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Duluth News Tribune: Franken focuses on economy, energy in speech to Duluth’s Greater Downtown Council

Nothing is better than coming home to the reality of Minnesota, Sen. Al Franken said Wednesday night as the keynote speaker at the Duluth Greater Downtown Council’s annual dinner at the DECC.

Given the dire economy and the gridlock in Washington, he likes talking to Minnesotans of all stripes to gain perspective on his work.

Nothing is better than coming home to the reality of Minnesota, Sen. Al Franken said Wednesday night as the keynote speaker at the Duluth Greater Downtown Council’s annual dinner at the DECC.

Given the dire economy and the gridlock in Washington, he likes talking to Minnesotans of all stripes to gain perspective on his work.

“I know we have bright days ahead,” he said of his continuing tour across the state to find ways to boost job creation and look for energy savings by retrofitting public and private buildings.

Earlier in the day, he made a one-hour stop at Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet, meeting with company leaders and touring a portion of the mill that employs 750 people.

Sappi officials were more than happy to inform Franken of some of the measures undertaken at the Cloquet mill to boost energy efficiency and make the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly.

“A couple of the things we’re especially proud of include our work on energy savings and smell reduction,” said mill manager Rick Dwyer. “One thing about pulp mills is that sometimes you can smell them 40 miles away, but you really can’t smell this one.”

Dwyer told Franken that Sappi would very much appreciate his support in pending legislation to regulate the use of biomass — organic material made from plants — as it is converted into fuel.

“I think it’s insane not to take advantage of it,” Franken said.

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