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This Month's League Lines - League of Women Voters St. Cloud Area

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LEAGUE OF
WOMEN VOTERS В®
ST. CLOUD AREA
Visit our Websit e: www.lwvsca.org
League
Lines
January 2015
.JANUARY
UNIT MEETINGS – Transportation of Energy
Wednesday, January 14, 2015, noon
Ace Bar and Grill,
423 East St. Germain, St. Cloud MN
Saturday, January 17, 2014, 9:30am
Dunn Brothers Coffee at Coborn's on Cooper,
900 Cooper Avenue S., St. Cloud MN
Come early to order.
In January we’ll discuss the problems of the oil trains, including history, current status and alternatives or
improvements. On pages 7-10 you will find the background information. We apologize for the length of the
material, but coming prepared will keep the meeting on schedule. This is a very dynamic subject. If you look,
you can find a news article on the subject practically every day!
Ralph Carr, Pat Fillmore, Geri Gustafson and Marlene Haider
Got 15 Minutes? Explore LWV Online Resources
After the unit meetings in January and February you are invited to stay and
explore LWV online resources. We expect the presentation to take about 15
minutes. In January we will take a look at our own website:
http://www.lwvsca.org/ and our Facebook page at:
www.facebook.com/lwvstcloudarea . Afterward, we will stay for questions
regarding the website or the Facebook page as well as any other simple computer
questions you might have such as, “How can I print a single page of the League
Lines?” We hope you will find the mini-sessions after the unit meeting more
convenient than a separate meeting.
Marlene Haider & Linda Kotschevar
Calendar Changes:
Program Planning is now Saturday, January 24, 2015, 9am
No January 10, 2015 meeting to explore online resources.
Note the Saturday meetings in January have different starting times.
January 2015
INSIDE THIS
EDITION
Program Planning and Bylaws
Change….Page 2
Membership Luncheon…Page 3
Community Outreach…Page 4
Membership …Pages 5
Book Club … Pages 5
Calendar … Page 6
Unit Reading Material
…Pages 7-10
Reminders…Page 11
Page 1
Saturday, January 24th at 9:00am
Ace Bar and Grill, 423 East St. Germain, St. Cloud
What are the most important things LWV Minnesota should be addressing in
the next two years? You can have a voice in this process by attending the
Program Planning meeting. LWV Minnesota Program consists of those
governmental issues that the LWV has chosen for concerted study and action at
the national, state or local level. According to our bylaws, Program is acted upon at Convention. In fact, the two
primary reasons for the bi-annual business Convention are the review and passage of LWVMN Program and a
two-year working budget. According to the bylaws, local leagues are tasked with providing recommendations
for a Program to the Board of Directors at least three months prior to the Convention. The 2015 LWVMN
Convention will be held in Duluth this June 13-14.
Be sure to arrive early to order breakfast--the meeting will begin at 9:00am sharp. Along with program choices,
we will discuss restructuring our league to become a non-profit 501(c) (3) LLC subsidiary of LWVMN. A
quorum of members must be there to discuss and vote on this issue. We hope to see all of you there for this very
important meeting!
Important message from LWVSCA Board of Directors
Regarding a Bylaws Change
Please plan to attend the Program Planning meeting on Saturday January 24th at 9:00am at the Ace. We have
some important decisions to make and we need a quorum of members there to discuss and vote on the decisions.
Along with program choices, we want to discuss restructuring to become a non-profit 501(c) (3) LLC
subsidiary of LWVMN. The board believes there are many advantages to the change and negligible
disadvantages. More information will be sent to all members, including copies of by-laws and articles of
organization from LWVMN before the planning meeting. The decision must be made before the end of the
fiscal year (March 31). Please read them and be prepared to discuss and vote on whether we want to make this
change.
A few advantages:
п‚·
п‚·
п‚·
п‚·
п‚·
This will make all contributions to LWVSCA tax-deductible.
There will no longer be an education fund at LWVMN. They will send it to us. We will get full
possession and control of our education fund money.
LWVSCA will not have any dealings with the IRS. We will report annually to LWVMN and their
Federal tax filing will cover us.
