Archive for December, 2010

This morning, Gov.-Elect Dayton picked Paul Aasen to be the commissioner of the MPCA. Already, it’s being viewed as a controversial pick:

Rumors of the Aasen pick have already generated some blowback from Republican activists and bloggers, who imagine that the former enviro lobbyist will try to derail GOP plans to cut regulations and to ensure a green light for non-ferrous metals mining in northern Minnesota. Aasen was already a marked man in those circles for supporting cap-and-trade.

I’m not opposing Mr. Aasen because he’s a ‘green advocate’. I’m opposing him because he’s an extremist who’s had a hand in killing lots of jobs in Minnesota. Dayton’s press release on Aasen is particularly troubling. For instance, this part of the statement isn’t credible:

“Mr. Aasen has assured me of his commitment to enforcing Minnesota’s environmental laws, as they are written, impartially and efficiently,” said Governor-elect Dayton. “He shares my view that the agency’s mission, and I believe its name, should be changed from “Pollution Control” to ‘Pollution Reduction.’ At the same time, Mr. Aasen’s training, from his Master’s Degree in Public Health at the University of Minnesota to six years as an Environmental Scientist at the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission, provides him with the qualifications to be an objective and fair environmental regulator.”

His recent history suggests that he’s an ambitious litigator, not a “fair and objective environmental regulator.” I included Mr. Aasen’s gloating quote on the demise of Big Stone II in this post:

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

This wasn’t a quick process. It was a lengthy process, one which required people with deep pockets to bankroll MCEA’s attrition litigation.

While this litigation was being fought in the courts, hundreds of much-needed jobs were being delayed. Ultimately, those jobs were killed, thanks directly to Mr. Aasen and his organization’s litigation.

This part of Dayton’s statement is particularly irritating:

Paul Aasen brings diverse policy and management experience to the role of MPCA Commissioner. An experienced policy leader and advocate, Aasen brings a deep understanding of the need to both promote job growth while simultaneously protecting the environment. His experiences give him an excellent ability to accomplish this delicate task.

His recent background suggests that he isn’t that dedicated to creating jobs. His participation in killing Big Stone II is a telling indicator of that. So is MCEA’s extended litigation against PolyMet:

But general opposition to the project, and its particular brand of open-pit, copper-nickel mining, has not subsided regardless of its improved political outlook. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership has called protecting the state’s water from the effects of mining pollution one of its top priorities for the coming session.

As for enacting policy changes related to the mine, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s Paul Aasen said he’s still hopeful a proposal to ensure mining companies are held financially responsible, if need be, will gain traction. Outside of that, he said, a lot of his attention is now on Washington, where regulators will also be tasked with evaluating the proposal, a process that could consume most of 2011.

Aasen is worried about the fight that lies ahead and the companies presently queuing up for more of the action. “If and when PolyMet occurs,” he said, “there are other projects very similar to it. The issues faced with them are the same or even more difficult. The precedents that will potentially be set by the PolyMet decisions become that much more critical.”

According to statements included in this Dolan Media article, PolyMet would be a gigantic construction project:

The PolyMet mine itself is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and require more than 1.5 million hours of construction labor. The project is also seen as a harbinger of sorts: A number of similar projects have lined up behind it, holding out the prospect of still more jobs on the perpetually challenged Iron Range and throughout the Arrowhead region.

This is astonishing. I’m told by two Capitol experts that a project generating “1.5 million hours of construction labor” is what they’d expect from a $300,000,000-$500,000,000 bonding bill.

How can Mr. Aasen actively work to kill Big Stone II and, at minimum, delay the PolyMet project and other similar projects and still say with a straight face that he’ll take a balanced approach to protecting the environment and creating jobs? There’s nothing in his recent history that proves he thinks in terms of balancing those concerns.

It’s this simple: Mr. Aasen is an enemy of Minnesota’s job creators.

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MN2020’s John van Hecke’s latest writing is typical in that it’s what you’d expect from an overprotective progressive. Let’s debunk this from its opening:

Minnesota’s legislative chamber majority leaders, conservatives all, strode to the press conference microphones and announced exactly what everyone expected them to say. Minnesota government spending is out of control. Their solution? More of the same. More budget cuts and no revenue increases.

