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Who would’ve thought that the Trump/GOP tax cuts would lead to cheaper electric bills? That’s what’s happening, though. While Democrats insist that these benefits helping the middle class are just PR stunts, the middle class’s reply is that they’re fine with PR stunts that save them money. BTW, the PR stunt line is the Democrats latest talking point to deflect criticism away from the fact that Democrats unanimously voted against the Trump/GOP tax cuts that are benefitting literally hundreds of thousands of people. They’re benefitting either through pay raises, bonuses, bigger employer contributions to the employees’ 401(k)s or, now, through cheaper utility bills.

The most dramatic news on the utilities front comes out of South Carolina, where a “$7.9 billion deal between utility companies Dominion Energy and Scana includes an unusual term loosely related to the tax bill that passed Congress at the end of 2017. All residential customers of Scana’s South Carolina Electric & Gas utility will get an average cash payment of $1,000 within 90 days of the deal being completed, the companies said in a statement. … Scana and Dominion are one of the first companies to explicitly say they will give their customers a credit as a result of the tax bill.”

In Illinois, “ComEd is filing a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) seeking approval to pass along approximately $200 million in tax savings to its customers in 2018. If approved by the ICC, the average ComEd residential customer can expect to see an estimated $2-$3 decrease on their monthly bill related to the tax reduction.” (ComEd, 1/5/2018)

“Pepco today announced they will file with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia in early February, outlining plans to provide annual tax savings to more than 296,000 electric customers in the District of Columbia. If approved, Pepco would plan to begin providing a credit lowering customer bills starting in the first quarter of 2018. … ‘The tax law will result in lower bills for our customers and lower taxes for Pepco,’ said Dave Velazquez, President and CEO, Pepco Holdings, which includes Pepco. ‘We are pleased to provide these savings to our customers, while at the same time ensuring we are making prudent investments in the local power grid to maintain the safe, reliable, and affordable service our customers have come to expect.'” (Pepco, Press Release, 1/5/2018)

The point is that the middle class is definitely benefitting from the Trump/GOP tax cuts. That’s indisputable.

What’s important is for the American people to notice that Democrats made a political decision when Democrats, in the House and Senate, voted unanimously against the Trump/GOP tax cuts. Democrats from swing districts in America’s heartland didn’t listen to their constituents. Instead, those Democrats listened to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Speaking of Ms. Pelosi, watch this video, then determine whether she’s just plain wrong or whether she’s intentionally lying:

Ms. Pelosi insisted that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was “a bill that rewards corporations shipping jobs overseas.” Then Ms. Pelosi asked if there was justice in shipping jobs overseas. What the hell is she babbling about? Which corporations have announced that they’re moving their companies overseas since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law?

At some point, someone’s got to tell her that she’s either got a warped imagination or she’s liar without a conscience. There’s nothing resembling the truth about her speech. Nothing.

This past fall, I wrote a ton of articles about the importance of building or replacing the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. I wish I’d had this information when I wrote those articles.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been good friends with Terry Stone for quite some time. He’s a top researcher and writer. When it comes to energy and transportation issues, Terry’s on a par with Mike Beard and other expert former legislators. Simply put, when Terry talks about transportation or energy, I listen.

One of the first things that caught my attention was when Terry wrote “Moving oil by train can have consequences to human life that are almost never seen in pipelines. A 2013 crash of 72 oil cars in Quebec left 47 dead.
Moving oil by barge or tanker ship can be costly to clean up if something goes wrong and is environmentally unattractive. The total cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ended up costing $630 per gallon. The average cost of an oil-spill cleanup in the U.S. is $18.11 per gallon. Pipeline spills cost even less because they are not typically driven miles by wind, and they don’t kill clusters of riparian marine life. Pipeline leaks are small, fast to find, and seldom involve a risk to human life.”

