April 28th, 2014
Last post on this, Paul Krugman says it all. Really…. well… probably…
In yesterday’s New York Times, Paul Krugman says very clearly what I’ve been trying to wrap my head around. Cliven Bundy is a moocher, no doubt, I’ve called him a “welfare queen” too, but the hatred Bundy spews is… is… well, read what Krugman has to say, he puts it all together.
The anti-government mindset is indeed a problem. Just Friday, I ran into it when a friend repeated the mantra, “You know what’s wrong, it’s the government, the government is too powerful,” when we were attending a hearing focused on utility power (“why do you think they call them power companies”), where it was a utility trying to take someone’s land. HUH? How is that an example of problem with “government?” The landowner in the middle of the fray clearly stated her take, “It’s the utilities, the corporations have too much power.” Yup, my take too. How does it become an issue of “too much government?” This highlights the failure of our individuals and schools to foster critical thinking compounded by the acceptance of the non-stop media regurgitation of false and twisted information. But hey, that’s just another display of corporate power.
The only thing I’d change? Where Krugman says it’s a perversion regarding “freedom of the wealthy,” I think it’s more freedom of ANYONE, and so I’d make this edit:
For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom
of the wealthyto do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.
Here are Krugman’s thoughts:
It is, in a way, too bad that Cliven Bundy — the rancher who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land, and bringing in armed men to support his defiance — has turned out to be a crude racist. Why? Because his ranting has given conservatives an easy out, a way to dissociate themselves from his actions without facing up to the terrible wrong turn their movement has taken.
For at the heart of the standoff was a perversion of the concept of freedom, which for too much of the right has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for others.
Start with the narrow issue of land use. For historical reasons, the federal government owns a lot of land in the West; some of that land is open to ranching, mining and so on. Like any landowner, the Bureau of Land Management charges fees for the use of its property. The only difference from private ownership is that by all accounts the government charges too little — that is, it doesn’t collect as much money as it could, and in many cases doesn’t even charge enough to cover the costs that these private activities impose. In effect, the government is using its ownership of land to subsidize ranchers and mining companies at taxpayers’ expense.
It’s true that some of the people profiting from implicit taxpayer subsidies manage, all the same, to convince themselves and others that they are rugged individualists. But they’re actually welfare queens of the purple sage.
And this in turn means that treating Mr. Bundy as some kind of libertarian hero is, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. Suppose he had been grazing his cattle on land belonging to one of his neighbors, and had refused to pay for the privilege. That would clearly have been theft — and brandishing guns when someone tried to stop the theft would have turned it into armed robbery. The fact that in this case the public owns the land shouldn’t make any difference.
So what were people like Sean Hannity of Fox News, who went all in on Mr. Bundy’s behalf, thinking? Partly, no doubt, it was the general demonization of government — if someone looks as if he is defying Washington, he’s a hero, never mind the details. Partly, one suspects, it was also about race — not Mr. Bundy’s blatant racism, but the general notion that government takes money from hard-working Americans and gives it to Those People. White people who wear cowboy hats while profiting from government subsidies just don’t fit the stereotype.
February 5th, 2013
Red Wing’s Mayor, Dennis Egan, is the voice of frac sand mining. Yes, it’s true, and here is his email so you can tell him what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s the big deal? Well, it’s a simple matter of whose interests the mayor represents. It’s about ethics. The Mayor’s job is to public represent the City of Red Wing, the “titular head” of the city. Can he spell C-O-N-F-L-I-C-T?
The City of Red Wing recently spent a year addressing frac sand in the City, first enacting a Silica Sand Moratorium and then an Ordinance. This remains a major issue at Goodhue County, and in the entire state of Minnesota.
It appears that organizing his “Red Wing 2020,” an “Advisory Committee to the Mayor” and having this “Advisory Committee to the Mayor” host a frac sand mining promotional love fest wasn’t enough, nooooooooo, now he’s officially, publicly, and professionally promoting frac sand interests, and he’s being paid for it. While he’s Mayor of Red Wing? Can you believe it?
A recent Politics in Minnesota article laid it out, that he’s “Executive Director” of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, which is a lobbying group to promote frac sand mining and associated interests. Here’s the scoop that relates to Mayor Egan:
The sand mining industry has recently gotten organized as well. The Minnesota Industrial Sand Council was formed about three weeks ago, with Red Wing Mayor and Capitol lobbyist Dennis Egan as its executive director. The council, which is part of Aggregate & Ready Mix of Minnesota, has hired the Minneapolis-based Larkin Hoffman law and lobbying firm as its lobbyists. The group includes sand-mining companies as well as railroad, trucking and petroleum interests.