Yes, you read correctly. Minnesota’s conservative public policymakers propose doubling down on eight years of a losing public policy bet.

van Hecke’s opinion is based on his ignoring the destruction progressives’ overregulation and overlitigation have wrought. Whether it’s Lori Swanson suing Minnesota’s job creators or MCEA suing every high profile construction project, this litigation, all done in the name of protecting us from evil corporations, is costing Minnesota jobs by the tens of thousands.

Reforming the regulatory and litigation systems will make Minnesota a more business-friendly state. Apparently, that isn’t something that van Hecke is interested in. He’d rather argue that exercising spending restraint and making government serve the people instead of the government dictating to the people what it needs are policies that only the unenlightened could believe in.

The good news for Minnesotans is that the GOP legislative majority is asking the right questions of government:

[Rep. Matt] Dean said lawmakers will also overhaul state agency budgets: “We’re going to be saying [to state agencies], ‘Let’s justify your budgets. Let’s go through them. What are you currently doing that you need to stop doing? What are you currently doing that you need to do less of? And what aren’t you doing that you need to start doing?’”

These are the right questions to ask. They’re similar to Mayor Dave Kleis’s questions on determining funding: Do’s, Don’t’s and do differentlys. To summarize, if it’s needed, fund it but don’t spend a penny more than you have to, if it isn’t needed, don’t fund it, and if it needs to be funded but you recognize inefficiencies in the department, do things differently.

The questions that Majority Leader Dean will be posing are essentially the same questions as Mayor Kleis’s, just done on a larger stage.

The GOP’s logic isn’t acceptable to the progressives at MN2020 and to DFL legislators. If every penny of spending was scrutinized, if every penny of wasteful spending is eliminated, they couldn’t pay off their special interest allies.

Now, given eight years of an overwhelmingly business friendly, conservative Pawlenty administration, I’m confused by the state regulatory “barriers” constricting growth. But, that line, “getting government out of the way,” is stock conservative rhetoric. They had to deliver it and they did.

This is painful. Correct that: it’s exceptionally painful. (Mitch, I feel your pain.) Let’s stipulate that the regulatory nightmare didn’t make Minnesota more prosperous. Having 68 health care or health insurance mandates didn’t drive health care or health insurance costs down.

The bureaucratic maze constructed under Govs. Quie, Carlson and Ventura and during the DFL reign of failure in 2007-current helped litigious organizations like Paul Aasen’s MCEA drive out entrepreneurial investments that would’ve improved Minnesota’s economy.

Let’s also understand that MN2020’s articles aren’t anthing more than peripheral arguments. The central argument must be what policies must be enacted to create a vibrant economy. That’s the central question because a vibrant, thriving economy solves most of MN2020’s questions.

The last two goals are, however, contradictory. “Living within its means,” is conservative code for “cut government budgets.” Effective, efficient government cannot be achieved through determined budget cutting. Enforcing government’s property protections, value-enhancing regulatory framework and a free society’s rights requires regular funding.

In the short term, van Hecke is right. There will need to be budget cuts. It’s better that government suffers, though, than people suffering. The notion that people can’t do without every penny that state government is currently spending is questionable at best.

It’s important to understand that states that keep spending under control are experiencing the biggest population growth in the nation. They’re also experiencing a substantial influx of new businesses. Meanwhile, Minnesota is experiencing minimal population growth, with a substantial part of that growth coming from lower income adults.

It’s time to expose as myth MN2020’s premises. It’s been proven that they’re the real failed policies. Following MN2020’s policies is how NY, Illinois, Michigan and California got screwed up.

Here’s hoping that the incoming GOP majority (God, that sounds great!!!) sticks with policies that incentivize companies to move to or expand in Minnesota and enact policies that spend taxpayers’ money intelligently.

If they do that, 2012 will be a very good election cycle.

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If there’s a more out-of-touch legislator than Rep. Jim McDermott, (D-WA), then this world just got scarier for me. Recently, Rep. McDermott wrote this post at the Huffington Post. Ponder this part of his post, then ask yourself if Rep. McDermott isn’t totally delusional:

This month’s tax deal starkly illustrates the enormous power wielded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In fact, his role confirms our government is not operating as a democracy ruled by the will of the majority, but as a strangled entity tightly in the grasp of the Senate Republican minority and its take-no-prisoners minority leader.

For the last 23 months, this country has been stymied by Senator McConnell and his cohorts through their abuse of the filibuster in the United States Senate. The most recent tax bill enactment and the failure of the Omnibus appropriations act (which finances the costs of running the government) are just hints of what we can expect in the next two years if the rules of governing do not change.

