Lake Pepin on a very warm blustery day last week

There’s a bill out there that will eliminate Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Board and shove that work over to the MPCA, at the same time, gutting DNR and MPCA review by linking to funding or lack thereof.  Shifting preparation of environmental documents to the project applicant.  This is not crying wolf, this is happening, it is going through committees in both House and Senate, and I’m at a loss to describe how awful this is. Here’s the point, in short:

Mindful that defunding is a primary means to neuter an agency, check this, for the DNR, but repeated as amendment to 116.07 for Pollution Control Agency in lines 10.3-10.15:

Look at line 3.32 “nor shall it expire without the consent of the permittee.”  Gutting DNR and MPCA authority.  Failure to fund agencies is such a problem that the MPCA has a backlog of expired permits.  This means that permits would go on and on and on, because permit violations are not usually an “imminent threat” but instead a long term cumulative impact.

How about this — earth to Mars, environmental review is not decisional, nothing should be deemed approved because an EIS is approved:

The project applicant prepares the Draft Environmental Impact Statement?  WHAT?!?!

Still picking out more specifics…

Bottom line, Minnesotans, here’s the “TO DO” of the day.  Contact the House and Senate authors, and send a quick round of emails or call the House Ways & Means and Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance.  Focus on the authors and Republican members.  Tell them to vote this bill DOWN!  Contact info below.

Here are the House authors:

rep.dan.fabian@house.mn (651) 296-9635, rep.dale.lueck@house.mn (651) 296-2365, rep.steve.green@house.mn (651) 296-9918, rep.josh.heintzeman@house.mn (651) 296-4333

House status: TEXT.  On March 8th it was re-referred to House Ways & Means Committee. No meeting scheduled yet.  Contact the House Ways & Means Committee members — their emails:

rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn, rep.bob.vogel@house.mn, rep.lyndon.carlson@house.mn, rep.sarah.anderson@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.tony.cornish@house.mn, rep.greg.davids@house.mn, rep.matt.dean@house.mn, rep.bob.dettmer@house.mn, rep.steve.drazkowski@house.mn, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn, ep.pat.garofalo@house.mn, rep.bob.gunther@house.mn, rep.rod.hamilton@house.mn, rep.alice.hausman@house.mn, rep.debra.hilstrom@house.mn, rep.frank.hornstein@house.mn, rep.tina.liebling@house.mn, rep.jenifer.loon@house.mn, rep.paul.marquart@house.mn, rep.erin.murphy@house.mn, rep.bud.nornes@house.mn, rep.gene.pelowski@house.mn, rep.jeanne.poppe@house.mn, rep.paul.torkelson@house.mn, rep.dean.urdahl@house.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn

Here are the Senate authors:

sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn (651) 297-8063, sen.carrie.ruud@senate.mn (651) 296-4913,  Sen. Paul Gazelka (link to form)(651) 296-4875, Sen. David Tomassoni (link to form)(651) 296-8017.

Senate Status: TEXT – was Amended and amendment not posted.  TWO Committee meetings scheduled, one TODAY, BUT status is conflicting:

Committee on State Government Finance and Policy and Elections
03/13/2017 Meeting scheduled for 05:30 PM in Room 1200 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
03/13/2017 No Committee Action Recorded
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Finance
03/15/2017 Meeting scheduled for 10:30 AM in Room 1150 Minnesota Senate Bldg.

Here’s the conflict, says it’s already been through State Gov’t Finance despite above 5:30 schedule!

03/13/2017

So I think the best bet is to contact Environment & Natural Resources Finance:

sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn, sen.carrie.ruud@senate.mn, sen.erik.simonson@senate.mn, sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

And links to those using web form: Sen. David Tomassoni, Sen. Thomas Bakk, Sen. Dziekic, Sen. Justin Eichorn, Sen. Foung Hawj, Sen. Mark Johnson, Sen. Andrew Lang, Sen. Andrew Mathews,

 

 

 

This is “my” state Senator, Mike Goggin.  He’s pushing SF 899, a bill that would exempt employers from paying overtime to H2A workers who work more than 48 hours a week.  WHAT?!?!

Contact Sen. Mike Goggin!

