September 28th, 2006
This update just arrived from Maria:
Hello to all of you, especially those of you who haven’t heard from me in a while. I have been letting go of a lot of things, and one of those things has been, temporarily, e-mail. Sorry for that. I have been thinking about how to update people and I know this is the righttool.
So. How’s it going? Well, that is the questionâ?¦
After the fire of June 5th that catapulted us out of our former life, I spent the first month frantically doing things, or trying to do things. The next month I spent intentionally not doing things. The month after that I spent sorting through the contents of the barnwhile simultaneously sifting through the contents of my brain.
And now it is the next month and I find myself part of team of people poised to build a house. There’s Hillcrest of Clark’s Grove, Majestic Homes of Worthington, Jakel’s Well Drilling of Northfield, Kittelson Heating and Plumbing of Wanamingo, Howie Electric of Dennison, Lumber Mart of Kenyon, and Nerstrand Excavation Inc. of, you guessed it, Nerstrand, to name most, but not all of the many, poised, team members. We are all waiting for the permit(s) to come through. Any day now. Any time now. Just wait, be patient.
This is a hard month. Each of these months has been hard. The first was hard psychologically. The second was hard spiritually. The third was hard physically. And this is hard a month â?¦ I don’t know exactlyhow. I’m still in it.
As I worked my way through boxes and piles in the barn I found these things from our past life. Life before the Fire. Everything in the house was carried out in one day. On June 8th it was like this huge outpouring of love, and something like 50 people showed up, and somehow out of a building that was deemed a “Total Loss” came a thousand things, carried out in the loving hands of all these people. These were the things I sifted and sorted through during the month of
I found Thea’s viola, looking like a work of art, but a “total loss” as a musical instrument. And the prize model ship from Peter’s collection, streaked with black smoke but still striking an elegant pose. Here is Ches’ excellent rip-stop nylon kite, bought in 1988, a dingy coat of smoke and barn dust coating originally bold colors of the fabric. And Rose, the giant mask we made for a parade and stored in our basement, is lording it over the barn from a support beam,looking really, none the worse for wear.
These things I sifted through. As I held each thing, touched it, considered it, assigned it a value, I let go of the past and imagined a future. I imagined these things having a place in our new life. I tried to be generous. After all, each of these things was a survivor of sorts. I found it difficult to be sympathetic toward thesestrangely familiar, homeless items.
We have all managed to find a toehold in this new life I like to call the Present, a little pun. Our son gained his footing by building two beautiful structures: a loft in the barn and a bridge on our trail. His next project will be a doghouse. Thea has established her new life as a college student at St. Olaf, and is stepping her way through each day with typical grace. It’s strange, this transition she is making lands her where she planned to be, but she arrived there from a place she could never have imagined. Ches and I have been able to ground ourselves by going, daily, out to The Farm, (as we now refer to the place we used to call Home). There we have been tending the garden, pruning willows, mingling with our pets, mowing the trails, harvestingfruits and vegetables, imagining our new houseâ?¦ making ready.
I notice and appreciate each day, the gifts people have offered to help us on our journey to the Present: the tea pot in which I brew my morning tea, the colorful socks I don before going to work, the cooler I’m using to store vegetables in the barn, the lawn chair I sit in to watch the sunset, the cup I drink out of at dinner, the table we sit around, the computer, the books, the coats, the love, the attention, the information, the connections and suggestions, the sympathy and the stories, the listening and the caring, the community, which is a wordI understand better now.
One of you sent me this poem over the Internet:
There is a Brokenness
There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
Beyond all grief which leads to joy,
Out of which depth emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctified into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable
I appreciate this poem, this poem that to me describes the incredible diligence it takes to be present, and why it’s worth it. And now, to The Future, which is where I hitch my dreams at night.
Our house may be delivered as soon as Oct. 20th. The construction phase may be over as soon as Nov. 1st. We may have a work weekend to which you may be invited as soon as Nov. 4th. After which time we may be serving up a great big Booya for all of you who care to come andsee what has risen out of the ashes.
I’ll keep you posted!