What type of idiot thinks that Sen. McConnell has stymied Democrats “for the last 23 months”? I guess Rep. McDermott thinks that passing the stimulus, the omnibus budget bill in 2009 and passing Obamacare are nothings.

There’s three explanations I can think of for Rep. McDermott’s opinions: He’s spinning, known in the real world as lying. He’s that stupid, which isn’t likely considering the fact that he’s attended med school and gotten his doctorate. The other explanation possible is that he expected to get everything on the progressives’ wish list signed into law.

I think the third explanation is the most likely explanation. Progressives thought Obama’s election, coupled with the huge majorities in the House and Senate, meant that they’d ram through most, if not all, of their special interest allies’ wishlist.

When that didn’t happen, Rep. McDermott must’ve opted for a different explanation, that it must’ve been the evil Republicans’ fault that they couldn’t enact their utopian agenda.

For the last two years the House of Representatives has passed legislation addressing a range of issues, and sent it to the United States Senate for consideration. Rather than honestly arguing those bills in the Senate, Senator McConnell and his fellow Republicans repeatedly have prevented debate and votes on any measure they oppose or on any measure that might be perceived as politically positive for the president, even if the legislation was originally proposed by Republicans.

So, for two years, the Congress has been ruled by the Senate Republican minority. The United States government is no longer functioning on principles of majority rule, and this is entirely due to flagrant abuse of Senate rules.

I don’t recall reading Rep. McDermott’s quotes castigating Senate Democrats for blocking President Bush’s judicial appointments with their filibusters.

On another matter, Rep. McDermott didn’t utter a peep about the Democrats’ filibuster of the DoD appropriations bill because it contained a provision in it to open up drilling in ANWR.

NOTE TO REP. MCDERMOTT: Selective outrage is out; intellectual consistency is in.

Rep. McDermott is a petulant child, a spoiled brat who didn’t get everything he wanted. It’s time he grew up instead of acting like a spoiled brat.

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Wednesday afternoon, MNAFL-CIO President Shar Knutson issued this press release:

On Wednesday afternoon, the leaders of Minnesota’s incoming GOP legislative majorities gathered reporters to talk about their legislative agenda. Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson issued the following statement:

Middle class Minnesotans want their legislature to help create family sustaining jobs sooner rather than later and solve the state’s multi-billion dollar revenue shortfall fairly.

The Legislature’s number one priority must be to put Minnesotans back to work as soon as possible.

We hope lawmakers will work with Governor-elect Dayton to pass a policy agenda that puts middle class families first.

The problem isn’t that conservatives don’t want to see the middle class thrive. It’s that they’re committed to economic balance, a concept that’s lost on the DFL. Conservatives understand that having businesses leave means a shrinking middle class.

They know that there can’t be a middle class if there isn’t an adequate supply of job creators. The DFL seems to think that the middle class just appears because they want it to exist. Ronald Reagan once said that you can’t be for job creation but against the job creators.

The DFL has refused to accept that time-tested axiom as fact. Shame on them. That, more than anything else, is why Minnesota’s economy hasn’t thrived like it could’ve.

This morning, I read a tweet about Lori Swanson suing 3M. Is it any wonder why businesses won’t move here? Swanson hasn’t stopped attacking Minnesota’s job creators since she took over for Hatch but won’t stand up against an oppressive government takeover of our health care system.

Getting back to Ms. Knutson’s statement, my question to her is whether she’ll criticize MCEA for obstructing the creation of thousands of high-paying construction and industrial jobs with their attrition litigation. She can’t say the GOP isn’t creating enough middle class jobs if she isn’t taking on MCEA, which is essentially stealing middle class jobs through their attrition litigation.

When MCEA files lawsuit after lawsuit against Minnesota’s construction projects, does Ms. Knutson think that there won’t be some negative consequences? Does she think that won’t change their behavior? If she does, then she’s an economic illiterate.

Policy changes and political circumstances change investment patterns because they affect businesses’ bottom lines.

Ms. Knutson, as part of the DFL’s power infrastructure, has to go along with the DFL’s agenda. Unfortunately, that includes staying silent against organizations like MCEA, which cuts the legs out from alot of rank-and-file union construction workers.

This is just another instance of the DFL hierarchy selling out the middle class while pretending to care about the middle class.

