There’s something about a Citizen Advisory Task Force, and that something is that when people are “forced” to sit down and actually read a utility application for significant utility infrastructure, be it nuclear waste storage, transmission line, coal gasification plant or nuclear waste storage once again, they, and WE in the cosmic sense, all learn something. What is usually learned makes the Dept. of Commerce squirm… too bad, these applications are full of unsupported justifications for their infrastructure, projects that will make them money but that are not in the public interest, and “the Department” just takes what they say and works with it, no independent verification, as they’ve testified to over and over and over again. That’s where a Task Force is helpful — a Task Force has a way of recognizing the inconsistencies, factual errors (remember “Lake Pepin was formed by Lock and Damn #3” from the Goodhue Co. Alternate Site application?). Task Forces have a way of coming up with system and site/rout alternatives to meet the need claimed by a utility in ways that they hadn’t brought forth (didn’t discover or don’t want discovered). Task Forces have a way of finding a better way, or two, or three. Task Forces have a way of taking a disparate and diverse group of public officials and NGO representatives and citizens and jelling them into cohesive, informed and thoughtful questioners and advocates.

Here are a couple of significant Task Force Reports for background:

Report of the Site Advisory Task Force: Goodhue County Dry Cask Storage Alternate Site Project (I’m downloading this, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz, very, very, very slow – in the meantime, CLICK HERE FOR LINK)

Expanding Horizons – Chisago I Task Force Report 1997

Expanding Horizons – Appendices – Chisago I

Here are some recent attempts of Task Forces to struggle to evaluate a big project with insufficient time, to wrap their heads around system and site/route alternatives, and with laudable results:

Chisago II Task Force Recommendations – May 2007

(Authored by Task Force. Note there are no Appendices — Commerce jettisoned them, they were not included with the Report!!!)

Mesaba Energy Project – Citizen Advisory Task Force Report

(Authored by staff, where Comments on each aspect of charged were solicited from Task Force and report compiled — report shows resulting lack of cohesiveness). Note AGAIN there are no Appendices — Commerce jettisoned them, they were not included with the Report!!!)

For the Chisago II Task Force, we had to fight Commerce to get it. Notices/invitations were not sent out to all affected communities, there wasn’t enough time for a governmental unit to appoint a representative, they didn’t have enough members and local communities were not represented so they weren’t legally sufficient to be a “Task Force” so it was a “work group… Not enough time… appendices “disappeared.”

For the Mesaba Task Force, we had to file a petition in this one too, Commerce didn’t want it. Meetings were “facilitated” by Commerce staff and provided with incorrect guidance, i.e., told they could not address cumulative impacts, GRRRRRRRRRR. Report prepared by staff with comments by members… not enough time… appendices “disappeared.”

For this most recent one, the Prairie island uprate and dry cask storage, once again Commerce fought against a Task Force, very few were sent solicitations, there was nearly no time to apply, and only three meetings are planned, cut short already by 1/2 hour because the library closes at 8:30, not 9:00.m. Bill Storm, Commerce Staff, has unilaterally decided the “charge” of the Task Force, and despite Commission emphasis on the importance of vetting the application (which I raised at the PUC meeting) and independent review and analysis, there’s no mention of vetting the application; he’s unilaterally decided that public comment is not allowed (there has been time at end of meeting for public comment in past Task Forces); he stated that the PUC Ordered that he is to “preside” over the meeting (OH, PUH-LEEEZE, the PUC did no such thing) and when challenged insisted that was the case (“HAVE YOU SEEN THE ORDER?” Well, I have seen the PUC Order, and it does not state that Storm is to preside over the meeting); he stated that there will be no report (OH? The PUC specifically stated that the Task Force could do a report if it wanted to, and if it does not, how will its work be entered in the record… oh, it won’t be… right, funny how that works and how convenient where the public’s work and issues raised aren’t even part of the proceeding?) Good way to delegitimize and dismiss our efforts… I realize that’s just what he wants, it’s his job to “remove the impediments” and “streamline,” but speaking as an “impediment,” I’ve got my job too.

And the good news, other than it’s such a lovely day that it’s easy to forget the economy is imploding, on my doorstep just now is the FedEx package with the tape of that PUC meeting, so now there’s a transcript to do.

And that Goodhue County Task Force Report is still downloading, like molasses…

2 Responses to “Citizen Advisory Task Forces through time…”

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