Thursday, April 24, 2014

Renewable Range

More often than not reading the newspaper aggravates or depresses me. Not today. For some time, My Minnesota has been advocating that the Iron Range needs to look toward a more sustainable future than is likely to be provided by a continuing dependence on mining. Today's Star Tribune has a story that appears to be a major, beneficial move in the direction of a sustainable Iron Range. Neal St. Anthony writes that "Segetis picks Iron Range for $105 million 'green chemistry' plant" to be located in Hoyt Lakes.

We're taking what's been written in the story pretty much at face value for now. The economic impact seems pretty positive.
The Segetis project is forecast to have an annual $55 million economic impact, an inaugural 55 jobs, and support 545 jobs in related industries, according to a study from the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality.
Minnesota  renewable resource
Minnesota  renewable resource © harrington

To the extent that the project will be harvesting and using trees that used to go into paper and lumber, it looks like this might be a win-win-win for the Range. We congratulate the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and wish them and Segetis ecological and economic success. (Full disclosure: years ago I was peripherally involved in assessing a plan by then Governor Perpich to create a chop sticks plant in northern Minnesota. The current proposal by Segetis seems considerably more promising.) I would even suggest a rename to the Iron Range Renewable Resources Board, or something like that.

Jim Johnson, 2008 - 2010 poet laureate of Duluth, has a poem in his The First Day of Spring in Northern Minnesota that reads to me like a nice match for today's story.

Now We Cut Trees

The old man said as he raised the ax and let it fall, undercutting
the tree in the direction he wanted it to lean. Then the old man
set the ax head carefully inside the cut, the handle out like a
long finger pointing in the direction the tree would fall. The old
man paused looking in that direction. This, he finally said as he
began backcutting the other side, is the way of the poet.
   Having nearly cut through the tree, he stopped cutting, not
so much to catch a breath, but to push on the leaning tree.
   Just when you think he is a lunatic, the old man said as
the tree began to fall away in the once-pointed-at direction, he
discovers the world.

Jim Johnson

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