September 27th, 2006
Why are these guys smiling? Don’t they know that the Commissioner of the Iron Range Resources is being subpoenaed to testify about her false… or is it “incorrect,” or is it fraudulent… designation of the West site as an Innovative Energy Project? The Mesaba Project we’re presented with is NOT what was sold to the legislature — what are these guys willing to do to hold Excelsior/Micheletti accountable? Here’s that subpoena: mcgp-service-of-subpoena-irr-sept-20-2006.pdf
Let’s go back a bit. The whole purpose of the Mesaba project, as sold, was to utilize a closed mining operation and get some of those jobs back, and keep Micheletti occupied for a few years. To ensure that purpose was met, the Mesaba statute requires that, in order to get all those regulatory perks, the project must be designated by the Commissioner of Iron Range Resources as being in the taconite relief zone and that it have “adequate infrastructure to support new or expanded development.” On November 7, 2005, the IRR Commissioner did just that, despite a site visit in June that required a walk through the woods. “Incorrect?” Naaaaaaaaaaah, that’s a bit too mild, considering all the funding — grants and loans and loan guarantees — that’s resting on that designation.
So mncoalgasplant.com has filed a Motion to have the “designation” acknowledged for the lie that it is, and to have the West site eliminated from consideration because it is not an “Innovative Energy Project” as defined by the statute.
Here’s our Motion: mcgp-motion-partial-sj.pdf
Now, we’ll see what happens in the PPA docket.
Meanwhile, there’s the Siting docket moving forward. To get info on the siting docket, go to:
There will be a Scheduling Order coming out soon. The good news is that the Hearing will be up north, not in St. Paul. More to follow when that Order comes out.
September 26th, 2006
I would say that the barn door is open, and the horses are long gone, but with this 2005 Xmsn bill, it’s a lot worse than that. The ripple effects of that bill’s amendments to utility regulatory statutes is immense.
Today is the first prehearing conference on the siting side of Excelsior/Mesaba.
Here’s another impact of that awful bill. In Excelsior/Mesaba, where there has been no determination of need, where we used to be able to argue that in the siting stage they should look at need, well, no more. This statute, as it was before the change, was what made the Chisago fight winnable, and it should have been applied in Arrowhead, but they wouldn’t take it on (the language was not prohibitory, not mandatory, but agency could take on need if it wanted to). We could have used this to oppose Mesaba, the option was there when the Prairie Island/Mesaba bill was passed. Now it’s gone. There’s no looking at need, no option at all.
THIS IS THE CONTINUING LEGACY OF THE 2005 TRANSMISSION OMNIBUS BILL FROM HELL.
Here’s that one little part with a large impact:
Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 2004, section 116C.53,
subdivision 2, is amended to read:
Subd. 2. [JURISDICTION.] The
board commission is hereby
given the authority to provide for site and route selection for
large electric power facilities. The
board commission shall
issue permits for large electric power facilities in a timely
. When the Public Utilities Commission has determined and in a manner consistent with the overall determination of
need for the project under section 216B.243 or 216B.2425,.
Questions of need, including size, type, and timing; alternative
system configurations; and voltage
are not within the board’s must not be included in the
siting and routing authority and
scope of environmental review conducted under sections 116C.51
Here’s the link, again: 2005 Regular Session Chapter 97, SF1368
And of course we all know who’s not at the table in Mesaba, in Capx2020, that speaks volumes…
September 26th, 2006
I realized a month ago or so that this is the first time I’ve not been hit with a serious rash of poison ivy, silly me! NEVER think such thoughts. Last night, after letting the dogs out, also after cleaning up the leaves that had accumulated in my office (the “poopdeck” and the dogs’ “yard” around it is right off my door here), the whole side of my face started itching. It’s great living here on the bluff, but it’s look, don’t touch. Given my prior experiences, I won’t even venture up there to clean brush, and I sure won’t go up there to plant anything ever again, did that my first year here and oh, what a mistake, never again. Anyway, the good news is there’s a store here now that carries rhus tox, the bad news is that they’re not open ’til 10. Here’s the scoop on rhus tox. Necessary stuff for life on a bluff full of poison ivy!
September 23rd, 2006
Just an aside, the PolyMet Letter of Intent to buy a lot of land near the Mesaba “East site” does not include the land or the infrastructure of the Mesaba “East site.” “There’s plenty of room for Mesaba.” OK, here we go…
Sit! Speak! Roll over! Xcel pushes and Excelsior rolls over.
Thursday wasn’t only about the CapX2020 transmission lines from hell. Right after that, we moved on to a Motion Hearing on the Excelsior Power Purchase Agreement. You can find most of the filings at our site at www.mncoalgasplant.com.
