Monday, March 1, 2010

Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A. By CHARLES DUHIGG and JANET ROBERTS

From: New York Times

February 28, 2010

Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A.


Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.

The Clean Water Act was intended to end dangerous water pollution by regulating every major polluter. But today, regulators may be unable to prosecute as many as half of the nation’s largest known polluters because officials lack jurisdiction or because proving jurisdiction would be overwhelmingly difficult or time consuming, according to midlevel officials.

“We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states,” said Douglas F. Mundrick, an E.P.A. lawyer in Atlanta. “This is a huge step backward. When companies figure out the cops can’t operate, they start remembering how much cheaper it is to just dump stuff in a nearby creek.”

“This is a huge deal,” James M. Tierney, the New York State assistant commissioner for water resources, said of the new constraints. “There are whole watersheds that feed into New York’s drinking water supply that are, as of now, unprotected.”

The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters” of the United States. For decades, “navigable waters” was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.

But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be “navigable waters” and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.

Some argue that such decisions help limit overreaching regulatory efforts.

“There is no doubt in my mind that when Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 they intended it to have broad regulatory reach, but they did not intend it to be unlimited,” said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations, who has lobbied on Clean Water issues.

But for E.P.A. and state regulators, the decisions have created widespread uncertainty. The court did not define which waterways are regulated, and judicial districts have interpreted the court’s decisions differently. As regulators have struggled to guess how various courts will rule, some E.P.A. lawyers have established unwritten internal guidelines to avoid cases in which proving jurisdiction is too difficult, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former E.P.A. officials.

The decisions “reduce E.P.A.’s ability to do what the law intends — to protect water quality, the environment and public health,” wrote Peter S. Silva, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, in response to questions.

About 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by waters that are vulnerable to exclusion from the Clean Water Act, according to E.P.A. reports.

The E.P.A. said in a statement that it did not automatically concede that any significant water body was outside the authority of the Clean Water Act. “Jurisdictional determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis,” the agency wrote. Officials added that they believed that even many streams that go dry for long periods were within the act’s jurisdiction.

But midlevel E.P.A. officials said that internal studies indicated that as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult.

And even in situations in which regulators believe they still have jurisdiction, companies have delayed cases for years by arguing that the ambiguity precludes prosecution. In some instances, regulators have simply dropped enforcement actions.

In the last two years, some members of Congress have tried to limit the impact of the court decisions by introducing legislation known as the Clean Water Restoration Act. It has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet introduced this session in the House. The legislation tries to resolve these problems by, in part, removing the word “navigable” from the law and restoring regulators’ authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions.

But a broad coalition of industries has often successfully lobbied to prevent the full Congress from voting on such proposals by telling farmers and small-business owners that the new legislation would permit the government to regulate rain puddles and small ponds and layer new regulations on how they dispose of waste.

“The game plan is to emphasize the scary possibilities,” said one member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which has fought the legislation and is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders and other groups representing industries affected by the Clean Water Act.

“If you can get Glenn Beck to say that government storm troopers are going to invade your property, farmers in the Midwest will light up their congressmen’s switchboards,” said the coalition member, who asked not to be identified because he thought his descriptions would anger other coalition participants. Mr. Beck, a conservative commentator on Fox News, spoke at length against the Clean Water Restoration Act in December.

The American Land Rights Association, another organization opposed to legislation, wrote last June that people should “Deluge your senators with calls, faxes and e-mails.” A news release the same month from the American Farm Bureau Federation warned that “even rainwater would be regulated.”

“If you erase the word ‘navigable’ from the law, it erases any limitation on the federal government’s reach,” said Mr. Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It could be a gutter, a roadside ditch or a rain puddle. But under the new law, the government gets control over it.”

Legislators say these statements are misleading and intended to create panic.

“These claims just aren’t true,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. He helped push the bill through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This bill,” he said, “is solely aimed at restoring the law to what it covered before the Supreme Court decisions.”

The consequences of the Supreme Court decisions are stark. In drier states, some polluters say the act no longer applies to them and are therefore refusing to renew or apply for permits, making it impossible to monitor what they are dumping, say officials.

Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M., for instance, recently informed E.P.A. officials that it no longer considered itself subject to the act. It dumps wastewater — containing bacteria and human sewage — into a lake on the base.

More than 200 oil spill cases were delayed as of 2008, according to a memorandum written by an E.P.A. official and collected by Congressional investigators. And even as the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act has steadily increased each year, E.P.A. judicial actions against major polluters have fallen by almost half since the Supreme Court rulings, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data by The New York Times.

The Clean Water Act does not directly deal with drinking water. Rather, it was meant to regulate the polluters that contaminated the waterways that supplied many towns and cities with tap water.

The two Supreme Court decisions at issue — Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006 — focused on the federal government’s jurisdiction over various wetlands. In both cases, dissenting justices warned that limiting the power of the federal government would weaken its ability to combat water pollution.

“Cases now are lost because the company is discharging into a stream that flows into a river, rather than the river itself,” said David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan who led the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department during the last administration.

In 2007, for instance, after a pipe manufacturer in Alabama, a division of McWane Inc., was convicted and fined millions of dollars for dumping oil, lead, zinc and other chemicals into a large creek, an appellate court overturned that conviction and fine, ruling that the Supreme Court precedent exempted the waterway from the Clean Water Act. The company eventually settled by agreeing to pay a smaller amount and submit to probation.

Some E.P.A. officials say solutions beyond the Clean Water Restoration Act are available. They argue that the agency’s chief, Lisa P. Jackson, could issue regulations that seek to clarify jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Mrs. Jackson has urged Congress to resolve these issues. But she has not issued new regulations.

“E.P.A., with our federal partners, emphasized to Congress in a May 2009 letter that legislation is the best way to restore the Clean Water Act’s effectiveness,” wrote Mr. Silva in a statement to The Times. “E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue to implement our water programs to protect the nation’s waters and the environment as effectively as possible, including consideration of administrative actions to restore the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act.”

In the meantime, both state and federal regulators say they are prevented from protecting important waterways.

“We need something to fix these gaps,” said Mr. Tierney, the New York official. “The Clean Water Act worked for over 30 years, and we’re at risk of losing that if we can’t get a new law.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Water, water everywhere?

Water, water everywhere? was a crude attempt to justify the continued degradation and destruction of our freshwater aquifers by the collusion between big-business and Democrats. One lone Republican, Al Quie, the darling of big-business oriented Democrats was on hand to offer his approval for this forum and its goal of tolerating the continued destruction of our freshwater aquifers, streams, rivers and lakes.

Seventy-six people attended this forum whose initiators claimed it would be an open discussion and dialogue; "Water, water everywhere?" proved to be as "open" a forum as the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party itself as it was dominated by MN DFL party hacks, politicians, and the "fronts," like the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and Clean Water, set up by the big-business elements in the DFL to push to put the burden of cleaning up our polluted streams, rivers, lakes and freshwater aquifers on the backs of working people instead of making the polluters who profited foot the bill for clean-up.

The purpose of the Forum was to bring together these "coalitions" to work to pass the constitutional amendment aimed at tricking and deceiving Minnesotans into picking up the clean-up tab of the polluters as big-business continues--- unrestricted and unhampered--- to pollute and contaminate our waters and aquifers.

The organizers of the Freeman Forum, including the head of the Humphrey Center, were true to form in saying they were for an open dialogue, but called out the police to prevent "embarrassing questions" and distribution of leaflets with alternative views.

More and more Minnesota politics is coming to be dominated by this kind of arrogance on the part of the well-heeled, like the Freeman family and high-paid university administrators, who think they, and only they, have a right to think for the rest of us by virtue of their positions in society secured through their wealth. These well-heeled individuals use their wealth to try to control political dialogue and debate in a way that best serves the interest of big-business to make bigger and bigger profits.

The Freeman family, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party with their "Freeman Forum" provides us with insight as to how these people operate manipulating and controlling what ideas enter the "market place of ideas" and "the public square" in making a farce out of democracy by setting up these so-called forums pretending they are providing ALL views when if fact these "forums" are limited to the views only these well-heeled approve.

