Friday, September 19, 2014

Environmental regulation consumption advisory

I'm going to make a wild guess that he hadn't read yesterday's story about citizen concerns on mercury discharges in the St. Louis River when "PolyMet spokesman Bruce Richardson said the poll results are consistent with the company’s research that shows residents are willing to let environmental regulators manage the decision." The last time I took a look, Minnesotans were getting increasingly concerned about whether their government was doing enough to protect public health and the environment. That's one of the reasons there was a recent forum in Duluth, seeking commitments from public agencies to accelerate the cleanup of the St. Louis river and other mercury contaminated water bodies in Minnesota.

St. Louis River in Duluth
Photo by J. Harrington

A different example of citizen concern landed in my in basket within the past few days. Someone posted a comment on My Minnesota to be sure we knew about the fact that North Branch and Chisago County residents have concerns about the possible health impacts of a frac sand processing and transfer facility proposed for a North Branch industrial park. That's in line with the recent Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decision to respond to local citizen concerns and require an environmental review of a frac sand operation in Winona. It's my belief that, if Minnesotans were willing to let environmental regulators and local officials manage decisions that affect the health and safety of Minnesotans, there wouldn't be as much push back as we're seeing. As things stand, even our beautiful wild and scenic St. Croix River has a number of fish consumption advisories. (By the way, the fish consumption advisory for rivers is only 18 pages long. The advisory for lakes runs to 193 pages.)

Wild, scenic St. Croix River
Photo by J. Harrington

I don't believe that business as usual is going to cut it any more. I'm glad to see that residents of Minnesota and a number of other places are getting tired of picking up the tab for cleanup after corporations have siphoned the profits out of the local environment. Maybe that frustration will create a new and different kind of corporate inversion financing that most of us could probably support. You know, something that helps the 99% and not just the 1%. Maybe, just maybe, we're starting to put being a citizen ahead of being a consumer. That would be a massive improvement in the quality of life and the quality of the environment for most of us. Those in Scotland decided to stick with the United Kingdom, but they did so based on informed consent. That's what I think most Minnesotans want their local officials and environmental regulators to provide and honor. Something to think about as you read Incantation and when you vote come this November.


By Czeslaw Milosz 

Translated By Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Pinsky 

Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.
Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo.
Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit.
Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction.

Berkeley, 1968

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