Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weekend wondering

Did you know that Central Minnesota is creating a Resilient Region? They prepared a local Sustainable Development Plan with the help of funding from federal grants. One of the cornerstones of the plan's economic development strategy is creation of a RENEWABLE ENERGY PROOF OF CONCEPT CENTER PLANNING GRANT INITIATIVE (REPOCC), which, they claim, can lead to "a dynamic Minnesota renewable energy cluster"..."drawn from wind, biomass, solar and other ascendant renewable capabilities [that] offers substantial job-creation potential throughout the state."

Winter sunset
Winter sunset              © harrington

I wonder how much energy is needed throughout the Iron Range. I wonder how much of it is supplied by renewables. I wonder what's going to supply needed electricity as coal becomes more and more expensive. I wonder how much of an advantage "early movers" in this field might be able to establish. I wonder how much water pollution, if any, is created by "mining" the sun and wind. Is it likely to require treatment for up to 500 years? Are renewable energy jobs subject to outsourcing or market volatility? I wonder if anyone is looking at these kinds of questions instead of drawing battle lines and building barricades on either side of the NorthMet proposal EIS.

Snow covered fields
Snow covered fields       © harrington
Have you ever seen Edward Burtynsky's photographs of industrial landscapes? How do his pictures of tailings compare with your vision for Minnesota? I believe we can create a better Minnesota. Do you? Do we want Minnesota's Iron Range to become just another Bluff Road?

Before Dawn on Bluff Road

By August Kleinzahler 
The crow’s raw hectoring cry   
scoops clean an oval divot
of sky, its fading echo
among the oaks and poplars swallowed
first by a jet banking west
then the Erie-Lackawanna
sounding its horn as it comes through the tunnel
through the cliffs to the river
and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff,
full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt.

You can hear it in the dark
from beyond what was once the amusement park.
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
the chemical ghost of old factories,
the rotted piers and warehouses:
lye, pigfat, copra from Lever Bros.,
formaldehyde from the coffee plant,
dyes, unimaginable solvents—
a soup of polymers, oxides,
tailings fifty years old
seeping through the mud, the aroma
almost comforting by now, like food,
wafting into my childhood room
with its fevers and dreams.
My old parents asleep,
only a few yards across the hall,
door open—lest I cry?
                                 I remember
almost nothing of my life. 

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