We will use the by-laws and articles of organization supplied by LWVMN, and get to create our own
LWVSCA governing policies and procedures which we can change anytime on our own.
LWVSCA will continue to operate independently with its own board, bank account, dues, meetings,
policies, committees, programs etc.
~ Jerilyn Petersen
January 2015
Page 2
You Are Invited
LWVSCA Membership Luncheon
Saturday, February 14, 2014
11:00 Registration/Social Time
11:30 Buffet Luncheon
12:15 Program
Engaging Young Adults in
Our Democratic Process
Keynote Speaker: Alyssa Berg
Senior at St. Olaf College, Northfield MN
Tuscan Center Lounge in Midtown Square
3333 West Division St., St. Cloud, MN
Free on-site parking. Handicapped accessible.
This event is a fun and informational way to
welcome newer and prospective new members.
Members are encouraged to invite guests.
Cost: $13.00 per person, $10.00 for students
RSVP to Jan Stavros by Friday, February 6th
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (320)-529-0146
January 2015
Page 3
Community Outreach: Year at a Glance
Well, it’s official! In 2014, LWVSCA volunteers contributed more than 1,000 hours to
organize and staff events where we registered voters and helped citizens learn more about
current issues and candidates. Thank you everyone for sharing your time and talents.
Voter Registration
In February and June, members and friends attended local workshops to learn about the importance of voting,
Minnesota voting regulations, and how to complete voter registration forms. Throughout the year, volunteers set
up information tables at nine community locations where festivals or other special events were being held. In
July, we attended a Citizenship Ceremony at the Convention Center and helped almost 60 new citizens register
to vote.
Candidate Forums
Many of us learned more about how to conduct candidate forums—first at a local workshop in May and then
during an in-depth LWVMN sponsored workshop in August. Terry Kalil conducted the latter and transmitted a
wealth of information about current and recommended best practices for organizing and implementing every
step of the forum process. Half of the all-day workshop was devoted to Moderator Training and addressed
topics such as managing challenging situations.
Each candidate forum that LWVSCA conducted required the support of many types of volunteers including, for
the first time, the role of photographer. Special thanks go to the moderators, timers and assistants who worked
together to conduct high quality events. LWVSCA conducted candidate forums for District #742 School Board;
Stearns County Sheriff; St. Cloud City Council; Sauk Rapids City Council; and State Representative for District
13A and Districts 14A and 14B.
Special Events at Whitney Senior Center
Along with the activities summarized above, it’s worth highlighting one-of-a-kind events at Whitney Senior
Center. On September 23, National Voter Registration Day, we set up a table to register voters. In September
and October, LWVSCA volunteers were table hosts at the “Constitution USA” series, four separate sessions
about the history and meaning of the Constitution. Whitney staff publicly thanked us at each session. Finally,
Community Outreach Chair Kate Meyer offered a Thursday Morning Humanities session on October 30 titled
“The Constitution and Women’s Suffrage.”
~ Kate Meyer
HOLIDAY PARTY BY THE NUMBERS by Diane Bublitz
37
Number of members, spouses and friends who attended.
$275.00 Money raised from the sale of Ellen Mork’s hand work, bringing the total to date at $665.
$170.50 Country Store and book sale receipts.
Thank you to Charlotte Stephens for storing and displaying Ellen’s items, and to her sons for sharing them with
us. Thank you also to Pat Fillmore for heading the organizing committee and for all who helped set-up and
clean-up. Finally, thank you to everyone who brought food. The potluck was plentiful and delicious as usual.
January 2015
Page 4
Annual Membership Luncheon: Saturday, February 14, 2015. Full invitation is on page 3.
MEMBER BIO: Introducing Jan Stavros
I am a Minnesotan by birth, but was raised in northern Iowa. While in nurses training in
Rochester, MN, I met and married Tom Stavros. I worked in various fields of nursing, LPN, OR
Technician, and finally Registered Nurse, for forty years. After we both retired in 2000,we
moved from Wausau, WI to St. Cloud to be nearer our family. We enjoy spending time with our
2 sons, 1 daughter-in-law, and 2 grandsons. Other interests are traveling, volunteering in the
community, going to plays, music performances, gardening, and being with friends.
