sandblowing

The silica sand rulemaking process drags on and will probably end soon.  Meetings have been going on for a year now, and what is there to show for it?  Not much.  But as of yesterday, there are some draft rules!  YES!  About time…

There was a Comment Period that ended in November, and here are the Comments:

MPCA’s rulemaking – Response to second request for comments

Very few comments were filed — only 10 (I’d attached a previous comment to this one, but it was stuck separately at the top of the pile) — why so few comments, what’s up with that?

As for rulemaking, there’s been a little bit of progress reported by Katie Himanga (THANK YOU, Katie!) after yesterday’s meeting of the “Advisory Panel.”  Word from that meeting is that “ALL AGENCIES PLAN TO GO TO PUBLIC NOTICE IN THE 1ST QUARTER OF 2015.“  And so it looks like the January 8 meeting will be the last one, January 8 is scheduled, and no others show on the Advisory Panel site (but they could always add more, as they have in the past).

The Agenda is posted, but the meeting materials weren’t there yet.  So I checked with Nathan Cooley, and he sent them right over:

20141204 10th SSRAP Agenda

20141125 Draft Silica Sand Emission Rule (Draft Proposed Rules Governing Emissions from Silica Sand Projects)

DEFINITIONS_EQB (silica sand related definitions, rule and statute)

EXHIBIT M (AMBIENT AIR MONITORING PROCEDURES for
DETERMINATION OF COMPLIANCE, 12/18/2013)

SSRAP__DRAFT EQB__12__4__2014_CLEAN (this is proposed language to insert silica sand mines/project/facilities into EAW and EIS categories)

Here’s how Cooley ended that missive, definitely a “don’t call me, I’ll call you” sort of finale:

There is no current request for public comment on silica sand rulemaking. We remain focused on seeking representative input from the SSRAP panel. Thanks for your interest and your understanding.

Well, Advisory Panel, he’s saying it’s up to you!  You’re our representatives!

StateRailPlanlogo

There’s a “State Rail Plan” and it’s up for comment NOW! But I’m wondering just what it is that they’re trying to do, and it seems like the goal is to secure public spending for necessary private infrastructure.  If not, what’s the goal here?

MN DOT has been holding meetings all over the state, Alan went to one in Red Wing last week, and there’s a couple more coming up:

Nov. 24: Moorhead, MN
Hjemkomst Center 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 25: Winona, MN
City Council Chambers 5 – 7 p.m.

What’s up for comment?

Start with this 2010 Report from the DOT website:

MN Rail Plan Final Report Feb2010

And updates to consider:

Now check this, from last February:

BNSF Announces $5 Billion Capital Commitment Program

Why is this news?  Isn’t it their job to keep the rails in decent shape, to invest in their own infrastructure, not just to put money in Warren Buffet’s pockets!

When the DOT predicts this level of service (LOS) with or without improvements, are they including improvements such as the $5 billion of BNSF?  The DOT seems to be cheerleading for PUBLIC spending on PRIVATE infrastructure!  These are private for-profit companies (well, some may be “public” in the corporate sense) and they are responsible for their infrastructure.  What is the DOT doing to force the rail companies to upgrade to keep their Level of Service (LOS) at an acceptable rate, SAFELY, so they’re able to handle all the freight that they’re wanting to ram through our communities?  It’s not the job of government to subsidize the likes of Warren Buffet!

2030 Freight&Pass with Improvements

Here’s a freight survey from their site — note it’s called “Metroquest” so go figure.

Something I found interesting when considering rail is this testimony from the Sandpiper pipeline case (go HERE and plug in dockets 13-473 for Certificate of Need and 13-474 for Routing):

Rennicke_Direct_20148-102135-05

They’re framing this Bakken BOOM! as binary, either rail or pipeline, and whenever something is framed that way, that’s a big red flag to take a closer and more thoughtful look.

DOT says there are going to be “stakeholder” meetings — meetings that should be well attended by people like us!  From their site:

  • Three major stakeholder meetings are also scheduled, coinciding with the November 2014 Passenger Rail Forum, the December 2014 Freight Summit, and the January 2015 Passenger Rail Forum. A second round of open houses will be held in early 2015.

So when are these meetings?  Passenger Rail Forum meetings are supposed to happen monthly but don’t.  Just this last Monday, Gov. Dayton’s “Rail Summit” was supposed to have happened. MPCA Commissioner Stine mentioned it at yesterday’s meeting and said there would be another next month, and Frank Hornstein’s fb post, but there’s very little about it in the news other than announcements 10/31 that it would happen, in St. Paul, and of course we all weren’t invited:  http://hometownsource.com/2014/10/31/gov-dayton-to-convene-minnesota-rail-summit-on-nov-17/

Here’s how it’s framed by our good friends at KSTP — if you click on the link, it’s pipeline promotion:

Dayton Hosts Governor’s Rail Summit to Discuss Rail Safety, Backlog

KSTP.com-Nov 17, 2014
Railroad, agriculture and political leaders will be attending the Governor’s Rail Summit to talk about increasing railway safety, addressing the …

Back to the DOT — look at this “Passenger Rail Forum” and how that’s been “working” — meeting after meeting canceled:

Forum meetings

All forum meetings are held from 10 a.m. to noon at the State Office Building unless otherwise specified below. Meetings will be canceled when there are insufficient topics to merit a meeting.