Xcel had asked the ALJ to Order Excelsior to comply with the Protective Order (here’s the scoop on that! We won, and got access.) Xcel’s problem is that it can’t get at info it believes it should be able to get. They argued the same things I’d argued before, that the Order is way overbroad and doesn’t work like a Protective Order should, and instead reverse the burden and Excelsior should have to demonstrate why very NARROW parts of the information should be non-public. I raised issues here too, because the reality of that Protective Order is that it … well, it isn’t arbitrary… it’s targeted… and it applies only to mncoalgasplant.com.Â There are three participating parties who are non-utility and non-power producer parties, but for some odd reason, we’re the only ones who have to demonstrate need — even though the Order says that non-utility and power producer parties SHALL NOT have access to non-public information unless they demonstrate need, and the Order has a specific procedure for those who want other treatment. It turns out Excelsior has been sending the non-utility intervenors all the info, and then the other day, one of the non-utility Intervenors served pleadings, ones containing non-public references that they were not supposed to have access to, and then they served the other parties and didn’t serve us! TWO violations of the protective order. And they were not at the table for the discussion Thursday. Hmmmmmm…
Anyway, the day before the hearing, Excelsior produces large amounts of data as “public” and so most of the PPA Petition is now public. As for the Dsicovery, most of that will be made public too, and they’re “working on it” and there are two things I want made public, focusing on costs because we’re in a cost docket here:
1) Infrastructure costs: Rail; Roadways; Transmission – Generator Outlet and Network System Upgrades; Water – Water supply and intake, Water conveyance, Water Outfall (all), Wastewater treatment; Gas Pipeline. If the public knew the full costs of this project, and if the public knew how much of the infrastructure was to be paid by Excelsior, and how much was to be paid by “NON-EXCELSIOR,” they’d see this is a shifty project — as Xcel argues, the risk, the costs, are being shifted away from Excelsior to someone, anyone else!
2) CO2 capture and sequestration costs. This project is touted as “capture ready” but all that means is that the flanges are on whatever parts, ready to accept equipment, right? What does it cost to actually capture CO2? What’s the efficiency loss? What percentages capture and cost for each? What does it cost to transport it to wherever, all costs included? What does it cost to sequester it — land acquisition or lease or whatever, equipment? If they want to tout “CO2 benefits,” we will look at costs.
If the public knew the costs, they wouldn’t be able to get away with this. There’s no CO2 benefit to this project. It’s not workable. It’s not feasible. And the argument that “it’s too early to know if it’s feasible” is a lie, we know full well it ISN’T happening here, we know it CAN’T happen here, and we know it costs so much it won’t happen HERE, or ANYWHERE ELSE, so let’s just have a little honesty here. Let’s get the information out into the public, and let’s stop this “IGCC is the way,” and “IGCC is good with capture and sequestration,” because we know enough to know it isn’t.
For those interested in sequestration, they should talk with my client Nancy Prehn, who lives on the gas dome in Waseca, where they store 7 BILLION c.f. of gas underground, under 10 suare miles, under 8,400 acres. This is the only natural gas storage in Minnesota and it is Minnesota’s best kept secret. Read “Gas Migration: Events Preceding Earthquakes” by Khilyuk, Chilingar, Endres and Robertson. You can get it at www.abebooks.com, just search for “Gas Migration.”
Gas moves around, so don’t expect it not to! Injection also has an impact on water — ask Nancy about her water when they’re injecting, and there was a woman in National Geographic showing the impacts of injection on her water! YUCK! Now, granted migrating CO2 won’t have the same impact as migrating natural gas, BOOM, downtown Hutchinson and a trailer park on the edge of town blew up. Google Hutchinson and gas. Here’s a link for a video! The association of gas migration with faults was demonstrated not long ago in Oklahoma, where gas was burbling up in a river along a fault. Here’s my prior post on that.
CO2 doesn’t go BOOM. But if it won’t say where it’s put, what’s the point?
Sequestration map again, and remember this is POTENTIAL, not real:
Carbon capture and sequestration:
1) It’s costly beyond belief, and we know roughly the costs and of course those touting it won’t talk about it! Because to talk about it is to admit it and know it’s not feasible.
2) Sequestration could/might be done in only a few places, none of which are anywheres near here — see map above. Pretending it is physically and economically possible to sequester is against evidence here in Minnesota.
3) Gas migrates and sequestration has seismic and hydrologic impacts. Has no one paid attention to the water problems in Wyoming?
Let’s not be delusional about capture and sequestration. From Excelsior’s delusional and illusory “capture potential” “benefits” to enviros “IGCC is great if we capture and sequester” –it’s nonsense — we know better.
The real question is: WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STOP GENERATION OF CO2? If you look at the BSII in South Dakota, that answer is: “Not much!” All the CO2 talk in the world will only generate more CO2 if the talk isn’t effective in stopping construction of new coal plants.
To see the great water photo, go here to National Geographic’s Mulitmedia tab, and select “Drilling the West” and see “Bad Water.”