The nonpartisan aspect of LWV's is what first interested me when I attended candidate forums sponsored by the
organization. After I attended a few Unit meetings, a membership luncheon in Feb., and was encouraged by
friends who are members; I joined the League of Women Voters in March of 2011. I've participated in voter
registrations, candidate forums, the phone-a-thon, and membership. I am currently a co-chair of the
Membership Committee and appointed to the Board of Directors.
Jan Stavros
Our book club is open to anyone. If interested in joining, you are welcome to contact any of the LWVSCA
members listed below or you may just show up for book discussion at the time and place listed.
Book club usually meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month.
Hard Choices
Thursday, January 15, 2015
by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Hostess: Ginny Clark
1340 S. 9th Ave., Apt. 114
St. Cloud MN 56301
320-252-7154
Hard Choices
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Carryover discussion from January.
Mar. 19, 2015
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Apr. 16, 2015
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
May 21, 2015
The Human Age: The World Shaped by
Us by Diane Ackerman
January 2015
Hostess: Jerilyn Petersen
2511 Tranquility Drive
St. Cloud, MN 56301
320-240-9183
Hostess: TBD
For all months
Page 5
CALENDAR
January 2015
Welcome 2015
Unit Topic: Transportation of Energy
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Board Meeting: 1/21; 1-3pm. Dunn Bros Coffee
Book Club: 1/15
Program Planning: 1/24
League Lines Deadline: Monday, 1/26, noon
11
12
13
14
Unit
Noon
15
16
17
Unit
9:30
18
19
MLK
20
21
22
23
24
PP
Martin Luther King Day: 1/19
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
SUN
MON TUE
WED THU
FRI
SAT
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Unit
12
13
14
15
16
Pres
Day
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
SUN
MON TUE
WED THU
FRI
SAT
Unit Topic: School Options
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
9
10
11
Unit
12
13
Book Club: 3/19
8
IWD
14
Unit
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
February 2015
Unit Topic: Women’s Rights & Status
Membership Luncheon: Saturday, 2/14; 11:00am
Board Meeting
Book Club: 2/19
League Lines Deadline: Monday 2/23, noon
President’s Day – 2/16
March 2015
International Women’s Day: 3/8
St Patrick’s Day: 3/17
The thing is this: You got to have fun while you're fightin' for freedom,
�cause you don't always win.
~Molly Ivins
January 2015
Page 6
Unit Material
Starts Here
Transporting Energy – Like it or Not, it’s Happening
Transportation of energy is a broad topic that encompasses multiple modes of transportation and multiple
commodities. We have power lines carrying electricity, pipelines carrying gas and oil, and rail carrying
everything from oil to coal. Trucks transport uranium, gasoline, frack sand, etc. Barges play an increasing role
in moving energy commodities around the country and don’t forget about ocean going tankers and Great Lakes
ships.
We narrowed our report to railways especially the oil trains, aka, “rolling pipelines.” We saw headlines of
exploding trains, long waits at railroad crossing and competing commodities not getting shipped timely
threatening the ability of power plants to supply electricity. In December new laws have been enacted and the
price of oil has dropped to the point that oil wells maybe shutting down. Is the problem gone? No, and it
appears it is here to stay for the foreseeable future!
We found several LWVUS positions that pertain to transportation and energy. They are:
Resource Management: Promote resource conservation, stewardship and long range planning, with the
responsibility for managing natural resources shared by all levels of government.
Environmental Protection and Pollution Control: Preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of
the ecosystem, with maximum protection of public health and the environment.
Air Quality: Promote measures to reduce pollution from mobile and stationary sources.
Energy: Support environmentally sound policies that reduce energy growth rates, emphasize energy
conservation and encourage the use of renewable resources.
