Excellent primer on lead issues from our friends at the NRDC. We've made enormous progress in getting lead out of the air, but are still way short of where we need to be on lead in the water. This is not just about Flint. This is a national problem.
Interesting article in the New York Times on World Bank and IMF efforts to get countries to adopt carbon taxes or cap-and-trade programs. MCEA hopes that the recent administrative law judge recommendation that Minnesota adopt the federal "social cost of carbon" is a first step here. And, as many of you know, Washington state has a carbon tax initiative on the ballot this year.
Good, kind of wonky article about drinking water infrastructure, focusing on technology and financing: "Our drinking water systems are a disaster. What can we do?"
Earthjustice report on the Cevron Molycorp mine in New Mexico, which closed in 2014. The "broken record," where policy makers keep making the same mistake over and over, is the inadequacy of the financial assurance package intended to protect taxpayers. The cleanup cost of this mine will be between $500 and 800 million; the financial assurance is $167 million, and you know who will foot the bill for the difference.
Big win for MCEA, big win for Minnesota today. Today, Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter, after months and months of hearings, briefs, and expert reports, recommended to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that it adopt the federal "social cost of carbon" as the binding external cost of carbon emissions for all electric utility decision making. That means that the PUC (and the utilities who need the PUC to bless their plans) will have to include those negative external costs in their calculations, and it will make carbon-intensive forms of electricity generation much more difficult to justify on economic terms.
Too often, environmentalists get derided as blissed-out flower children who don't understand hard economic realities. Well, not so much. When a power plant puts a ton of carbon in the air, we all pay a real economic price that ought to be borne by the utility. Internalizing negative external costs through public policy is something even free-market conservatives endorse, and today Minnesota took another step toward getting that right, at least for electricity generation.
Next stop for this is the PUC. Next step from a policy perspective should be a more serious discussion about shifting toward a carbon tax, based on this kind of economic analysis.
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
26 East Exchange Street, Suite 206
St. Paul, MN 55101 | (651) 223 - 5969