Green Step Program Part 4: Local Air Quality

February 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm 7 comments

By Andrew Richter

OK here is part 4 of our look at the Green Step Program. In this section I want to look at Best Practice #23; local air quality.

Here are their “tips.”

Conduct an education/financial assistance campaign around one of the following wood burning/auto exhaust issues

Regulate outdoor wood burning, using model ordinance language, performance standards and bans as appropriate, for at least one of the following:

Recreational Burning

Outdoor Wood Boilers

So they want to make it illegal to have a fire in your backyard; it must be all that carbon it gives off. In fact they recommend an education/financial assistance program for wood burning. And if you “allow” wood burning they have another tip for you;

Ensure that wood burning is only done with seasoned wood and in a manner that doesn’t negatively impact neighbors.

Oh so you’re going to tell me what wood I can and can’t burn. And how about my fireplace and stove;

Urge community members to upgrade from inefficient/more polluting fireplaces and wood stoves to natural gas/biogas stoves and fireplaces or the most efficient certified wood stoves.

So now your telling me what stoves and fireplaces to have? And on top of that, they want a “financial assistance program!” So that means that they want “us” the taxpayers to subsidize it. I suppose that will be called an investment.

Conduct one or more policy or education/behavior change campaigns on the topics below and document:

Now notice what this tip says; education/behavior campaign. This is an attempt to get us to change how we behave through government manipulation.

Decreased vehicle idling in specific locations.

What are you going to do? Make it illegal to warm up your car? Make it illegal to wait to pick someone up and leave the car running? Do we not have bigger problems than vehicle idling?

Increased sales by retail stores of low and no-VOC household products.

Replacement of gasoline-powered equipment with lower polluting equipment.

Once again, you are going to tell me what to buy.

Adoption of a smoking-free policy at one or more multi-unit housing buildings, private or public

Outlaw smoking in private buildings? That must be combat so-called second-hand smoke that all the bleeding hearts whine about. Well, if smoking is so bad, why not just outlaw smoking? Oh that’s right, government needs the tax dollars.

How about this one;

Install at least two public charging stations for plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles.

Two public charging stations? What does that cost? If hybrid and electric cars were popular and affordable, then the private sector would provide this. Notice you don’t see the government installing gas stations do you?

So what do we conclude; this best practice wants to outlaw wood burning and car idling, tell us what kind of stove and fireplace we can have, make it illegal to smoke in private buildings, and install hybrid and electric charging stations at taxpayer expense.

How does that all sound? Big government anyone?


Entry filed under: Agenda 21, City Government, Community, Environment, Transportation.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. michaellibby  |  February 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Minneapolis has an anti-idling ordinance and you are allowed to warm up your car.

    “so-called second-hand smoke”? Really? Are you really going on record as not yet believing that second hand smoke is associated with a number of detrimental health effects? Personally I’m confused as to how parents are allowed to smoke in a house where children live, but the clerk at the corner store is a criminal if he/she sells cigarettes to the same kid… but that’s just a nitpick.

    Burning stuff… you really think you have an unlimited right to emit particle pollution into the air around your house or yard? I don’t. Because that garbage in the air doesn’t stay in your yard or house where it belongs. it blows into my yard and house and the air I’m trying to breathe. I guess your right to burn stuff trumps my right to breathe clean air?

    Besides, most cities already have strict limits on the types of and size of fires allowed in them. Crystal certainly does.

    As for the government installing gas stations…. if you think the petrochemical industry doesn’t get massive government aid in many respects… you must be purposefully deluding yourself. From being able to steal the oil right out from the ground, to government help using eminent domain to take land for things like the Sandstone pipeline, to eminent domain used to prop up the motor vehicle transit system, to…. oh I could go on for days, I think.

    When it comes to transportation, the “private sector” is a myth. And so it makes sense to encourage the adoption of a technology like electric cars, if those technologies have a net benefit, especially if there are initial hurdles in getting the technology to an adoption level where economies of scale that will kick in.