“We’ve got mining operations that have been in Mankato and Shakopee and St. Peter and Winona. These are Minnesota folks,” Egan said. “When they hear their operations and their livelihood potentially is going to come to a screeching halt, they said: ‘We need a voice at the Capitol, because that’s now where the conversation is going.’”
The group is stressing to lawmakers that the sand is used in industries ranging from sand paper to fiber optics, and calling attention to state and federal regulations that hold the industry in check, Egan said. He said the group is also putting together a best practices document.
“We want this industry to be safe and healthy, not only for those for those who work in the pits but for the communities that surround it,” Egan said. “Truck traffic, dust issues that comes from mining, we recognize there can be concerns, so how do we best address that?”
FYI, Mayor Dennis Egan’s facebook pages says he “lives in St. Paul.” Curiouser and curiouser!
December 1st, 2012
Gov. Mark Dayton rolled out the plan early in his term — GUT environmental review and protection. What do Minnesotans think? This week we got a chance to tell him.
Surprise! The first meeting about the state’s environmental review was standing room only, when we got there a line started at the door going back and winding in. They’d supposedly expected 30-40 but got about 200, 175 signed in and I’d bet quite a few didn’t. Keep in mind that this was a meeting held at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday. Suzanne found a spot with just enough room for us to stand. As it was getting started, I noticed, DUH, that there was a white board behind me, so because there was no designated way to make comments other than holler, well, of course I did that too, particularly regarding FUNDING, because there was no mention of funding and how all the agencies are hurting to the point of being unable to regulate, anyway, a few of my comments (click photo for larger view):
There were meetings this week, and there are more the week of December 10 — SHOW UP AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE STATE’S JOB ON ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW:
December 10 – Worthington, Worthington High School 3:30pm – 6:00pm
December 12 – St. Cloud, Stearns County Service Center 5:30pm – 8:00pm
December 14 – Moorhead, Minnesota State University 3:00pm – 5:30pm
I’ve posted before about Gov. Dayton’s brown environmental initiatives — right off the bat he muzzled and prodded MPCA and DNR to ram permits through:
And then he announced plans to “streamline” environmental review, and we all know what “streamline” means”
So at these meetings ostensibly about “environmental review” we were funneled into a “multiple guess” exercise about the “Environmental Report Card” and nothing about “Improvement of Environmental Review” or “EQB Governance and Coordination” which were reports that, in addition to the “Environmental Report Card” were approved by the EQB on November 14, 2012. There was a “comment” opportunity at the EQB, but there were maybe 5 people who commented, utterly ineffective solicitation.
EARTH TO MARS! With the EQB approving those reports November 14, BEFORE the public meetings, there was pretty much ZERO input into those reports. Although it’s heartening to see that there’s been some pull-back from the overt gutting of the EQB laid out in the draft report, and maybe, MAYBE, pull back from reframing the whole intent of environmental review, it’s a problem where the fix is in and where the important policy documents are done before we’re invited to join the game. Thanks, guys…
Here are the reports:
- Evaluation and Recommendations for Improving Environmental Review
- Recommendations for Environmental Governance and Coordination
- Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, someone like Bill Grant, formerly Izaak Walton League, now Dayton’s Deputy Commissioner in charge of Energy Facility Permitting, the guy who facilitated the CapX 2020 transmission buildout, and who promoted coal gasification, he has no business being involved in siting of utility permits. He has an egregious conflict of interest, having been part of energy project promotional efforts, and needs to be fired. Here’s Grant eing interviewed before the program started:
At two recent frac sand mining meetings in Red Wing and Wabasha, I handed out at least 270 flyers, , posted info on this blog and sent info out on lists. I’m hoping that had something to do with so many turning out. Frac sand was a major topic, I really stressed the need to fund the state’s regulatory agencies so they can do their job, and others way over across the room were not happy with how the discussion was an exercise in control of discussion. It’s safe to say that they got an earful.
Rep. Denny McNamara came in and worked his way back to a tiny open spot by us, he ended up next to Alan, and Alan quietly said hello and noted that they’d first met at a meeting in Cottage Grove regarding the 3M incinerator, and he gives Alan a nasty look and makes a gratuitous snide comment about “Oh, did you get a haircut?” and looks at the back of his head. EH? Alan said something in his oh so nice way, and I piped up from behind, “At least he doesn’t dye his!”
