Great decision this week from the Kentucky Court of Appeals:
Here are some choice snippets:
In granting summary judgment, the trial court believed that KRS 278.502 only granted condemnation powers to entities providing public utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission. It also believed that since the pipeline was only going to be utilized to move NGLs to the Gulf of Mexico, the pipelines would not be “in public service.” We agree.
And another logical finding:
If these NGLs are not reaching Kentucky consumers, then Bluegrass and its pipeline cannot be said to be in the public service of Kentucky. We therefore affirm the circuit court’s judgment that Bluegrass does not possess the ability to condemn property through eminent domain.
May 7th, 2015
Thanks to Kent Laugen, attorney here in Red Wing, for notice of this decision:
The good news is that §215 has been amended and amended, and is due to expire on June 1, 2015.
Here’s the actual decision:
On the first page of narrative, as the court recites the procedural posture, dig this:
The district court held that §215 of the PATRIOT Act impliedly precludes judicial review…
Really? Getting over this hurdle at the Appellate Court is a huge relief, and this is the part that I’m so glad to see. This section is from p. 32 – p. 53. Here’s the bottom line:
There’s also a lengthy section considering, and then rejecting, an analogy of NSA metadata collection with grand jury collection of information by subpoena, and for those interested in workings of a grand jury, this might provide some insight. The court carefully notes that:
§ 215 does not permit an investigative demand for any information relevant to fighting the war on terror, or anything relevant to whatever the government might want to know. It permits demands for documents “relevant to an authorized investigation.”
Decision, p. 66. General broad fishing expeditions are not OK.
The government also tried to argue, unsuccessfully, that the repeated ratification of the PATRIOT Act meant that Congress knew, understood, accepted, and approved of the administrative interpretation, that NSA was authorized to collect this metadata. That argument fell flat too, with the court noting that there was no discussion of scope, only Congressional inaction regarding interpretation:
Congress cannot reasonably be said to have ratified a program of which many members of Congress — and all members of the public — were not aware.
And the Court goes on:
Because they reached this decision, as above, they sidestepped the Constitutional issues for another day…
April 28th, 2015
The Senate Energy Omnibus Bill with the offensive special legislation for Geronimo is moving forward with great stealth. It’s the language that would end the 7 year time limit for wind easement contracts. That language is hidden in the bill in the words, “Laws 2008, chapter 296, article 1, section 25, as amended.”
How would anyone know what that means? It’s hidden in the footnote to Minn. Stat. 500.30:
NOTE: The amendment to subdivision 2 by Laws 2008, chapter 296, article 1, section 25, striking the sentence “A wind easement … seven-year period.” is effective June 1, 2017. Laws 2008, chapter 296, article 1, section 25, the effective date, as amended by Laws 2010, chapter 333, article 1, section 33, and Laws 2012, chapter 244, article 1, section 76.
In the Senate, the more specific language is stalled out because the Senate Energy Omnibus bill is stalled out… but in the meantime, HF 843 has passed out of the house and moved over to the Senate and is moving forward there. The Senate took it in as passed in the House, and it marches onward, now just needing that 3rd reading.
DELETE THIS SECTION OF HF 843!
- The words to look for in the bill are in the intro:
Laws 2008, chapter 296, article 1, section 25, as amended;
- And the specific language that needs to be deleted is on p. 147:
DELETE THIS SECTION OF HF 843!
Contact all Senators today and tell them to delete this special legislation for Geronimo.
SENATE CONTACT INFO HERE!
April 23rd, 2015
The price of Garofalo is too cheap — toadying to the corporate masters.
Rep. Garofalo claimed it is not the legislature’s role to interfere in private contracts. But in taking out the language specific to Black Oak/Getty wind, he adds this tidbit, it supposedly was added in committee “during markup” — did anyone on the committee understand? Did anyone look at this footnote to Minn. Stat. 500.30? It’s in the 2nd Engrossment, then 3rd, and 4th which was passed yesterday with some amendments:
This is language that modifies a footnote to Minn. Stat. 500.30. It pushes up the sunset of the 7 year limit for wind easement contracts. And there’s nothing in here that says that it does not apply to current contracts. Geronimo wants it because it WOULD apply, at least they’d try to make that happen!
Nope, this is not OK at all. That’s just doing the corporation’s bidding in another way. Thanks, thanks a lot. If you want to keep this language in, it needs to expressly state that it has no application to existing contracts.
I wonder — did Sempra know they were jumping into this morass when they bought the project?
Now it’s time to keep on Senate to remove it, and be alert for the Conference Committee.