When questioned as to why a forum on "Water" would provide bottled water, instead of Minneapolis tap water, Congressman Oberstar arrogantly responded, "The water in this bottle had to had come from a tap someplace." In his answer to this question, Oberstar provided the answer to the problems we are facing concerning "water."

Never did United States DFL Congressman James Oberstar, or any of the other panelists, take up the issue of water privatization. Or, the fact that water already costs as much as oil when purchased by the bottle as it is sold by some of the largest multi-national conglomerates like Nestle.

Oberstar and the others ignored one small fact as they hypocritically called for cleaning up our waters--- that they are allowing the continued pollution and contamination of our waters and fresh water aquifers faster than they can be cleaned up.

After the first two critical questions, these "democrats" closely controlled who they handed the microphones to to ask questions of Oberstar and the other presenters.

This is the leaflet I passed out to all the Freeman Forum participants:

Today we will hear about: Water, Water, Water.

Tomorrow we will hear about Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

How come we never hear about Profits, Profits, Profits?

Look around you.

We are the “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.”

Every single stream, river and lake in Minnesota is now so polluted women of child-bearing age, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children are warned not to consume the fish swimming in these waters…

…All of this has happened on United States Congressman Jim Oberstar’s watch--- with his corrupt collusion and connivance, corporate contributors to his campaigns are making huge profits --- the mining, forestry, power generating and banking industries are getting wealthier

Ask United States Congressman James Oberstar why he orchestrated the racist backroom deal that is allowing a huge Canadian multi-national corporation to mine peat in the Pine Island State Forest located in the Big Bog and truck away the profits on infrastructure paid for by local, county, state and federal tax-dollars?

The destruction of the Big Bog is now underway. This is the largest freshwater aquifer remaining in Minnesota.

The Big Bog is the largest--- and last--- pristine, wilderness bog left in the Lower Forty-Eight.

To mine one square mile of bog more than fifteen square miles is being drained.

While the I-35W Bridge was rotting away, Congressman Oberstar found more than twenty million dollars to build a road and infrastructure into this bog for a foreign corporation to truck away the profits without having to spend one single penny.

Congressman Oberstar has even agreed that tax-payers should spend millions more clearing off the land so the peat can be mined.

Take a Look at the destruction which has begun…
This is only the beginning.

Eventually, over the next thirty to fifty years, the size of this area will double.

Most of you will never travel off the beaten path far enough to see this destruction… out of sight; out of mind.

The Commissioner of Natural Resources still has the authority to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog.

Call, write and e-mail Minnesota’s Commissioner of Natural Resources.

The peat mining is taking place in the Pine Island State Forest yet Minnesotans were never consulted, nor asked, if they approved of such wanton destruction.

If you won’t defend Minnesota’s bogs, our primary freshwater aquifers… don’t worry about the quality of water.

Tomorrow you will pay more for your drinking water than you do for oil today.

To find out more check out this blog:

“Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow…” Abe Lincoln 1861

Distributed compliments:

Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
Alan L. Maki.
Director of Organizing cell phone: 651-587-5541

Thirty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws… please boycott all Minnesota casinos.


Another opinion on Water the Freeman Forum excluded:

More than three billion people condemned to premature death from hunger and thirst

By Fidel Castro

14/04/08 "Granma " -- - THAT is not an exaggerated figure, but rather a cautious one. I have meditated a lot on that in the wake of President Bush’s meeting with U.S. automobile manufacturers.

The sinister idea of converting food into fuel was definitively established as an economic line in U.S. foreign policy last Monday, March 26.

A cable from the AP, the U.S. news agency that reaches all corners of the world, states verbatim:

“WASHINGTON, March 26 (AP). President Bush touted the benefits of ‘flexible fuel’ vehicles running on ethanol and biodiesel on Monday, meeting with automakers to boost support for his energy plans.

“Bush said a commitment by the leaders of the domestic auto industry to double their production of flex-fuel vehicles could help motorists shift away from gasoline and reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil.

