the Department of Administration to sit down with the five agencies to eliminate the overlap in responsibilities, inspections and to reivew the permitting fees. The five agencies that deal with water regulation are the DNR, the MPCA, the Department of Soil and Water, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health.
I’d question Mr. Morse’s objectivity after saying that “Some people feel it’s open season on protection of our great outdoors.” If all they’re doing is eliminating bureaucratic overlap in the permitting process, what’s the basis for Morse’s grandstanding statement?
Sen. Pederson specifically cited the fact that rulemaking that’s already underway is exempted from the moratorium. The moratorium only affects the making of new rules.
“Most people agree: We have all these agencies dealing with water. There’s a significant amount of overlap,” Pederson said.
Not everyone agrees. Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, called Pederson’s proposal “ill-advised” in a recent news release.
That provision and the Lake Pepin provision, Higgins wrote, “take a wild swing at improving the state’s permitting process by undermining…rules created to protect one of Minnesota’s greatest resources.”
I’ve known Sen. Pederson for a couple years. Saying that he’s taking a wild swing at anything is hyperbole Al Gore, Howard Dean or Alan Grayson would be proud of. Sen. Higgins’ comments are questionable considering this information:
Pederson’s proposal would shape rules now being drafted by the MPCA to regulate phosphorus levels in Lake Pepin, by requiring state officials to back rules that focus on the lake’s phosphorus levels during warm-weather months only.
Pederson says he proposed the measure after meeting with St. Cloud city officials.
The city’s Public Utilities Director, Pat Shea, oversees St. Cloud’s wastewater facility. Shea says some have proposed phosphorus standards for Lake Pepin that could require St. Cloud, and other cities with wastewater plants that empty into the Mississippi River, to treat their wastewater for phosphorus year-round, instead of only during warm months.
Terry Stone is a policy analyst based in Northern Minnesota. I wrote him for his opinion on this matter. Here’s his response:
Pederson could not be more correct in his environmental initiatives. Lake Pepin is in Minnesota and directly within the purview of Senator Pederson. Senators are elected to perform a legislative function for Minnesota. Pederson was not elected to legislate for District 15; he serves the people of Minnesota and represents the people of Senate 15 in doing so. His interest in Lake Pepin is most appropriate.
The issue here is eutrophication of the 40 mi. lake with an average 18-foot depth. Agricultural activity puts phosphates into the lake. Agricultural activity is seasonal in Minnesota, so phosphate levels affecting eutrophication is seasonal.
Stone further replies:
An intentionally well-kept secret is that watersheds including river protuberances like Lake Pepin receive a wholesale flush and cleansing with each spring run-off.
Finally, he included this information:
Some years back, a continuous source of phosphates in wastewater was laundry detergent. Phosphates were banned in the U.S. in 1993 and the European Union in 2004. The banning of dish soap phosphates is being done locally with a national ban all but certain. Detergents now make wide use of zeolites that does not contribute to eutrophication.
Based on this information, I’d argue that Mr. Morse’s inference that the GOP legislature is interested in declaring an open season on the environment is intentional mischaracterization. I’m not basing that on my expertise in this matter because I’m not an expert. I’m basing that opinion on this statement:
An MPCA scientist who’s helping draft the Lake Pepin rules, Steve Heiskary, said he expects Pederson’s provision would have no impact on the agency’s plan for protecting the lake.
Morse says that “legislators should let scientific experts working in state agencies handle the details of environmental policy.” I couldn’t agree more.
It’s important that Morse get out of the way and let Mr. Heiskary handle the details of environmental policy.
Technorati: John Pederson, Regulations, Watersheds, Mississippi River, MPCA, DNR, Permitting, Moratorium, Phosphates, Lake Pepin, Reforms, MNGOP, Linda Higgins, Steve Morse, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Status Quo, Environment, DFL