The Big E wrote, about a month ago, about a plan sponsored by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN(?)/NH) to allow corporate rapine of lands in one of North America's most glorious remaining wilderness reserves, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, ostensibly to benefit Minnesota schools. The present post is meant as an addendum, to provide some additional context.
It sounds to me that logging and mining corporations would benefit, but not outdoors enthusiasts who flock to the BWCA by the thousands. Tourism interests who rely on a pristine BWCA are not addressed. His proposal ignores generally accepted rules for appraisal and no analysis has been done regarding if this is actually a good deal for Minnesota...
Cravaack wants to by-pass everyone concerned about the 86,000 acres the state owns inside the BWCA so it can be logged and mined.
(An item from Cravaack's newsletter, from a while back, is here.)
This provides great background; I'm just pulling a few key paragraphs.
During the most recent two-year cycle, (Permanent School Fund) interest money contributed about $55 million to supplement the $15 billion K-12 education budget. This amounts to $26 per student above the more than $9,000 allotted from the general fund. In other words, doubling the trust fund revenue over the next 10 years by one-time mining of trust lands would add only $26 per student while destroying the land for any other use.
More below the fold.
Logging and mining are cyclical industries. No one can accurately predict the economics of logging or mining over the next decades. Mining is dependent on controversial extraction of oil, gas, and coal resources, as well as fluctuations in demand. There is no clear indication that citizens of this state and country will allow turning Superior National Forest into a mining district.
How much time and energy has been spent trying to identify land for an exchange, and preparing legislation to create a new commission that would only result in more bureaucracy and paperwork? There is a simpler solution: a total land sale would immediately generate funds for the PSF, benefiting both the children of today and of the future, without harming the environment.
We cannot allow political rhetoric to use "for the sake of our children" as an excuse to sacrifice our health, our water and our land. Turning parts of Superior National Forest over to the state to maximize logging and mining would destroy the natural inheritance entrusted to us by past generations. Generating extra education money for one generation of children at the expense of future generations is a travesty of the trust our children place in us.
Selling the lands to the feds would presumably keep them protected as wilderness. That's not necessarily a total given, if you ask me, but it beats the crap out of plans that seem to be gaining momentum now.
Here's a bunch more, from a strong left perspective.
Frankly, an item from this article sums it all up.
The whole debate is hypocritical, said Rep. Bill Hilty, D-Finlayson.
"If we're really concerned about the children, why don't we just fund education the way we ought to," Hilty said.
Exactly. Funding education, or for that matter massive "borrowing" from schools to balance budgets, wasn't such an issue before the Ventura/Pawlenty regime, beginning in the late 1990s, of tax cut welfare government handouts for the super rich, and Minnesota's subsequent decline across the board, including in education. Making the rich man start to pay up, with interest (because that's the American way, you know) needs to be the state's legislative/executive priority, starting, like, yesterday. That means we need strong DFL majorities; a few seats won't cut it, as Conservadems will screw Governor Dayton in Minnesota as surely as they did President Obama, nationally. And plenty of DFLers still need to be convinced, as well, on this School Trust Lands/BWCA issue.
Moreover, even most conservatives can't possibly be misinformed and gullible enough to believe that, once corporate environmental destructors are allowed a toehold within a place like the BWCA, it will end there. Then again, that's exactly what most conservatives want.