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Student Senate, council discuss environmental issues

Things came to tears Sunday when environmental concerns were brought up at a joint meeting of the Grand Forks City Council and UND's student senate on campus.

Things came to tears Sunday when environmental concerns were brought up at a joint meeting of the Grand Forks City Council and UND's student senate on campus.

During what had been a pretty routine confab over bus stops and train horns took an awkward twist when UND Sen. Samantha Curtis brought up an earlier City Council discussion about cutting back on recycling in the city.

"That really made me mad," said Curtis, a senior in air traffic control.

"I have spent a lot of time recycling on campus and to take it away from our city," she added, before shedding some tears and stopping to control her emotions.

Terry Bjerke, the city council member known as biggest opponent of more city spending explained his reasons for offering his motion to end recycling -- reassuring Curtis it was defeated -- saying he based it on science, technology, logic and reason.

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"It's ineffective," he said, costing more than it would take to just throw everything. Plus, new technology will allow the new landfill to be rigged up to capture methane created by rotting trash that can be piped back into to heat city buildings, thus saving energy, requiring less coal-powered electricity, Bjerke said.

Curtis wasn't mollified: "It may be cheaper, but (what) if it's bad for the environment?"

Bjerke said he sees focusing not on recycling but on getting energy out of the landfill as a pretty green thing to do.

"It's obvious you are passionate about recycling," he told Curtis.

Other council members joined in to reassure Curtis the city still was recycling. It is, in fact, getting ready to offer bids for a new contract that would include longtime provider of services to the city, Waste Management, as well as a competitor, Countrywide Sanitation.

The upshot should be better service at less cost, city council members told Curtis.

After composing herself, Curtis said she welcomed any new technology, but said she hoped the city would encourage more recycling, too.

Bjerke offered to provide the student senate with a detailed briefing on what might be the gaseous future of the new landfill.

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In recent years, the city council has met each fall and spring semester with the student senate in the Memorial Union to foster better communication between the campus and city.

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