Here’s a question for the environmentalists that sit on the board of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that they won’t like: why are you opposed to efficiently transporting oil from the well to the refinery? Anything other than ratifying the Line 3 replacement is unacceptable. We don’t need to figure out whether the additional crude oil is needed. It is, especially with a growing economy. These statistics definitely caught my attention:

We have been hearing a lot about oil-train derailments, crashes, and fires since 2013. This is because from 2009 to 2012 the volume of oil shipped by rail increased from 11,000 to 230,000 railcars — up 2,200 percent. According to Forbes, more crude was spilled from rail cars in 2013 than in all the 37 previous years combined.

That’s astonishing. What’s the environmentalists’ argument for saying no to replacing the Line 3 pipeline? It certainly can’t be to protect the environment. That ‘ship’ sailed with these statistics. These statistics, too:

According to Enbridge, the replaced pipeline will be able to take 10,000 rail cars off the tracks or 24,000 tanker trucks off the highways — daily. Enbridge is a bit generous with its figures. Actually, since both the trains of railcars and the trucks hauling oil need to drive back across the country empty, burning diesel, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project would equal a total of 20,000 rail cars off the road daily or 48,000 tanker trucks daily. That should sound like Christmas every day to every environmentalist.

Do environmentalists think that we’ll replace fossil fuels sometime soon? If they’re thinking that, they’d better find better researchers. Further, with technology improving virtually monthly, there’s no reason to think that fossil fuels won’t become cleaner, more efficient and more reliable.

We won’t stop using fossil fuels anytime soon so the environmentalists should just deal with that fact. Next, the environmentalists should accept the fact that pipelines will be a necessity for at least the next 20-30 years. Hating fossil fuels won’t make the pipelines disappear. It’s time to put an end to this stupidity:

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Yessirree Bob, the middle class is taking it in the shorts once again, thanks to evil corporations getting yuuge profits, then spreading it between the rich fat-cat shareholders. Those Democrats were right. The Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is making the rich richer while the middle class and working poor get shafted. This article verifies as Gospel fact that those evil corporations only look out for themselves.

The article starts by saying “Federal tax reform benefits big corporations. Allete, the parent company of Minnesota Power, is among Duluth’s biggest corporations. So will those tax reform benefits be passed on to Minnesota Power customers? It looks like it. [Ed. note: How can that be?] ‘The new lower tax rate will be built into our rates, and the savings will be passed through to our customers based on methodology determined by the (Minnesota Public Utilities Commission),’ Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge wrote in an email Wednesday.”

That can’t be. Just watch the opening of this video:

“Treats for the rich. Tricks on the middle class”, exclaimed a visibly frustrated Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi chimed in “Devastating and, in my view, immoral budget to fast track their immoral tax plan to hand trillions to the wealthy while raising taxes on the middle class.”

If I was in the middle class, I’d be worried based on those statements. Unfortunately for Democrats, those evil corporations apparently didn’t get the Democrats’ talking points. Either that or they’ve pitched them into the nearest circular file.

In its investor presentation released before tax reform was finalized this month, Allete wrote: “We expect that our nonregulated businesses would benefit from lower corporate tax rates,” and that “items could have offsetting impacts to both customer rates and earnings.”

If people needed proof that Democrats aren’t Nostradamus with their predictions, they just need to read this article. The Democrats’ predictions aren’t that accurate. They should stay out of the predictions business.

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It’s pretty apparent that David Frum’s TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) symptoms are showing. His article, titled “Conservatism Can’t Survive Donald Trump Intact,” is mostly a defense of Jennifer Rubin’s intellectually dishonest criticisms of Republicans. Still, with a title like that, it’s important to demolish the premise that Donald Trump is leaving the GOP in tatters.