Increased Rail Traffic and Delays
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) rail traffic is up 4.5% in 2014. Grain shipments
by rail are up 15% compared to 2013 due to this year’s bumper crops of corn and soybeans. Oil shipments by
rail are up 13% for the first 10 months of 2014. Coal shipments, up only 0.3%, still dominate rail lines,
shipping more than triple the volume of the next highest category, nonmetallic minerals. The spike in rail traffic
has been centered around Wyoming, the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest, including Minnesota. This has
resulted in concerns over the slow movement of oil, coal, grain, sugar, potatoes, ethanol, propane, etc.
The American Railroad Association
(AAR) chart to the left shows the
monthly increase in rail traffic from
2011 to 2014. Autumn typically sees
a spike in rail traffic due to the grain
harvest. 2014 saw fewer delays than
2013 despite the overall increase.
BNSF assures us progress is being
made to alleviate delays.
January 2015
Page 7
The increase is evident locally and throughout Minnesota. Benson MN has been so exasperated by trains
delaying vehicle traffic that their police have issued 4 tickets to BNSF railway. Amtrak has seen significant
delays, especially on their long haul trains that cross the country. From July 2013 to July 2014 the Empire
Builder, which goes through St. Cloud, was on time only about 21% of the time. Several power plants in the
mid-west have had coal supplies their ability to supply electricity.
We’re seeing many more tanker cars on the rails. According to a Star Tribune article of July 25, 2014,
Minnesota has about 50 oil trains per week, transporting Bakken Crude from North Dakota (ND) to oil
refineries across the country. About 45 of them go through Central MN and the Twin Cities. There has been no
oil train explosions in MN but there has been leaks and train derailments. The longest was in February 2014
when an oil tank car leaked 12,000 gallons over 70 miles from Red Wing to just past Winona.
We don’t want exploding trains in our backyard, no one does. How to prevent this, or who to turn to is a
quagmire. Fingers point in all directions. The oil producers blame the railroads for the explosions. The
railroads blame the cars, which they don’t own. Everyone points fingers at the type of oil. Fingering who the
regulators are proves to be just as difficult. There is DOT, NTSB, RRA, PHMSA, EPA, AAR, plus state
regulators to name a few. Confused? Rightly so.
The Oil
Normally, crude oil has a low flash point, but Bakken oil is different. It is light sweet crude with higher levels
of gases due to the horizontal drilling extraction method plus and fracking fluids. Pipeline rules required the oil
to be stabilized or conditioned prior to moving through a pipeline. There is no such requirement for rail
shipment. Light crude from the Eagle Ford shale region in Texas has similar qualities of Bakken oil (ND
disagrees with that assessment), but Texas has been voluntarily stabilizing their oil. In early December, North
Dakota Industrial Commission, a three-member board that included their governor, ordered oil companies to
start removing light, potentially explosive hydrocarbons before shipping via train. The order takes effect April
1, 2015, but is controversial. Currently ND does not have sufficient infrastructure to handle the gas. Once it is
removed you can burn it on site, a process called flaring, release it to the atmosphere, or you can ship it via rail
car to be processed. Bakken producers are already under fire now for flaring too much.
The Railcars
For the most part, rail cars are owned by leasing companies and not railroads. In July, federal proposals were
issued for making railcars carrying oil and other flammables safer. The 60 day comment for the public and
industry is past but it may still take a long time for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue their final
decisions. Once adopted, the rules wouldn’t go into effect until October 2017. The proposals included phasing
out the old DOT-111 tank cars and replacing them with cars that have thicker walls, better brakes, and improved
pressure valves. The DOT-111 tank cars were built to carry commodities such as soybeans or corn, not highly
flammable cargo. The proposals included three different safety standards for making new oil cars stronger, as
well as several variations on rail speed limits, leaving much unresolved. Some predict it could take 3 years to
fully halt the shipment of the most flammable liquids in the most dangerous railcars. The new rules would
apply only to trains that include 20 or more tank cars of highly hazardous liquids, leaving many people uneasy.
