silica-sand-washing-plant

It’s that time again — Thursday, July 24, is the next meeting of the Silica Sand Rulemaking Advisory Committee.  It will be held at the People’s Energy Cooperative, in Oronoco, and run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Will there be draft rules trotted out for review on Thursday?  $50 says they won’t have draft rules for review this time either… and folks, I do NOT want to win that bet.  But this is a repeated problem. What I’m seeing is that if they are going to put the draft rules before the EQB in September, this is the last chance to receive a draft, take it to constituents, and bring back comments and concerns to the Committee in August!  Now … the last chance…

Those who are “representing” us:

How about standing up and demanding full process and disclosure of draft rules?  And how about reporting back on what’s going on, and more importantly, what’s NOT going on?   You also need to forward the draft rules and other information to all of your “constituents” who you’re representing and solicit for comments to take back to the Rulemaking group.  The communities at stake here should be aware of the utter lack of progress and lack of draft rule disclosure and should be storming the agencies and Governor’s office!  Informing us is a big part of the job of being a “representative” on this committee.  (Listening to the June meeting, Charlie is delivering a message about the importance of keeping alternates informed and of alternates to keep themselves up to speed… that goes for letting the rest of us know what’s happening too!)

I’m also curious about Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s role, and why MCEA is the only NGO represented — what’s up with that?

In the recorded WebEx for June 24 there are some great comments from members on cumulative impacts and density of projects, threshold of acres of farmland lost.  Also consideration of the AUAR process applicable to silica sand mining permits, and baseline info about silica sand mining footprint.  And DOH, the need for the SONAR to be able to address rules, and a need for holistic review and a mine inventory.  Check it out.

Here’s the July 24 agenda — do you see any mention here of the September plan to present rules to EQB?

AGENDA

The statutory purpose of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee is to comment on DRAFT rules PRIOR to release by the agency for comment.  This is where input is most important, because once the draft rules are released for comment, the agency may not approve rules that are substantially different!  Comments after release won’t have a heck of a lot of influence, that’s how the rulemaking process works (or doesn’t work).  So meanwhile, what’s happening here is that not enough is happening, that the agencies here are sandbagging the rulemaking process.  Listen to the WebEx recordings, it’s worthwhile to get the flavor of these meetings.

Yes, it’s true, I’ve not gone to these meetings.  Why?  Because odds are it would be like the last time I went to a meeting where Charlie Peterson was “facilitating” and lots of questions were dodged, answers were not provided and those that were only covered 1/2 the issue, narrowing the discussion rather than broadening it as should be done for scoping, and crucial information was being withheld in a transmission scoping Advisory Task Force group.  The historical scoop:  I’m asking you to leave…

Here’s what the Rulemaking Advisory Committee has done thus far, from the Silica Sand page:

Past meetings

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

The panel first met on January 29.

Again, here is the statute:

Once more with feeling:

To the rulemaking staff at MPCA, EQB and DNR:  YOU’RE AVOIDING PUBLIC INPUT ON DRAFT RULES PRIOR TO BRINGING TO PROPOSAL TO THE BOARD.  STOP SANDBAGGING THE PROCESS AND PRODUCE THE DRAFT RULES FOR REVIEW.

DISCLOSE DRAFT RULES FOR REVIEW BY ADVISORY COMMITTEE PRIOR TO TAKING THEM TO EQB BOARD & AGENCIES!

To the representatives on the Rulemaking Advisory Panel, please represent your constituents and let us all know what’s going on, get the draft Rules, and get them to your constituents — US — for review and comment!

 

 

06182014_EQB

To the rulemaking staff at MPCA, EQB and DNR:  YOU’RE AVOIDING PUBLIC INPUT ON DRAFT RULES PRIOR TO BRINGING TO PROPOSAL TO THE BOARD.  NOT ACCEPTABLE!

DISCLOSE DRAFT RULES FOR REVIEW BY ADVISORY COMMITTEE PRIOR TO TAKING TO EQB BOARD!

“Bogus?”  Yes, bogus, because a Rulemaking Advisory Committee is “to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.“  That is NOT happening.

