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The War on Coal comes to Minnesota

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dear Friends,

You may have seen last Wednesday, June 4th's political cartoon lampooning supporters of coal on the Star Tribune opinion page clearly demonstrates how insensitive and ignorant Mr. Sack, Governor Dayton and the DFL is when it comes to the issue of climate change and to the supporters of coal as a source of energy.

Last year the DFL majority forced Xcel energy to adopt a 30 percent renewable energy standard by 2020. Now the Obama administration wants to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The war on coal has come home to Minnesota. Now let’s consider the cost to the state of Minnesota.

The largest coal power plant in the Midwest, Sherco, is located in Becker Minnesota.  It produces 2400 megawatts of electricity for over 2.5 million people.  That is more power than both of Minnesota's nuclear plants combined.  

Sherco produces enough energy for almost one-half of our state.

A few Environmental facts about Sherco:

  • Sherco meets and/or exceeds Federal Clean Air Standards.
  • Sherco is going to spend up to $500 million dollars for emissions scrubbers.
  • Beyond Coal leadership publicly admitted that "Sherco is unbelievably clean." 
  • The health impact data relating to Sherco has been produced by environmental groups.

A few economic facts about Sherco,

  • Sherco employs up to 800 people at the peak of its maintenance cycle.
  • Sherco sells high pressure steam to a nearby paper producer - who employs over 150 people.
  • Sherco pays over 75% of the local property tax burden.

A few employment facts about Sherco,

  • The jobs at Sherco are manufacturing jobs - Sherco makes electricity.
  • There are five service industry jobs attached each manufacturing job.
  • That could mean up to 4750 jobs in jeopardy if Sherco were to close.  This will be devastating to Central Minnesota!

A few facts about Natural Gas,

  • Sherco cannot simply "switch" to natural gas.  The cost would be over 1 billion dollars.
  • A natural gas plant would require a pipeline.  Governor Dayton and the DFL do not support pipelines.
  • The other choice is to ship the gas in on trains.  The safety risk is too high.
  • Natural gas plants also produce carbon dioxide.  Why aren't the environmentalists addressing that fact?

A few facts about Solar and Wind energy,

  • Solar power is heavily subsidized with tax dollars.
  • Solar power plants cannot begin to match the energy production of coal
  • Wind power is also heavily subsidized with tax dollars.
  • Wind power also does not even come close to the energy production of coal.
  • Wind and Solar industries will NOT employ the same numbers of people that coal does.

A few facts about Coal,

  • Coal provides the most power for the lowest cost. Nothing comes close to coal in this regard.
  • The United States has enough coal reserves to power our country for at least 200 years.
  • Coal is not dangerous to transport.  If a gas line breaks or a gas train derails then entire communities can be incinerated.
  • If a coal train derails, you get out a shovel and clean it up.

A few facts about the Future,

  • The clock is ticking.  The shutdown process for Sherco and other Minnesota coal plants starts in 5 years.
  • There has been no viable plan presented by the Governor or the DFL to replace the power needs of Minnesota.
  • Like so many other industries, the power industry will simply move out of Minnesota.
  • Governor Dayton's and President Obama's policies will force our electric rates up, way up.  Pull out your wallets folks.

In conclusion, I appreciate the passion the environmentalists have.  It's misguided.  Why do they want to punish the coal industry in the United States?  This industry is striving to be cleaner and more efficient than ever.  If they want to go after "dirty coal" then go to China or Russia where there is very little, if any, pollution control standards.  Why penalize the people who are being responsible stewards of the environment?

A few years ago the Verso paper mill was forced to shut down due to a tragic accident.  Hundreds of jobs were in jeopardy.  At the time, Governor Dayton, Senator Klobuchar and the rest of the DFL bent over backwards to try to help them. 

Now, the Governor Dayton, Senator Klobuchar and the DFL are bending over backwards to destroy the economy in Central Minnesota.

Elections matter.

Take care,

Jim Newberger
State Representative, MN HD15B
Becker MN