December 9th, 2016
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!
But wait… there’s another version (similar, but different order, etc.):
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!”
December 5th, 2016
Here we go again, the Annual Hearing for the Power Plant Siting Act.
The full Notice:
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:
Recently, 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.
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
OK, folks, time to saddle up for another cattle drive! Let’s get to it!
And on December 20… sigh…
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 13th, 2016
After this election, there are so many things to be concerned about, so many reasons to be utterly horrified… a Muslim database, Trump’s fraud trial to begin November 28th, promise of mass deportations, sharp increase in hate crimes, assaults and threats on the street and in the schools (and online, oh my!). Trump’s “100 Days” plan was out in October, and has many points, full of words to decode, including a ‘clean coal’ reference, showing he’s clueless, just clueless:
In the 2nd and 3rd debate, Trump used those two words that have deep meaning to me, “clean coal,” because of Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project here in Minnesota, and because of the NRG proposed IGCC plant in Delaware, both of which were defeated after a long protracted fight. There is no such thing as ‘clean coal.”
Coal gasification is one thing that my coal-plant designing Mechanical Engineer father and I had some bonding moments over, going over EPRI coal gasification reports from the 80s and the Mesaba application… And I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside my father’s boss’s son, who is also an engineer, formerly with NSP/Xcel, who knew what a bad idea coal gasification is. Oh yeah, we who fought these projects have learned a lot about coal gasification, “carbon capture and storage,” and will not go there again (see Legalectric and CAMP – Citizens Against the Mesaba Project sites for more info). We know it doesn’t work. And experience with the few projects that did go forward, what a mess, cost overruns beyond the wildest SWAG estimate, inability to get the plant running… Trump, don’t even think about it:
IGCC, coal gasification, is nothing new. And despite its long history, it’s a history of failure, failure to live up to promises, failure to operate as a workable technology, and failure to produce electricity at a marketable cost, failure to produce electricity at all! On top of that, it’s often touted as being available with “CO2 capture and storage” which it is not. That’s a flat out lie. Check this old Legalectric post:
A key to this promotion is massive subsidies from state and federal sources, and selection of locations desperate for economic jump-start, so desperate that they’ll bite on a project this absurd, places like Minnesota’s Iron Range, or southern Indiana, or Mississippi. The financing scam was put together at Harvard, and this blueprint has been used for all of these IGCC projects:
That, coupled with massive payments to “environmental” organizations to promote coal gasification, and they were off to the races.
VP-elect Mike Pence should know all about coal gasification, he’s from Indiana. Indiana is coal generation central, and has had a couple of IGCC projects planned, construction started, and built. Indiana’s Wabash Valley plant is a perfect example, a small IGCC plant that was built, and after it was “completed,” took 22 on-site engineers to keep it running, now and then, at a greatly reduced capacity.
Wabash River Final Technical Report (it was “routinely” in violation of its water permit for selenium, cyanide and arsenic)
When they tried to sell the Wabash Valley plant recently, of course no one wanted it:
And another Indiana plant, with huge cost overruns that never started operating:
And then there’s Edwardsport IGCC plant, also in Indiana, what a disaster:
In the new agreement, Duke Energy agrees not to charge customers for $87.5 million of the operating costs of the Edwardsport plant, $2.5 million more than the original agreement.
And note that problems with Edwardsport tie in to similar problems with the Kemper IGCC plant in Mississippi:
Yes, in Mississippi, the Kemper IGCC plant is proving to be a problem, and yes, folks, note the Obama promotion of IGCC — after all, Obama is from Illinois, a coal state, and had lots of support from coal lobbyists. Check this detailed NY Times article:
Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model “Clean Coal’ project: Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay.
The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational.
The plant and its owner, Southern Company, are the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and ratepayers, alleging fraud, are suing the company. Members of Congress have described the project as more boondoggle than boon. The mismanagement is particularly egregious, they say, given the urgent need to rein in the largest source of dangerous emissions around the world: coal plants.
Trump, just don’t.
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.