Water Gremlin has had, for decades, numerous environmental, health and safety concerns with respect to air quality and lead waste management. The fishing tackle and battery component maker failed to comply with air-quality rules and also apparently failed to address lead dust that its lead-exposed employees brought home, also exposing their families. It’s about time Water Gremlin is permanently shut down (“State shuts firm over lead dust,” front page, Oct. 29).
In my experience as a former hazardous waste inspector, all too often, shoddy businesses are given too many breaks and do much damage before they are shut down. With respect to lead pollution, Water Gremlin is not the only instance where the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are giving lead-polluting businesses a pass.
Lead is considered a hazardous waste with very specific requirements for management and disposal to protect the environment and human health. In Minnesota, most businesses are required to comply with the hazardous waste rules. For example, dental offices that generate small amounts of lead waste from packaging on X-ray film are required to keep it contained and send it for proper disposal. Yet, the MPCA and the DNR allow lead ammunition discharged at outdoor shooting ranges to lie on the ground, leaching into the soil, wetlands, surface and groundwater, or indoors, where it can be dusted up and contaminate the air. Ranges are permitted to let the lead lie until the business closes, which allows the pollution to migrate for years or decades. Lead is an element; it does not break down into less toxic components. It bioaccumulates, increasing concentrations in living tissues and wreaking havoc with neurological and reproductive systems in humans and wildlife alike. The World Health Organization states, “There is no known ‘safe’ blood lead concentration.”
As citizens in White Bear Lake know, the MPCA has been slow to address Water Gremlin. Tolerating lead ammunition use and permitting spent lead ammunition to contaminate the air, land and water, the DNR, MPCA and Legislature are also woefully negligent in protecting citizens, the environment and wildlife.
Catherine Zimmer, St. Paul
Next, do we condemn ourselves?
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is getting beat up from all sides for her “present” vote on the Armenian genocide resolution (“Armenians disappointed in Omar on genocide vote,” Oct. 30). Regardless of her motivations for so voting, maybe there’s some real wisdom for refusing to take a stand on this.
As horrible as the (century ago) killing of 1.5 million Armenians was, it is just one of numerous genocide/democide events in modern history. I don’t know that Congress has condemned other genocides with similar resolutions.
Before we so righteously condemn Turkey for this atrocious act (which, by the way, occurred before Turkey was Turkey), we should look at ourselves and contemplate our own record. We killed off most of the American Indian population as we stole its land. We played the central role in the much more recent killing of around 2 million civilians in the Vietnam War and, incidentally, poisoned the land there with Agent Orange. The war we started under false pretenses in Iraq killed hundreds of thousands and only succeeded in replacing a bad, corrupt, stable Iraqi government with another bad, corrupt, but unstable government, all while ruining Iraq’s economy and further destabilizing the entire Mideast. And all while squandering trillions of dollars.
We are obviously using the genocide resolution as a political lever to bash Turkey for taking advantage of President Donald Trump’s recent blunder in Syria. Maybe Omar thinks we don’t hold the moral high ground from which to condemn Turkey. Maybe she’s right.
Lewis Wolf, Bloomington
• • •
Omar was wrong when she refused to support the House bill that recognized the past (but still painful) genocide of Armenians. It is even more disappointing when she justified it with the false logic of “whataboutism,” saying that we should not acknowledge this genocide because there have been other mass killings in history. Yes, we can recognize those too. The horror of other atrocities doesn’t diminish the horror of the Armenian mass killing. Gov. Tim Walz, quoted in the Star Tribune, got it right: “The memory of the victims ... demands that history acknowledge the lives lost.”
Lisa Pannell, St. Louis Park
The industry helps Trump, not us
The Washington Post reported this week that Michael Hodges, founder of Advance Financial, one of the largest payday lenders in the U.S., encouraged in a webcast that other payday lenders donate to President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in order to gain leverage in a push for weaker government regulations regarding payday lending. The Trump administration has already weakened not only the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but also the regulations that the CFPB had planned to put into place this past summer, which would have required payday lenders to ensure that borrowers have the ability to repay their loans. Without this requirement, lenders continue to put their profits far ahead of their borrowers’ needs, charging in Minnesota upward of a 200% APR on short-term loans. Most borrowers cannot repay their loans and are forced to re-borrow, starting a cycle of debt that they can’t escape, known as the payday loan debt trap.
While we at the nonprofit Exodus Lending refinance such loans, charging neither interest nor fees, allowing 12 months to repay and ensuring there is an ability to repay without suffering, we continually advocate tighter restrictions on payday lending, specifically a 36% interest rate cap (as South Dakota and Colorado have instituted). Payday lenders may have the resources to influence the White House, but that doesn’t mean what they are pushing for is the will of the people.
Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minneapolis
The writer is executive director of Exodus Lending.
Connect the dots — fewer bags means a cleaner environment
Charging a fee for all new shopping bags — both plastic and paper — is the right thing to do (“Mpls. still wants its 5 cents’ worth on plastic bags,” Oct. 30). Why? Because while plastic bags that get littered add to plastic in our waters, paper bags have a much bigger greenhouse gas footprint than plastic bags. Acidification of the oceans caused by climate change is as big a problem for ocean life as plastic litter. This is why all the bag types are included in the proposed policy. I wish the article included this detail.
How is it that we are this far into discussions of Minneapolis bag policy and neither policymakers nor the Star Tribune are making the link between consumption and climate explicit, especially given Minneapolis’ climate commitments? The policy is a small step to a larger trend we need — to reduce disposables, to make things that last and to keep and use everything we already have as long as they are functional before replacing them (from clothes to buildings).
Madalyn Cioci, Minneapolis
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