Candidate Dayton said during the campaign that he wanted a $1,000,000,000 bonding bill to jumpstart the economy. The PolyMet project wouldn’t require the state borrowing money but would have a bigger, longer-lasting impact. Why isn’t he fighting tooth and nail for that?

I wrote here that PolyMet is only one of the potential job-creating projects being held up by MCEA’s attrition. Shouldn’t Gov.-Elect Dayton be fighting with Ms. Knutson for those potential job creation opportunities?

If they aren’t, they should be fired ASAP.

The DFL needs to be told that muttering the words middle class in every sentence isn’t acceptable, that they need to actually do things that prove their loyalty to the middle class.

Right now, thanks to their loyalty to the MCEA and others in the environmental movement, they’re proving that they’re willing to sacrifice the middle class for the environment.

If Gov. Dayton, Rep. Hausman and the AFL-CIO keep protecting these progressive environmental organizations, it’ll be a difficult session for the DFL.

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As Gov.-Elect Dayton starts picking his cabinet, it’ll be interesting to see what his highest priorities are vs. his second-tier priorities are. Based on what I’m seeing, I don’t get the impression that regulatory reform and jobs are his top priorities. Part of what I’m basing this on is this article, in which Rep. Hausman made this very foolish statement:

After unsuccessful efforts in two recent sessions to push legislation toughening regulations related to the PolyMet mining project near Hoyt Lakes, DFL Rep. Alice Hausman now has a simpler strategy for 2011: Play defense on any front that presents itself.

The nonferrous mining project has been in regulatory limbo for half a decade as environmental considerations butted up against the promise of jobs during the project’s movement through state and federal bureaucracies. Given the new Republican majorities in the Legislature, the project will likely move through the remainder of the review process without any clear roadblocks left in its path.

But supporters are anxious to get PolyMet finalized. And with the new governing and political realities in Minnesota and Washington, it seems unlikely there will be policy changes to stop or delay the project. Some say the new balance of power in both places could move the project forward more quickly than before, and in the process create precedents with long-term implications for mining in Minnesota’s Arrowhead.

Under the new order, said Hausman, “Not only would they not hear a bill like mine, I fear they’ll do the opposite: They’ll fast-track this in law. They’re going to put it in the context of jobs and the economy.”

Rep. Hausman makes it clear that her first priority with regard to environmental regulation reform is obstructing, even if it costs Iron Range residents high-paying jobs. What else would explain her saying that the incoming GOP majority will probably fast-track reform legislation in the context of helping to create jobs and improve Minnesota’s economy?

That’s pretty straightforward to me. That mindset is also inexplicable, especially considering the condition our economy is in.

How will the Iron Range delegation feel about Rep. Hausman’s obstructionism? I’m betting folks like Tom Bakk, Tommie Ruckavina, Tony Sertich and the rest of the bunch won’t be too pleased with Rep. Hausman’s ill-informed priority.

I can’t imagine the construction unions will agree with Rep. Hausman’s priorities either. Construction on PolyMet is sure to generate lots of construction jobs. In fact, this article states the impact construction of the PolyMet Mine will have:

The PolyMet mine itself is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and require more than 1.5 million hours of construction labor. The project is also seen as a harbinger of sorts: A number of similar projects have lined up behind it, holding out the prospect of still more jobs on the perpetually challenged Iron Range and throughout the Arrowhead region.

In this economy, a project that creates 1,500,000 hours of construction labor is gigantic, especially if that project doesn’t require a bonding bill.

This exposes a potential division between the Metro DFL, who are totally committed to the environmental movement, and the Iron Range DFL, who frequently agree with environmental extremists like the MCEA but have to walk a fine line to maintain the support of the Iron Range unions.

If it ever got out that they’re really committed to the environmental movement, the Iron Range DFL would be history for a generation. Here’s what’s potentially at stake:

“There are several companies that are exploring and have discovered a number of nonferrous metals,” said Mike Robertson, environmental policy consultant to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “That’s the major issue in moving forward with the review of the rules and determining what the proper rules could be.”

Let’s put this in its original context. Rep. Hausman is opposed to streamlining the regulatory rules even if it costs Iron Range residents jobs. We now know that this isn’t just about PolyMet. It’s about a group of mining opportunities that could potentially transform the Iron Range and Duluth into one of the most prosperous parts of the state.

