If all a person had to go on with regard to concern for the environment and climate action were Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt's declaration that the "real" divide in Minnesota is between metro environmentalists and the rest of the state--and Becker Republican state representative Jim Newberger's bleating about coal-fired power plants, we'd think that only dirty hippies in Powderhorn Park care about the planet.
But since we live in rural Minnesota, we know better. Thus, it's not a surprise to find a letter like that of Chuck Derry, of Clearwater, Minnesota, in the Sherburne County Citizen.
Derry writes in his letter:
I read the article in last week’s edition of the Citizen regarding the recent announcement by Xcel to retire Sherco 1 & 2. It is disappointing to see, that even after Xcel has put forth their preferred plan for the plant, our local representative is still trying to scare people with how devastating this will be.Xcel’s plan will retire the two oldest and dirtiest units at Sherco by 2023 and 2026, a timeline that is aggressive but reasonable considering the long term decisions that will need to be made in coming years when it comes to providing baseload power. Sherco is the top polluter of particulate matter that exacerbates asthma, other respiratory illnesses and heart disease. According to the Clean Air Task Force, Sherco contributes to 92 deaths, 1,600 asthma attacks, and 150 heart attacks each year. Sherco is also the single, largest source of carbon pollution that contributes to changes in Minnesota’s four seasons, our climate, and our health. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, changes to our climate are increasing heat-related illnesses, allergies, and the spread of tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme’s Disease. If that isn’t enough, Sherco is one of the most significant sources of mercury pollution in our state, contaminating our water ways, and resulting in health advisories against eating fresh caught fish.Xcel’s plan will reduce carbon emissions by 60% and help protect jobs during that time, helping to ease retirement transition for those that are eligible and will allow for those that aren't at retirement age to maintain their positions either at the plant itself or within Xcel. The plan also includes 50MW of solar on site at the plant, which will help add money into the tax base of Becker that Xcel was supporting, diversifying the taxable income is a smart idea. Putting all of our eggs in one basket is not.We also know that the plan includes 3,500 MW of clean energy like solar and wind (1,200 MW by 2020) which will help to create thousands of new jobs in central MN. And finally Xcel has said that the assets at the plant (boilers, including Sherco 1 & 2) were beginning to depreciate, meaning their value was lessening, which meant Xcel would be paying less in taxes as their local assets got older. This is planning for the future, something that we should have started doing long ago.I encourage readers to let local leaders know they should stop playing politics with people’s lives and get on board with Xcel’s plan. Xcel should be applauded for the thought it put into its plan to maintain jobs, increase the tax base, at the same time it invests in clean energy. Our lives and the lives of our children depend on this. This is a win-win.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.