‘“That's a major technological breakthrough for the country,’ Bush said after inspecting three alternative vehicles. If the nation wants to reduce gasoline use, he said “the consumer has got to be in a position to make a rational choice.”

“The president urged Congress to ‘move expeditiously’ on legislation the administration recently proposed to require the use of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017 and seek higher fuel economy standards for automobiles.

“Bush met with General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group chief executive Tom LaSorda.

“They discussed support for flex-fuel vehicles, attempts to develop ethanol from alternative sources like switchgrass and wood chips and the administration's proposal to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent in 10 years.

“The discussions came amid rising gasoline prices. The latest Lundberg Survey found the nationwide average for gasoline has risen 6 cents per gallon in the past two weeks to $2.61.”

I believe that reducing and moreover recycling all motors that run on electricity and fuel is an elemental and urgent need for all humanity. The tragedy does not lie in reducing those energy costs but in the idea of converting food into fuel.

It is known very precisely today that one ton of corn can only produce 413 liters of ethanol on average, according to densities. That is equivalent to 109 gallons.

The average price of corn in U.S. ports has risen to $167 per ton. Thus, 320 million tons of corn would be required to produce 35 billion gallons of ethanol.

According to FAO figures, the U.S. corn harvest rose to 280.2 million tons in the year 2005.

Although the president is talking of producing fuel derived from grass or wood shavings, anyone can understand that these are phrases totally lacking in realism. Let’s be clear: 35 billion gallons translates into 35 followed by nine zeros!

Afterwards will come beautiful examples of what experienced and well-organized U.S. farmers can achieve in terms of human productivity by hectare: corn converted into ethanol; the chaff from that corn converted into animal feed containing 26% protein; cattle dung used as raw material for gas production. Of course, this is after voluminous investments only within the reach of the most powerful enterprises, in which everything has to be moved on the basis of electricity and fuel consumption. Apply that recipe to the countries of the Third World and you will see that people among the hungry masses of the Earth will no longer eat corn. Or something worse: lend funding to poor countries to produce corn ethanol based on corn or any other food and not a single tree will be left to defend humanity from climate change.

Other countries in the rich world are planning to use not only corn but also wheat, sunflower seeds, rapeseed and other foods for fuel production. For the Europeans, for example, it would become a business to import all of the world’s soybeans with the aim of reducing the fuel costs for their automobiles and feeding their animals with the chaff from that legume, particularly rich in all types of essential amino acids.

In Cuba, alcohol used to be produced as a byproduct of the sugar industry after having made three extractions of sugar from cane juice. Climate change is already affecting our sugar production. Lengthy periods of drought alternating with record rainfall, that barely make it possible to produce sugar with an adequate yield during the 100 days of our very moderate winter; hence, there is less sugar per ton of cane or less cane per hectare due to prolonged drought in the months of planting and cultivation.

I understand that in Venezuela they would be using alcohol not for export but to improve the environmental quality of their own fuel. For that reason, apart from the excellent Brazilian technology for producing alcohol, in Cuba the use of such a technology for the direct production of alcohol from sugar cane juice is no more than a dream or the whim of those carried away by that idea. In our country, land handed over to the direct production of alcohol could be much useful for food production for the people and for environmental protection.

All the countries of the world, rich and poor, without any exception, could save millions and millions of dollars in investment and fuel simply by changing all the incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent ones, an exercise that Cuba has carried out in all homes throughout the country. That would provide a breathing space to resist climate change without killing the poor masses through hunger.

As can be observed, I am not using adjectives to qualify the system and the lords of the earth. That task can be excellently undertaken by news experts and honest social, economic and political scientists abounding in the world who are constantly delving into to the present and future of our species. A computer and the growing number of Internet networks are sufficient for that.

Today, we are seeing for the first time a really globalized economy and a dominant power in the economic, political and military terrain that in no way resembles that of Imperial Rome.