That isn’t inconsequential. In fact, I’d argue that it’s something that deserves a high priority in the upcoming legislative session.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be everyone’s first priority:

But general opposition to the project – and its particular brand of open-pit, copper-nickel mining, has not subsided regardless of its improved political outlook. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership has called protecting the state’s water from the effects of mining pollution one of its top priorities for the coming session.

As for enacting policy changes related to the mine, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s Paul Aasen said he’s still hopeful a proposal to ensure mining companies are held financially responsible, if need be, will gain traction. Outside of that, he said, a lot of his attention is now on Washington, where regulators will also be tasked with evaluating the proposal, a process that could consume most of 2011.

Aasen is worried about the fight that lies ahead and the companies presently queuing up for more of the action. “If and when PolyMet occurs,” he said, “there are other projects very similar to it. The issues faced with them are the same or even more difficult. The precedents that will potentially be set by the PolyMet decisions become that much more critical.”

This isn’t something Minnesotans should take lightly. Fighting against organizations like MCEA requires commitment, grit and finances. A friend at the Capitol told me the best way to think of MCEA is to think of them “as the ACLU of the environmental movement.” This friend said that MCEA does the fighting in court, the heavy lifting, if you will, so other environmental organizations can do the puff piece PR events.

If the permitting process is streamlined, that means that there’d be fewer opportunities for the MCEA to stop via attrition-style litigation. That won’t play well with their organization. It would, however, give job-seeking Minnesotans and expansion-minded businesses reason to rejoice.

I’m betting that the vast majority of Minnesotans wouldn’t side with the MCEA’s and Rep. Hausmans of the state. I’m betting that they’d want the permitting process streamlined, jobs created and prosperity returned to the state.

Anyone standing in the way of that in the legislature should either represent a safe district or start preparing their resume because if they’re in a moderately swing district and they’re voting for the MCEA’s obstructionist tactics, they’ll be defeated in 2012.

I’d bet the proverbial ranch on that.

It’s time for these obstructionist special interest groups to be put in their place. They’re holding Minnesota back from being a prosperous state. They’re needlessly keeping too many Minnesotans on the unemployment rolls.

It’s time, too, for the Iron Range DFL and for the construction unions to step forward and tell these special interest groups that their obstructionist tactics aren’t welcome anymore.

These groups need to either declare that they’re for prosperity or obstructionism. Now isn’t the time for sitting on the proverbial fence.

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This morning, when I read this LTE in the Duluth News Tribune, I was astonished at this gentleman’s inability to recognize liberties that we’ve lost during the last 4 years. Here’s what got my blood boiling:

At age 20 I was drafted during the Korean conflict. I spent nearly two years overseas, compensated with the GI Bill, which allowed me to finish college at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Now well into my retirement years, I live a comfortable life with the help of Social Security and Medicare. I am free to express my political views and free to travel anywhere in our 50 states without checking in with police at the borders to verify my identity and to provide details of my travel plans.

This gentleman must not have flown recently. Otherwise, he’d have noticed that the TSA will object if you try travelling “without checking in with the police.” While the TSA aren’t technically police, they’re certainly part of this nation’s ‘security infrastructure’.

This gentleman also says that he’s “free to express [his] political views” in these United States. Obviously, he hasn’t heard about the TSA’s confiscating the pilot’s airline-issued handgun because he exposed the TSA’s ineptitude in terms of airport security:

An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security.

The 50-year-old pilot, who lives outside Sacramento, asked that neither he nor his airline be identified. He has worked for the airline for more than a decade and was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.

He is also a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve and flew missions for the United Nations in Macedonia.

Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff’s deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.

At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot’s gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Does that sound like this pilot enjoys the ability to say what he thinks whenever he wants to? It’d be a stretch to say that that sounds like Soviet-style oppression but it certainly sounds like another freedom diminished.

When Obamacare passed, which of our liberties were lost? Just off the top of my head, I’d argue that being told that we either a) had to buy health insurance, b) pay a fine for not buying health insurance or c) getting put in jail for not buying health insurance or paying the fine for not buying insurance is a rather significant loss of freedom.

That’s before talking about all the coverage mandates required of insurance companies to comply with Obamacare’s minimum requirements. That’s before considering the freedom the states lost in being able to put together real health care reform.

Adding piles of debt aren’t liberating either. They’ll either cost us in terms of inflation or higher taxes. Let’s remember that almost $3,000,000,000,000 of debt has been added in the last 2 years, with only 3 GOP votes on a portion of that debt.