State Office Building, Room 5
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155

Date

Location / Time

Jan. 6, 2014 Canceled
Feb. 3, 2014 Canceled
March 3, 2014 Conference call
April 7, 2014 Conference call
May 5, 2014 Conference call
June 2, 2014 Canceled
July 7, 2014 Canceled
Aug. 4, 2014 Conference call
Sep. 8, 2014 Rescheduled to Sept. 15 via conference call
Oct. 6, 2014 Canceled
Nov. 10, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon
Dec. 1, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon

Check out their site.  What are they really doing here?  What’s really at issue?  I think we’re looking at a scam to get the public to pick up the tab for infrastructure updates that haven’t been made over the last few decades:

Money

Money2

These slides are from this presentation — note the date: November 12, 2009… presented at the November 12, 2010 meeting (That’s what the date is on the site, and the 2009 date matches up with the properties date.)  ???

PTACPres20091112

And another thing… why is the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce interested in Bakken BOOM oil and why is DNV-GL top-heavily loading the panel coming up here on December 4th?

MPCAlogo

There was a notice on the MPCA Silica Sand page that the 10/29 deadline for Comments on their latest “rule concept” release, but couldn’t find a notice.  So I got ahold of Nathan Cooley who said he’d get on it, and lo and behold, a formal “Notice” is released and lands in the inbox!  YES!  Thank you!

Here it is, it’s official, straight from the State Register, p. 586:

MPCA_Notice11-21-2014So what to comment on?  This, from the MPCA site:

Second request for comments (September 2014); deadline for comments extended to Nov. 21, 2014.

The DNR also has rulemaking going on about trout stream setbacks and reclamation of abandoned mines.  MORE INFO HERE!

MaidenRockSandDerail_RepubBeagleIt’s that time again — the Silica Sand Advisory Committee is meeting again on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the People’s Energy Cooperative in Oronoco, Minn.

Here’s the Agenda:

Agenda

Dig this:

Charlie

In my experience, the search/stretch for consensus is the first step in unreasonable compromise.  It takes a push to change things, and it’s important not to give up too soon.

As you know, I’ve been frustrated at the way these meetings are handled, in that they’re NOT doing what a rulemaking advisory committee is supposed to do, which is review and comment on draft rules.  And we’re not getting representation on this committee, there are no regular updates from members that I’m aware of, unless I ask on a list, so we’re not getting any opportunity for input or feedback from the representatives.  Plus there’s Charlie Peterson

I was listening to the July meeting, and for introductions, there were only six members of the committee present:

Tara Wetzel – MN Aggregate Ready Mix Assoc.

Beth Procter – Lime Twp., Blue Earth County

Al Frechette – Scott County

Doug Losee – Unimin

Tom Rowekamp – IT Sand

Kelly Stanage – Citizen Rep. from Houston County

I’ve heard from Amy Nelson that she, Keith, and Vincent Ready were there.  Katie just let me know she was there.  Others?  Were introductions not broadcast?  Did anyone come in later?   Can’t tell, it was audio only (unless I’m missing something), and the audio was out for a large part of the presentation.  Where are the alternates?  Where are the alternates?  And if members are determining that it’s a big waste of time and don’t want to show up, well, it seems they ought to let the agencies know so replacements can be found!  And so the meetings can be changed to become more ___________ and less _________ so members can and will attend!

Here’s the bright spot of the day, from what I’ve seen:

EQB Process

Look where they put the “Advisory Panel.” IT’S IN THE RIGHT PLACE!!!  YES!!!  Now, there needs to be another arrow, though, or a expansion of the purple square that says, “Advisory Panel review of draft rules.”  They’re sidestepping by saying that, even the EQB Board, will “review draft rule concepts.”  NOPE, not good enough, eliminate that word “concepts” and let’s start reviewing rules, the Advisory Panel and the EQB.  DRAFT RULES!  It’s that simple.

From the site, here are the future planned meetings:

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.

At long last, here it is — only took a gazillion phone calls, emails, and finally a Data Practices Act Request…

TA-DA!!!

The Goodhue County Silica Sand Mining Ordinance 1,000 foot set back from Public Waters:

1000_BlufflandEco_MEFsetback – BIG map, can enlarge for great detail!

1000FtSetbackPublicWaters