    Hopkins has two electric charging stalls in a new ramp there, and they have at least one user, who pays extra for the privilege That’s all that is required to meet this best practice of Green Step… so minor I’m not even sure you’d notice it.

  • 2. communitysolutionsmn  |  February 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Where did I say that people should be allowed to burn “unlimited stuff?” Can you point that out to me???

    I don’t think it should be OUTLAWED like Green step demands. That’s big difference which you probably ignored on purpose.

    Yes I question second hand smoke. If fact, I know doctors who question it as well. Case it point;

    My grandfather smoked from the time he got out of World War II to when he died in 2010. Neither he nor my grandmother (who is still alive) have any lung problems. Their three kids didn’t either. How do you explain this? Shouldn’t they all be dead?

    But, it’s just like global warming (oh excuse me, climate change) I’m not allowed to question it without being called names or being treated like I’m five years old.

    Again if this is so horrible why don’t you make it illegal to smoke? We all know why… want to spend the tax dollars.

    i never said the coal and oil industries don’t get subsidies. Again, I challenge you to point out where I did (which you won’t). That isn’t justification for more. Oil isn’t “stolen” out of the ground, it is a product that is bought, refined, and sold just like anything else. It’s the engine of our economy and until something comes along that is cheaper and a majority of people use it, that isn’t changing.

    Private companies will provide charging stations when they think they can make a profit. I government does it, they will run it into the ground because they won’t care about it being economically viable.


    • 3. michaellibby  |  February 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      GreenStep doesn’t demand that outdoor burning be OUTLAWED… that’s a detail which you probably ignored on purpose.

      You have an agenda which drives all your policy positions as much or more than the Agenda 21 transit oriented development stuff you’re so concerned about.

      And when it comes to smoking… wow. Really? Does everyone that gets in a car accident die? No? Well, then there’s no problem with car accidents, right? The science on second-hand smoke in terms the level of damage done and the mechanisms of how the damage is done have not been in dispute for a few decades now. There is a clear causal relationship between tobacco smoke and health problems. I guess next you’ll tell me the evidence that the earth revolves around the sun is questionable?

      And no, the oil under the ground does *not* belong to someone. It is just there. What gives Exxon or BP or anyone else the right to it? Oh, because we all agreed they could in order to make the gas we all want. But they have no natural right to it. They didn’t make the oil they take. They are, indeed, stealing that oil from all future generations. It’s a very “might makes right” system, where the first person to “find” something gets to keep it.

      But I guess if you’re fine with using the power of government to enforce someone else’s right to pretend they own something that they didn’t have anything to do with… I’m not sure why you’re so worried about big government. You love it when it does what you want and hate it when it doesn’t.

    • 4. michaellibby  |  February 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      And why not outlaw smoking? Because I think adults have the right to poison themselves if they so choose. As long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes and don’t do it around kids who have no say in the matter.

  • 5. wants2know  |  February 16, 2013 at 12:06 am


    I puzzled why are you the arbiter of how all others should live? You certainly voice a lot of opinions on how others should live. Whether it is light rail, outdoor burning smoking or what source of fuel others choose to use you are are johnny on the spot to tell us how we all must live. Is there anywhere in your vast repartee any room for individuals to make their own decisions on where to live, how to travel to work or stores?

    I am curious about why you are so sure that your view is the only one that matters. Why is that?

    Why is it that you think others should pay for your choice of transportation for your commute? You claim that everyone wants light rail. Perhaps many people have answered affirmatively to broad survey questions about its desirability. What about its practicality? How would you get groceries for a growing family home after shopping? How will your commute be in a major power failure or major blizzard? How will seniors whose health and strength are failing walk the block(s) perhaps up to a half mile from the transit stop to their home?

    I could go on and on but I suspect you get the point. There is no one size fits all answer.