Some people will be asking themselves why I am talking of hunger and thirst. My response to that: it is not about the other side of the coin, but about several sides of something else, like a die with six sides, or a polyhedron with many more sides.

I refer in this case to an official news agency, founded in 1945 and generally well-informed about economic and social questions in the world: TELAM. It said, and I quote:

“In just 18 years, close to 2 billion people will be living in countries and regions where water will be a distant memory. Two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in places where that scarcity produces social and economic tensions of such a magnitude that it could lead nations to wars for the precious ‘blue gold.’

“Over the last 100 years, the use of water has increased at a rate twice as fast as that of population growth.

“According to statistics from the World Water Council, it is estimated that by 2015, the number of inhabitants affected by this grave situation will rise by 3.5 billion people.

“The United Nations celebrated World Water Day on March 23, and called to begin confronting, that very day, the international scarcity of water, under the coordination of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the goal of highlighting the increasing importance of water scarcity on a global scale, and the need for greater integration and cooperation that would make it possible to guarantee sustained and efficient management of water resources.

“Many regions on the planet are suffering from severe water shortages, living with less than 500 cubic meters per person per year. The number of regions suffering from chronic scarcity of this vital element is increasingly growing.

“The principal consequences of water scarcity are an insufficient amount of the precious liquid for producing food, the impossibility of industrial, urban and tourism development and health problems.”

That was the TELEAM cable.

In this case I will refrain from mentioning other important facts, like the melting ice in Greenland and the Antarctic, damage to the ozone layer and the growing volume of mercury in many species of fish for common consumption.

There are other issues that could be addressed, but with these lines I am just trying to comment on President Bush’s meeting with the principal executives of U.S. automakers.

March 28, 2007

Fidel Castro.

Translated by Granma International


And then there are Profits, Profits, Profits

Jim Oberstar avoids any discussion of corporate profits derived from water.

What is amazing is that trillions of dollars are being spent to build elaborate filters to make our water safe to drink; but, the Big Bog is Mother Nature's natural filter, and Oberstar has orchestrated a racist back-room deal that will destroy this natural filter for this huge freshwater aquifer.

Check out this article from U.S. News and World Report:


Water, Water Everywherefor Investors

By Katy Marquardt

Posted February 8, 2008

Water may be the most basic—and valuable—commodity. Although it's a renewable resource, the 2½ percent of water on Earth that's not salty or trapped in ice is steady decreasing as the world population continues to rise.

Meanwhile, water systems are widely in disrepair. Much of the existing water infrastructure in the United States was built in the period following World War II. The American Water Works Association estimates that it will take at least $250 billion to replace thousands of miles of leaky water lines and aging filtration plants over the next 30 years.

The situation in developing countries is even worse. In China, where a third of the population drinks substandard water, the government is investing $125 billion over the next few years to improve water supply and waste-water treatment. "With many developing countries now flush with capital, infrastructure spending in the emerging economies is set to skyrocket, and water should capture a healthy portion of the share," says Les Satlow of Cabot Money Management.

Many companies stand to benefit from massive spending on infrastructure. In fact, many already are: On average, stocks in the water sector gained 22 percent in 2007, compared with a 4 percent increase for the S&P 500, according to the Boenning & Scattergood Water Digest. While the report says these companies "are positioned to sustain their streak of robust relative performance," shares haven't been exactly cheap. But some of that froth has dissolved during recent market pullbacks, and many water stocks are currently trading near the bottom of their historical valuations. "By and large, this group is looking pretty good at the moment," says Michael Gaugler, an analyst with Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Because the industry is vast, there are many ways to invest in water infrastructure. The simplest way to get broad exposure to the sector is through an exchange-traded fund such as PowerShares Water Resources (symbol PHO). This fund holds a portfolio of 35 water-connected stocks, including treatment companies, pipe and valve makers, metering outfits, utilities, and industrial conglomerates. Otherwise, here are a few individual stocks for consideration:

Pumps, pipes, and valves. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, half of the water pipes in the nation will be in poor, very poor, or "elapsed status" by 2020. That spells profits for Mueller Water Products, the big dog of the U.S. pipe and valve market (and maker of half of the country's fire hydrants.) Because 40 percent of Mueller's business in 2007 was tied to new housing construction—through sales of residential water systems—the company's revenues and profits have suffered. The stock, recently $8 a share, is down significantly from its high of $19 last summer. But residential construction, which now accounts for 30 percent of sales, is becoming a smaller piece of the pie. "At some point in the near future, the effects of new housing on Mueller's business model will no longer be a hindrance to bottom-line earnings growth," writes Gaugler in a recent note to clients. The shares, which trade at 15 times analysts' earnings expectations for the fiscal 2008 year, might appeal to long-term investors.

Playing defense with utilities. Water utilities aren't a bad place to park your money during uncertain economic times. "The sector's reputation as a defensive haven is justified: In the last two recessions, water utilities maintained solid financial performance despite the challenging economic climate," according to Boenning & Scattergood. That's not surprising, since customers don't tend to curb their water usage during tough times as they might with heat or air conditioning.

The largest of the publicly traded U.S. water utilities is Aqua America. Although based in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Aqua (WTR) is aggressively growing its empire by buying up smaller rivals at the rate of 25 to 30 per year. These are generally small, mom-and-pop outfits that can't afford to upgrade their systems in the face of ever-tightening federal water-quality standards. Aqua's goal is to increase its customer base by 4 percent annually, earnings by 10 percent a year; and dividend by 5 percent. The company earned 72 cents a share last year, just two pennies more than in 2006. That sluggish growth is partially due to what those in the industry call "regulatory lag," the time after a utility's costs go up but before it's allowed to raise the rate it charges to customers. At $20 recently, Aqua's stock is down from $26 in early August.

Analyst Debra Coy of Janney Montgomery Scott says a string of rate increases in Aqua's pipleline could lead the company to boost earnings by 15 percent this year. "We finally think it is time to step up to the plate, as we believe the stock should recover based on its strong earnings outlook for 2008," writes Coy, who rates the stock a "buy" with a six-to-12-month price target of $24.

Purification. Safe, reliable drinking water isn't a given in many parts of the world—especially newly industrialized nations. As the world's largest provider of water and wastewater services, Veolia Environnement is uniquely positioned with operations spanning from western Europe to China. "Pick a place that's water-starved, and Veolia's probably there," Gaugler says. The French company (VE) controls a host of long-term contracts—some for as long as 50 years—which provide some insulation from economic risks. Veolia is expanding its operations in fast-growing countries, especially China, where business is expected to grow at 20 percent annually over the next 15 years. The recent sell-off in global stock markets, which knocked the stock down to $79 from $96 in early December, makes for an attractive entry point, Gaugler says. He thinks shares could fetch $97 in the next 12 months.


April 22, 2008

Earth Day

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki []

Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:36 PM

To: 'Denise Pfeifer'; '';'Jody Beaulieu'; ''

Cc:''; ''; ''; ''; 'Laurel'; 'William McAuliffe'

Subject: RE: Freeman Forum Lecture Follow Up

Ms. Pfeifer,

Thank you for inviting me to the Freeman Forum; it was a great learning experience in so many ways.

I am looking forward to next year’s Freeman Forum… what will the topic be?

Also, you might want to pass on the link to my blog about my experiences at the 2008 Freeman Forum:

You might also be interested in circulating this blog:

I am wondering how I can obtain the recording of the question period following Congressman Jim Oberstar’s lecture.

Also, I asked for a receipt for the twenty dollars I paid for the luncheon as I get reimbursed provided I have a receipt; I was told the receipt would be e-mailed to me; it was not. Would you please provide me with the receipt?

