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Norm Coleman: The Environment
By Marin Kaste
September 11, 1998
Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

NORM COLEMAN HAS PLANTED HIMSELF SQUARELY against the state's die-hard environmentalists when it comes to the most visible environmental issue of 1998: animal feedlots. Environmental groups want a moratorium on the construction of new feedlots, because they believe the manure pits threaten local groundwater. Coleman opposes a moratorium, saying he'd have to see hard scientific proof of the danger before he got in the way of such an important agricultural business. Nonetheless, Coleman says he cares about the environment.

Coleman: I am a great believer in a firm commitment to the environment. I think our two priorities should first be prevention and enforcement. It's always easier to prevent pollution than it is to clean it up.
Coleman gives the state high marks for its overall environmental record, and he says the best thing a chief executive can do is fine-tune the system, including agencies like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Coleman: I know it's always easy to take shots at the MPCA, but we can do better, absolutely, and I think we can be more vigorous on prevention, more vigorous on enforcement.
And here Coleman points out - as he does on almost every issue - that his experience in running St. Paul sets him apart from the competition.
Coleman: I'm the only person in this race who's governed.
Coleman says anyone with misgivings about his environmentalism should look at his record as mayor.
Coleman: In our urban center, we've planted now over 35,000 trees and shrubs in what was a barren area. And so now we've got the Mississippi River re-developed. We've got the Harriet Island Regional Park, which was supposed to be done in 2013, is now going to be done in two years.
The re-development of Harriet Island Regional Park is a favorite theme of Coleman's - something he mentions in almost every one of his stump speeches - and it provides insight into what may be the basic difference between Coleman's take on environmentalism and the Democrats. The reason Coleman likes the Harriet Island Park project is because the private sector paid for half of it. In Coleman's view, private enterprise almost always provides the best solution to a problem - even when it comes to the natural environment.