What is there to show for the YEAR since the statute was passed and signed to trigger this rulemaking?  What is there to show for the SIX MONTHS of monthly meetings of the Rulemaking Advisory Committee?  Here it is — the agencies’ “DRAFT concepts” document that they passed out at the May 18 meeting (note it’s not even close to a DRAFT rule):

140516 Air Rule Concept Document

I was told that it would be posted on the Advisory Committee page, well, that was over a month ago and it’s still not posted in preparation for or after the June meeting.  Looking at that Advisory Committee page, there are no materials published for the May meeting, nor are there any for June:

Silica Sand Rulemaking Advisory Panel

This is not public involvement, and this is not providing an opportunity for review of the draft rules.  This committee has been meeting for six months now, and there’s a statement that the proposal will go before the EQB in September…

So back to the EQB.  Thursday’s EQB meeting was a long meeting, one which Alan and I only attended for the CO2 discussion and did not stay for the silica sand discussion (we both received only one day’s notice on this pre-meeting “listening session.”).  No packet materials were posted.  From the EQB site: EQB board meeting proposed agenda, June 18, 2014: Agenda and accompanying materials for meeting, June 18, 2014. (54.38K, .pdf).  NOTHING in the way of materials whatsoever, though one member commented on the large quantity of materials in the packet.

Now I’ve had a chance to listen to the video (THESE VIDEOS ARE MUCH APPRECIATED!).  Check it out:

During the silica sand part, EQB E.D. Will Seuffert stated that the Advisory Panel met yesterday, that would have been June 17, 2014, and that their intent is to have a proposal before the Board for the September meeting.

So the Rulemaking Advisory Committee will see the proposals when and have time to review them when???  This committee has been meeting for six months and has yet to have a draft rule to review.

Since day one, I’ve been warning, predicting, declaring, that what these agencies are doing is paying lip service to engagement of the public, the “stakeholders” in this process, and forging on without giving them any opportunity to participate in a meaningful way, and certainly not giving them any opportunity to comment on rule drafts as anticipated by the statute.  I’ve been pushing staff about it, and get assurances that no, that’s not what’s going on.  HA!

Check this video, particularly starting ~ 53, where DNR staff is explaining rulemaking at the FIFTH meeting of this Rulemaking Advisory Committee, talking around participation of the committee and brushing off any expectation of a draft rule. GRRRRRRR. LISTEN TO MAY MEETING HERE.

And to add to the mess, those supposedly representing the public are not providing updates to those they’re supposed to be representing.  GRRRRRRRRRRR.  No reports on these meetings whatsoever.  As representatives, it’s your job to provide updates after the meetings with analysis of what happened and next steps.  Nada… not a word.  I’m certainly not feeling represented!

Some posts on the failure of agencies involved to properly and meaningfully utilize the Advisory Committee to comment on DRAFT RULES:

Silica Sand Rulemaking off track…   April 30th, 2014

And once more with feeling, state law clearly and expressly authorizes and establishes the role of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee.  The statutory purpose is to COMMENT on the proposed draft… BEFORE it’s published:

14.101 ADVICE ON POSSIBLE RULES.

Subd. 2.Advisory committees.

Each agency may also appoint committees to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.

These agencies adamantly objected to formation of an Advisory Committee, from that earlier blog post, “Someone explain rulemaking to the MPCA here’s the MPCA resistence and an explanation:

MPCA staff’s report to the EQB stated inexplicably that they were “confused,” claiming ignorance of how rulemaking works and the impact of comments at this stage:

i. Staff requests Board direction on a question that arose at the August 2nd public meetings.

Members of the public expressed interest in a citizen committee to participate in the rulemaking. It is not clear how a citizen committee would affect the rulemaking process laid out in Minn. Statutes Ch. 14. A multi-step public review and comment process is already required in that statute and we just completed the preliminary step. Rulemaking is essentially creating law: Minnesota Rules have the force and effect of law. Rulemaking is a lengthy process, averaging about two years.

Who cares about rulemaking?  Who cares about rules?  I care!  Anyone looking to the state to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans!  And that IS their job.

