Air Permits at the MPCA!  Time to sit right down and write a Comment to the MPCA about the Titan Lansing sand processing and loading facility in North Branch.  Scroll down for the primary documents.

Send Comments, by Friday, August 28, 2015, to:

Andrew Luberda   
      email: andrew.lubera@state.mn.us
Air Quality Permits Section Industrial Division 
MN Pollution Control Agency  
520 Lafeyette Road North
St Paul MN 55155

The notice does not list an email for Luberda or a MPCA comment url, so I called him up to get his email.  I asked if they’d correct this omission, and got a non-responsive response.

Tiller Sand transloading facility… If you recall, this was that Tiller Sand facility that they built and started operating WITHOUT ANY PERMITS, just went ahead and did it.  That said, their history isn’t exactly as pristine as… well… as pristine as frac sand!

January 25, 2013 – Tiller Corp. is penalized for air-quality violations

November 20, 2014 – Tiller Corporation penalized for air-quality violations

Then it was sold to Titan Lansing in November 2014 (see comments about air quality and permits in this article).

In the Chisago County Press here’s the poop about the MPCA Air Permit and info on how to file a Comment, great info about various Comment and administrative options (not that the MPCA ever does contested cases):

Comments sought to amend air quality permit

Here’s the scoop from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:

Open for public comment through Friday, August 28, 2015.  Send Comments to:

Andrew Luberda   
      email: andrew.lubera@state.mn.us
Air Quality Permits Section Industrial Division 
MN Pollution Control Agency  
520 Lafeyette Road North
St Paul MN 55155


Today was the Save the Bluffs sponsored “Conference for Frac Sand Activists: Networking, Learning, Advocating.”  Katie Himanga did a tremendous job organizing this, great turnout, and I came back energized!

Here’s my presentation on “Opportunities for Legal Intervention” (as opposed to not so legal??? hmmmmm):

Overland Handout

LOBBYISTS ‘R’ US (this is OLD!)

People were VERY interested in both Intervention in a permitting and proceeding and in Application for a change in Zoning Ordinance.  Both of these are important because they put “the people” in the driver’s seat, through becoming a party in the proceeding, or through becoming the applicant.


Intervention in a permitting proceeding is authorized under Minn. Stat. 116B.09, Subd. 1.  This is useful where a project has been proposed and applied for, because it gives you a seat at the table:

Here’s an example where a party has intervened, in this case in a City of Minneapolis permitting proceeding:

Friends of the Riverfront, et al., Relators, vs. DeLaSalle High School, Respondent, City of Minneapolis, Respondent

Here’s an example of a simple Petition (I’d recommend adding more narrative and supporting documents):

City of Scandia – Notice of Intervention (Final – 7-21-09)


Pretty much anyone can apply for a Zoning Ordinance change.  It was done to get the Goodhue County Wind Ordinance moving, and got a county Wind Study Committee started under the Planning Advisory Committee to put the Ordinance together.  The same thing happened with Silica Sand mining, a Silica Sand study committee was formed, but it wasn’t utilized in this instance nearly as much as it was for the Wind Ordinance.

Here’s the Application for Goodhue County, which also explains how the process works, what to do, etc.  It’s pretty simple, apply and the process begins slowly grinding forward.  Most Counties will have their application online:

Goodhue County_2015 Change of Zone_201501090914372783

Here’s the Save the Bluff’s Petition for a Goodhue County Zoning change that got StB a seat at the table:

Binder-Zoning Change Application-FINAL

Here are a few of posts from PAC and County Board meetings during that time as it slowly went through the county process:

Silica Sand Mining 1,000 ft setback from Public Waters – August 19th, 2014

Monday 6p – Silica sand at Goodhue PAC Meeting  -November 16th, 2013

Most interesting Goodhue PAC meeting – August 20th, 2013

Goodhue County extends moratorium – August 6th, 2013

Save the Bluffs files Application for Zoning Ordinance Change – July 15th, 2013




And what are the Comments about?  Here’s the Plan:

Draft MN State Rail Plan


Why does it take as long for media to pick up an explosion and long burning waste disposal site near Williston, ND as it does for a train derailment in Ontairo?

