January 13th, 2017
Ask and you shall receive, eh? I’d not checked on this, was buried in other stuff this week, but LOOK!
YES! this is good because the MPCA did not release the primary documents until December 30, 2016, and there’s no excuse for denying the public time to review the Application, etc.
Once more with feeling, here are the Comments I’d filed on behalf of the Tyler Hills Neighbors on January 4, 2017, and Comments of Indian Affairs Council and Minnesota Department of Administration:
Note the photo at the top of this post — the Lab USA site is contiguous to the City of Red Wing’s laydown yard and crusher — and it wants to build its laydown yard and crusher on a lot that overlaps the Water Tank Mounds. Ummmm, no, I don’t think so!
I’m looking forward to seeing any additional comments filed by the end of the month.
A little birdie told me that there is a Red Wing business that could use “cleaned” ash, and I’d guess there are at least two… it seems the logical thing to do is to put Lab USA’s facility at this other business site, and everyone would be happy! Well, not everyone, but it seems a better fit. This is something the City should look into, because now that the City isn’t doing any “ash mining,” their dog in this has been neutered. We shall see…
December 1st, 2016
There’s a plan afoot here in Red Wing that strikes me as one of the more bizarre ideas, particularly given the subsidy the City of Red Wing is giving to Xcel Energy by leasing land from Xcel Energy for the term of Xcel’s own “ash mining” project and about 10 years beyond. WHAT?
This PR blurb was issued recently by the Red Wing Chamber of Commerce, in support of the project:
Community Meeting to Share Information About Proposed Project to Process Ash and Recycle Metals from Xcel Energy’s Red Wing RDF Landfill – December 7 | 5PM-7PM | Red Wing Public Library.
Please join Lab USA and the City of Red Wing for a community meeting to learn more about a potential project that would process ash and recycle metals from Xcel Energy’s RDF landfill in Red Wing. Lab USA has proposed to build, own, and operate an environmentally-responsible ash processing facility that would be located next to the existing Xcel RDF landfill in Red Wing. The project will recover and recycle high quantities of iron and non-iron metals from ash in the landfill that was created by Xcel Energy’s Red Wing Generating Plant and from existing ash at Xcel Energy’s RDF landfill.The community meeting is another step in Lab USA’s ongoing work to secure permits and approvals and to reach out to the Red Wing community.
* Lab USA has completed a voluntary Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) that shows the project will comply with rules and regulations related to noise, emissions, and other impacts.
* People from Lab USA, Xcel Energy, and the City of Red Wing will be at the meeting to answer questions and talk about the project, how the ash processing works, and how this project can benefit Red Wing.
This project is also a unique way for Red Wing to take its commitment to sustainable environmental stewardship to a new level by creating both economic and environmental benefits for City of Red. It will remove and recycle metals from the landfill, generate new revenue for the city, and create jobs as the project moves forward.
The meeting will also include a chance to learn more about EAW for the project and to share comments and feedback with Lab USA and the City of Red Wing. The public comment period for the EAW begins December 5th. The Red Wing City Council is expected to vote to approve the project in February of 2017. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To be clear, the Monday meeting is hosted by Lab USA and is an “open house” format and is not a formal hearing. The public comment period is for 30 days, until January 4, and I’l publish details on where to send the comments after the Notice is issued. After January 4, 2017, there will be a determination of whether an Environmental Impact Statement is necessary, and remember, in recent history, the MPCA Board has only ordered ONE EIS, and after that one EIS, the MPCA Citizens Board was unceremoniously disbanded! The odds of a declaration that an EIS is needed are zilch, zip, nada, ZERO.
Kevin Kain is the environmental review project manager for the proposed Lab USA project.
The reason you couldn’t find the EAW on our website is because it hasn’t been placed on public notice yet. That will occur next Monday Dec 5, 2016 which starts the 30 day public comment period. You will find EAW posted next Monday at the bottom of https://www.pca.state.mn.us/quick-links/environmental-assessment-worksheets-and-environmental-impact-statements under Environmental Assessment Worksheets.
The company will be hosting an Open House and Kevin along with other solid waste permitting staff plan on attending.
What’s the deal?
