More on Mesaba, of course!

October 1st, 2006

This is THE weekend up north, the sunset against the trees was a brilliant yellow and red, warm sunny day, as close to perfect as it gets. It wasn’t too bad inside the Sawmill Inn either.


I’d had a display table next to CAMP, Citizens Against the Mesaba Project, and we all spent the day talking about the Mesaba Project. I was very impressed by the level of thoughtful questions, people are looking deep into this with a decidedly big picture approach. I also got to transfer a big box of documents over to my able assistants — this big box was FULL of documentation of reimbursements, or disbursements of “loan proceeds,” by the IRR, to Excelsior, for everything from $20,000 of “office furniture” from Ikea to another $8,000 or more not long thereafter, to a rain suit and beef jerky, to a trip to Italy for a… a… COAL GASIFICATION CONFERENCE. Yeah, right. That’s necessary, uh-huh… There’s an interesting web of employee, one billing as consulting corporation, one billing and now saying there’s no connection. I’m looking forward to what my enthusiastic assistants find with a very critical eye! Drives me crazy, I could pay off my house with that “office furniture” budget…

Health and environmental quality are very precious


Health and wellness is something all of us should be concerned about with regard to personal and community fitness and prosperity. As a mother and nurse, I’ve personally seen how illness, especially lung and heart disease, can adversely affect people’s quality of life and productivity.

The coal gasification plant proposed for the Scenic Highway near Taconite will certainly have adverse effects on our health. Particulates (soot) have been shown to have serious adverse health consequences, especially for people with lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Tiny particles emitted from coal based power plants will be breathed in and can lodge deep in the lungs. The tiniest of these particles can actually pass from the lungs into the blood stream. If this plant is built, over 400 tons of particulate matter will be released into our air each year. In addition, over 1,000 tons of sulfur and over 2,500 tons of nitrous oxides will be released causing additional formation of secondary particulates. This will worsen the quality of the air we breathe, and depending on which way the wind is blowing, any one of us could suffer the consequences.

I live in Grand Rapids because I value the quality of life in this beautiful area, and feel that the environmental impacts and personal health impacts of this plant are not worth the economic benefits. There can be no value placed on our two most precious resources; personal health and the quality of the beautiful environment in which we live.

Evie Bookey
Grand Rapids

And here’s one in support of it — one written by someone who needs to read the Prefiled Testimony in this case! And I wonder, is this Dave Johnson the Dave Johnson who lives in Minnetonka near Micheletti who’s running for House 43B, Minnetonka… over by Micheletti? Or a relative of lobbyist Doug Johnson? You know, the former legislator who is now a lobbyist for Excelsior Energy of Mesaba fame, and SEH too!

In support of the Mesaba Energy Project…

Most letters that have appeared in the Herald-Review have been from persons who don’t support the project for a variety of reasons, many of which boil down to NIMBY – not in my backyard. A recent letter in support of the project points out that the area is not pristine as many believe because it was part of a mining operation years ago. The writer advocates for the direct and indirect permanent jobs it would create. The economic impact for the region will be substantial.

An article in a recent issue of Technology Review, a journal from MIT, addressing future energy needs, said that coal is responsible for 51 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. It cited coal gasification with carbon dioxide sequestering as one of the preferred power generation technologies of the future. The Mesaba Energy plant will use state of the art coal gasification technology. Because of that Mesaba Energy will more efficiently remove pollutants than a traditional coal-fired plant such as Clay Boswell. At Boswell, the huge volume of combustion gases has to be treated to remove pollutants. At the coal gasification plant, the syngas (gasified coal) – a much smaller volume – can be run through treatment processes to take out greater amounts of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury and other heavy metals prior to combustion. Anytime fuel is burned one of the main byproducts is carbon dioxide. It is an inescapable fact.

In the Sept. 3 issue, another reader wrote of his objections to the project. This writer complains about “dirty coal” and how the environment will be sacrificed- “six pollution-spewing dirty coal plants side-by-side.” This is sensationalism in its purest form. For people who object strongly to the use of “dirty coal” as feed stock, let me suggest they refuse the use of electricity generated by burning “dirty coal.” If they prefer wind energy, they should limit their use of electricity to only wind-generated power. Wind is used to produce 0.27 percent of all generated power in the U.S. That would mean they could use electricity for about 4 minutes a day. Or, if they are willing to use electricity generated by burning natural gas or oil or nuclear power, they could use electricity for half the day. After a week of this exercise, they might be thankful for the power generated from burning “dirty coal” in today’s conventional power plants. Its time to swallow hard and face up to the reality that coal will be burned or gasified for years to come to generate electricity which we take for granted everyday.

We’ve lived with Clay Boswell in our back yard for years with few complaints. This new plant will provide more jobs directly and indirectly in the area. It will demonstrate more fully the capabilities of coal gasification technology. I support the undertaking and those in the legislature and local government who have taken the lead to bring it to our area.

Dave Johnson
Grand Rapids

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