On Wednesday, in our post MN07: DC-based national Republicans launch fake news website against Collin Peterson Bluestem checked out the distortions in the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Moorhead Update," an anti-Peterson microsite disguised as a news site.
In today's Bring Me The News, Shaymus McLaughlin has more in GOP creates look-alike news sites targeting Minnesota Democrats. The NRCC is targeting MN09 DFL incumbent Rick Nolan as well as Peterson.
But the Moorhead Update isn't the only fake news being created about this race. A real blogger at the Sixth Congressional District based Let Freedom Ring blog (crossposted at Look True North) actually be going the Beltway Republicans one better in pumping out nincompoopery about this race.
Take the post Westrom fights for farmers, wherein blogger Gary Gross begins:
This article highlights the intelligent fight Torrey Westrom will fight in Congress if he defeats Collin Peterson:
Article? We clicked through the link, and found ourselves at a press release on Torrey Westrom's website, Westrom Calls for End to Government Delays, Overregulation at FarmFest Forum.
In the press release, Westrom's positions on various ag policy hot button issues are outlined, as well as the nature of the questions panelists asked. The campaign does not take any direct potshots at Peterson, and the statement is an accurate representation of Westrom's stances.
Those who want to watch the forum can check it out in the Uptake's video embedded below:
As is always the case with Farmfest's candidate forums, organized with care by Kent Thiesse, the forum was widely covered. Forum Communications veteran political reporter Don Davis reports in U.S. House candidates agree and disagree:
In a nearly 90-minute forum at the annual Farmfest agriculture event, few differences surfaced in the western and southern districts that cover most of Minnesota's farm country. Incumbent Democrats U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz repeatedly talked about their records of helping farmers, even working with Republicans. Challengers relied on their feeling that it is time for a change. . . .
At MinnPost, Devin Henry reported in With little policy difference, Westrom hopes to pin Peterson to national Democrats:
In his quest to unseat 12-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom staked out a clear policy agenda during a debate at Farmfest on Wednesday: He wants to speed up the regulatory process. He supports more pipeline infrastructure to transport oil and free up delivery capacity on rail lines. He spoke about the need to inform urban-area lawmakers about the importance of farming during the twice-a-decade farm bill overhaul process.
His only problem is that Peterson agrees on all three points.
Indeed, on issues, Wednesday's debate showed little difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates. So Westrom, a state Senator making his first challenge to Peterson, one of the last remaining moderate Democrats in the U.S. House, said afterward his strategy this fall will be to focus on other policy areas where Peterson might be weak in an otherwise Republican-leaning district.
Gross quotes from the press release that he's labeled an "article," while never actually telling his readers the name of the forum or where and when it took place. Next he moves to commentary plucked from we know not where:
When it comes to getting things done in DC, Collin Peterson is about as worthless as a potted plant. He didn’t stand up to President Obama and the environmental activists that run the EPA or the spineless diplomats in the State Department.
Sitting here in Bluestem Prairie's World Headquarters in sunny Maynard, Chippewa County, in the agricultural southern part of MN07, we're scratching our heads, wondering just where this spleen comes from.
It's not coming from Westrom's straight forward press statement. Moreover, it's not coming from any news reports on this planet, at least not in the MN07 corner of it.
Speaking of potted plants, we suspect that Gross doesn't read much ag news. For instance, there was the June 20, 2014 report in Agri-Pulse, House panel takes aim at ‘interpretive rule’ in EPA Waters of U.S. plan:
Members of a House Agriculture subcommittee from both parties had a heated exchange yesterday with a top USDA official over the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal for defining exactly what falls under the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
In the hot seat was Robert Bonnie, the USDA's under secretary for natural resources and environment. He told lawmakers that an “interpretive rule” on farming and ranching exemptions under the CWA, issued at the same time as the EPA proposal to define “Waters of the U.S.,” ensures that 56 specific agricultural conservation practices, executed under the standards of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, would not be subject to CWA dredged or fill permitting requirements. . . .
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the ranking member of the full Agriculture Committee, also criticized the rule and submitted a list of over 100 conservation practices recognized by NRCS, half of which are not included in the EPA's interpretive rule. “How do you say you're covering everything, when it's not true?” he said. . . .
