Monday, April 22nd, 2024 Church Directory
SEN. DAVE BROWN (L) and Rep. Jim Newberger (R) addressed the attendees of the Becker Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday at the Community Center. Topics included spending, taxes, medical marijuana and the future of the Sherco power plant in Becker.

Newberger And Brown Visit Chamber Meeting

Rep. Jim Newberger and Sen. Dave Brown attended Wednesday’s monthly Becker Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Community Center to give an update on legislative issues and to answer any questions from the attendees.

Newberger jumped right in after being introduced and talked about the last legislative session. Newberger said the session ended a few days early and identified taxes and spending being on the rise — which he pointed out he did not vote in favor of.
 
Newberger went on to talk about Sherco and expressed how much he loves the district he works in and the city of Becker he calls home.
 
Newberger said  he and Sen. Brown are working diligently to keep Sherco on the “front burner” and ensuring they are doing everything in their power to keep the energy plant open and preserve the livelihoods of all who work there.
 
Brown said one of his main focuses lately has been on the economy in Minnesota and especially the mining jobs in the northern part of the state.
 
“Did you know there is more value in mining in Minnesota than all the oil prospects in North Dakota,” he asked.
 
Brown and Newberger reiterated the fact that Sherco is being attacked at both the state and national levels even though Sherco has high standards for emissions control already in place as opposed to others that don’t.
 
“Of all the time and attention this issue has been getting, I’ve never seen one negative environmental study associated with Xcel’s power plant here in Becker,” said Brown.
 
Newberger mentioned he recently visited some states to the south (KY, VA, WVA) who over the years have seen economic collapses to their cities as the result of closing down their coal-powered power plants. Newberger also said he’s seen other areas of the world (Germany, for instance) that went away from coal-producing plants because of the environmental backlash, but are slowly turning back to the industry.
 
“Coal is the cheapest and longest-term type of energy source we have right now,” said Newberger.
 
Brown contended that he read a recent publication from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) that stated, “Whereas the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn of a dangerous human effect on climate, NIPCC concludes the human effect is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.”
 
Newberger said the state and federal governments have issued strict mandates for Sherco that have to be heeded in the next six-to-16 years — 30% renewables from the state by 2020 and a reduction of carbon emissions by 30% from the federal government by the year 2030.
 
“The clock is ticking for our community,” he said.
 
Newberger suggested the people of Becker create a new mindset and start promoting Becker as an “energy city” and to keep the issue on the forefront of everyone’s minds. He also said Gov. Dayton is fervently against the power plant in Becker and hopes after the next election, the governorship and members of the PUC will be more coal-friendly and better to work with.
 
Q&A
Newberger and Brown fielded questions from the attendees including a question on the medical marijuana bill. Brown said the current law does not allow the smoking of cannabis, only the issuance of pills and oils and is only going to be available in the metro area for now.
 
Brown said a patient will also need to have a doctor’s prescription for it and he estimates the MM will aid approximately 5,000 people or so.
 
Others asked about veteran’s benefits, minimum wage and education.
 
Chamber Secretary Lynette Brannan began the meeting by introducing new members, reminding people of the golf mixer July 24 at Pebble Creek, the Farmer’s Market at the BCC, Freedom Days later this month, the circus July 30 and the annual teachers welcome event in August.
 
A light lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies was served by Cafe Pawz.
 
The Becker Chamber of Commerce is made up of Brannan (secretary), Mike Brubaker (chair), Tanya Danielson (vice chair), Carol VanHeel (treasurer), Larry Newell (director) and Amy Chmielewski.