Perhaps this gentleman should take off the partisan blinders and deal with reality. Then again, I wouldn’t blame him if he thought today’s reality is just too scary. The good news is that help is on the way, thanks to the TEA Party rallying the people and creating significant conservative majorities in the Minnesota legislature and the U.S. House.

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This morning, Mark Dayton announced his pick for Met Council chairman. Barring something unusual happening, former Ramsey County Commissioner Sue Haigh will chair the Metropolitan Council.

Gov.-elect Mark Dayton today picked former Ramsey County Commissioner Sue Haigh, CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, to chair the Metropolitan Council.

Haigh, of St. Paul, also is a former chief deputy county attorney and was a Met Council staff attorney.

“She is a proven leader and consensus builder,” Dayton said in a press release. “She will be closely involved with me in the selection of a council, which will represent the diversity of our region and honor its tradition of enlightened non-partisan leadership.”

Haigh will continue in her current job at Habitat for Humanity. The Met Council chair is considered a part-time job, although Peter Bell, the current chair, worked full-time in the post.

The council, made up of 16 gubernatorial appointees, coordinates planning and development in the seven-county metro region. It provides transit services, sewer services, parks and housing for low-income families.

Unless I hear differently, I’m not questioning Haigh’s abilities. I’m merely questioning the usefullness of the Met Council. Frankly, I don’t know that it’s necessary. Tom Emmer campaigned on the issue, saying that it wasn’t essential.

Here are some questions on whether it’s necessary:

1. Can another existing agency provide the services it provides?
2. Are all the services it provides needs? Or are they niceties that we can’t afford?
3. Since it only involves the 7-county metro area, why does the governor appoint the Met Council representatives?
4. Shouldn’t each of the counties appoint 2 members instead of the governor appointing 16?
5. Shouldn’t this be the counties’ responsibility?
6. Why does the state have such a major interest in the Met Council?

Frankly, this sounds like just another unnecessary layer of state government. I can understand the state taking an interest in planning issues but should it leave that big a footprint in these types of issues?

I’d love hearing the justifications to my questions, though I’m not certain they exist. With another deficit looming, we can’t afford to spend money we don’t have on things that aren’t needed.

Getting spending under control should be, along with creating a pro-growth environment for small businesses, the legislature’s highest priority.

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The MCEA, under the leadership of skilled attritionist Paul Aasen, helped kill the Big Stone II coal-fired power plant. This happened, at least in part, because of their threat to impose an expensive cap and tax law. Aasen said in his Strib op-ed that it’s critical to pass a cap and trade system:

The demise of Big Stone II is a big victory in the fight against global warming. We are running out of time if we are going to stop ice caps from melting, sea levels from rising, and droughts and temperatures from increasing and hurting Minnesota farmers. The first order of business is to do no more harm. By stopping construction of a coal-fired power plant in our back yard, we have accomplished this.

Finally, this is Exhibit A on why U.S. senators must pass the global warming bill before them. We kept telling the utilities that a cap-and-trade system, which will require large cuts in carbon dioxide, was coming and that they were underestimating the cost to their customers. Once the Waxman-Markey bill passed the U.S. House earlier this year, the utilities could no longer ignore or downplay the shifting marketplace.

Raising the threat of imposing a job-killing tax increase through cap and tax isn’t surprising from Mr. Aasen. In fact, it’s what I’d expect.

The good news is that We The People spoke on November 2. When We The People spoke, we emphatically rejected Cap and Tax. I’ve stated numerous times on this blog what President Obama said about Cap and Tax:

Barack Obama said it best during the presidential campaign when he declared that under his energy plan, energy “prices would necessarily skyrocket.”

Here’s something else President Obama said about his cap and tax plan:

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

Mr. Aasen clearly stated that it’s vital that a cap and tax system be passed ASAP. Based on his call for a cap and tax system, combined with President Obama’s statement that his cap and tax system would bankrupt coal-fired power plants, should we think that Aasen wants to bankrupt the Becker power plant and other Minnesota-based coal-fired power plants?

Possibly the biggest factor in Jim Oberstar’s defeat was his vote on Cap And Tax. I had several Iron Rangers email me or comment on my posts, saying that his vote for Cap And Tax “was a vote to kill the mining industry.”

