Toadies toeing line for Excelsior

September 7th, 2006

Sen. Tom Bakk has an editorial in the Timberjay that is so full of unadulterated crap that I’m wondering if he’ll next propose a methane digester to deal with it all…

Where’s he getting his information from? He says the plant is in Bovey — I imagine the folks in Taconite will be suprised! He thinks coal is abundant, but doesn’t mention the little detail of the 300+% price increase last December, or the inability of some coal plants to get a reliable coal supply, putting their coal reserve and ability to generate in jeopardy. Mesaba plans to spew at least 54 lbs of mercury a year, and it takes what, a teeny fraction of an ounce to contaminate an entire lake? Has he checked how many Minnesota lakes have edible fish? Here are mercury impaired waters in the Superior Basin.  Here are mercury impaired waters in the Headwaters Basin. I’d probably be easier to show what ones AREN’T impaired. Mesaba’s 54 lbs. of air-emitted mercury will hit the already impaired Superior Basin waters, unless because of the short stacks they land in the already impaired waters of the Headwaters Basin. Discharge water will end up in Swan River and Mississippi River.

Here’s the MPCA’s Comments about this, from the Mesaba siting docket:

MPCA Comment #1

MPCA Comment #2

Don’t folks like Bakk and Beard worry about making statements like this that undermine their credibility — particularly in an election season?

Here is Bakk’s letter in its entirety. Compare it with last week’s Mike Beard editorial which is LINKED HERE:

Coal gasification provides a solution

Letter to the editor by Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook

A recent Timberjay editorial called into question the need for constructing a coal gasification power plant near Bovey that will produce much-needed jobs and energy on the Iron Range, depicting the Mesaba energy project as a largely partisan undertaking. As a longtime DFL legislator, I am supporting this plant because it is a model of cutting-edge clean coal technology, and also of bipartisanship that has united legislators and leaders from both sides of the aisle for the good of our environment and economy.

Coal is our nationâ??s most abundant fuel, with an estimated 250-year supply. The proposed Bovey plant gives us the opportunity to put Minnesota on the forefront of advanced clean-coal gasification. The new technology cuts emissions by two-thirds more than the next-best coal technology on the market. Its emissions are 1/1000 of some existing coal plants in Minnesota. It will be the first coal plant in the country to remove virtually all mercury.

The project was selected for funding in a competitive process by the U.S. Department of Energy, as the culmination of a two-decade program to develop and commercialize coal gasification. According to the DOE, the project is a stepping stone to the FutureGen plant, which will be the worldâ??s first coal power plant to have near-zero emissions. More than a dozen states are competing to be the site of the FutureGen facility. Minnesota policymakers, by passing legislation in 2003 to enable the project, secured the right to have this facility located on the Iron Range.

Additionally, Minnesota has the need for 3,000 to 6,000 megawatts of new power generation in the near future. If new coal facilities are not built, Xcel Energyâ??s demand for natural gas will increase from 2 percent of statewide demand in 2004 to 20 percent in 2011. This puts the stateâ??s energy needs in direct competition with our local natural-resource economy, which also is heavily dependent on natural gas for power. Operating costs for our local industries â?? industries that must compete to sell taconite pellets and paper in a new world economy â?? could increase drastically. If we do not find a way to use coal to meet this growing demand, Minnesota businesses and families will be left to shoulder the cost of this increasing reliance on natural gas for electricity generation.

It is equally important for us to create good-paying jobs for northeast Minnesota. In addition to the permanent jobs created, this project could bring more than an estimated $1.5 billion of investment to the region. The project is also likely to provide more than $1 million a year in real estate taxes to Itasca County, in addition to the new tax base that will be created as a result of the projectâ??s construction and operation.

The project, as proposed, will not condemn any homes or cabins. The proposed project site is a 1,200 acre, privately-owned industrial parcel. The project will pay to pump water out of taconite pits that will otherwise flood parks and towns in the region. The plant will not require a new transmission line to the Twin Cities, but instead will upgrade existing power lines and provide significant stability to the regional grid.

Instead of casting aspersions on this prestigious project, we should take a long, hard look at its real value: Minnesota families, Minnesota jobs, and Americaâ??s national security – priceless.Â

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