Denny McNamara’s trainer better put a muzzle on him. That guy is supposed to be representing the people in his district, and in that case he represented the interests of 3M, notorious polluter of the water and air, and he has the nerve to be a defensive jerk when there’s no need to be. If mere mention of meeting him at a hearing regarding the 3M incinerator elicits that brand of obnoxiousness, oh my, he must be guilty of more offensive rolling to corporate interests than suspected!
A google pops up this article right at the top:
Rep. Denny McNamara tonight plans to take an axe to a swath of proposed environmental projects that are paid for by Minnesota Lottery money.
McNamara, R-Hastings, is planning to initiate a challenge to about $8 million worth of projects that were previously recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The total bill recommends $52 million in projects that are paid over a two-year period out of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is built up by Lottery proceeds.
Check out that post… Hey Denny, how about addressing the extreme environmental issues around Hastings? So glad he’s been ousted as Chair of the House Environment Committee.
July 22nd, 2012
Well, folks, here we go, just got notice TODAY from Judge Lipman of the rulemaking at Office Administrative Hearings. Send Comments to:
Here’s the “purpose” according to OAH (listed in numbers, not letters):
The purpose of these draft revisions to Parts 1400 and 1405 is to:
- streamline hearing procedures across different types of administrative proceedings;
- leverage the broader familiarity with contested case procedures to improve predictability in the hearing process for other types of cases;
- better reflect contemporary hearing practice and the technological changes occurring since September of 2001 (when the last revision of OAH’s procedural rules was completed); and
- improve predictability in the hearing process by more closely aligning OAH’s procedures with the General Rules of Practice of the District Courts.
I have a vested interest in this because I’d filed a Rulemaking Petition ages ago:
That was March, 2011, IT TOOK A YEAR AND A HALF!
Here are a few things I hope you’ll look at — the parts cited with a page number are from the OAH Rulemaking Draft Changes:
- Draft Changes, p. 2, definitions of Participant and Person – narrowing definition of person:
As proposed, on p. 4:
20 Subp. 6a. Participant. “Participant” means a nonparty who:
22 A. files comments or makes a formal appearance in a
23 proceeding authorized by the Minnesota Public Utilities
24 Commission, other than those commission proceedings that
25 are conducted to receive general public comments; or,
27 B. with the approval of judge, offers testimony or
28 evidence pursuant to part 1400.7150 or 1400.8605.
37 Subp. 8. Person. “Person” means any individual, business,
38 nonprofit association or society, or governmental entity.
As found in the PUC’s Rules, Minn. R. 7829.0100, Subp. 13 and 15:
“Participant” means a person who files comments or appears in a proceeding, other than public hearings held in contested cases and other commission proceedings conducted to receive general public comments, to present views without becoming a party.
“Person” means a natural person, corporation, municipal corporation, public corporation, utility, governmental entity, government agency, association, partnership, receiver, joint venture, trustee at common law or statutory trust guardian, or executor.
Another in a trend of limiting participation by the public, QUESTIONING WITNESSES IS OUT – SAY WHAT???? See Draft Changes, p. 14-15 (see also p. 59-60):
45 Subp. 5. Participation by public. The judge may, in the
46 absence of a petition to intervene, nevertheless hear the
1 testimony and receive exhibits from any person at the
2 hearing, or allow a person to note that person’s appearance,
3 or allow a person to question witnesses, but no person shall
4 become, or be deemed to have become, a party by reason
5 of such participation. Persons offering testimony or exhibits
6 may be questioned by parties to the proceeding.
Where then PUC’s rules provide for much more — check out current Minn. R. 1405.0800, which they want to just ELIMINATE! It starts here:
Here’s one of the really limiting changes that is NOT OK:
20 1405.0800 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
22 At all public hearings conducted in proceedings pursuant to
23 an order of the Commission parts 1405.0200 to 1405.2800,
24 all persons will be allowed and encouraged to participate
25 without the necessity of intervening as parties. Such
26 participation shall include, but not be limited to:
28 A. offering testimony or other material at the public
31 B. questioning any agency official or agent of an
32 applicant who participates in the public hearing; or,
34 C. offering testimony or other material within the
35 designated comment period.