BNSF Railway, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, isn’t waiting for federal action on the unsafe
cars. Beginning January 1, 2015 they will apply a $1,000 surcharge for each older crude tank car. They are the
first major U.S. operator using fees to encourage shippers to scrap the older puncture-prone cars. Earlier this
year, Canadian Pacific Railway placed a $325 surcharge on the older cars and Canadian National Railway
introduced a rate structure to create an economic incentive for shippers to use safer tank cars.
January 2015
Page 8
Liability
Liability for accidents and spills could be a driving factor in the fees. Even though the railroads don’t own the
cars, they have liability concerns. According to federal data, railcar accidents spilled more than 1.15 million
gallons of crude oil in 2013 compared with an average of 22,000 gallons per year from 1975-2012. So far oil
car explosions have been far from highly populated areas. The most populous was Lac-Megantic, Quebec, a
town of about 6,000 residents, where on July 6, 2013, an oil train explosion killed 47 people, and destroyed the
downtown. The accident bankrupted the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway leaving behind clean-up costs
estimated at over $180 million. The company only carried $25 million in liability insurance. On December 23,
Robert Keach, bankruptcy trustee, told the AP that over a dozen corporations that face potential liability have
agreed to pay over $200 million to a fund for the victims and he hopes to double that before judges in the U.S.
and Canada sign off on any agreement next month. The taxpayers have been picking up the costs so far. Let’s
hope they get compensated too.
Oil-by-rail shipments through densely populated areas including suburban New York, Philadelphia, New
Orleans, Albany, NY, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo, are expected to increase significantly.
Imagine the costs if an explosion took place in one of those cities! Neither oil and gas companies nor railroads
carry enough insurance to cover the kind of catastrophe at risk when shipping crude by rail. “There is not
currently enough available coverage in the commercial insurance market anywhere in the world to cover the
worst-case scenario,” James Beardsley, an executive with Marsh & McLennan Cos.' Marsh Inc. insurance
brokerage unit, told the Wall Street Journal in January.
There is a blast zone recognized around rail tracks. To see if you live within a blast zone follow this link:
http://explosive-crude-by-rail.org/
Once there, type in your address. The blast zone is 1,600 meters or approximately one mile on each side of the
tracks. The inner red color is the distance the federal emergency responders advise evacuating in case an oil
tanker derails and the yellow is the evacuation zone should an oil car catch fire.
Explosion concerns have had an impact. The railroads have voluntarily slowed down train speeds without
waiting for federal regulations. They also voluntarily adopted higher standards for new cars, called CPC-1232
cars, however AAR recommends even better cars.
The Railroad or Railways
Most of the US rail network was built 100 or more years ago. The rails
have been maintained and modified over the years to carry average
number of rail cars per train, but we are not talking average numbers any
more. A single oil train will carry 100 or more rail cars loaded with 3
million gallons of crude. The numbers of cars and the weight on the
tracks has a huge impact on the structural system and that hasn’t been
addressed in the last six years. Those same six years saw a 4000%
increase in oil shipment by rail. Regulations aimed at the railways
themselves include increasing the number of inspectors and slowing
down the trains. Some railways are building more tracks to handle the
higher volume.
The Alternatives
The big drop in crude oil prices, reflected by the price at the pump may seem like the reprieve we need. It could
be, but not right away, and probably not for long. Some estimate 500-600 wells could shut down in the US in
2015 but it won’t happen right away. Current wells will continue to produce, as the money to drill them has
January 2015
Page 9
already been spent. Lower gas prices usually result in an increase in demand for gas. People can afford to drive
more or buy bigger less fuel efficient cars, both mean demands goes up.
Pipelines are not necessarily the answer either. Once built, they move oil more cheaply than moving it by rail.
However, building a new pipeline is proving difficult with the Keystone XL pipeline as the poster child.
Pipelines present hazards as they leak and can result in massive damage to the environment as we saw in
Kalamazoo MI where an Enbridge Corporation pipeline ruptured leaving cleanup costs of $1.2 billion and
counting. The Keystone XL raises additional objections as an export pipeline bring oil to the gulf to be shipped
overseas, leaving us with the risks and little benefit.