I’ve been keeping an eye on him because he’s our latest “Senator from Xcel,” following Sen. Steve Murphy (January 5, 1993 – January 3, 2011).  And with reason… he’d been carrying water for Xcel Energy, sponsoring a bill to allow Xcel, his employer, to circumvent the Certificate of Need requirement, that a utility prove up “need” and that it is least cost, before building.  Alan Muller wrote a letter which the STrib printed that was published on February 7:

A pair of bills oozing their way through the Legislature are a giveaway to Xcel Energy:

HF113/SF85 would (1) authorize Xcel to build a new power plant without getting a Certificate of Need from the Public Utilities Commission; (2) require the PUC to make Xcel customers pay for it, and (3) establish a scheme for an inflated rate of return for the plant.

The point of a Certificate of Need is to ensure that ratepayers don’t pay for unjustified capital projects. For Xcel to use its political clout in this way suggests the company knows the project cannot be justified except to inflate its “rate base” and thereby its profits.

These bills are discreditable to all the legislators involved, but especially concerning is that one of the Senate authors, Mike Goggin, who represents my district (21), is an Xcel manager.

Sen. Goggin’s authorship of a bill so flagrantly benefiting his employer at the expense of his constituents should be considered an ethics violation.

Alan Muller, Red Wing, Minn.

On January 19th, the House amended the companion bill, HF113, to include language making Xcel Energy’s gas plant subject to some scrutiny, and then turned around and took it OUT on the floor February 9.  Goggin withdrew as an author on February 16, 2017 (p. 645).  Governor Dayton signed it on February 28, 2017.

So on to SF 899.

Only two Senate authors listed, Senators Goggin and Weber.  Goggin moved that it be pulled it from Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance and forwarded to Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Policy, which passed.  On March 2, it was removed from that Committee agenda, and then labeled as “PENDING REFERRAL.”   It seems to have stalled out.  ???

So on the House side, it’s HF 1032.  Only two authors here too, McDonald and Anderson, P.    From the minutes, “Representative Pierson renewed his motion that HF1032 be re-referred to the committee on Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance. THE MOTION PREVAILED.”  Listen to the House committee hearing  starting at 27:06 to 1:14:50 (my comments in parens).  This has been re-referred to Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance.

  • $12.75 an hour average (and employer pays transportation from country of origin to site, housing, meals or kitchen facilities) – tape at 28:06
  • about a year and a half ago, farmers raised question as to whether overtime rule applies and found it does apply – tape at 28:40
  • a worker cannot provide enough produce in an hour to justify overtime, produce left in the fields – tape at 28:50
  • “This bill was up a couple years ago”  hmmmmmmmm, it didn’t pass  tape at 37:55
  • Adding up the transportation, housing, meals/kitchenette, that comes to average of $17-19/hour, add the overtime and we just can’t afford that – tape at 43:40
  • What is the behavior in the broader field?  Grievances brought, settlement, year or two ago, maybe longer – tape at 45.38
  • We don’t have enough people in Minnesota that will do this kind of work (at these long hours!?!) – tape at 49:18
  • For $17-19/hour, I think people would show up, wondering about efforts done, have you tried to offer that kind of wage, attract local Minnesotans?  It’s seasonal employment… – tape at 52:24
  • “those workers don’t pay taxes, while they’re here” (is that true? Yes, but, or no, but, here’s the scoop) tape at 54:15
  • We’ll hire you if you can walk or breathe, that’s how short we are – tape at 56:07
  • We’re obligated under federal rules to advertise at $12.75 (not limited to $12.75, but must advertise at least $12.75, and could but don’t advertise for $17-19) – tape at 56:19
  • Do any of these workers have other jobs?  We’re not allowed to allow them to work at any other place by the statute they’re committed to working under the contract they’ve signed with us as an employer (and they can’t therefore just quit, this is NOT “at will” employment where they have the option to quit, they’re stuck) – tape at 1:10:25
  • They’re just trying to be in compliance with the federal law (?!?) – tape at 1:13:21

How is this not a case where the market has spoken and the employers must pay the freight rather than exploit the workers?  To get H2A visa workers, they must demonstrate that they cannot find US workers to hire.  Do they offer that $17-19/hour to local/US workers?  Given the “fight for $15” minimum wage campaign across the nation, methinks that they wages they’re offering generally are not even close.

