TWIC??? WTF???

September 16th, 2014

twic_card_technology

I’m about to undergo a “Security Threat Assessment” and pay $129.75 for the privilege.  Give me a break…

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Doesn’t it mean anything that I’ve got my Attorney License, #254617, sworn on oath to uphold the Constitution?  Apparently not.  And then again, upholding the Constitution would probably be regarded as a security threat!  Such a heightened level of absurdity! Personally, it’s so intrusive, and with a $129.75 price tag for the privilege.  GRRRRRR… You’d think that they’d know by now that if I was going to blow up buildings or run through the courthouse with an Uzi, I’d have done it already.  But nooooooo… and I recall the implied challenges, and claims of my violating CEII regs, when I’d tried to introduce the MAPP map of transmission lines in the CapX 2020 case.  How can a decision on need for a large complex build-out of transmission be made without a map of the system?  How can entering a transmission map as an exhibit in a transmission Certificate of Need proceeding be a threat to security?  It’s not as if the transmission lines and substations weren’t there out in the open for all the world to see!

Here’s the supposed basis for TWIC — the rules:

Program Documents

Worse are the social implications, the general acceptance of these regulations, when this, like the TSA airport searches, in the name of “stopping terrorism,” have zero to do with it.  There’s both a false sense of security and sheep-like acceptance as necessity of these infringements on our privacy and speech.  Constitutional rights going down the crapper.

Alan tells me this was a big issue in Delaware where longshoremen at the Wilmington port were required to go through this background check, and I imagine it alsonhas to do with the truck driver shortage.

TWIC flunks latest test

GAO report cites ongoing issues with TWIC program

From my experience in trucking, I think many truck drivers had criminal histories that have nothing to do with “terrorism,” but which would prohibit issuance of this ID, and effectively take away that person’s ability to earn a living.

Disqualifying offenses, appeals, and waivers

A reality check on TWIC:

Thousands of Issued TWIC Cards Won’t Work Due to an Issuing ‘Error’

TWIC: too much time, money for a program of doubtful worth

Problems still hound TWIC

TSA stops activations of new TWIC cards | WTKR.com

USS Mahan gunman’s use of TWIC card questioned

Balance the number of avoided terrorists attacks (zero?) with the loss of livelihood for those disqualified workers, and employee shortage, I’d guess this has a destabilizing effect overall.

Then I learn that it’s not just that they’re checking up on us when deciding to issue the card or not, but they’re also collecting information on an ongoing basis!

And the GAO report also cited TSA officials as saying challenges like readers being incapable of recording needed data prevented TSA from collecting complete and consistent pilot data, leading to TSA not being able to collect complete or consistent pilot data and subsequently not be able to determine if operational problems at the pilot sites were due to TWIC cards, readers, or users.

How intrusive can this get?  I don’t want to find out…

manurespreader2

20140902_184722_resized

Alan and I were invited to attend a climate change bicycle tour meeting, joined/hosted by Red Wing locals Mayor Dan Bender, and Evan Brown, cook extraordinaire (see his blog, Cooking for the Future) and member of the Sustainability Commission, so we went.  What’s a climate change bicycle tour meeting?  Well, they’re on tour, and there have been other meetings as a part of this tour, in Lakeville, Northfield, Winona, and here in Red Wing, other locations perhaps?  I think there were five.

Participating organizations were:

Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Cool Planet

MN350

When I first heard about this, what came to mind was Neil Ritchie & the solar bike tour back in 2004, they were in Northfield in September, 2004, and many other locations in SD, IA, and MN, raising awareness about renewable energy and urging people to contact their legislators!

Solar-Bikes

This was similar but slightly different, focused on getting word out about climate change.  Hopefully, it raised awareness and got Red Wing residents interested in the doings of Red Wing’s Sustainability Commission.  The Sustainability Commission played a large role in getting the City’s solar project going.  It’s a treat to go to City Hall, which we did yesterday to attend the West Avenue Construction meeting, and see the city vehicles parked under the solar array canopy.  LOVE IT!!  And there’s additional solar on the roof of the fire station and at the city’s Public Works vehicle parking lot.  Yes, PUBLIC WORKS!

We had to do the “go around the circle” thing, and I noted “garbage” (the loud and stinky incinerator right behind me), “transmission” (directly overhead), and “nuclear” just up wind and upriver in the city limits, and that RES must be tied to shutting down coal.

