December 1st, 2016
There’s a plan afoot here in Red Wing that strikes me as one of the more bizarre ideas, particularly given the subsidy the City of Red Wing is giving to Xcel Energy by leasing land from Xcel Energy for the term of Xcel’s own “ash mining” project and about 10 years beyond. WHAT?
This PR blurb was issued recently by the Red Wing Chamber of Commerce, in support of the project:
Community Meeting to Share Information About Proposed Project to Process Ash and Recycle Metals from Xcel Energy’s Red Wing RDF Landfill – December 7 | 5PM-7PM | Red Wing Public Library.
Please join Lab USA and the City of Red Wing for a community meeting to learn more about a potential project that would process ash and recycle metals from Xcel Energy’s RDF landfill in Red Wing. Lab USA has proposed to build, own, and operate an environmentally-responsible ash processing facility that would be located next to the existing Xcel RDF landfill in Red Wing. The project will recover and recycle high quantities of iron and non-iron metals from ash in the landfill that was created by Xcel Energy’s Red Wing Generating Plant and from existing ash at Xcel Energy’s RDF landfill.The community meeting is another step in Lab USA’s ongoing work to secure permits and approvals and to reach out to the Red Wing community.
* Lab USA has completed a voluntary Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) that shows the project will comply with rules and regulations related to noise, emissions, and other impacts.
* People from Lab USA, Xcel Energy, and the City of Red Wing will be at the meeting to answer questions and talk about the project, how the ash processing works, and how this project can benefit Red Wing.
This project is also a unique way for Red Wing to take its commitment to sustainable environmental stewardship to a new level by creating both economic and environmental benefits for City of Red. It will remove and recycle metals from the landfill, generate new revenue for the city, and create jobs as the project moves forward.
The meeting will also include a chance to learn more about EAW for the project and to share comments and feedback with Lab USA and the City of Red Wing. The public comment period for the EAW begins December 5th. The Red Wing City Council is expected to vote to approve the project in February of 2017. For more information please contact email@example.com
To be clear, the Monday meeting is hosted by Lab USA and is an “open house” format and is not a formal hearing. The public comment period is for 30 days, until January 4, and I’l publish details on where to send the comments after the Notice is issued. After January 4, 2017, there will be a determination of whether an Environmental Impact Statement is necessary, and remember, in recent history, the MPCA Board has only ordered ONE EIS, and after that one EIS, the MPCA Citizens Board was unceremoniously disbanded! The odds of a declaration that an EIS is needed are zilch, zip, nada, ZERO.
Kevin Kain is the environmental review project manager for the proposed Lab USA project.
The reason you couldn’t find the EAW on our website is because it hasn’t been placed on public notice yet. That will occur next Monday Dec 5, 2016 which starts the 30 day public comment period. You will find EAW posted next Monday at the bottom of https://www.pca.state.mn.us/quick-links/environmental-assessment-worksheets-and-environmental-impact-statements under Environmental Assessment Worksheets.
The company will be hosting an Open House and Kevin along with other solid waste permitting staff plan on attending.
What’s the deal?
Here are the documents I have, in chronological order for the most part, some are duplicates produced for the procedural step that followed:
- 8c2 – attachment – 11-09-15workshopminutes
- January-28-2016-storm water design material storage laydown area 9b – attachment
- 07- Public Works Maintenance Yard CUP – APC 3-15-16 (contains application)
- 06- Minutes – APC 3-15-2016_approved 4-19-16
- 09c1 Xcel Lease Agreement CC 04-25-2016
- 09c2-LabUSA Letter CC 04-25-2016
- April 25, 2016 CC Minutes
- May 9, 2016 CC Minutes
- May 9, 2016_9b – attachment (see January 28, above)
- 12- Status Report APC 5-17-16
So what is this, the short version?? It’s a plan to “mine” the incinerator ash in the City of Red Wing landfill. There’s a link to formally closing the dump, and I think that by doing this, the city takes a step toward that formal closure, one pushed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. But mining the ash? The plan is for the City of Red Wing to hire a company, Lab USA, to “mine” the ash and remove salable materials from it.
Now here’s where it gets really weird. The City of Red Wing’s planned part of this project lasts one year. Xcel Energy, which has its own incinerator dump here, plans to do the same, and its part of the project lasts 11 years. And the City of Red Wing signed a lease with Xcel Energy to do this project for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS? WHAT?!?! Here are the details…
The City staff has stressed the underlying Red Wing goal of landfill closure through the state’s “Closed Landfill Program.” When presented at the 11/9/2015 workshop (See 8c2-attachment -_11-09-15_Workshop_Minutes), there was “potential” for a sublease, and now that’s presumed. Red Wing’s Public Works has pressure from the MPCA to close its landfill, and also from Xcel because Red Wing “does not have enough ash to support this project as a stand alone project.” In other words, it’s dependent on Xcel to do this “project.” RW Public Works’s Moskwa admits that “the Xcel Energy landfill ash is the primary reason for the Lab USA’s interest in submitting a proposal.” (See p. 5, March 22. 2016, Sustainability Commission MeetingMinutes).
The City of Red Wing project would last just 1 year, and Xcel Energy’s share would last 10-11 years. (Lease, p. 17 of pdf: May 9, 2016_9b – attachment) Yet the City of Red Wing is leasing Lots 1 and 2 from Xcel Energy for 20 years! Given that disparity, the reasons for the lease/sublease arrangement with the City of Red Wing, Xcel, and Lab USA, rather than Lab USA taking on the lease, are not clear. Because there are three parties in this, that provides some measure of inherent instability in the project, and because Lab USA has no history in Minnesota, they’ll receive higher scrutiny, one would hope. On the other hand, the City of Red Wing seems to have yet another deal with Xcel Energy, where they’ve taken on a lease of land from Xcel for the City yard (for what purpose?) and that also includes lease of the land for this project and then the City plans to sublease to Lab USA (for the one year, for 11 years, for 20 years?), but yet the lion’s share of term of the project is the 10-11 years for Xcel, not the 1 year for Red Wing. So why is the City of Red Wing buying into this, subsidizing this, so heavily? To induce Xcel to do it? Some other reason?
With the lease for both lots already signed, the project is moving forward, and that’s a problem. How is this a good deal for the City of Red Wing? Is anyone paying attention?
Further, calling this project an allowed use, as “Public Works Maintenance Shops and Yards,” is a stretch. I’m not seeing any change from Agricultural Residential (AR) designation in the Comp Plan, and see statements that “Outlot A” was removed from the Tyler Hills PUD, Applications for Lot 1 and Lot 2 both denote Zoning as “AR.” I don’t see a change from AR to anything else. The Application includes “Proposed Tyler Hills Fourth Addition” and the lease boundary doesn’t match up with Outlot A, and Figures 1 and 2 don’t match up with the proposed plat. Details, anyone?
Other issues with the project itself? There’s traffic… “24 trucks/day” means 48 truck trips per day, or 24 trucks assigned to the area to make many trips back and forth and back and forth from the landfill to the building — this needs to be clarified, and impacts addressed. And these trucks are in addition to currently running Xcel garbage burner ash trucks and in addition to RW’s Lot 1 “Public Works Maintenance Shops and Yards” trucks that will be at least an additional 15-30 pickups and trucks per day. The homes directly north, west, and southwest are above, with this project situated down in a hole — and sound travels up. The “CUP Sound Study” is for the RW crusher, and does not take into account the Lab USA operation, so how does the EAW address that? On and on…
Here are two Letters to the Editor written by Alan Muller about this:
We need to take a look at that EAW (remember, it’s prepared by the applicant/project proponent) and see what is revealed, what is considered, and what’s left out.
November 18th, 2016
There was a Wisconsin focused EPA “listening session” last Tuesday in Eau Claire, and I received an email today urging comments be sent to the EPA. Didn’t notice that this was happening, GRRRRRRRRR. But in the request for comments, there’s little info on what to focus on, other than “water.” Hmmmm… I’m letting my imagination run wild, as in, “well… that’s a deep subject!”
Here’s a video of the session via Steve Hanson’s blog:
The EPA, and particularly Region 5, needs a lot of pressure now, after Region 5’s Susan Hedman’s “Flint failure” and her subsequent resignation. As we know, Drumpf wants to dismantle the EPA, which has long been on the Republican agenda. So we need not only pressure, but support and funding for EPA to be able to do its job, and active resistance to Myron Ebell, Drumpf’s EPA appointment.
Add to that the EPA’s delegation of much of its regulatory activities to the states (delegation primer here), in Minnesota air quality regulation is delegated to the Pollution Control Agency, and we see the state has a role as well. In Minnesota, there were funding cuts, so extreme that there’s a backlog of expires air permits, and those air permits are unlikely to be reissued under current regulations, so the emissions go on and on, allowed if the operator/owner files for a permit renewal. This is the case with Xcel’s Red Wing garbage burner, where the permit expired in 2009. It’s one example of hundreds here in Minnesota, where the MPCA has authority via EPA delegation.
This Wisconsin “listening session” comes at a time when Wisconsin’s DNR has been stripped of funding, employees, and authority by Walker’s administration. What’s left? The state agency is hobbled — that’s one of the primary issues!
Regarding Wisconsin, I think the thing to do is to demand that EPA take back regulatory authority because Wisconsin is unwilling and unable to do the job!
Here are examples:
Here’s contact info for the EPA, from the EPA site:
Use this link to comment form to send the a comment or question, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like a reply, please tell the EPA how to reach you.
US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
Do let them know what you think!
November 16th, 2016
Simple task of the day — tell the Trump Transition Team (such as it is) to keep Stephen Bannon away from the White House. “White House Chief Strategist” is no place for a white supremacist — there is no place in the White House for a white supremacist.
Here’s the link to Drumpf’s Transition Team website for comments:
Get on your Senators and Representatives too:
November 14th, 2016
Hate incidents, also knows as “The Trump Effect” are being tracked, big job, way too many, and it’s being updated constantly. One more in Minnesota, from the STrib:
This is happening so often now, and here’s the list that was posted today:
From Southern Poverty Law Center:
November 9th, 2016
Contract on America (1994), been there, done that, but here we go again. Trump’s announced another:
Here’s what he says he’ll do:
Six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest
collusion in Washington, DC:
★ FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to
impose term limits on all members of Congress.
★ SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees
to reduce the federal workforce through attrition
(exempting military, public safety, and public health).
★ THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.
★ FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and
Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they
leave government service.
★ FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
★ SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising
money for American elections.
Seven actions to protect American workers:
★ FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate
NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.
★ SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the
★ THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.
★ FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of
Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to
identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly
impact American workers and direct them to
use every tool under American and international
law to end those abuses immediately.
★ FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the
production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of
job-producing American energy reserves,
including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
★ SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.
★ SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.
Five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
★ FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.
★ SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.
★ THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.
★ FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.
★ FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”
Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act
An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with two children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from seven to three, and tax forms will likewise be greatly
simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35%
to 15%, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10% rate.
End the Offshoring Act
Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
American Energy and Infrastructure Act
Leverages public-private partnerships, and private
investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in
infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.
School Choice and Education Opportunity Act
Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends Common Core and brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes two- and four year
college more affordable.
Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act
Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want
to speed the approval of life-saving medications.
Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act
Allows Americans to deduct childcare and eldercare
from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services and creates tax-free dependent care savings accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
End Illegal Immigration Act
Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern
border with the full understanding that the country of
Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a two-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions
or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
Restoring Community Safety Act
Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating
a task force on violent crime and increasing funding for
programs that train and assist local police; increases
resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
Restoring National Security Act
Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester
and expanding military investment; provides veterans
with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend
the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital
infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening
procedures for immigration to ensure those who are
admitted to our country support our people and our values.
Clean Up Corruption in Washington Act
Enacts new ethics reforms to drain the swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.