It’s important to rattle through the lengthy list of positive accomplishments that President Trump, with the help of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, has helped turn into a reality. Prior to passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed was the signature accomplishment. Having him sit on the Supreme Court for the next 25 years is a major accomplishment by itself. One of the things that hasn’t gotten much attention but that’s playing a major part in the Trump Boom is eliminating tons of counterproductive regulations by using the Congressional Review Act. On a slightly different front, President Trump has reigned in presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act by shrinking a bunch of national monuments, thereby returning tons of acreage to local control.

Passing tax cuts and getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed would be a pretty nice year if he got nothing else accomplished. The good news is that President Trump has gotten lots of other important things accomplished. Again, thanks to Mitch McConnell’s and Chuck Grassley’s efforts, 12 “fully qualified” conservative appellate court judges got confirmed in President Trump’s first year.

The Wall Street Journal gets it right in this article:

President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, who opened their first year in full control of Washington on rocky terms, are closing it with a flush of late legislative achievements: a sweeping tax overhaul, a long-sought repeal of a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a surprise deal to open up Arctic drilling.

I’ve repeatedly said that the economy is finally growing at a robust pace. Consumer confidence is soaring. Unemployment is at a 17-year low and it’s about to get lower. GDP is expected to grow at 4% or higher during Q4 of 2017.

For years, the goal was for the United States to become energy independent. Thanks to rolling back a ton of Obama-era environmental regulations through the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. isn’t just energy independent. We’re on the verge of becoming energy dominant.

For years, Republicans have talked about energy independence, cutting taxes, confirming the next generation of conservative judges and getting the economy hitting on all cylinders. President Trump and Sen. McConnell worked together to get the judges approved. Then Sen. McConnell and Speaker Ryan worked with President Trump to cut taxes, get the economy humming and delivering on energy dominance.

To this conservative, I’m better than ok with that checklist of accomplishments. The start was bumpy but the finish of President Trump’s first year is pretty smooth.

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Last week, Gov. Dayton announced that he’s finally supporting the PolyMet precious metals project. In this post, I wrote “Why should Rangers tolerate a regulatory system that’s this convoluted? How many studies are enough? How many hearings need to be held? Chip Cravaack tried getting this pushed through when he was in office. He was elected in 2010, the same election that gave us Gov. Dayton. It’s clear that Gov. Dayton hasn’t jettisoned the environmentalists. He’s still siding with the environmentalists on Twin Metals and the Line 3 Pipeline project.”

Speaking of the Line 3 Pipeline project, Rep. Matt Grossell, Rep. Sandy Layman, Rep. Matt Bliss, Rep. Dale Lueck, Rep. Debra Kiel, Sen. Justin Eichorn and Sen. Paul Utke wrote a letter to Gov. Dayton. Their letter’s opening paragraph says “The proposed Line 3 Replacement Project (L3R) is a vital energy infrastructure project for Minnesota and the region that will generate more than $3 billion in private investment. It will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs and provide millions in much-needed tax revenue to local governments in our districts and our region.” Follow this link to read the entire letter.

It isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton will back off. His Commerce Department testified that (a) the L3R isn’t required and (b) the existing pipeline should be shut down. That’s the public part of Gov. Dayton’s policy. That doesn’t mean, though, that he doesn’t see the political difficulties and complexities this might cause the DFL.

Yesterday on @Issue with Tom Hauser, former DFL Chair Brian Melendez said that Gov. Dayton allegedly told environmentalists ‘Good luck with the Republican governor in 2019′, implying that the environmental activists’ demands will hurt the DFL in 2018.

This video is part of the reason why Gov. Dayton won’t abandon environmental activists:

The truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL aren’t consistent with their beliefs. First, they’re constantly talking about the importance of infrastructure projects. When this infrastructure project was proposed, though, they ran from it like it was toxic waste. Finally, the DFL is constantly pushing bonding bills as their annual “jobs bill”. This pipeline project is the size of three bonding bills.