A look around at farm groups' websites reveals posts like the one at the Virginia Farm Bureau's website from July 24, 2014, House bills address farm concerns with EPA ‘waters’ proposal:
Two bills that have bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives address serious concerns voiced by the American Farm Bureau Federation about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
A second bill addresses concerns about common farm practices that have been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation but could lose that status under the proposed rule.
In March the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued an interpretive rule to clarify how “Waters of the U.S.” would affect normal farming, ranching and forestry exemptions. AFBF analysis determined that the interpretive rule narrows the list of existing exemptions and would require compliance with otherwise voluntary U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service standards. The proposal puts the USDA in the unprecedented position of enforcing Clean Water Act compliance.
Reps. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.; Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Reid Ribble, R-Wis.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., have introduced H.R. 5071, The Agricultural Conservation Flexibility Act. The bill clarifies that existing Clean Water Act exemptions for normal farming, ranching and forestry apply to all conservation activities without regard to the interpretive rule.
The bill further states that no soil and water conservation practices will be treated as new uses of areas of navigable waters, impairments of the flow of navigable waters or reductions in the reach of those waters under recapture provisions in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The bill also clarifies that normal farming, ranching and forestry activities will be treated as such without regard to their date of commencement.
We guess Gross missed that, but then, he fails to cite any source about Peterson's record or public statements about the proposed water rule. He goes on:
Thanks to Congressman Peterson’s spinelessness, grain elevators in Minnesota’s 7th District are hurting. Minnesota’s 7th District doesn’t need a DC insider with ‘influence’. Minnesota’s 7th District needs someone who gets things done.
What's Peterson doing about train traffic? First, he's being realistic, understanding that while pressure helps, short term solutions are just that. AgWeek reports in Peterson, Sinner talk grain train delays:
Farm groups have raised concerns in recent weeks about delays affecting their ability to move crops quickly. A cold winter, a large grain harvest and increased oil train traffic have been cited for the delay.
BNSF, the largest railroad in North Dakota, is investing about $400 million in North Dakota in part to increase capacity.
“I think that Burlington Northern at least, they’ve got the message. They are putting more resources in,” said Peterson, who went to Cavalier as Sinner’s guest. “The problem is, in the short term that’s not going to really probably do much.”
For Peterson, longterm solutions include building the Keystone XL pipeline (he's voted for it) that will pick up and the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline is largely intended to haul tar sand oil, but it will take on 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken oil.
Bluestem isn't fond of the Keystone or current route of the Enbridge, but it's clear that Peterson is a proponent of building pipelines. He's been scolded as a sellout to big oil for his pro-Keystone XL votes by a progressive blogger at Daily Kos in Which 19 House Democrats Just Voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline?
Again, we have to wonder why Gross is simply making his material up as he goes along.
There are other things he's missing (like passing Farm Bills).
A more recent example? Another bottleneck created in part by the oil boom's demand for rail transport relates to propane, which farmers use to dry grain and heat livestock barns. Just last week, Don Davis reported in With winter shortage in mind, feds fast-track Minnesota propane facility:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a storage facility that could ease a second straight winter propane shortage.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the corps approved the 1 million-gallon facility at "record speed" so it will be ready for this fall's harvest. . . .
The project is at the Dooley Petroleum facility in Benson in west-central Minnesota. The new storage will be in addition to 1.5 million gallons Dooley already has available. . . .
Last winter, propane supplies were short for a variety of reasons. Those shortages sent propane prices soaring. Some Minnesotans had trouble obtaining the fuel, which is used to dry grain, heat livestock facilities and heat homes.
"Last winter's propane shortage meant Minnesotans paid near record prices to heat their homes and left many facing uncertainty about propane access in the future," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said.
Peterson, Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter to the corps seeking permission to build the new facility.
Dooley's operates branches in nearby Clara City and here in Maynard. It's a MN07 business.
A blogger like Gross has the right to assert anything, but voters should be on the lookout for fake news in the MN07 congressional campaign. Is an opinion documented? Are the links to reputable news sources and ag organizations? Or does a site lead readers only into campaign material?
As we just learned in the DFL state auditor's race, a campaign and its supporters will say anything to get elected--but voters have retained the ability to evaluate claims and vote accordingly.
So far, the Westrom campaign is sticking to describing his positions, but those folks pushing him as an alternative to Peterson? Not so much.
Photo: Peterson (left) and Westrom (right) at Farmfest. via the Marshall Independent.
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