What to do?  Contact House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance.  Ask that they reject HF1032, that this is not in the public interest, workers deserve overtime pay, and pick and chose from reasons above, listen to the tape if you have time, to get a feel for the issues.

rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn, rep.jim.newberger@house.mn, rep.karen.clark@house.mn, rep.tim.mahoney@house.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn, rep.paul.anderson@house.mn, rep.cal.bahr@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.jim.davnie@house.mn, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn, rep.jeff.howe@house.mn, rep.sandy.layman@house.mn, rep.erin.mayequade@house.mn, rep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.rena.moran@house.mn, rep.anne.neu@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn, rep.jason.rarick@house.mn, rep.peggy.scott@house.mn, rep.mike.sundin@house.mn, rep.paul.thissen@house.mn, rep.bob.vogel@house.mn, rep.nolan.west@house.mn

Here it is, TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline is baaaaaaaaaaack. From the Federal Register Notice:

On February 5, 2014, the Department invited members of the public to comment on any factor they deem relevant to the national interest determination that will be made for the Keystone XL project application (79 FR 6984) and it is not inviting further public comment at this time.

Really…

A cut and paste from the State Department site:

Keystone XL Pipeline Application

On January 26, 2017 TransCanada submitted a Presidential permit application to the Department of State. The application and other project documents can be found here.

Documents relating to TransCanada’s 2012 application can be found here.

Two days… they resubmitted the application two days later… and no comment period.  WHAT?!?!

Here’s the Federal Register Notice for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline (it did take about two weeks for that to come out, and it’s just after the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion Federal Register Notice!).

(click for larger version – fair use from Global Resources News)

Pipeline construction at issue here in Minnesota, Line 3 “replacement,” Line 67 across the US/Canada border, and there may well be others.  The State Department handles pipeline Presidential Permits, and the DOE handles transmission line Presidential Permits.  The process State Department uses for public participation is appalling… they held an “open house” but did not allow for public comment.  There was extreme “security” which was a display of extreme insecurity, searching of people coming in, making them stand out in the cold waiting to get in, for sure that will CHILL public speech!

And FYI, Line 3 “replacement” and Line 67 are indeed connected:

Day before yesterday there was an “open house” held by the State Department about a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on “Line 67.”  The “open house” was a mess, very poorly orchestrated by the State Department, and an utter failure in the “public participation” arena:

Very little coverage… lots on fb though!

Here’s the change filed with State Deparatment:

06/16/14 Letter Amending the Application of Enbridge Energy Line 67

Here’s the State Department’s Line 67 page.

– 11/20/12 Application of Enbridge Energy Line 67

And what’s at issue at this point is the

Looking at the State Department’s pipeline info generally, note that on the Keystone XL (TransCanada) line page they have this blurb:

Presidential Permits for liquid pipelines

The Secretary of State has the authority to issue Presidential Permits for cross-border liquid (water as well as petroleum product) pipelines and other cross-border infrastructure. The Bureau of Energy Resources Office of Energy Diplomacy receives and processes permit applications. All documents relating to current applications are located here.

And who is now Secretary of State?  Rex Tillerson, “resigned” as CEO of Exxon on January 1, 2017 to take this position.  He has recused himself from Keystone XL Pipeline issues.

Tillerson has recused himself from Keystone pipeline issues: State Dept.

Why recuse from Keystone XL pipeline issues and not others? Again, let’s look at this map, and consider the origin of Keystone XL in relation to other lines — who’s to say Exxon wouldn’t benefit from granting permits for any of these proposed pipelines, or if not, who’s to say Exxon wouldn’t benefit from denial of permits for any of these proposed pipelines?

And to be clear, because there’s lots of misunderstanding going on about this Presidential Memorandum and its impact on Keystone XL, here’s the poop, direct from State Dept. website:

On January 24, 2017, the President issued a  Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which invited TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanada), to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and directed the Secretary of State to receive the application and take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review.

Full text: Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Documents relating to TransCanada’s 2012 application can be found here.

As above, tRump’s Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline is an “invitation” to resubmit application, NOT an approval.

 

 

EO13769 is revoked, and this new Executive Order takes its place.  Now Washington state and Minnesota have to start all over again.

On the White House Executive Order page there are two today: