Zero Waste Act

July 27th, 2019

Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar has introduced the Zero Waste Act. Something similar had been introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison back in 2017.

Rep. Omar noted the incineration struggles in Minneapolis, including the Midtown burner, proposed in my old neighborhood, Prestigious East Phillips. From the press conference, linked:

“Waste is toxic. Landfills were responsible for 103 million metric tons of carbon equivalent emitted as of 2011, or 18 percent of all methane emissions,” Omar said. “Waste is also an environmental justice issue. Nearly 80% of incinerators are placed in low-income areas or near communities of color and indigenous lands including North Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood in Minnesota’s 5th District.”

Prior posts on the Midtown burner, run out of Phillips, then City of Rockford, then Rockford Township:

Legalectric posts – Midtown Burner

Some have said that the Renewable Development Fund is sacred.  WRONG.  The Renewable Development Fund is profane, not sacred, all the way from its origins to its uses.  It’s now under scrutiny at Minnesota legislature, and institutional memory is nowhere to be found in this discussion.  See HF 235 and SF 214.

The Renewable Development Fund (RDF) came into being in the 1994 Prairie Island bill, and was to be a per cask compensation fund for the Prairie Island Indian Community for storage of nuclear waste next door and extension of Prairie Island nuclear plant life.  That compensation was turned into the RDF in a late night deal by “environmental” groups lobbying, of which Bill Grant (now Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Commerce, formerly and then Izaak Walton League) was an integral part, Michael Noble (ME3, now “Fresh Energy”), and George Crocker (North American Water Office) too.  Prairie Island Indian Community was supposed to get priority in grants, but that never happened.  The RDF was administered by 3 from Xcel, plus Bill Grant, and one other “environmental” rep.  The composition of the group giving out the grants has changed, and there is now someone from PI on it, but that’s recent. (Full Disclosure: I represented Florence Twp. fighting the “in Goodhue County” alternate site mandate for nuclear waste and the Township worked very mindful of, and often in tandem with, PIIC, where it fiercely refused to acquiesce to Xcel and say “STICK IT THERE” to PIIC.  The working relationship continues and PIIC is now largest private  landowner in Florence Twp.).

1994 Prairie Island bill — Ch. 641, MN Session Laws (

The RDF was a material term of the 2003 Prairie Island bill, where as part of the deal millions of RDF money was to go to the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project.  Bill Grant was primary again, and when the Mesaba Project was stricken in one House session, a red-faced Tom Micheletti came flying down the hall yelling at Grant “We had a deal, we had a deal!” That deal was later added back in, and Micheletti’s Excelsior Energy coal gasification plant, Mesaba Project, was added to the factors to keep PI open.  “Environmental groups” got massive grants to promote coal gasification.  Micheletti got $10-12 million from RDF for Mesaba (and lots more from IRRB and DOE) and other regulator perks in the 2003 law, like exemption from CoN, and a mandated PPA with Xcel.  (Full Disclosure: I represented against Mesaba Project, and with CAMP and help from Xcel, we got the details of coal gasification, that project was killed, and the info killed others nationwide, but Mesaba still has a site permit in Taconite from PUC valid until 2019!)

2003 Prairie Island bill – Ch. 11, MN Session Laws (

On Monday, January 23, the Red Wing City Council voted to accept a $2 million grant from RDF to install a garbage grinder, a project they’ve been lobbying for for years, where they’ll take in garbage from the whole county, grind it up, and burn it in Xcel’s garbage burner here, its air permit expired in 2009!  GARBAGE!!!  DOH!  GARBAGE is not clean, it’s toxic!  The purpose of all this is to keep the incinerators open and burning.  (Full Disclosure:  I have been representing clients being screwed by Xcel’s plan for “ash mining” in their incinerator ash landfill in Red Wing, part of which includes a plan to build a Red Wing laydown yard and crusher on a site half of which is designated Water Tower Burial Mounds — yeah, really. That’s been exposed:

My partner, Alan Muller, is an incineration expert and has worked with groups to stop RockTenn; Midtown Burner in Phillips, Rockford City and Township; HERC uprate, etc.  See the Tyler Hills Neighbors Comments: Comment Extension for Lab USA EAW & Xcel & Lab USA Solid Waste)

The RDF has been a slush fund for deals enabling nuclear, promoting coal gasification, and greasing the skids for scams of great financial and environmental magnitude and impact.  It should be shut down and turned over to Prairie Island Indian Community as originally intended.

