orangehaired-troll

Trump’s energy agenda, vague as it is, has been essentially to promote “clean coal,” nuclear and to deny climate change and dismantle federal climate change and “renewable” energy programs, of course with no move to eliminate subsidies for coal and nuclear.  The “transition team” sent a big laundry list of questions to the Department of Energy, and it’s pretty broad.  It’s also something that would be both telling and intimidating to receive.  Looking at this, there’s no doubt where they’re headed.

Here’s the document — read it and see what you think… and note how many of these questions are “Can you provide…” which are easily answered with just a “Yes” or “No” and that’s the end of it!

DOE – Trump Transition’s Questions

But wait… there’s another version (similar, but different order, etc.):

DOE – Trump Transition Question #2

I think Trump needs somebody to write his questions for him, somebody new that is.  He obviously didn’t come up with this, but his staff person who did, well, if they worked for me, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

mickeymouse

Here we go again, the Annual Hearing for the Power Plant Siting Act.

ppsa-2016

The full Notice:

16-0433 Notice of the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Now’s the time to dig back into the cobwebs of memory of all the dockets over the last year, and the last 20+ years, and let them know how the Power Plant Siting Act is working, and more importantly, how it’s not working.

Comments are open until January 20, 2017.  To file in eDockets (highly recommended), go here, and log in.  If you don’t have an account, register (it’s simple, and fast) and then file in docket 16-18.

Note something different, this year they’re going to go over pipeline projects:

iiid2Recently, I’ve been involved in a project working toward increased meaningful and effective public participation in a pipeline docket, and what’s going through my head as I attend meetings, conference calls, and read very long intense emails, is that this is exactly what we’ve been talking about at these Power Plant Siting Act hearings for TWENTY YEARS!  This is exactly what we’ve been working to deal with in the Certificate of Need Minn. Ch. 7849 rulemaking for THREE YEARS!  These are exactly the same issues I’ve been raising in docket after docket, gaining a remand in one, some “adjustments” in others, and even to the appellate court a couple of times — MCEA had more success in this (see the EIS decision here).  And so little changes.

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report to PUC – Docket 12-360

2013 Report to PUC – Docket 13-965

2014 Summary Comments– Docket 14-887

2015 Summary Report – Docket 15-785

OK, folks, time to saddle up for another cattle drive!  Let’s get to it!

And on December 20… sigh…

dapl-map-full

The internet is going nuts with news that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the Dakota Access Pipeline permit.  It’s a pause… not STOPPED!

Morton County Sheriff briefing on moving back from bridge

Bismarck Tribune: Police consider pulling back from Backwater Bridge

But what’s really happening with the permit?  No direct statement from Army Corps yet.

UPDATE: From U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Army will not grant easement for Dakota Access Pipeline

Now, from Dept. of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:

sallyjewelldeptofinterior12-2-2016It looks like what’s happening is that the ACoE is denying the permit for the route over the river and through sacred Indian lands, and will be looking for a reroute and doing an Environmental Impact Statement.  ABC News states that pretty clearly below.  It’ll be in “stick it there” mode, with the ACoE looking for somewhere to put it!  I’ve been looking and looking, don’t see anything from ACoE directly.

NYT – Federal Officials to Explore Different Route for Dakota Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline denied near Sioux Reservation

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denies easement for Dakota Access Pipeline

Administration orders review of Dakota Access Pipeline easement (this version most closely states what I’m guessing is going on)

DAPL: Sec. of Army announces DAPL easement has been denied

ABC News: JUST IN: US Army denies easement allowing Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under North Dakota lake, citing “need to explore alternate routes”

abc

aashmine

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?

On Monday, the Pollution Control Agency will release the EAW and you’ll be able to find it HERE AT THIS LINK.

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 labusaredwing@gmail.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.

The EAW will be released on Monday, FIND IT HERE, per Dan Card at the MPCA:

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:

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.
  • There’s sound…  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?
  • There’s dust…  From Mark Walsworth, who notes that “one of the items left out is just how much hazardous material that will be produced annually is not mentioned…all of it dust, and  that by themselves, these numbers should scare anyone!  Also notably missing is ANY plan or equipment to keep these from escaping to the environment.”

Lead        519,000 lbs

Cadmium       8,400 lbs

Chrome       51,000 lbs

Arsenic       6,000 lbs

Manganese   156,000 lbs

Nickel       24,600 lbs

Selenium      1,500 lbs

Mercury         600 lbs

  • On and on…

Here are two Letters to the Editor written by Alan Muller about this:

LTE  Muller – Mining Incinerator Ash is Foolish Idea  12-10-2015

LTE_Muller – Incinerator ash plan and actions behind it are toxic  3-31-2016

LTE_Walsworth – Mayor didn’t raise NIMBY_4-6-2016

LTE_Muller – NIMBY is good thing, NIABY is better  4-15-16

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.

soundstudy

epa

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:

EPA Water Listening Session in Eau Claire

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:

EPA Page – NPDES Petition for Program Withdrawal in Minnesota

EPA Page – NPDES Petition for Program Withdrawal in Wisconsin

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 r5hotline@epa.gov.
If you’d like a reply, please tell the EPA how to reach you.

Mailing Address:

US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

Do let them know what you think!