Here are the documents I have, in chronological order for the most part, some are duplicates produced for the procedural step that followed:
- 8c2 – attachment – 11-09-15workshopminutes
- January-28-2016-storm water design material storage laydown area 9b – attachment
- 07- Public Works Maintenance Yard CUP – APC 3-15-16 (contains application)
- 06- Minutes – APC 3-15-2016_approved 4-19-16
- 09c1 Xcel Lease Agreement CC 04-25-2016
- 09c2-LabUSA Letter CC 04-25-2016
- April 25, 2016 CC Minutes
- May 9, 2016 CC Minutes
- May 9, 2016_9b – attachment (see January 28, above)
- 12- Status Report APC 5-17-16
So what is this, the short version?? It’s a plan to “mine” the incinerator ash in the City of Red Wing landfill. There’s a link to formally closing the dump, and I think that by doing this, the city takes a step toward that formal closure, one pushed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. But mining the ash? The plan is for the City of Red Wing to hire a company, Lab USA, to “mine” the ash and remove salable materials from it.
Now here’s where it gets really weird. The City of Red Wing’s planned part of this project lasts one year. Xcel Energy, which has its own incinerator dump here, plans to do the same, and its part of the project lasts 11 years. And the City of Red Wing signed a lease with Xcel Energy to do this project for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS? WHAT?!?! Here are the details…
The City staff has stressed the underlying Red Wing goal of landfill closure through the state’s “Closed Landfill Program.” When presented at the 11/9/2015 workshop (See 8c2-attachment -_11-09-15_Workshop_Minutes), there was “potential” for a sublease, and now that’s presumed. Red Wing’s Public Works has pressure from the MPCA to close its landfill, and also from Xcel because Red Wing “does not have enough ash to support this project as a stand alone project.” In other words, it’s dependent on Xcel to do this “project.” RW Public Works’s Moskwa admits that “the Xcel Energy landfill ash is the primary reason for the Lab USA’s interest in submitting a proposal.” (See p. 5, March 22. 2016, Sustainability Commission MeetingMinutes).
The City of Red Wing project would last just 1 year, and Xcel Energy’s share would last 10-11 years. (Lease, p. 17 of pdf: May 9, 2016_9b – attachment) Yet the City of Red Wing is leasing Lots 1 and 2 from Xcel Energy for 20 years! Given that disparity, the reasons for the lease/sublease arrangement with the City of Red Wing, Xcel, and Lab USA, rather than Lab USA taking on the lease, are not clear. Because there are three parties in this, that provides some measure of inherent instability in the project, and because Lab USA has no history in Minnesota, they’ll receive higher scrutiny, one would hope. On the other hand, the City of Red Wing seems to have yet another deal with Xcel Energy, where they’ve taken on a lease of land from Xcel for the City yard (for what purpose?) and that also includes lease of the land for this project and then the City plans to sublease to Lab USA (for the one year, for 11 years, for 20 years?), but yet the lion’s share of term of the project is the 10-11 years for Xcel, not the 1 year for Red Wing. So why is the City of Red Wing buying into this, subsidizing this, so heavily? To induce Xcel to do it? Some other reason?
With the lease for both lots already signed, the project is moving forward, and that’s a problem. How is this a good deal for the City of Red Wing? Is anyone paying attention?
Further, calling this project an allowed use, as “Public Works Maintenance Shops and Yards,” is a stretch. I’m not seeing any change from Agricultural Residential (AR) designation in the Comp Plan, and see statements that “Outlot A” was removed from the Tyler Hills PUD, Applications for Lot 1 and Lot 2 both denote Zoning as “AR.” I don’t see a change from AR to anything else. The Application includes “Proposed Tyler Hills Fourth Addition” and the lease boundary doesn’t match up with Outlot A, and Figures 1 and 2 don’t match up with the proposed plat. Details, anyone?
Other issues with the project itself?
- There’s traffic… “24 trucks/day” means 48 truck trips per day, or 24 trucks assigned to the area to make many trips back and forth and back and forth from the landfill to the building — this needs to be clarified, and impacts addressed. And these trucks are in addition to currently running Xcel garbage burner ash trucks and in addition to RW’s Lot 1 “Public Works Maintenance Shops and Yards” trucks that will be at least an additional 15-30 pickups and trucks per day.
- There’s sound… The homes directly north, west, and southwest are above, with this project situated down in a hole — and sound travels up. The “CUP Sound Study” is for the RW crusher, and does not take into account the Lab USA operation, so how does the EAW address that?
- There’s dust… From Mark Walsworth, who notes that “one of the items left out is just how much hazardous material that will be produced annually is not mentioned…all of it dust, and that by themselves, these numbers should scare anyone! Also notably missing is ANY plan or equipment to keep these from escaping to the environment.”
Lead 519,000 lbs
Cadmium 8,400 lbs
Chrome 51,000 lbs
Arsenic 6,000 lbs
Manganese 156,000 lbs
Nickel 24,600 lbs
Selenium 1,500 lbs
Mercury 600 lbs
- On and on…
Here are two Letters to the Editor written by Alan Muller about this:
We need to take a look at that EAW (remember, it’s prepared by the applicant/project proponent) and see what is revealed, what is considered, and what’s left out.
November 9th, 2016
Contract on America (1994), been there, done that, but here we go again. Trump’s announced another:
Here’s what he says he’ll do:
Six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest
collusion in Washington, DC:
★ FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to
impose term limits on all members of Congress.
★ SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees
to reduce the federal workforce through attrition
(exempting military, public safety, and public health).
★ THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.
★ FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and
Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they
leave government service.
★ FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
★ SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising
money for American elections.
Seven actions to protect American workers:
★ FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate
NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.
★ SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the
★ THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.
★ FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of
Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to
identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly
impact American workers and direct them to
use every tool under American and international
law to end those abuses immediately.
★ FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the
production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of
job-producing American energy reserves,
including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
★ SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.
★ SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.
Five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
★ FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.
★ SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.
★ THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.
★ FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.
★ FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”
Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act
An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with two children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from seven to three, and tax forms will likewise be greatly
simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35%
to 15%, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10% rate.
End the Offshoring Act
Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
American Energy and Infrastructure Act
Leverages public-private partnerships, and private
investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in
infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.
School Choice and Education Opportunity Act
Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends Common Core and brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes two- and four year
college more affordable.
Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act
Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want
to speed the approval of life-saving medications.
Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act
Allows Americans to deduct childcare and eldercare
from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services and creates tax-free dependent care savings accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
End Illegal Immigration Act
Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern
border with the full understanding that the country of
Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a two-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions
or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
Restoring Community Safety Act
Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating
a task force on violent crime and increasing funding for
programs that train and assist local police; increases
resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
Restoring National Security Act
Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester
and expanding military investment; provides veterans
with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend
the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital
infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening
procedures for immigration to ensure those who are
admitted to our country support our people and our values.
Clean Up Corruption in Washington Act
Enacts new ethics reforms to drain the swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
March 9th, 2016
Last night at the Urban League, the MPCA held a meeting, a “listening session” about the proposed Clean Power Plan as a prelude to its rulemaking.
TONIGHT IS ANOTHER MEETING:
MPCA Clean Power Plan Listening Session
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
5:30 p.m. – ? At least 8 p.m.
Cornerstone Plaza Hotel
401 6th Street S.W.
The MPCA has been holding ‘listening sessions,” a/k/a meetings, and has info on its site:
Here’s the federal plan, now on hold at order of the court:
I very much do like that they’re going forward, despite the federal stay, because it is going to take some time to ramp up efforts.
Here’s the handout I brought to that meeting. I ran out, only about 1/4 of the room covered, so that means there were at least 80 people there.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things I take issue with.
One thing that’s discouraging to me is that this is called the “Clean Power Plan” but they have not made any attempt to separate out and prohibit burning of garbage and biomass, both very dirty by any definition. Incineration must be removed from the definition of “renewable.”
Another issue is that they’re NOT going to put together a rulemaking Advisory Committee, as provided by statute. I asked about this last night and they verified it.
Each agency may also appoint committees to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.
Instead, what they’re doing is gathering the same ol’ same ol’ folks in an informal process, and they’re not going over a proposed rule prior to its being sent to the MPCA head (remember, there is no Citizens Board thanks to certain MN legislators) for release, and when it’s released, it’s too late for substantive changes. The MPCA was part of the crew, with DNR and EQB, that so badly mangled that silica sand rulemaking (ummmm, whatever became of that, anyway?). This does not bode well.
So now, on to tonight’s meeting, gotta do some prep.
And yes, that’s Frank “Coal Ash” Kolasch presenting. What a moniker!
Tonight’s gathering starts at 5:30 p.m. or so with an open house (coffee & cookies), and the presentation and “listening” starts at 6:30 p.m.
MPCA Clean Power Plan Listening Session
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
5:30 p.m. – ? At least 8 p.m.
Cornerstone Plaza Hotel
401 6th Street S.W.
Be there or be square!
March 3rd, 2016
The day after indictment of Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon, he crashes into bridge abutment on left side of road at “high rate of speed” and dies in a firey crash.
Here’s the report that exposed his dealings to the world:
He’s also made massive political donations, including to “friend of fracking” Hillary Clinton in 2008, and also $250k to the Swiftboaters. From Sourcewatch:
McClendon has donated to both Republican and Democratic political candidates, though most of his donations and his major donations have been to Republicans or Republican-associated groups, including the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and Oklahoma Leadership Council;  and 527 groups, most notably the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to which he contributed $250,000 in 2004. 