Several ND pipeline proposals have been abandoned but not due to the recent drop in prices. ND producers
seem to prefer the flexibility of rail. A pipeline requires large upfront costs and commitment from producers to
send their oil only to where that pipeline goes and most go south. The ND crude is a low-sulfur type that is
highly prized by East Coast refiners. Earlier this year the cost of ND crude was about $30 per barrel cheaper
than what the eastern refiners paid for imported oil, so they saved money even with extra shipping costs of $5$15 a barrel.
The costs of rail have also been mitigated to some extent. The oil tanker cars are now doing double duty cutting
down on their costs. They take oil from the producers to the refineries and instead of heading back empty, the
cars take product back to the users.
Does all of this depress you? It certainly depressed the committee. While we hate the thought of the
environmental effects of fossil fuels, we own cars and flip on the lights each evening and certainly like the heat
our furnaces provide in winter. So what can we do?
To move to environmentally sustainable energy alternatives we need incentives to reduce fossil fuel usage while
increasing our dependence on renewables, combined with measures to decrease total energy consumption.
Carbon taxes represent one way to encourage this switch. Currently fossil fuels are expensed only by the
economic cost of mining the fuel, refining it and transporting to end users. Environmental costs, including
carbon dioxide emissions, other greenhouse gases, health care costs and transportation accidents are not figured
into the cost. The so-called cap and trade proposals are easily subject to manipulation in ways that do not result
in decreasing CO2 emissions.
Another alternative is a sizable increase in gasoline taxes or wheelage taxes, especially at the Federal level.
Senator Merkley (D-Oregon) has such a proposal now in the Senate. These taxes would help to limit use of oil
and they would go a long way toward fixing our roads and bridges. In a roundtable discussion in Coon Rapids
on December 22, Gov. Dayton stated we need to upgrade railroad crossings. A gas tax could help.
Among alternative renewable fuel sources Minnesota is best suited for wind and solar. The good news is that
both are seeing dramatic cost reductions, both in capital expense and operation. Biomass is a much longer term
project, primarily making ethanol from cellulose materials rather than the current corn based production
methods.
Without significant reductions in CO2 emissions global warming is expected to increase by as much as 7
degrees Celsius or 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
Ralph Carr, Pat Fillmore, Geri Gustafson, and Marlene Haider
Unit Material
Ends Here
January 2015
Page 10
TEAM REMINDERS
February Women's Rights & Status
Convener: Jerilyn Petersen Committee members: Dee Lamb, Pat Riley, Peg Obremski,
Mary Kay Carle, Sonja Berg, Karen Langsjoen, Gerri Gustafson, Carolyn Garven
March School Options
Convener: Jan Stavros Committee members: Nancy Gunderson, Judy Heeter, Pat Soyka
April Immigration Law Reform
Convener: Jerilyn Petersen
Committee members: Brianda Cediel, Nancy Gunderson, Judy Heeter, Dee Lamb, Deanna Lederer,
Kate Meyer
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:
I changed the margins of League Lines in hopes that I can save paper for people who chose
to print their copy. Please let me know if this change is a problem.
~ Marlene Haider
The LWVSCA Facebook page is up and running! Go to www.facebook.com/lwvstcloudarea
to check it out. While you are there be sure to "Like" us so you will start receiving posts.
LEAGUE
LINES
A publication of the League of Women Voters of the St. Cloud Area
PO BX 5084, St. Cloud MN 56302
Visit us at www.lwvsca.org and at
www.facebook.com/lwvstcloudarea
us at: [email protected]
Email usEmail
at: [email protected]
MISSION:
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active
participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. League of Women Voters
affirms its commitment to reflecting the diversity of the membership...and strives to overcome barriers of gender,
race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability in the activities of the organization.
Co-Presidents:
Secretary:
Treasurer:
Membership:
Editor:
Judy Heeter, Linda Kotschevar, Jerilyn Petersen
Ginny Clark
Diane Bublitz
Mary Kay Carle, Jan Stavros
Marlene Haider
Membership dues are $60.00. Of that, $20.00 is tax deductible. Make check payable to: LWVSCA.
January 2015
Page 11
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