LET Mayo doesn't automatically promote health

In response to the claim that those who criticize the RPU/Mayo project are just a tiny minority in the community, I have talked to many folks during the past months about this issue, and people's responses have tended to fall into one of three categories.

The first group is aware of the facts surrounding the steam project and decries the resulting increased pollution. A second group has the position that, because the Mayo sale still will be under the allowable cap, everything must be OK.

This discussion inevitably produces disbelief once I explain the concept of grandfathered power plants and the fact that, one year after our largest boiler came on line, it was already out of current pollution control standards; that the original intent of grandfathering was to give the plants 20 years to upgrade or be taken out of commission; and that the newest Silver Lake Power plant stack is now more than 30 years old with no plans for further emission controls during the 20-year life of the Mayo project.

A third group immediately discounts the fact that there could possibly be any negative health impacts with the increase of coal use in Rochester because the customer is the Mayo Clinic, and surely it would never do anything to knowingly inflict health problems. However, when I show them studies and statements made by Mayo Clinic physicians documenting the resulting adverse health effects, they become understandably confused.

For whatever reason, most people are aware that "something" is in the works but are not knowledgeable on the details. The fact is that people trust that Mayo Clinic and RPU are acting in the best interests of Rochester and Olmsted County citizens. It is hard to believe that these two institutions don't consider the health of local citizens to be a priority. But it's true.


Terry Larson


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