    • 6. Michael Libby  |  February 16, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Um. You miss the point completely. I am not telling you how to live. That’s what the Republican party is all about, though… and it should be clear to anyone paying attention that “Community Solutions” is a Republican blog.

      When you force me to pay taxes to build and maintain a large number of roads, and then make it nearly impossible to get anywhere meaningful without driving, you are actually telling *me* how to live. The motor vehicle transit system does not pay for itself. It is heavily subsidized and externalizes a lot of its costs.

      Further, I am in favor of reasonable backyard fires and burning! And the GreenStep program is NOWHERE NEAR SAYING TO BAN THEM. But that is the lie being told here on this blog. It’s a fabrication. A falsehoold. A violation of the Ninth Commandment. It is a deliberate mischaracterization being promoted to help push a worldview that suits you, not a reasoned discussion element. In the city of Crystal, we already have regulations regarding burning that would meet the GreenStep program’s requirements, so nothing will be lost at this point by joining that program on that score.

      And when it comes to smoking… I just said in another comment, without reservation or qualification, that consenting adults have every right to smoke in the privacy of their own homes. Do they have a … I should note that it is “small government” Republicans who are the main obstacle in removing laws against adultery, fornication, and sodomy. These are all acts committed in private by consenting adults. When do you plan to exhibit this much opposition to those things? Never, because you love telling the rest of us how to live.

      Don’t give me this line about how I want to tell everyone how to live or how I’m in favor of unelected bureaucracies when your party wants to limit the freedom to vote, the freedom to marry, the freedom to engage in consensual sex acts, the freedom to use marijuana, the freedoms protected by the 1st and 4th amendments… this idea that Republicans give even half a rip about personal freedom is laughable.

      So let’s see. My commute after a power outage or blizzard…. well, how well do those go with cars? Terrible. But trains have a much easier time in blizzards. How will seniors whose health is failing walk blocks to get to a transit stop? How do they drive cars safely? How do they clear their driveways? You are tellling me there is no one size fits all answer, but that’s exactly what our car-oriented system is.

      • 7. wants2know  |  February 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

        If you think Community Solutions is a Republican blog you are sadly mistaken. I daresay we are a group of folks who see the big picture and don’t like what they see. We don’t believe in forcing anyone to pay taxes. We oppose impositions of our personal liberties as much and possibly more than you do. Most of us don’t care what people do to each other in the privacy of their homes. We do care about being forced to acknowledge harmful behaviors being considered acceptable. We are tired of folks who are attempting to force us to accept their right to harm themselves and others and then expect us to pay for their care and medical expenses as a consequence of their choices. You make the same statements about smoking can you explain why that is different?

        The idea that we who want to reduce the role of government to provision of essential services and reduce lifestyle regulation to non-existent are those who are oppressing you or others is ludicrous. Why do we need regulation of burning in Crystal? Is this a rampant problem that is threatening normal lifestyles. Why does the city of Crystal need to regulate it?

        Whether it is roads or light rail paying for this service is important to the economy and growth of our nation. There are a myriad of reasons why people need to get from point A to point B. Roads evolved with the development of an agrarian society. They are functional for many forms of transportation not just cars. They can also be built across a vast distances. Something that is sorely need in a nation that spans a continent. Rail takes you from point A to point B and depends on dense concentration of people to make it even remotely practical. It is expensive to build, disrupts neighborhoods and entail large maintenance and operational costs. What benefit is the Bottineau line to the residents of Crystal. The two closest planned transit stops are at County 81 and 63rd Ave N and downtown Robbinsdale. I suppose that would be within walking distance if you are young and healthy and have an extra 45 minutes or so to add to your commute.

        Why should communities need to be developed to accommodate the transportation systems? Shouldn’t transit be designed to carry the greatest number of people to there destination in the most convenient and least expensive manner possible?

        In the final analysis it comes down to who gets to decide where and how each of us lives. The idea that everything must be decided for us because we are incapable of making our own decisions is the flaw in this plan.

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