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After last week’s fiasco in Duluth, in which protestors shut down public testimony on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline project, St. Cloud officials exercised caution for Thursday’s planned testimony for the Public Utilities Commission. In the end, Mayor Kleis opted to not hold the hearing. That means the anti-pipeline protestors have won a victory just by threatening a hearing.

St. Cloud Mayor Kleis explained his thinking for shutting down the event, saying “Based on the size of the event and some of the challenges at previous meetings, there’s a cost. The costs have to be met and a plan needs to be in place that meets the public safety needs based on the assessment that our police give us. For Thursday night, based on the crowd (expected) and other use of the facility, the venue would be problematic unless they can meet those demands. It’s their choice to make, but we need to make sure the public and taxpayers are safe.”

Minnesota Petroleum Council Executive Director Erin Roth issued a statement Wednesday night, saying “There’s no doubt that today’s decision to cancel the public meeting on Line 3 is disappointing. What’s worse is that communities are put in this position by highly coordinated protest activities that actively obstruct civil discourse, stifle free speech, and disrespect those in attendance who are there to respectfully voice their opinion. Minnesotans deserve an open and transparent process that examines this important infrastructure project and the benefits that would come from it.”

Last week, anti-pipeline thugs stopped a public hearing in Duluth’s Entertainment & Convention Center, aka the DECC. (I wrote about that event here.) These thugs’ intent is to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. This paragraph sums everything up perfectly:

Proponents say the line is an essential piece of infrastructure for petroleum shippers and refineries in the region. Opponents say the pipeline won’t benefit Minnesota, and that it threatens Minnesota’s watershed and the Mississippi River headwaters.

I’ve heard the environmental terrorists’ predictions for 40+ years. They’ve been off by incredible amounts each time they’ve made a prediction. When the Sierra Club opposed the Alaskan Pipeline, the Sierra Club said that North Slope and Prudhoe Bay would pump oil for 4-5 years. The pipeline opened in 1977. It’s still transporting oil in 2017.

Here’s what the approval process has looked like for Enbridge:

Everything is wrong with that picture.

One of the things that I can’t shake in reading this article is whether the Public Utilities Commission will destroy the DFL for the 2018 election. Bear with me while I make the case for why I think it hurts the DFL.

Right now, the Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings on whether to approve the replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline. The reason why this is potentially devastating is because “the state Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide whether to approve the Line 3 project next spring.” The only thing that might derail the building of the replacement pipeline is the Dayton administration. If this pipeline isn’t built soon, farmers, construction workers and small towns will be upset with the Dayton administration.

Farmers will be especially upset because rejecting this pipeline project will trigger more oil to be transported via oil trains. That limits rail capacity for getting farmers’ crops to market. Whoever the DFL candidate for governor is, they’ll be pressed on whether they’ll support building the pipeline. Anything except enthusiastically supporting the building of the pipeline will be greeted with anger by rural Minnesota.

That, in turn, will spike turnout in rural Minnesota because they can’t afford to have environmental do-gooders destroying farmers’ operations. Based on the information on the PUC’s commissioners page, it’s virtually certain that the PUC will vote against replacing the pipeline. Three of the commissioners are DFL environmental activists. The lone Republican is a former DFL politician who worked as a lobbyist for Conservation Minnesota.

Republican gubernatorial candidates should lay this situation out in rural Minnesota. When they’re campaigning, they should ask farmers if they can afford 4 more years of DFL environmental policies. I’m betting the response will be an overwhelming no!

Look at the results from rural Minnesota the last 2 elections. In 2014, Minnesota Republicans rode a wave from rural Minnesota to recapture the Minnesota House. In 2016, Minnesota Republicans rode anti-DFL sentiment in rural Minnesota to flip the Minnesota Senate.

As I wrote at the time, many of those races were blowouts. In northern Minnesota, Paul Utke defeated DFL Sen. Rod Skoe by a 57%-43% margin. Many of the races weren’t particularly close, in fact. I’d recommend GOP gubernatorial candidates highlight this graphic when campaigning in rural Minnesota:

That graphic will get everyone’s attention because it’s a display of how dysfunctional Minnesota’s permitting process is under DFL control. That won’t get better if Erin Murphy, Tim Walz or Paul Thissen gets elected governor.

When the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department testified that there wasn’t a need to replace the Line 3 Pipeline, we knew they weren’t being totally honest. This week, Enbridge fired back, saying in their official statement “The suggestion that Line 3 can be shut down without any impact on Minnesota is simply not true. Apportionment and property tax reductions would have an immediate effect on Minnesota. Reduced pipeline capacity would increase rail shipments, with as many as 32 additional mile-long trains every day crossing Minnesota. Additional rail facilities would also be required for refineries to utilize rail shipments. The impact on Minnesota’s agricultural economy would be costly and disruptive as evidenced by the agricultural commerce curtailed in 2013-2014 due to increased crude by rail movements.”

The Dayton-DFL-Rothman Commerce Department insisted that “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”

Later, in its testimony, Enbridge replied “Contrary to the DOC testimony, the Enbridge system, which includes Line 3, is currently full and in apportionment. This means demand for capacity exceeds what’s available, and refineries in Minnesota and the Midwest cannot obtain all the crude supply they request. When refiners can’t get the supply they need, they are either forced to produce less or source it through other more costly modes of transportation, like rail, which drives up costs and impacts their competitiveness. Line 3 will ensure an adequate supply for refiners and enable them to continue to provide the energy Minnesotans need.”

In other words, Enbridge’s statement all but officially accuses the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department of telling whoppers. This graphic speaks volumes:

“Denial of the Line 3 replacement program does not change the supply of crude oil in Canada or anywhere else … or demand for crude oil in the Minnesota or in the U.S.,” said Neil Earnest, president of energy market consultants Muse, Stancil & Co. “What it does do is shift it off pipelines and onto rail.'” The demand for Canadian crude oil is there, officials reasoned, and supply is only growing.

The indisputable truth is that demand for oil won’t decrease anytime soon. Whenever environmental activists predict something, it’s best to figure that it’s wildly inaccurate. The first time I heard an environmental activist predict something was about the Alaskan Pipeline in the mid-1970s. The president of the Sierra Club argued against its construction, saying that it would disrupt “the migration pattern of the Barrows Caribou. And for what? Maybe 4-5 years worth of oil?” That pipeline opened in the late 1970s. It’s still transporting oil 40 years later.

Enbridge is right to fight the Dayton administration’s environmental activists because their predictions are frequently wrong.

This LTE might be the most informative LTE written on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline I’ve seen.

It’s the first place I’ve read that “Some opponents of the project are concerned that pipelines pose a risk to the waters of Minnesota due to a leak. Any method of transporting crude oil (pipeline, rail, or truck) has a risk of a leak or spill. To transport the equivalent amount of crude oil on Line 3 will require either 10,000 rail cars/day or 24,000 tanker trucks/day.”

The Gov. Dayton/Commissioner Rothman Commerce Department testified that the existing pipeline should be shut down in addition to not building the new pipeline. Obviously, the pipeline will get built. The only question is whether it’ll get built in Minnesota or through another state. Metaphorically speaking, that ship’s already sailed. The question facing environmental activists is whether they want oil trains endangering cities multiple times a day or whether they want semis clogging highways.

What other LTE or Our View editorial has laid things out this succinctly? I’ll tell you how many. Since getting back into blogging last May, I’ve searched virtually daily for articles on this subject. The answer is exactly 0. Here’s another interesting, important, piece of information in making this decision:

The project will be constructed with modern high-grade steel pipe and use construction techniques that minimize the impact to the environment. In environmentally sensitive areas, Enbridge utilizes Horizontal Directional Drilling, which places the pipe deep below the environmentally sensitive area and utilizes double thickness pipe-wall.