37 A Offering direct testimony with or without benefit of oath or
38 affirmation and without the necessity of prefiling as required
39 by part 1405.1900.
41 B. O offering direct testimony or other material in written
42 form at the public hearing or within the designated comment
43 period following the hearing. However, testimony which is
44 offered without benefit of oath or affirmation, or written
45 testimony which is not subject to cross-examination, shall be
1 given such weight as the administrative law judge deems
4 C. Questioning all persons testifying. Any person who
5 wishes to cross-examine a witness but who does not want to
6 ask questions orally, may submit questions in writing to the
7 administrative law judge, who will then ask the questions of
8 the witness. Questions may be submitted before or during
9 the hearings.
Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. Guess they’re in no hurry here!
From the notice:
Written comments, questions, requests to receive a draft of the rules, and requests for more information on these possible rules should be directed to: Honorable Eric L. Lipman, Assistant Chief Administrative Law Judge, P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55164-0620, Telephone: (651) 361-7900, Facsimile: (651) 361-7936, Electronic Mail: email@example.com; TTD users may call the OAH at (651) 361-7878.
Another odd thing from the notice, as this is a PRE-Rulemaking Comment Period:
NOTE: Comments received in response to this notice will not necessarily be
included in the formal rulemaking record if and when a proceeding to adopt rules is
started. The agency is required to submit for review only those written comments received in response to the rules after they are formally proposed. If you submitted comments during the development of the rules, and you want to ensure that those same comments are part of the later review, you should resubmit the comments after the rules are formally proposed.
July 7th, 2012
“MISO” trademark owned by… JPMorgan Chase!
But seriously folks! JPMorgan got caught with its hand in the cookie jar again, CAISO and MISO have filed claims of abusive practices at FERC. Here’s the short version of what they allegedly did (it’s allegedly for now, but just you wait!) — from the second article below:
In the Midwest, the alleged manipulation involved day-ahead margin assurance payments, under which generators are compensated for situations when their real-time dispatch falls below the level set by the day-ahead dispatch schedule. As in California, traders found a flaw where they could force the market to make “inappropriate or excess” payments by placing lowball bids in the day-ahead market – as low as negative $500 per megawatt-hour – and much higher bids in the real-time market, Miso said.
Here’s the Amended CAISO Petition against JPMorgan Chase:
Still looking for the MISO Petition and FERC’s legendary Constellation Order.
In the news:
In the STrib:
A federal judge ordered JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Thursday to explain why it shouldn’t be compelled to turn over e-mails sought by U.S. regulators in a probe of potential electricity market manipulation in the Midwest and California.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington gave JPMorgan until the end of the day on July 13 to respond. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sued JPMorgan on Monday to release 25 e-mails in an investigation of possible manipulation of power markets in the Midwest and California by J.P. Morgan Ventures Energy Corp.
FERC is examining efforts by Houston-based J.P. Morgan Ventures to extract excessive payments or above-market prices from Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO)and California ISO, Thomas Olson, a lawyer in the FERC investigating division, said in a court document. He said the probe focuses on winning inflated “make-whole” payments, which the grid operator pays when a power plant’s output isn’t needed as anticipated.
In court papers, FERC said JPMorgan’s bidding techniques in the Midwest and California resulted in at least $73 million in improper payments. FERC opened the probe in August after complaints from Midwest and California grid operators that JPMorgan’s bidding practices were abusive, according to the agency’s initial court filing.
“We believe we have complied in all respects with the law, as well as FERC rules and applicable tariffs, governing this market,” Jennifer Zuccarelli, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We stress that this investigation is ongoing and that no conclusions have been reached or findings adjudicated.”
JPMorgan’s commodities business owns or has the right to output from several electricity generating facilities. Only one power plant, an unnamed facility in Michigan, is mentioned by FERC in court papers.
It remains unclear whether utilities and power generators in the region were hurt by the bank’s alleged market manipulation. Xcel Energy, based in Minneapolis, said in a statement that it was aware of the investigation “but at this point, we don’t have information about the allegations or if we may be impacted.”
In a three-page order, the judge said that “JPMorgan shall address why it should not be required to produce the 25 at-issue e-mails in unredacted form or to submit them to the court for in-camera review.”
Grid operators solicit bids from electricity suppliers each day to meet expected demand. Typically, 90 percent or more power consumed is secured in what is known as the day-ahead market. Any supply shortfalls because of weather or unexpected plant shutdowns are met through bids placed in real-time.