On a final note, do you think on behalf of the Freeman Forum, you could ask United States Congressman James Oberstar to make a written and public apology to me for calling me a “liar?” I am sure you understand the seriousness of this kind of slanderous remark. As you are aware, James Oberstar did in fact “orchestrate a racist, back-room deal” regarding peat mining in the Pine Island State Forest located at the center of the Big Bog, our most important freshwater aquifer now that Congressman Oberstar has allowed the mining companies to pollute Lake Superior. As you are aware, truth is the only defense against a lawsuit for libel and slander; I hope I will not have to proceed with a lawsuit to defend my good name from the untruthful, vicious and vile statements Congressman Oberstar made about me. Congressman Oberstar was well aware that his remarks were being brought to a much wider audience, and Congressman Oberstar was fully aware that he lied in denying any knowledge of the peat mining permit in the Big Bog. Further, Congressman Oberstar was fully aware the Red Lake Nation is in complete and full opposition to this peat mining. I think we need an explanation from Congressman Oberstar why he lied about his involvement in this dirty deal. Needless to say, an apology to me is in order.

I stand by my remarks that Congressman Oberstar’s lecture on “Water” was the “most self-serving and hypocritical speech I have ever heard from a politician.” As you are aware, I am entitled to my opinion; as Congressman Oberstar is entitled to his opinion. His response that he was “offended” by my characterization of his speech is very legitimate. On the other hand, calling me a “liar” as Congressman Oberstar did is an outright slander prohibited under state and federal statutes… you may consult with Mr. Freeman who is an attorney of sorts from what I hear.

Again, you may read the statement which was posted for many years on the Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s web site concerning Congressman Oberstar’s involvement in obtaining the permit for a Canadian multi-national corporation to mine peat in the Big Bog. I have posted this statement in its entirety on this blog:

Perhaps you and the facilitators of the Freeman Forum might want request an explanation of Congressman Oberstar about his role in all of this… I assume the Freeman Forum had a sincere desire to want to provide information enabling people to act to protect our freshwater aquifers as required; anything else would be seen as hypocrisy by the public.

One other concern I have. I noticed the extremely high level of involvement on the part of numerous public officials including the Secretary of State and a former State Governor as well as Mr. Gene Merriam and current members of the MN DNR along with numerous organizations and foundations very prominent in the public eye; on the other hand I noted that the audience and ALL panelists were white. I assume the facilitators of the Freeman Forum attempted to involve people of color? What went wrong? Is there some underlying institutionalized racism involved? I note this event took place at the Humphrey Center, which is part of the University of Minnesota. I am sure you must have noted that people of color were not represented at all as panelists or as audience. I find this very strange and something which should not be tolerated by those concerned with civil and human rights. Was there a fear that to include people of color might have resulted in accusations of racism regarding how the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party resolves issues involving “water?” Might not you have invited the head of the Red Lake Nation’s Department of Natural Resources to have been a panelist if you were truly interested in hearing from all concerned? I am suggesting that the American Civil Liberties Union’s Task Force On Race Relations look into this. Perhaps the Minnesota Department of Human Rights should be requested to look into this, also.

I think it is important to note, and you must be aware, that none other than the United Nations has pointed out that the destruction of ecosystems and the pollution and contamination of fresh water aquifers is often found to be related to racism and genocide. I would assume that organizations like the Sierra Club would be very concerned to find out that people of color were excluded from the Freeman Forum’s 2008 “Water, Water Everywhere?” In a situation like this perception really is everything.

I thank you in advance for your attention to these matters.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

-----Original Message-----

From: Denise Pfeifer []

Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:59 PM


Subject: Freeman Forum Lecture Follow Up

Freeman Forum Attendees,

Thank you for attending the 2008 Freeman Forum.

As a follow up to the event I wanted to share with you Deb Swackhamer's summary along with a link to an audio of the Freeman Forum lectures from April 8th, 2008.
Attached is Deb Swackhamer's summary paper of the Water lecture program is a spectacular piece of work that underscores the stature of the lecture program series in a way that we've never been able to do before. It also illustrates the value of the work that all of us involved in putting together these programs can see in a tangible form. Freeman Forum Synthesis Swackhamer 041708.pdf

The audio from all the Freeman Forum lectures on April 8, 2008, is now available on the Humphrey Institute podcast. You can find this at Please feel free to share with your colleagues.

Thanks for your attendance. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Best, Denise

Denise Pfeifer
Minnesota Rural Partners