FYI, an aside… recently a little birdie involved with a new sand plant in Wisconsin told me that it’s not in compliance with air permits, and might not ever be able to bring it into compliance (not without spending more money on  limiting emissions than they want to!).  These emissions rules being developed in Minnesota are crucial.

Rules are important.  Let’s see the DRAFT rules and give us reasonable time to review and comment!

Fractures

A novel about fracking…

Fractures, by Lamar Herrin

It’s a beautiful day today, just had a meeting all afternoon in the park in Zumbrota, and it’s a perfect day to sit on the deck in the SUN (what a concept!) and read!

For those of us “in the middle” dealing with frac sand mining and the Bakken BOOM trains, this book is a must read, dealing with the big picture and the more mundane, how one family copes and doesn’t cope when fracking comes to their community and their land.  This book is a welcome sidebar to our day to day activism.

It’s at the Red Wing library, in the SELCO system, and you can find it at abebooks.com.

Speaking of trains… BOOM!

April 30th, 2014

Flames and a large plume of black smoke are shown after a train derailment in this handout photo provided by the City of Lynchburg, Virginia April 30, 2014. REUTERS/City of Lynchburg, Virginia/Handout via Reuters

Photo provided by the City of Lynchburg, Virginia April 30, 2014.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Platts confirms it was Bakken BOOM! crude oil:
CSX says 15 cars derailed from train in Virginia

From Bloomberg:


The Bad Oil Boom: Crude Train Explodes in Lynchburg, Virginia, While Regulators Chug Along

This time it’s Lynchburg, Virginia. Don’t know where the train originated, what type of oil, but there is indeed a trend!

Video from News8000.com

Bakken BOOM crude oil MUST be DEGASIFIED before it is shipped, shipped by rail, shipped by pipeline, it must be DEGASIFIED before it goes anywhere, because the high gas content is what makes it dangerous.  DEGASIFY now.  How many more towns must burn before they DEGASIFY?

Here’s the DOT letter regarding degasifying:

1_2_14 DOT Rail_Safety_Alert

And here’s the part that addresses degasifying the crude before transport:

Come on, DOT, how hard is that to understand?  Bakken crude must be degasified before it goes rolling down the track.

From Common Dreams:

Black Smoke, Flames Spew from Train Derailment

From Reuters:

CSX train carrying oil derails in Virginia in fiery blast

From desmogblog:

Breaking: CSX Railroad “Bomb Train” Carrying Crude Oil Explodes in Lynchburg, Virginia

From the STrib:

Tanker cars carrying crude oil derail, catch fire in Lynchburg, Va.; buildings evacuated

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Several CSX train cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire Wednesday along the James River in Lynchburg, Va., with three black tankers ending up in the water and leaking some oil, becoming the most recent crash involving oil trains that has safety efforts pushing for better oversight.

Nearby buildings were evacuated for a time, but officials said there were no injuries and the city on its website and Twitter said firefighters on the scene made the decision to let the fire burn out. Three or four of the tankers were breached on the 15-car train that CSX said was on its way from Chicago to unspecified destination. Most of the cars were knocked off the tracks.

Photos and videos posted online showed large flames and thick, black smoke right after the crash. But in later photos it seemed the fire was mostly out.

Read the rest of this entry »

MaidenRockSandDerail_RepubBeagle

Well, that’s not quite right.  This “rulemaking” has yet to get ON track, and that’s what’s bothering me.

Remember when the MPCA staff said they couldn’t imagine how a rulemaking advisory committee could or would work?  From an earlier blog post, “Someone explain rulemaking to the MPCA here’s the MPCA resistence and an explanation:

MPCA staff’s report to the EQB stated inexplicably that they were “confused,” claiming ignorance of how rulemakign works and the impact of comments at this stage:

i. Staff requests Board direction on a question that arose at the August 2nd public meetings.

Members of the public expressed interest in a citizen committee to participate in the rulemaking. It is not clear how a citizen committee would affect the rulemaking process laid out in Minn. Statutes Ch. 14. A multi-step public review and comment process is already required in that statute and we just completed the preliminary step. Rulemaking is essentially creating law: Minnesota Rules have the force and effect of law. Rulemaking is a lengthy process, averaging about two years.

