Sometimes I wonder about our political processes. Steel companies are leaning on our legislature to weaken federally approved water quality standards. US Steel had a 4th quarter profit of $275 million for the 4th quarter last year. A review of their financial statements makes one wonder where the "hardship" of meeting long-standing water quality standards ranks with all the other hardships the steel industry faces. An opinion piece in yesterday's Star Tribune nicely highlighted the status of the standards US Steel claims could pose a "hardship." At least Target didn't claim environmental standards were to blame for the economic hardship they're suffering after their unsuccessful Canada initiative.
source: Thomas Michael Power
After seeing the taconite folks claim environmental standards are eating into their profits, I wonder about the copper-nickel mining industry and their "responsible mining" claims. There is, though, a way to see if any of the mining entities in Minnesota truly mean what they say when they claim they're "responsible." Ask them, for the record, how they'd go about meeting the draft standards developed by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. Personally, I'd love to see the IRRRB take some leadership and work with the mining companies, existing and prospective, on a pilot effort and make the outcome public. The standards in question have been prepared with the participation of the mining industry. Let's see how well they may fit Minnesota's existing and prospective mining projects.
To put this in a slightly different perspective, looking at a different project, the Minneapolis Park Board is being accused of delaying and increasing the costs of the SouthWest Light Rail Transit project because they've got the Feds to require the Metro Council to follow the rules. The issue in contention arises from Section 4(f) that "states that a special effort must be made to preserve the natural beauty of the countryside and public park and recreation lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites. Section 4(f) has been part of Federal law in some form since 1966." Based on what I've read in the paper, the Metro Council could have been more thorough when they engaged in due diligence on "prudent and feasible alternatives" early in the process. If they had, Minnesota might have a project moving ahead now. Even a recovering planner (who once worked at the Metro Council) knows there's such a thing as "penny wise, pound foolish." We'd all be better served if we focused on developing projects that meet the needs of all stakeholders, rather than winning a turf war or weakening long established standards. The green building industry is discovering that to produce a better product, you need a better process. That's where Integrative Design comes in. It seems to me that Minnesota could come out way ahead if we applied integrative design thinking to our project development, especially if there might be some disagreement along the way.
Then it was the future, though what’s arrivedisn’t what we had in mind, all chrome andcybernetics, when we set up exhibitsin the cafeteria for the judgesto review what we’d made of our hypotheses.
The class skeptic (he later refused to signanyone’s yearbook, calling it a sentimentaldegradation of language) chloroformed mice,weighing the bodies before and afterto catch the weight of the soul,
wanting to prove the invisiblereal as a bagful of nails. A girlwho knew it all made cookies from euglena,a one-celled compromise between animal and plant,she had cultured in a flask.
We’re smart enough, she concluded,to survive our mistakes, showing photos of farmland,poisoned, gouged, eroded. No one believedhe really had built it when a kid no one knewshowed up with an atom smasher, confirming that
the tiniest particles could be changedinto something even harder to break.And one whose mother had cancer (hard to admit now,it was me) distilled the tar of cigarettesto paint it on the backs of shaven mice.
She wanted to know what it took,a little vial of sure malignancy,to prove a daily intake smallerthan a single aspirin could finishsomething as large as a life. I thought of this
because, today, the dusky seaside sparrowbecame extinct. It may never be as famousas the pterodactyl or the dodo,but the last one died today, a residentof Walt Disney World where now its tissue samples
lie frozen, in case someday we learn to cloneone from a few cells. Like those instant dinosaursthat come in a gelatin capsule—just add waterand they inflate. One other thing thisbrings to mind. The euglena girl won first prize
both for science and, I think, in retrospect, for hope.
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Please be kind to each other while you can.