Today: St. Paul Elections and Water News

St. Paul elections are coming up on Tuesday. In an off-off-year election like this one, turnout is usually low, making every vote count even more. The entire city council and four school board seats are on the ballot, as well as the all-important trash collection question.

If you want thoughtful, detailed analysis, head over to Naomi Kritzer’s blog. Naomi is a science fiction writer who generously gives her considerable talent and time to heavy-duty but eminently readable election analysis every year. We in St. Paul are lucky to have her!

I’m voting YES on the trash question, which she analyzes at length here. Minneapolis has a better system, and they also plow alleys, but even the current flawed St. Paul contract is much better than the non-system we had before.

On another topic: Water

With winter moving in, algae blooms might not seem like big news, but Ron Meador’s description of what the climate’s “new normal” is doing to Lake Superiormakes a convincing case for worry. As the biggest lake in the world, holding 10 percent of the world’s fresh water, Superior is sometimes called an inland ocean. Meador warns:

“Now the lake and its shoreline communities are experiencing a series of climate impacts that run queasily parallel to the problems of saltwater coasts that have become familiar in recent decades: storms of unusual fierceness and destruction, intensifying rainfall patterns, accelerating coastal erosion and infrastructure losses, overwhelmed wastewater treatment systems, icky (and potentially harmful) algal blooms.”

Two other articles signal other threats to our waters: one more Keystone pipeline spill in North Dakota and a proposal to sell off Minnesota water to

The Keystone spill in northeast North Dakota was estimated at 383,000 gallons. It’s not the first spill and it won’t be the last. The New York Times notes:

“This is the second major incident for the pipeline system in the last two years. In 2017, a spill coated a stretch of grassland in South Dakota with more than 407,000 gallons of leaked Canadian crude oil, which was nearly twice as much as originally estimated, according to the company. The pipeline also leaked about 16,000 gallons each in spills in 2011 in North Dakota and in 2016 in South Dakota.”

The Sierra Club said Keystone had more than a dozen spills in its first year of operations, and warned about the future:

“We don’t yet know the extent of the damage from this latest tar sands spill, but what we do know is that this is not the first time this pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last. We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and once again TC Energy has made our case for us.”

The Star Tribune reported on a proposalto sell500 million gallons of Minnesota water a year to states in the southwestern United States.

“Empire Building filed its preliminary permit application with the DNR last month. The plan called for drilling two wells in Randolph, about 30 miles south of the Twin Cities near Lake Byllesby and Cannon Falls, to pump up to 500 million gallons of water annually out of the Mount Simon-Hinckley aquifer. That’s about the amount of water used by 5,000 homes every year, according to the DNR.”

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen said that’s not likely to happen and that she sees “virtually no scenario” for approval of such a proposal.

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