CD7 Outreach Officer’s report for February 2019:
Elections are over, but the issues remain… Here’s an update on some of them.
Pipelines: We are about to see big investors making billion dollar bets on obsolete technology literally try to lay their pipelines over the bodies of thousands of citizens who realize that a passageway for oil to export is in no way the highest and best use of Minnesota’s northern lakes country. I’m a railfan and often see whole trains of still shiny coal cars parked in sidings for months and years as renewable energy has cut the demand for coal. The same overcapacity is happening with oil, again attested to by entire trains of near new short covered hopper cars built to haul frac sand and tank cars built to haul oil inhabiting the sidings. The oil and pipeline companies are hoping the whole world buys gas guzzlers to drive up the price of their too plentiful oil, but those emerging markets are going for transit, small cars, and electric cars. So it’s near impossible to build a business case for additional pipeline capacity.
That’s just the beginning of the arguments against the pipelines… Native Americans wisely retained hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in treaties just in case crops failed or the government didn’t fulfill it’s obligations to provide sustainence, both of which happened. Clean water is essential to agriculture and tourism, and it takes just a few parts per million of the high proportion of benzine and other toxins in Bakken crude to kill agriculture and tourism for years and decades after a major pipeline failure. Minnesota produces no oil and to the pipeline companies were just another state to conquer between the oil in North Dakota and western Canada and markets on the coasts and abroad. Our struggling farmers and biofuel plants can quite well make our own renewable fuels right here in Minnesota, so big oil has little to offer us and should be told to take their unneeded pipelines elsewhere.
Housing: In cities like Marshall a near monopoly of rental property owners have driven rents well above what working class citizens can afford to pay. That forces many folks to seek affordable housing in trailer parks, and what seems like a good deal turns sour as the trailer park owners increase rents while the tenants find the trailers they own become a liability as they rapidly deteriorate and are too expensive to move. It gets worse- The landlords are consolidating so competition between trailer parks is disappearing. And while working folks often end up in trailer parks because they’ve been denied home loans, I found a national chain of trailer parks with a 34 million dollar 20 year loan from Bank of America secured by a 200 site trailer park in Florida swampland!
Immigration: We are already seeing businesses cutting hours due to lack of workers and even closing entirely, yet the MAGA cult still believes a border wall is the answer to all the nation’s problems. Unfortunately this bigotry seems to be strongest here in CD7 and other rural areas where we are most dependent on immigrants to tend our livestock, process our foods, and care for our vulnerable citizens… We need to confront this MAGA hypocrisy head on!
Farm crisis: Our DFL led house had a very educational hearing on the farm crisis today, and though I learned a lot, I am still left wondering how this crisis will play out. There are mixed signals- While farm income continues to drop, many farmers still have a good equity position and are in no immediate danger of default. Throw in farmers planting/no planting? decisions and the weather and we know the farm crisis is about to truly become a crisis, but we don’t know how or where.
Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter