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Issues raised as Kind meets with constituents

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (right) discusses an issue with Nicholas Karolides, a retired UW-River Falls professor. In the center is Janet Slind, a staff member in Kind’s Eau Claire office. (Rivertowns photo by Judy Wiff)

RIVER FALLS--Propane prices, rail safety, student debt, farm policy and obstacles to voting in Wisconsin were among the issues raised when Third District Congressman Ron Kind held his Pierce County listening session April 22.

About 50 people gathered in the council chambers of River Falls City Hall to meet with Kind (D-La Crosse).

“We’re coming out of a very tough winter, the winter that would never end,” said Kind as he introduced the topic of propane costs.

While the country produces a lot of propane, it exports a lot too, said Kind, suggesting the country needs to deal with local shortages for both the short- and the long-term.

“That’s one of the reasons we got caught flat-footed,” he said.

Kind said he’s concerned about rail safety plans--or the lack of a plan--and said it’s necessary to work with the railroads to upgrade their fleet.

There is also, he said, a need for plans to deal with rail disasters, such as derailments.

Speaking of both propane prices and rail safety, Edwin Nygaard said rail transportation has been given priority, to the neglect of transporting passengers, grain and coal for power plants.

“The price that we paid (for propane) this winter is ridiculous,” said Nygaard, adding an oil train disaster last July in Canada and a derailment in January in North Dakota call attention to the dangers.

“The Keystone Pipeline is really the only way to ship oil,” he said. “Get the oil off the rails.”

The pipeline is being evaluated right now, and proper siting needs to be resolved, responded Kind. But, he said, the purpose of Keystone is to transport Canadian tar sand to refineries in the United States for export.

As long as producers of oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota ship their product to eastern states, there will be a lot of tough obstacles, said Kind, adding he supports legislation to put producers under antitrust laws.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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