TRANSLATION: It’s the safest way of getting oil from Alberta to Superior, WI. Enbridge wouldn’t have gotten a permit for the first pipeline if it hadn’t met Minnesota’s strict environmental standards.

Think of it this way. If Enbridge hadn’t done things right the past 20+ years, the Public Utilities Commission would’ve shit-canned this project in a heartbeat. This graphic shows how many hoops Enbridge, or any pipeline project, would have to jump through for permitting approval:

Think of each of those dots as another delay that environmental activists exploit. The simplest question to ask is whether Minnesota wants a petroleum-free state that relies heavily on transit? I’m betting that transit is totally impractical for most of Minnesota, especially in rural Minnesota. BTW, did you know that “Enbridge provides over 80 percent of the crude oil to the two refineries in Minnesota and one in Superior Wisconsin”? Did you know that “these refineries provide fuel for the agricultural, forest products, shipping, and mining industries, not to mention the majority of the fuel used for transportation in the state of Minnesota”?

Frankly, the testimony given by the Commerce Department to the Public Utilities Commission is dishonest. Whoever prepared the Commerce Department’s testimony should be prosecuted for perjury. Saying that the Line 3 Pipeline isn’t needed is like saying that highways aren’t needed to get people and products from one part of Minnesota to another part of Minnesota.

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Citing research into sage grouse habitat, the Bureau of Land Management “canceled its Sagebrush Focal Area withdrawal application and the Department’s proposed withdrawal of 10 million acres of federal lands from location and entry under the mining law in Greater Sage-grouse habitat in six Western States.”

Acting BLM Director Mike Nedd said “The proposal to withdraw 10 million acres to prevent 10,000 from potential mineral development was a complete overreach. Secretary Zinke has said from the beginning that by working closely with the states, who are on the front lines and a valued partner in protecting the health of these lands, we can be successful in conserving greater sage grouse habitat without stifling economic development and job growth. And that’s what we intend to do—protect important habitat while also being a good neighbor to states and local communities.”

According to the BLM’s statement, “The BLM determined the proposal to withdraw 10 million acres was unreasonable in light of the data that showed that mining affected less than .1 percent of sage-grouse-occupied range.” The statement included this paragraph:

The recommendation to withdraw nearly 10 million acres from location and entry under the mining law was one of many land use restrictions proposed for a new management area designated as the Sagebrush Focal Area (SFA). However, that recommendation was unreasonable in light of the data available. In particular, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2005 “Not Warranted” decision, the 2010 “Warranted But Precluded” Decision and the 2015 “Not Warranted” decision all showed that mining—including locatable mining—was not a significant threat to sage-grouse.

The lands will continue to be managed in accordance with existing plans, programs, policies and regulations in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. They had been temporarily segregated, or closed to new mining claims for 2 years when the Department originally proposed the lands for withdrawal in 2015, while the agency studied whether locatable mineral exploration and mining projects would adversely affect habitat important to the greater sage grouse. That temporary segregation period expired September 24, 2017.

During the Obama administration, the Bureau of Land Management antagonized mining companies during its war on fossil fuels.

This article explains the BLM’s original intent:

The Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of the Interior, was established in 1946 to administer grazing and mineral rights when the U.S. Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office. Today it manages 246 million acres of land, mostly in the Western U.S., ranging from lush Northwestern forests to arid, oil-rich sage grouse habitat. The BLM leases federal public lands for mineral mining, oil and gas extraction, grazing, timber production and solar and wind energy development. In 2016, the agency had a budget of $1.2 billion and about 11,000 employees, including 200 rangers and 70 special agents who enforce federal laws on public lands, plus about 25,000 volunteers.

The Trump administration has taken a different approach:

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any federal agency. This land is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.

The Obama administration’s days of mismanagement of federal lands are over. Thanks to the Trump administration’s approach, the United States has become a net exporter of fossil fuels. That approach has also super-charged that portion of the economy.

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