Here’s the contact info for all Senators, it will hit the floor sometime, either in SF 1431 or maybe even SF 2101:
1) We need to make sure that the Senate, THE WHOLE SENATE, knows that the special legislation for Geronimo in S.F. 1431, p. 34, lines 8-16, must be deleted when this comes to the floor in the Senate, if not before. Check that bill carefully.
2) Also don’t try to sneak it in like they did in the House:
3) They also need to know that this special legislation for Geronimo must not appear in any other bill — don’t try to sneak it in somewhere else, and don’t forget to take it out, don’t try to drop it in during Conference Committee! NO! NO! NO!
Contact each and every Senator and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this 7 year limit for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner. This change would be for the benefit of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s) and to the detriment of the landowners.
April 22nd, 2015
What’s going on with these Energy Omnibus Bills? It’s bad enough that they do it in this “Omnibus” form, instead it’s OMINOUS, because they toss such a mash of incongruous things together, a little for everyone so they have a “deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal” when it’s really just a mess that adds up to bad policy.
Senate Energy Omnibus bill is SF 1431:
The Companion HF 1678 Textisn’t going anywhere…
House Employment and Economic Development Bill is filled with energy related backpedaling and is even more OMINOUS:
The “Senate Companion” to HF 843 does not really exist, but the stated companion, SF 804 was added to S.F. 2101, the Omnibus agriculture, environment, natural resources, jobs, and economic development appropriations:
With the different bills, it gets difficult when considering the special legislation for Black Oak/Getty that Geronimo added to the Senate bill (SF 1431). That language remains in SF 1431. Now it’s BACK in HF 843 — as of tonight.
Initially, it was added to the House bill (HF843) without any committee discussion, but was then removed (YES!) after loud objections.
Better yet, the new owner of the project, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, wants nothing to do with Geronimo’s legislative “fix.” From “Signed, sealed and sold: Controversial legislative fix gone with the wind” Watchdog.org Minnesota Bureau, by Tom Steward, Sempra confirms that important distinction between itself and the former owner, Geronimo (also linked below):
Sempra U.S. Gas and Power assumed ownership of the up to 41-turbine wind farm March 25, according to the letter. But the California company distanced itself from any statehouse deal that infringes on landowner agreements.
“From our understanding the Omnibus energy bill is no longer in consideration and will not move forward as legislation. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power is not in favor of any legislation that would change the terms of the leases agreed to by the Black Oak Getty landowners,” Steve Schooff, Sempra U.S. Gas and Power communications director, said in an email.
Good! Sempra, thank you for taking a step back! That they’re distancing from legislative action on private contracts is a sign that they have a sense of ethics and won’t try to steamroll this project through. They deserve a hearty “Here! Here!” Will Sempra give a listen to landowners? We shall see!
But then tonight, I heard that Rep. Garofalo put it back in. Specific wording remains to be seen, let’s have a look at the 4th Engrossment, which should be out soon. But noooo, this sly change was added a while ago:
Rep. Garofalo, you’d said on the record that it wasn’t the legislature’s business to interfere in private contracts. Now it’s suddenly OK. So which is it? Now you think it’s OK to jump to your corporate masters and put that language in, to the detriment of the residents of Raymond and Getty Township who have contracts, contracts with specific stated termination dates? Shame… what changed?
And Sempra supposedly isn’t the only one to publicly back off — two sources in the Senate have said, IN WRITING, that Geronimo has said it wants that language deleted from the Senate version. SO LET’S DO IT!
In the meantime, though, despite those assurances, we need to keep at it. We need to continue to let the Senate know to remove Section 40 of S.F. 1431, which is lines 34.8 – 34.16 on p. 3,4 to eliminate that special legislation for Geronimo:
It’s supposed to happen when it hits the floor for a vote, and right now, “negotiations” seem to be stalled out, everything is behind closed door, and we have no way of knowing what’s really going on.
So what to do?
1) We need to thank everyone for removing the offensive special legislation from HF 843. We need to make sure they know that the special legislation language must not appear in any House version. And don’t even think of putting this special legislation interfering with private contracts into any bill in Conference Committee.
Contact each and every House member and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s). Stand up for the people of Raymond and Getty Townships and remove this language. Say NO to your corporate masters!
2) We need to make sure that the Senate, THE WHOLE SENATE, knows that the special legislation for Geronimo in S.F. 1431, p. 34, lines 8-16, must be deleted when this comes to the floor in the Senate. They also need to know that this special legislation for Geronimo must not appear in any other bill — don’t try to sneak it in somewhere else, and don’t forget to take it out, don’t try to drop it in during Conference Committee! NO! NO! NO!
Contact each and every Senator and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s).