But that’s not all — Chesapeake bought off Sierra Club during Carl Pope’s reign:
From Slate, about McClendon’s death and legacy:
Why Aubrey McClendon, the Fracking CEO Who Died in a Crash Wednesday, Was His Industry’s Perfect Symbol
Aubrey McClendon, the high-flying founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, a pioneer of the fracking revolution, died Wednesday in Oklahoma City after his car hit a wall in at high speed. McClendon, 56, had been indicted Tuesday on federal charges of conspiring to rig bids on leases when he was CEO of the Chesapeake. According to the New York Times, he was supposed to be in court later in the day.
In his field, McClendon was victim both of his own success and of some familiar business and character flaws. Those who have seen Hamilton will recognize his particular American archetype: relentlessly aggressive, self-made, brilliant, a balls-out risk taker even when he had it made, tolerant of big losses, able to pick himself immediately after getting knocked down, a man of large appetites. And, also, it turns out, a little crazy. McClendon was of a personality type described by the psychologist John Gardner in his book Hypomanic Edge, one that you often see during booms and busts. You don’t need the hypomanic edge to succeed in America. But you might need it to succeed at scale, at national level, in a place as big and large as this.
After the Internet, fracking might be the most significant technological development of the last 30 years. The techniques of hydraulic fracturing have liberated, at low cost, immense amounts of oil and natural gas, lowering energy costs, turning the U.S. from an energy importer into an energy exporter. And McClendon was there right at the beginning. If you want to understand, read these two books by Wall Street Journal reporters: Greg Zuckerman’s The Frackers and Russell Gold’s The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the Energy Revolution.
Chesapeake—which, despite its name, is based in Oklahoma—is the second largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. McClendon founded it in 1989 with 10 people and built it into a Fortune 500 company thanks to its combination fracking and aggressive deal-making. With his wealth he acquired a magnate’s usual toys, including a chunk of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But McClendon was undone by the type of behavior that is surprisingly common among people who have built large enterprises rapidly. Having built a huge fortune and a huge company, he leveraged it further and lived ever larger. As Reuters reported in a big 2012 investigation, McClendon bought a slew of high-end properties, used corporate jets for family travel, borrowed money against his holdings, and ran a hedge fund out of the company’s offices.
Such behavior can be tolerated or overlooked when a company is booming. But there’s much less margin for error when the markets turn against you. Fracking became such a potent technology that annual natural gas production in the U.S. soared by 40 percent between 2005 and 2015. Much of the natural gas found its way into power plants; between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of U.S. electricity derived from natural gas rose from 19 percent to 32 percent. But fracking has produced a glut. While there is a small and growing market for natural gas as a transportation fuel, particularly in bus and trucking fleets, there is a cap to domestic demand. And while you can easily export oil by piping it onto tankers, exporting natural gas requires the construction of enormously expensive import and export terminals, equipment, and specialized ships that can carry the cargo. Led by Chesapeake and its cohort, the U.S. vastly increased its production of natural gas without boosting its capacity to use or export it.
That was great for the U.S. economy. The supplies of cheap natural gas have helped lower emissions, boost air quality, keep power prices down, and provided an enormous competitive advantage to chemical plants and other industries that use natural gas as a feedstock or ingredient. But it has proven to be bad news for highly leveraged companies in the business of natural gas production, like Chesapeake.
Between May 2008 and May 2012, Chesapeake’s stock fell by about two thirds. And the falling stock took McClendon down with it. Rather than sell shares of the company he founded, he borrowed money with the stock as collateral. In 2012, margin calls forced him to sell big chunks of stock. As investigations mounted in the wake of the Reuters report, McClendon stepped down as CEO in January 2013.
Rather than sulk off and enjoy his still substantial wealth, McClendon almost immediately set up a new energy company, just down the street from Chesapeake’s headquarters. “We’re built to be opportunistic and bold,” the company, American Energy Partners, proclaims on its website. American Energy Partners raised boatloads of money from private equity investors to invest in natural gas production.
As McClendon was building his new company, however, federal prosecutors were building a case against him. The indictment charges that McClendon conspired with executives at another, unnamed company, to rig bids on natural gas leases. And reading between the lines, it seems like Chesapeake—the company he founded—had been cooperating with the investigation.
McClendon’s rapid rise and fall highlights a unique aspect of America’s historic economic development. It often takes bubbles to create new industries and build new industrial infrastructure in the U.S. And it often takes highly ambitious rogues to make those bubbles happen.