Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dear Governor Dayton, to "B" corp or not to "B"?

I've been quite pleased to see Governor Dayton's concerns about restoring Minnesota's pheasant population although, for the record, I've always been more of a ruffed grouse and duck hunter than a pheasant hunter. I also understand his concerns about the likely impact of the closed walleye season on Mille Lacs area resorts. In each instance, I think experts would agree, a major part of the problem stems directly from a lack of adequate stewardship of the habitat involved, due, in part, to over reliance on single resource like commodity farming, mining or walleye fishing. That, perhaps, may distinguish Minnesota's walleye and pheasant resource issues from the recent announcements of the catastrophic collapse of the tuna and mackerel ocean fisheries. Or, perhaps they, and we, are all suffering from insatiable greed and incessant demands to harvest more than the resources can provide from diminished ecosystems. Perhaps, also, the same reasoning applies to our insistence that the jobs provided by mining, a notably boom and bust industry with a horrendous environmental and human rights record, are worth the risks to the only natural resource base Minnesota will every have. Under these circumstances, I hope Governor Dayton continues to show a high degree of concern for the long term health of Minnesota's resource base when he's faced with decisions about permitting additional mining activity in northern Minnesota.

a "walleye chop" on Mille Lacs
a "walleye chop" on Mille Lacs
Photo by J. Harrington

Repeat after me the lyrics from Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone..." I still find it hard to believe that, in the midst of drought and wildfires, California is continuing to allow fracking water to pollute groundwater and irrigate food crops. Do you know when we reached earth overshoot day this year? A little more than a month ago, on August 13. Does that remind you of the poor soul who told his bank that he couldn't be overdrawn because he still had checks left in his checkbook? All of this makes about as much sense to me as last night's Republican "presidential candidate" (really?) debate. So, what's to be done? I have two suggestions today that I think will help now and in the future.

the already polluted St. Louis River
the already polluted St. Louis River
Photo by J. Harrington

First, Minnesota must insist that only adequately capitalized B corporations, or equivalent, are eligible for any non-ferrous mining permits within 500 miles of the BWCAW boundaries. Other types of corporate entities usually have legally binding legal obligations to maximize shareholder value, which puts Minnesota's environment too much at risk it seems to me. Second, we need to revise our environmental impact statement rules and regulations to incorporate the precautionary principle and to require a significant element on risk identification and management in addition to impacts and mitigation. A small risk with a catastrophic impact (Mt. Polley mine disaster anyone?) isn't readily mitigated nor do I believe it conveniently falls under financial assurance requirements as they're written.

I enjoyed yesterday's weather and posting much more than today's, but, when life gives you lemons ...

Making Peace

By Denise Levertov 

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

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