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The APG of East Central Minnesota Editorial Board has identified four key topics that its believes are important to readers. Over four weeks, we will present editorials on these topics and compare and contrast the positions of candidates for federal office on these issues, and what the Editorial Board recommends as the best solutions. 

The four topics are: 

• Racial equity/police reform

• Health care

• Economy/recovery

• Climate change/environment 

We will be encouraging readers to make their own choices as they prepare to vote, but we hope this process provides important information before ballots are cast. 

Throughout this series, we welcome your reactions. Please share with the board at editorial board@apgecm.com.

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 must meet the strictest of safety measures. Property rights must be top of mind, especially when it comes to respecting Indigenous residents and low-income neighborhoods.

We are 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 doubt 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 continuing 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 to communities of color.

She said we 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 pipeline, should go forward. These projects will provide thousands of jobs and help renew northern Minnesota’s economy, he said.

2nd District

The Green New Deal is a nonstarter for both 2nd District Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, and Tyler Kistner, her Republican opponent. They agree that replacement of the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline in northern Minnesota should proceed. After that, their views on climate change and the environment diverge.

Craig said climate change is causing extreme weather that’s harming the economy. To reduce emissions she supports the “market-based” carbon fee and dividend approach, which places a steadily rising fee on the burning of fossil fuels and returns the fees to households as energy dividends.

There are more “common-sense” ways to reduce emissions than the Green New Deal, Craig said.

Kistner said he’s more of a “conservationist” than a “climate change guy” and said the Democratic Party is using the Green New Deal “as an opportunity to sacrifice the economy.” Environmental restrictions should come with cost-benefit analyses, he said. The U.S. is a world leader in fighting climate change, and polluters China and India should do more, Kistner said.

If the Line 3 pipeline can meet Minnesota’s high environmental standards, transporting oil through it will be safer than “those trains filled with oil coming down the railroad tracks through our congressional district,” Craig said. Enbridge must work with Indigenous communities to gain their support, she said.

The pipeline will be safe and the project will create jobs, said Kistner, who supports transporting fuel as inexpensively as possible.

Craig said she’s skeptical that the proposed Twin Metals copper and nickel mine could operate without “doing substantial harm” to the Boundary Waters. “At the end of the day, I would come down on the side of protecting the Boundary Waters if there’s really any level of risk,” said Craig, who didn’t state such concerns about the proposed PolyMet mine now under court review.

The U.S. has the world’s safest, most effective mining operations, Kistner said. The country should use more of its resources and import less, “bringing more jobs back to America, especially in a time like now,” he said.

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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