Legislature ponders Valentine’s Day love affair with clean cars

As each year brings an increase in global temperatures, more days when air quality is deemed unsafe, and new cases of asthma and cancer caused by toxic chemicals and fine-particle soot in the air, Americans have been forced to rethink existing policies regarding pollution control and greenhouse gas emissions. Although the popularity of energy efficient cars has been growing, motor vehicles – especially pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) – are still the nation’s second biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions. California legislation set stricter auto emission standards than those set by the federal government. California’s standards require car manufacturers to lower carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants from passenger vehicle tailpipes, air conditioners, and other auto-related sources; they will reduce global warming gases significantly more than the 2007 federal energy law. However, in December 2007 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied the waiver request California needs to enforce their new standards. Continue Reading

Potentially risky mining method debated at legislative hearing

At Friday afternoon’s legislative hearing held to address the possibility of future sulfide mining in Minnesota, there was standing room only. Concerned citizens from all over the state attended to hear testimony about this method to extract ores such as copper and nickel. Sulfide mining differs from taconite mining in that it has the potential for acid mine drainage: pollution caused by the exposure of sulfide minerals in the ground to air and water. Not only do sulfide mines pollute heavily while operational, they will continue to pollute for hundreds of years afterwards. Those who would like to see the mining project go forward argue that a new mining site would give much needed employment to thousands of workers in the Iron Range, serving as an important aspect of the local economy. Continue Reading