Mesaba - Pat.jpg
Pat Micheletti hiding behind a local landowner!

He was trying hard not to get caught, but I was persistent, missed a great shot with his hand in front of the lens, couldn’t get the camera on in time! He asked me why I don’t like the project, and I don’t think wanted a point by point description — and it made me think that I really should have that in talking points, so that’s something to do on the drive home.

But on a serious note, this was by far the best meeting on Mesaba yet, because this time there was more give and take, and no Tom Micheletti to screw up the public relations! Michael Wadley presented, and gave a very detailed overview, and he’s obviously been doing his homework and has learned a lot about coal gasification — but hey, it’s not nuclear science, eh? He was pushed by many of the audience members, some challenged the job estimates and wanted to know what the qualifications would be, how many locals could really get a job there. There were good questions about the meaning of “jobs” in the “Duluth” report, and the discrepancy between that report and the numbers in the PUC application, and Mike did well explaining the way it was calculated and how that was modified for the PUC — the Duluth report calls one job for one person for one hour “a job” and the PUC was more in line with reality that it takes more than that to make a “job” (my summary). Wadley gave his own example, starting pushing a broom at Prairie Island, and he should have given Steve Murphy’s example, parlaying his NSP job into the Senate as a “company” senator — Dog knows they need some new representation up here! (Saxhaug’s got to go! Rumor has it he’s not running again, if only Solberg would say the same, both have abandoned their constituents in favor of Excelsior/Mesaba). Others had questions about the plume of pollutants, and there was a wind rose posted which suprisingly showed most wind… as I think about this I might have it exactly backwards, more on this later.

One thing I’d recommend is to have someone who has authorization to address the economic issues — there’s this presumption that “regular folks” are interested only in the environmental issues, and that’s not true! Locals are very concerned about the costs to their community — what it means for the County to be considering a rail spur, essentially becoming a short line railroad (really… more on that later), or for Taconite to be expanding its water treatment plant (Taconite, Bovey, Coleraine joint plant), and what all these perks that Excelsior is getting mean to them, and the impact on the cost to ratepayers and taxpayers. People do care about this stuff and they get it, they know pork when they see it, they know corporate welfare when they see it, and when they’re working so hard to get by, watching their taxes to up and up and up, people don’t like to see exceptions for risky corporate for-profit businesses. Excelsior’s financing transfers the burden of a risky private enterprise to the public, and someone had better figure out how to answer the public’s questions!

Info and questions that stood out last night:

* They expect to achieve an efficiency of “greater than 50%!” This i gotta see, because typically coal gasification is doing good ti get a 40-41% efficiency rate.
* Sulphur — recovery is around 99%, but even with that, 1.5 tons a day goes out the stack
* Mercury — disposal of mercury laden carbon (or recycling of carbon) depends on how quickly it loads up, and that’s not known
* Coal supply requires 5 trains in and out weekly, 115 cars each, no switching yard, but there is unloading
^ ZLD – Zero liquid discharge — it means there’s no discharge on site, but it is recycled through plant and after some treatment, goes into cooling towers and then out. They are planning to incorporate into waters where there is already known mercury discuarge (I need more info on this, it’s hard to figure out what the water situation is because it keeps changing)
* Transmission studies are done and on the MISO site (I’ll dig for this when I get home)
* Financing will be nailed down first quarter 2007
* Stacks are 150 feet high, compared with 500-700ft stacks at Boswell — “not higher because we don’t need it” because they don’t pollute like a coal plant
* Most of the financial questions remained unanswered, so I’ll be putting together a list of what I’m hearing people comment on, and will forward that to Excelsior.

Excelsior Energy’s site:
I can’t find the PUC filings there…

To find the PUC application, which has a detailed project description, go to

Here’s the Annandale decision, the one that does not allow discharge into impaired water:

In the Matter of the Cities of Annandale and Maple Lake NPDES/SDS Permit Issuance for the Discharge of Treated Wastewater, and Request for Contested Case Hearing

There’s a poll in the Grand Rapids Herald Review, and as Al Franken says, vote early and vote often. Last I saw there were 336 votes, and 64% opposed!

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Local residents talking with “Jim,” who is probably Jim Milkovich, of Excelsior.

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