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Election 2020: Environmental views shared

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Minnesotans take great pride in our abundant natural resources. Whether we are fishing in a crystal clear lake, taking the pontoon along the shore near the cabin, or bicycling on one of the state’s expansive and scenic trails, we appreciate the beauty and bounties of this state.

Protecting those resources is a high priority. When we talked with candidates for federal offices, we defined the environment and the impact of climate change as one of our top four topics.

We are concerned climate change is occurring and will continue to have an impact on Minnesota. We joke warmer winters won’t be so bad, but every change can have a significant and negative effect on our water, air, wildlife and natural settings. We fear we will see distinct changes in the next decade or two, which will damage our quality of life.

While we understand why expanded pipelines are being sought, we feel any pipeline replacement or expansion needs to be done with the strictest of safety measures. The property rights of residents need to be top of mind, especially when it comes to respecting Indigenous residents and low-income neighborhoods.

We are also concerned expansion of copper and nickel mining in northern Minnesota will have a negative impact on the Boundary Waters and the St. Louis River, even when meeting current state standards. We are doubtful mining can proceed without permanently damaging our watersheds. While we are concerned mining cannot be completed safely, we have compassion for communities that rely on these as job creators. We need to help those regions foster alternative employment opportunities.

When it comes to the Green New Deal, we feel it is impractical to expect our nation to be carbon free by 2035, but we endorse the goal of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and continue to develop alternative forms of energy.

U.S. Senate

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith said climate change is a major challenge, requiring broad thinking and bold action. We can expand battery storage research, offer tax credits for wind and solar, and aim for zero carbon emissions in the electrical sector by the middle of this century. And, she said, we can do this in a way that protects jobs and offers new opportunities.

It is an existential threat to our state, she said, saying the changes are evident to farmers, the tourism industry and forestry.

Pipeline issues are challenging and complicated. We need to allow science and data to lead us, and be consistent in decision-making, she said. It is important to respect tribal governments when routing pipelines, as is fairness and justice to communities of color.

She said we also must follow science and data when it comes to mining precious metals. She has deep concern for the Twin Metals mine near the Boundary Waters but does not oppose the PolyMet mine.

She does not support the Green New Deal, but promotes a broad coalition to make progress toward a clean energy future.

Efforts to establish a teleconference interview with Smith’s opponent, Republican Jason Lewis, were unsuccessful.

In a recent debate in Duluth, Lewis said the U.S. has led the way in lowering carbon emissions. However, he said we cannot allow employment to suffer for proposals like the Green New Deal, which he does not support. He said the Twin Metals and Polymet mines, along with the Line 3 Enbridge pipeline, should go forward. These projects will provide thousands of jobs and help renew northern Minnesota’s economy, he said.

6th Congressional District

In the 6th District, incumbent Republican Tom Emmer believes to say climate change is life threatening is politicizing the subject. Everyone likes clean air, water and a clean planet but individuals should be incentivized to do the right things, he said.

The Enbridge line 3 pipeline should have been replaced “yesterday,” Emmer believes. Fossil fuels should be allowed to compete on an equal platform with other alternative energy sources including wind and solar.

He supports copper/nickel mining in northern Minnesota as long as all state and federal requirements, including environmental impact reviews, are met.

Emmer does not support the Green New Deal, saying it would destroy the national economy. With an estimated price tag of $32 trillion, he calls it the “wrong deal,” one that would ban beef cattle and air travel.

DFL opponent Tawnja Zahradka considers climate change and the environment to be her top issues. “Nothing works if we don’t have a safe planet,” she said. Listen to the scientists and get back to the Paris Climate Agreement, she said.

Zahradka believes the Green New Deal is not perfect, but it is a starting point for the conversation.

Zahradka said fossil fuel pipelines and mining initiatives provide jobs. “We need to protect jobs and the environment. We need to move to alternative jobs in non-fossil fuel energy sources to protect the workers and the environment.” She wants to maintain employment by transitioning workers to new jobs in fuel industries that are more environmentally safe.

Clean air and water, fertile farmland, thriving forests and open prairies are prized possessions and this Editorial Board firmly believes in fostering these wonders for generations to come.

An opinion of the Adams Publishing Group – East Central Minnesota Editorial Board. Reactions welcome: Send to editorial.board@apgecm.com.

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