Yes, I’ve been SWAMPED, too many of these guys hanging around…


Finally, here they are, Letters to the Editor from the Grand Rapids Herald Review, and it’s worth the time — these are examples of why I’m compelled to work on these issues — THE PEOPLE’S VOICE. I’ve just been having that discussion in another context, about the power of blogs, and blogging is just an extension of what we’ve all been doing for centuries, millenia.. . forever… speaking out — that’s our job!

From today’s Grand Rapids Herald Review:

Wind power is more logical solution



I am compelled to write after reading the letter from Kristen Anderson in the Herald-Review, Wednesday, June 14.

Ever since the showing of TV ads touting the production of “clean electricity” from coal, and then there were news stories promoting the funding for the project plus the many letters to the editor regarding the “coal gasification” project, I thought about the eminent pollution possibilities. Kristen certainly did some important research for all of us.
The next thought and question is: Should these Mesaba plants 1 and 2 be built despite popular votes against them? If built, where does the waste go? More particulates and gases into the air? At a time in this century, when scientists tell us that our air is contaminated, do we need to add more contaminants?

Since Minnesota has a Renewable Energy Resources Fund, plus Federal Department of Energy and Iron Range Resources millions of dollars, why are we contemplating using the major portion of it for a project that will be used for converting a non-renewable resource into a lot of pollutants, and then electricity. Senseless! Whose hand is in the public’s pocket?

Look at the situation in Hibbing where there is a 10-acre site with an estimated 2 million cubic yards of coal tar containing a wide variety of contaminants. Do we really want that? Wind power is a more logical solution for our world.

Oh, but then, we wouldn’t have the jobs here. According to the statistics that I have read from Kristenâ??s letter and others, those that would be permanent would be the highly technical jobs.

Has anyone ever noticed the wind propeller on Highway 169 South, near the Elk River landfill? It is providing electricity for something. There are sites in Itasca County and elsewhere, which could do the same. Of course, there are the nay sayers. I say, use the Renewable Energy Resource Fund for just that and not for coal. Parts of our county still are recipients of fall-out from the Clay-Boswell plant in spite of their higher stacks.

Dorothy M. Olds
Grand Rapids

Numbers, by Karl Manning

She referred to Kristen’s letter, Kristen Anderson of Trout Lake Township. Here’s her letter from last Wednesday, June 14, 2006, and keep an eye out for Ed’s LTE!

Adding up the numbers



The coal gasification project proposed on the Scenic Highway is a huge, seemingly overwhelming issue to understand. Using information from Excelsior Energy informational meetings, Excelsiorâ??s reports, and public records, it is helpful to view Excelsior Energy â??by the numbersâ?:
600 – Number of permanent jobs originally proposed in 2003 for plant 1 and 2 (Mesaba 1 and 2)
150 – Permanent jobs proposed in 2004 for Mesaba 1
107 – Permanent jobs proposed in 2005 for Mesaba 1
0 – Number of jobs guaranteed by Excelsior Energy
? – Number of actual jobs for 2011(completion date of Mesaba 1)
447 – Tons of sulfur dioxide to be released each year by Mesaba 1
1,227 – Tons of nitrous oxide to be released each year by Mesaba 1
991 – Tons of Carbon Monoxide to be released each year by Mesaba 1
17.9 – Pounds of Mercury to be released each year by Mesaba 1
174 – Tons of particulate matter (PM2.5) to be released annually by Mesaba 1
6 – Number of phases (plants) planned by Excelsior Energy
18,303 – Estimated work loss days per year due to illness caused by Mesaba 1
10+ – Extra miles of train cars going through Grand Rapids each week
345,000 – Voltage of Transmission lines from Mesaba 1 and 2 to Twin Cities
70 – Increased risk percentage of childhood leukemia within 200 yards of high voltage transmission lines
140 – Height (in feet) of transmission line poles for Excelsior Energyâ??s project
0 – Excelsior equity in Mesaba 1 project
9.5 – Million dollars from IRR for Excelsior Energyâ??s project
10 – Million dollars from state Renewable Energy Resource Fund
36 – Million dollars from federal Department of Energy
800 – Million dollars in federal loan guarantees
12 – Million dollars in state bonding for Itasca County infrastructure
0 – Watts produced thus far by Excelsior Energy
0 – Power plants built thus far by Excelsior Energy
9 – Excelsior Energy â??Our Teamâ? employees
15 – Number of lobbyists working for Excelsior Energy
0 – Acres of green space in original legislation
1,000 – Acres of green space required for Scenic Highway site
0 – Demonstrated need for additional energy in northern Minnesota (in watts)
65 – Percentage of votes opposed to Mesaba project in recent Herald-Review Quick Poll

Kristen Anderson

Train crossing.jpg
Stolen from here

And this one from last weekend’s paper (I can’t figure out if it’s a Saturday or Sunday paper, I think it’s been changing up there…):

Coal project is no fairy tale says reader


The Dirty Coal Choo-Chooâ??a bedtime story.

Once upon a time the wise elders of a northern Minnesota community thought, â??Gee, we like railroad trains and we have railroad tracks running right through townâ??how can we get more trains to come through town? Our subjects need to hear the rumble of trains over the tracks, and the blaring of train horns at all hours of the day. And how fun it is to sit and wait for trains to pass and count railroad cars.â?

The wise elders were contacted by powerful people with lots of money and political connections. The powerful people said, â??We can build a power plant that uses lots of dirty coal. And the best way to bring that dirty, yucky coal from far away Wyoming is by stinky diesel locomotives that chug right through your wonderful northern town.â? And the wise elders were thrilled and bowed to the powerful people and said, â??We will help pay for railroad tracks for your dirty coal trains so that our subjects can be happy and see much dirty coal.â?

So the powerful people told the wise elders, â??If you will support our environmentally unfriendly project we will help make your subjects happy.â? The wise elders were assured that each week five trains, each with 115 cars of dirty coal would travel east through town to the powerful peopleâ??s polluting, monster, power plant and each week five empty trains would travel west through town to return to the dirty coal fields to retrieve more dirty coal to fill the dirty coal cars. And the powerful people told the wise elders that each train with dirty coal would be almost one mile long so that the wise eldersâ?? lucky subjects would be able to see 20 miles of trains with dirty coal each week. The powerful people said, â??Oh how happy your subjects will be and you wise elders will be treated like royalty.â?
And the powerful people said, â??Wise elders, if your subjects are really good and obedient people, we will build another polluting, monster, power plant that uses dirty coal and you will have twice as many dirty coal trains for the subjects to watch.â?

The wise elders were ecstatic as they thought of the joy they would bring to their obedient subjects. The wise elders thought â??our names will live forever! And maybe the powerful people will even name a car that carries dirty coal after each of us. Such an honor!â?

Fairy tale? Nightmare? There is no â??they lived happily ever after.â? Dirty coal trains are but the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about the dirty coal gasification project and you will find that our wise elders are selling out to the powerful people and planning to degrade the quality of our lives and the environment of northern Minnesota.

John Zasada
Grand Rapids

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