Smoke gets in your eyes…

August 26th, 2015

… and lungs and heart.  This map from via NPR shows the wide ranging impacts:

air-now-fb06a6f98396f8e729e882f7b01fadb932ca4d4d-s1500-c85See Smoke From Wildfires Threatens Health in the West from NPR yesterday.  Back when we had RED air quality warnings in Minnesota, a couple of months ago now, I was feeling it.  But the last week or so, I’ve been waking up totally stuffed, headache, and it takes about an hour and a half to get my schnozz cleared out.  We have no German Shepherds, and even though little one-coated Sadie does shed, and even though I nuzzled a cat day before yesterday, that’s not enough to cause this.  Could it be seasonal allergies, which are admittedly worse with age (OH MY DOG, no German Sheperds is bad enough, but just breathing?)?  I’m not convinced.  This headache and being stuffed up isn’t my typical response, which tends to be runny eyes, sandpaper nose and sniffles.  It’s got to be the fires.

Meanwhile, I know a few folks who live out there, and in addition to having to evacuate and be on alert, others with relatives heading out to fight the fires, there are more subtle affects, where it’s showing up unbidden in photography jobs, an added interference with chemo for cancer, and a hazard for COPDers.

Here’s the chart of emissions for the Midtown Burner, from Saying NO to Midtown Burner Permits prepared by Alan Muller based on the Midtown Burner proposed air permit for the roughly 38MW biomass plant that was to burn “clean” trees in a much smaller amount than these wildfires across the west:




So if these are the numbers for the small biomass burner, what are the emissions for these wildfires?  Is anyone doing testing in the plumes for what people are exposed to?  There’s the emissions as above of things like formaldehyde that come from “clean” trees, the tremendous Particulate Matter, but what about all the other things too that are burned in these fires, like plastics, tires, creosote and penta poles?  I’m not finding anything, and it seems this is something that should be done by the Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, etc., state environmental agencies.  There should be active warnings to people to wear masks outdoors, and indoors to filter the air.  We have a HEPA filter for every room, but we’re not normal.  The impacts of breathing this air will be felt immediately by some people, but there’s a high likelihood that impacts are cumulative and/or take time to develop.  Protection now is crucial.

Clark County, WA & biomass

April 23rd, 2011


Clark County is headed down the wrong path… burning “biomass” in the wrong-headed notion that it’s G-R-E-E-N, with little regard for the toxic emissions that will spew from this plant, and it’s “carbon neutral” NOT!  Recently, somebody from Clark County was searching for “Rockford MN biomass” and ended up on my site, which is a good thing, because then at least they might get some reality about what’s proposed.

They’re looking at a district heating project similar to the Midtown Burner (Midtown Eco-Crapper) proposed for Phillips, in Minneapolis, and thankfully it was run out of town, developers then tried for the City of Rockford, MN, and it was run out of town, and then the township of Rockford, and it’s history there too!

As with the Midtown burner, this Vancouver biomass plant is proposed for the middle of Vancouver — the worst place possible for projects like this that will spew emissions!

Spew emissions?  HUH?  Well DUH, and here’s Alan Muller’s presentation on the Midtown burner:

Saying NO! to permits for Midtown Eco-Energy

What do the Clark County biomass project promoters say?

But Candee Hatch, an air quality consultant with Lake Oswego-based Bridgewater Group who was a consultant on the study, said opposition to such a facility is likely colored by what older, dirtier biomass plants looked like.

“Technology-wise, these facilities are not like they used to be 20 years ago, and a lot of the perception about what wood-burning is comes from what we used to do,” she said. “Those facilities don’t look like that anymore.”

Oh, please…  show us your emissions, Candee!!!

Here are some specifics about annual emissions from a recent similar biomass district heat project:





… and the Clark Count proposal?  Here’s some info:

Clark County District Heating (biomass project) page

Here’s the fuel study, where they claim to have enough fuel:

Fuel Study – January 2011

What’s missing is specifics on emissions — come on, folks, out with it!!!

And an article from The Oregonian:

Clark County commissioners give downtown Vancouver biomass plant a green light

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 2:28 PM
This concept drawing shows the site of a proposed downtown biomass plant from the intersection of West 13th Street and Ingalls Street facing southeast. The building at left is the Clark County Public Service Center.

Clark County will move ahead with its plan for a wood-burning heating and cooling plant in downtown Vancouver by seeking a private-sector partner and land-use permits from the city.

Read the rest of this entry »

As the Republican National Convention fades into the distance, likely canceled due to “weather,” the “grand march” is winding up, police are tailing the students leaving Macalester, helicopters overhead, and there’s a police blockade at Smith and Grand with a couple of arrests so far…

From Uptake (video reports here) and MinnPost, here’s an interview with Dave Bicking about his daughter’s arrest. Dave Bicking, Green Party, ran for City Council last election cycle and he was a crucial player in taking down Kandiyohi’s Midtown Burner, planned for the Phillips neighborhood.

Dave Bicking: Daughter Arrested

And on MinnPost:

Police crackdown: Rolling out the raid carpet

The good news is that there was a post in Twin Cities Indymedia that Monica Bicking had been released, but now that post has vanished…

And on a lighter note, from the STrib:

Liberty Parade: Art is the messenger