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

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.