Here’s the poop on yesterday’s (3:20 a.m.) explosion in Williston:

KXNEWS, ND: Waste Disposal Ste near Williston Explodes

Valley News: Dangerous Fire Breakes Out at Waste Disposal Site South of Williston

Bakken.com: Explosion razes waste disposal site near Alexandria , which has the most details:

A fire so massive that it could not be approached by firefighters erupted after an explosion at an oil waste disposal site north of Alexander, North Dakota. According to KXNews, McKenzie County Emergency Manager Karlin Rockvoy said the only thing to do at first was watch the fire burn itself out.

The explosion occurred at approximately 3:30 a.m. Emergency responders from both Williston and Alexander established a perimeter around the site to ensure the safety of anyone in the area. Five employees at the facility escaped unharmed, one of whom reported jumping out of the way just in time.

Firefighters were able to get the flames under control by midmorning, though the cause of the explosion is still unknown.

The complex, which undertook the treatment and disposal of oilfield waste, was completely destroyed during the incident. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Rockvoy reported that any damage caused by the explosion was contained by a surrounding embankment.

The waste disposal site was owned by Tervita, a company which specializes in dealing with industrial waste while focusing on environmentally conscious solutions. The facility was operated by Republic Services, which recently acquired Tervita, LLC, a subsidiary of Tervita Corporation. The merger heightened Republic Services’ presence in the oil and gas waste sector.

Bismarck Tribune: Explosion at oil and gas waste disposal site contained

Google this and find all of five media posts…

alarm-clock-ringingAt the February 11, 2015 meeting of the Silica Sand Advisory Panel, at least two of the agency speakers said they wanted comments on the rule drafts in 30 days or so, and that 30 days is almost up.  BUT, it’s been hard to find those drafts, and it’s even harder to make comments on something not findable!  They are not posted on the Advisory Panel site.

Also, I’ve heard several times that “the legislature will block these new rules” or some such, and I can’t get a read on what exactly is the concern, but the legislature isn’t going to block rulemaking because there’s nothing the legislature can do to block a rulemaking proceeding, it does not require legislative approval.  Now they could change the law, and repeal the rulemaking requirement, but change the law?!?!  That’s highly unlikely “they” could.

The deadline is extended to March 18 via an email from Nathan Cooley, MPCA:

Dear Panel Members and Alternates,
In addition to the reminder of a deadline to provide your input (which Heather asked me to extend from Friday 3/13 to Wednesday 3/18/2015), staff have asked me to forward working copies of preliminary draft working language in MS Word format to improve input convenience:
Nathan Brooks Cooley
Rulemaking Coordinator
651-757-2290 v
651-297-8676 x

Big thanks to Nathan Cooley and Catherine Neuschler of the MPCA for being responsive and coughing up the drafts!  Both PDFs and WORD are below, because track changes may be helpful:

PDF Draft Rules:

DNR Rule (pdf) Draft Silica Sand Reclamation Rule_2015_03_03

MPCA Air Emissions (pdf) 20141125 Draft Silica Sand Emission Rule (3)

MPCA Air Monitoring (pdf) EXHIBIT M

EQB Rule (pdf) Preliminary EQB_Draft Rules_ Definitions__2_19_2015

WORD Draft Rules (for track changes comments):

DNR Rule (docx) Draft Silica Sand Reclamation Rule_2015_03_03

MPCA Air Emissions (docx) 20141125 Draft Silica Sand Emission Rule (3)

MPCA Air Monitoring (docx) EXHIBIT M

EQB Rule (docx) Preliminary EQB_Draft Rules_ Definitions__2_19_2015

Have at it, folks, and get your comments to your Silica Sand Advisory Panel Representatives:

Local government representatives

Citizen representatives

Industry representatives