It isn’t likely that Mr. Aasen will adopt a new perspective concerning Cap and Tax. That leaves the state Senate to ponder the question of whether they should confirm him. He’s frequently displayed his hostility towards businesses through litigation in his current position. Imagine the havoc he could cause with the MPCA’s funding and stature.

That’s a risk we can’t take. Mr. Aasen, if he’s nominated, should be immediately rejected. We need to create jobs in Minnesota ASAP. Mr. Aasen is a proven enemy of job creation unless it fits into his tiny list of preferred industries.

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Earlier this afternoon, I wrote that Gov.-Elect Dayton was thinking about nominating Paul Aasen to be the next commissioner of the MPCA. Since that post, I’ve had time to do a little digging into who Paul Aasen is and what he’s been involved with. One thing I’ve learned is that he co-authored an op-ed with Michael Noble that ran in the Strib on Sept. 16, 2009.

Here’s a telling part of their op-ed:

Along with our allies at the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Wind on the Wires, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Fresh Energy argued, first in South Dakota, then before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), that the new plant was a bad idea. Our message was simple: The utilities had not proven the need for the energy, and what energy they did need could be acquired less expensively through energy efficiency and wind.

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

This time around, the administrative law judge ruled in our favor, saying the utilities had proven the need for, at most, 160 megawatts and had failed to prove that coal would be the least expensive way of providing the electricity. The Minnesota PUC approved the transmission lines into Minnesota, and we filed an appeal that is pending with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

These words should put a chill in every sane Minnesotan’s mind: “We kept losing but a funny thing happened.”

My first question is who’s funding Aasen’s litigation organization? It takes tons of money to litigate this type of case. There’s lawyers to pay, court costs, research costs, just to mention a few of the many costs.

Another question I’ve got is what Al Junhke, Tom Bakk and the construction unions think. Does Junhke like the attrition litigation against agribusinesses in his district? Does Sen. Bakk like the lawsuits filed against logging companies and mining companies up in the Arrowhead?

Do the construction unions get upset that MCEA has cost them construction jobs on the Iron Range and on Big Stone II?

Was MCEA funded by people who have made big investments in green energy businesses? Or in Cap-And-Trade futures markets?

Most importantly, would Aasen be hostile to companies that would upset the green energy business model?

Aasen’s track record with MCEA has proven to be more hostile towards businesses than collaborative. At a time when the legislature and the executive branch should be putting in place policies that create jobs, Aasen’s nomination would send a terrible signal to the legislature and to Minnesota that a Dayton administration would be hostile towards small businesses.

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A devoted reader of this blog just contacted me with information, saying that Dayton might be in the process of making a major mistake with one of his appointments.

I’m still working the information and my contacts for more on this but I wanted to tip people to this development. If what I’ve heard is true, and this source is very reliable, I can confidently say that this appointment would instantly undercut Dayton’s credibility.

What I can tell you is that this potential appointee isn’t a friend of agriculture and he isn’t a friend of business. This appointee would be, to no one’s surprise, appointed to one of the environmental regulatory agencies.

I’ll further tell you without hesitation that this appointee would be a major mistake on Dayton’s behalf and would hurt his public image from the start.

UPDATE: I’ve now confirmed that Dayton is thinking of appointing Paul Aasen of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy to be the commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Here’s what caught my attention about Aasen’s current organization:

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is the legal and scientific voice protecting and defending Minnesota’s environment. We work in the courts, the legislature and state agencies using science and policy to develop, communicate and implement environmental change.

A brief google search brought me to this tasty tidbit of information:

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and two other organizations filed suit recently against the U.S. Forest Service for its travel management plan, which would add new roads and trails in northern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest.

The suit in U.S. District Court, which also was brought by the Sierra Club and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, challenges the government’s plan which would add more than 140 miles of roads to the forest’s official road system. Many of the new roads are old logging skid trails never meant to be permanent and which should have been reforested.

Some of the roads would skirt the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, contribute to unwanted noise and threaten the habitat of the Canada Lynx and the gray wolf, among other species, according to the lawsuit.

“Adding 142 more miles of roads to the already heavily-roaded Superior National Forest threatens wildlife and degrades wildlife habitat,” said MCEA attorney Matt Norton. “Residents and visitors want a natural experience and quiet when they’re in the woods, especially in the Boundary Waters Wilderness.”

It appears that MCEA is in the environmental litigation industry. I can’t picture Aasen getting confirmed in the Senate.

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