Once more with feeling, state law clearly and expressly authorizes and establishes the role of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee.  The statutory purpose is to COMMENT on the proposed draft… BEFORE it’s published:

14.101 ADVICE ON POSSIBLE RULES.

Subd. 2.Advisory committees.

Each agency may also appoint committees to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.

Once more with feeling… you’ve got to have a DRAFT to COMMENT ON!

Here’s the link for the state’s Silica Sand Rulemaking Advisory Panel page.  And from that page:

Past meetings

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

The panel first met on January 29.

Look at this presentation, beginning at 10:40, where there’s an “explanation” with a slide for the group:Process Slide

Catherine Neuschler’s explanation, at the April meeting (rough version, not quite exact) which goes around the PURPOSE of an Advisory Committee, which is to review drafts:

Your role is to inform the agencies on their silica sand rulemakings … on proposals or other key issues, things we bring to you and you want to bring to us… There’s not going to be… we do not expect any preparation for a panel report, meeting notes and recordings, provide record of what was said, not expecting a panel report.  Of course all of you can make official comments as part of the rulemaking process… (no mention of draft review!!!), if you want to work together as a group to write some comments, or as a subgroup, to write some comments…  To bring home what those places are where you may have the opportunity, where you will have the opportunity to weigh in (referring to chart above).  Here’s a simplified version of the rulemaking process as a reminder, the process we’re in now is”Agency develops rules and SONAR” so that’s where we’re looking for stakeholder input … Various agencies, depending on how they do their process, may release drafts rules for public review, certainly if we do that, if any of the agencies do that, that will be a place you can weigh in.  The next step is Agency and Executive Branch review…

WOW!  Then a discussion of how this process goes forward:

The way I view then, the next step, what we’re doing internally in the PCA, is that in the summer, we’ll present, the agencies will present some conceptual overviews of rule concepts, and I am adamant, that’s going to look a lot like this, that it’s going to say something like, what’s there, what do we think we want to do, if it’s Air Emissions, OK, we think Best Management Practices, monitoring, something else, what do we think those will consist of, and present that to you for your feedback, so that you really have a sense of what do we think is important, where do we see this rule going, and can respond to that and give us that feedback.   Charlie and I were talking about this a little bit in the car, sort of to give you that concept before we get into that, what do all the little details of the words have to say, because then I think you can understand where we think we’re going, give us some feedback on that, and then when we start to write the language, if it doesn’t operationalize the concepts that we talked about, you can say, that is not what you said you were going to do, we read this as something completely different.

The way I view this going foward, in the summer, we’ll present some of those conceptual overviews, various agencies will do that, then at the end of the summer, Will and I have been talking about it, we’ll use an EQB meeting, as sort of a public review of those conceptual overviews from all of the agencies and the where the public can have more input as well, and then in the fall, if the agencies would make presentations with some more defined rule proposals, and how defined they is going to vary by agencies, but probably some real concrete rule language and SONAR.

So that’s how we view it moving forward, and if something is a really big concern to you guys, obviously we can adjust.  Your advice and your input is very, very valuable to us…  It’s advice and input… We don’t expect a written product, we don’t expect that this is a voting process.  We’ll be listening for consensus, for what we hear… that you’re all on the same page and you agree, that some people are kind of reserved about it it but you can live with it… we’re not going to be doing voting….  Our goal is that the rules that result from this process is that we’ll have rules everyone can live with.  That’s really what we’ve found with this stakeholder process.

So what I’m getting out of this is that this summer, “concepts” will be brought to the committee for feedback, and that maybe, MAYBE, they might get some draft rules before the agencies present it with the SONAR for comment.  Most I’ve heard is that they “hope” to have some draft language.  The law was passed what, last May?  These meetings started in January, and September is 9 months from January.  It shouldn’t take that long.  Bottom line, I think this is a “make work” thing for avoiding producing the draft rules for review.

From the MPCA site:

Upcoming meetings

All of these meetings will be held at the People’s Energy Cooperative (Oronoco, Minn.) and run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.