Scenic Hwy 7, just west of Mesaba’s preferred site

Jobs at what cost?

Grand Rapids Herald-Review


I have read a couple of letters in the Herald-Review supporting the coal gasification plant proposed for our area. I have to sympathize with the notion that this area needs “a few good jobs” as does any depressed area, but at what cost? It is no small thing to have your land taken away, or even to have it altered in such a way as to make parts of it unusable or even dangerous.

All the while my wife and I were working in the Twin Cities, we dreamed and planned to spend our “golden years” in the area of my wife’s family in Trout Lake Township, away from pollution and away from the restrictions of city life. When we retired, we thought we had accomplished that dream. We built a log home more than a quarter of a mile from the nearest road.

Now, Excelsior Energy Inc. wants to put a coal gasification plant a short distance upwind from us, a natural gas line up one side of us, and power lines down the other side. The emissions from the plant, according a report to the Utilities Commission, can cause death and respiratory problems. The electromagnetic fields (EMF) from the power lines, in many studies (some of them commissioned by the power companies themselves) have been linked to brain tumors, breast cancer, depression and suicide, Lou Gehrig’s disease, miscarriages, and in children up to 15 years of age, leukemia. Children living 200 meters or less from a power line had a 70 percent increased risk of leukemia. A three-fold increase in spontaneous abortions occurring before the 10th week of pregnancy is associated with even momentary exposure to magnetic fields. In addition to the health problems involved, a study done at St. Cloud University demonstrates that power lines reduces property values. An article in the journal Urban Lawyer concludes power lines reduce property values by up to 14 percent, and backs it up with legal cases.

The arm chair politicians who have nothing to lose healthwise or otherwise can be vocal about this area needing jobs, and can even try to make the people who are being forced to sacrifice the health and way of life of their families sound like a bunch of cry babies, but if the shoe was on the other foot, what then? Would it be worth it for a “few good jobs”?

Darrell White

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