Here’s that transmission line, and it seems to have been redone recently, look at that beautiful, decorative cortend steel:

20140902_184302_resized

Alan raised the incinerator issues he’s been working on, that the City of Red Wing burner has been shut down, and it was clear that they’d not really thought about incineration and the contribution of burning to CO2 generation/climate change.  In discussing garbage and shutting down the incinerator, “zero waste” was not part of their vocabulary, and instead the binary response was “well, where will we put it?”

Here’s a photo as we were leaving of that former coal plant, now garbage plant, the one David Sparby and an IRP said would be shut down — ask Ramsey and Washington Counties about that:

20140902_203102_resized

Their handouts didn’t note shutdown of incinerators or coal plants:

Promote a just transition to clean energy to stop the progression of climate change.

Resist the aggressive expansion of extreme fossil fuel extraction, including tar sands, that threatens life itself.

Nothing about shutting down coal.  ???  Nothing about decreasing burning.  But again, there’s that insidious link that “clean energy = less CO2″ which we know isn’t true.  Now that we have the electric market set up, and the transmission infrastructure in place to ship all that excess generation from the Dakotas through Minnesota eastward, they won’t be shutting it down anytime soon.  Now that Sherco 3 is up and running after a year and a half off-line, we lost that opportunity to keep the biggest coal plant in Minnesota shuttered.

If you’re looking for reduction of CO2, and Renewable Energy Standards won’t do anything towards that goal unless it’s explicitly linked.  RES MUST BE LINKED TO SHUTDOWN OF COAL.  Otherwise, it’s just adding “renewable” generation on top of a surplus, and they can sell that surplus coal generation now that they’ve got the transmission to do it.

 

 

 

I Voted

.

For those of you interested in how we got to where we are on this, take a look at what the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority has been doing:

 

Board Packets & Minutes

 Regional Railroad Authority

Meeting Date Packets Minutes
June 23, 2009 Packet (117KB) Minutes (13KB)
January 19, 2010 Packet (38KB) Minutes (9KB)
June 22, 2010 Packet (11KB) Minutes (10KB)
December 14, 2010 Packet (43KB) Minutes (8KB)
January 18, 2011 Packet (49KB) Minutes (13KB)
September 27, 2011 Packet  (837KB) Minutes  (11KB)
October 25, 2011 Packet (69KB) Minutes (29KB)
November 22, 2011 Packet  (23KB) Minutes (14KB)
January 17, 2012 Packet (65KB) Minutes (8KB)
February 21, 2012 Packet (60KB) Minutes  (12KB)
April 24, 2012 Packet (26KB) Minutes (15KB)
September 25, 2012 Packet (1140KB) Minutes  (51KB)
January 22, 2013 Packet (28KB) Minutes (9KB)
August 27, 2013 Packet (161KB) Minutes (17KB)
January 21, 2014 Packet (296KB) Minutes (17KB)
 June 24, 2014 Packet (36KB) Minutes

Good news from the MPCA?

July 29th, 2014

MPCA Web logo

Credit where credit is due!  MPCA, keep at it!  You all know I love to slap up the MPCA, well, any agency, when they’re missing the boat.  Well, I also am a big believer in letting them know when they’re doing something right, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re seeing the beginning of something important!

For most of this year, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been holding meetings about Environmental Justice, and it looks to me like the MPCA is working to shift active identification and recognition of environmental justice issues and impacted parties/resources to the agency.  Agency initiative.   Can this be?

Yesterday’s agenda (and GREAT food!):

28 July Agenda Final_MPCA

Check out the MPCA Environmental Justice Page!

I’m a grizzled old fart, and have been around agencies for entirely too long, but what is apparent is that this agency is taking the initiative to address environmental justice issues, and to be proactive, not just reactive.  And it’s not just me, there are a few other grizzled old farts who are encouraged, excited, and looking forward to progress.  It feels like something may be happening.

What I’ve also noticed is that the “usual suspect” organizations are absent.  There’s a big long list on the MPCA Environmental Justice Page and with one exception, they’re no shows.  Karen Monahan, Sierra Club, has done a lot to get this moving.  Is it that these other groups don’t care?  Is it a coincidence that things are happening in their absence?

The “Framework Elements” are:

  • Core Regulatory Services (Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement, etc.)
  • EJ Area Analysis
  • Enhanced Ouutreach
  • Consideration of Cumulative Impacts
  • Stakeholder Engagement

Hey, MPCA — can you post the handouts from yesterday and contact info and meeting notices?

If you are interested in what they’re doing, contact Ned Brooks, the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Coordinator: Ned.Brooks@state.mn.us