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This ‘Red’ States ‘Blue’ States Battle Will Get Worse

By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News
A pitched battle is underway between America’s Red and Blue states. It’s a battle that in many cases is fought behind the scenes through outlandish schemes that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It’s a battle over climate change and the depletion of America’s precious resources.

It’s not the political and ideological battle you suspect between conservatives and liberals.

In this fight, the red states are those in the American Southwest burning up as rising temperatures and extended droughts make their unchecked growth unsustainable. The blue states are those with plentiful water reserves the red states jealously covet and desperately eye to for their sustainability and future growth.

These developing water wars are just starting with one such red states’ scouting mission exploring possibilities in Minnesota.

The real estate arm of Progressive Rail, Empire Building Investments, has submitted an inquiry to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposing to drill two wells in Dakota County that would draw 500 million gallons of water annually. The wells would be on a 6.2-acre parcel of land the company owns southeast of the Twin Cities.

The water would be shipped by rail to the American Southwest, to communities near the Colorado River in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and California.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the southwestern U.S. suffering from an extended drought. Parts of the region have been in a moderate to extreme drought for nearly 20 years. NASA’s computer models indicate the potential for 50-year megadrought conditions possible in the coming years.

Water rationing, the loss of cropland, limits on residential expansion, constraints on livestock production and industrial development, are being experienced throughout the Southwest.

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources has permitting control over the state’s water resources and has already taken a stand against Empire Builder’s proposal.

 “Under Minnesota law, the DNR regulates the use of both groundwater and surface water,” Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “The agency must manage public water resources for the benefit of the State of Minnesota, including future generations. We must ensure that water appropriations are reasonable, practical, and adequately protect public safety and promote the public welfare.”

“Based on our initial review of the Empire Builder request, we are notifying the company today that we see virtually no scenario where the DNR would grant a water appropriation permit for the project, as it does not appear it could meet applicable statutory requirements, including significant restrictions on use of the Mt. Simon aquifer,” she said.

This isn’t the first scheme to transport water from the blue states to the parched states of the Southwest. And, not all the water they are eyeing sits beneath the ground in aquifers.

 “Lake Superior is big, all right. It and the other Great Lakes contain one-fifth of the whole world’s fresh water and, get this, hold enough to submerge the continental U.S. under 10 feet,” Ron Way, a former Star Tribune reporter who covered environment and natural resources, writes.

 “Those far-off onlookers thirst mightily for the Lakes’ 6.5 million billion gallons of fresh water that, to them, just sits there before running off to the ocean. Wasted.”

Water thirsty states are even looking beyond the continental U.S. for water reserves to slack their growing thirst. One seemingly absurd notion involves piping water from Alaska to the Colorado basin in a project costing billions.

We dismiss the possibility of these far-fetched plans to become a reality at our peril, Way warns. The Southwest’s growing population gives it increasing political clout in Washington, D.C. It’s agricultural industry, the biggest user of water, is a powerful lobbying force.

“This war would come down to raw power politics, and it’s only a matter of time before the West’s political influence prevails,” way writes. “And so, a prediction: Within the lifetime of today’s newborn, Great Lakes water will be piped to the Colorado basin to relieve a region that by midcentury will be in the throes of an unimaginable water crisis.”

The Heartland of America is also seeing its water resources drained and strained by a warming Earth.

The vast Great Plains Ogallala Aquifer is the source of nearly one-fifth of the water needed for growing corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton. It is used for dairy cows and beef cattle on land stretching from southern South Dakota to northern Texas. It is being drawn down faster than it can be replenished. Wells are going dry.

It took more than 6,000 years for glacial melt to fill the aquifer, but it has been significantly depleted in just 70 years and could “dry up” for crop, business and industry, and for animal agriculture in as little as 50 years.

Will these states also look to our northern blue waters?

Keep Minnesota’s water in Minnesota.

If industry needs water to expand it can come to Minnesota. If people need water for their homes, they can build here; we will gladly welcome them.

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