It’s out, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Order both rejecting Association of Freeborn County Landowners’ Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet and approving the Xcel Energy site permit amendment.

The Commission meeting amending Xcel Energy’s permit as requested was back on December 19, 2019, and the Commission’s deliberation and “decision” rejecting the AFCL Petition for an EAW was February 6, 2020:

VIEW WEBCAST HERE!

Per the EQB rules (Minn. R. 4410.1100, Subp. 6), the Commission was supposed to issue an Order and Record of Decision WAY BACK, but didn’t. We appealed their “decision.”

AFCL appeals PUC denial of EAW Petition

This new order (20203-161639-01_Order-Site Permit Amendment and Denial of AFCL Petition for EAW) has many statements, some pretty wild ones, but I don’t see what ought to be there.

It’s time to get out the magnifying glass for a careful read. AFCL, this means all of us!!!

On Wednesday, Association of Freeborn County Landowners filed an appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s denial of AFCL’s Petition for and Environmental Assessment Worksheet. It was mailed Certified Mail yesterday, as required by statute, and today, filed on the PUC’s eDockets:

The PUC really screwed this up, in so many ways. Granted there are few Petitions for EAW to the Commission, and Commission staff may not be familiar with EQB rules and process. However, in the only other Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet/EIS, they denied a Motion and then a Petition for EAW forwarded by the EQB, and it was sent back to the Commission by the Appellate Court:

In the Matter of Minnesota Power’s Petition for Approval of the EnergyForward Resource Package

Lesson not learned. We’ve been trying to get environmental review of wind projects for how long now, particularly given the demonstrable impacts, actual and constructive notice, beyond the “potential” for environmental impacts. Bent Tree noise excedences and landowner settlements? What more is needed?

Bent Tree Order filed by PUC

In the Staff Briefing Papers, which is staff’s recommendation to the Commission, over and over it was said that the Petition was insufficient because there were not 100 signatures, but there were 380+ signatures! In the Staff Briefing Papers, over and over it was said that the Commission could declare the Petition insufficient, when it is NOT the Commission’s job to address sufficiency, that was already determined by the Environmental Quality Board, which validated the Petition and forwarded it to the Commission for action! Read the Briefing Papers… really, it’s that absurd:

I fired off a letter requesting correction, which never happened:

And even after denying AFCL’s Petition, they went further, and provided “notice” in an email to the EQB that the Board had made its decision:

And that “notice” was published in the EQB Monitor on February 18, 2020:

And yet to this date, they’ve not filed an Order or the Record of Decision on this decision! WHAT?!?! Yes, really!!

I’d sent a letter to the EQB about the Commission’s failure to file the Order and Record of Decision nearly a month ago:

STILL NO ORDER OR RECORD OF DECISION. There are no Findings of Facts to explain, to support, the Commission’s decision. I guess it’s harder to make them up than staff thought?!?!

Meanwhile, the appeal deadline of a decision on an EAW Petition is 30 days after the notice is published in the EQB Monitor. Minn. Stat. 116D.04, Subd. 10. It’s kind of hard to Appeal a decision without the necessary documents, so I can guess that’s one more reason the Commission has chosen not to file! Oh well… ONWARD!

Prior posts on AFCL’s Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet:

Freeborn EAW – more time!

EQB forwards EAW Petition to PUC

Petition for EAW – Freeborn Wind

DEEP BREATHE EVERYONE. This project hasn’t got a chance in hell!

Received a response from the DNR, and bottom line on the Empire Builder Investments/Progressive Rail project to draw water in Dakota County is:

Kinda says it all, don’t cha think?!?!

Here are the primary documents sent by the DNR, the quote above is from the Preliminary Assessment:

And the DNR Commissioner’s statement:

MN Biennial Xmsn Plan

October 31st, 2019

Here it is:

There’s no map in this plan! But there is this:

As if the CapX 2020 boondoggle predicated on 2.49% annual demand growth wasn’t enough, now this? A repeat performance? Over my dead polar bear…

3M poisoning water

October 19th, 2019

3M stopped making PFC’s a long time ago, I’d guess when they figured out the danger (people still use teflon?!?!). But it doesn’t just go away, it’s spreading, and it’s in Minnesota’s water, and elsewhere around the country too. Du Pont is responsible for a lot of similar contamination of water, another similar story for another day.

PFAS map above — Purple dots above are a “well advisory.” Green dots are “no or low PFAS.” Nope, inadequate. I want green to be NO PAS, and oh, say, yellow for “low PFAS” and definition of “low.” Not labeling “low” when there IS contaminated water is disingenuous.

Last year, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office settled a suit with 3M over its pollution, poisoning, of water with PFCs and related dangerous substances like PFOA, etc…

3M SETTLEMENT PAGE

Settlement was for $850 million dollars, $720 million after expenses, including attorney fees, will go to local water issues.

Here’s the agreement:

Minnesota vs. 3M Company Agreement

So this is in the paper today:

Woodbury shuts down sixth water well over pollution concerns

Looking at the agreement, they’re terming the $$$ in the settlement a “grant,” specifically, that “3M will make a Grant in the amount of $850 million to the State which shall be held in the 3M Grant for Water Quality and Sustainability Fund, within fifteen (15) days from
the Effective Date of this Agreement.” (see agreement above, p. 3.) No admissions here…

Framing it in a way that doesn’t stress clean up, and instead focuses on happy language… “enhance the quality, quantity and sustainability…” GOOD GRIEF…

As the first and highest priority, the MPCA and/or the DNR shall utilize
the Grant referenced in paragraph 13 above to enhance the quality, quantity and sustainability of the drinking water in the East Metropolitan Area, which shall include, but is not necessarily limited to, the cities of Woodbury, Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Afton, and Newport and the townships of West Lakeland and Grey Cloud Island. The goal of this highest priority work is to ensure clean drinking water in sufficient supply to residents and businesses in the East Metropolitan Area to meet their current and future water needs. Examples of projects in this first priority may include, but are not limited to, the development of alternative drinking water sources for municipalities and individual households (including but not limited to creation or relocation of municipal wells), the treatment of existing water supplies, water conservation and efficiency, open space acquisition, and groundwater recharge (including projects that encourage, enhance, and assist groundwater recharge). For individual households, projects may include, but are not limited to, connecting those residences to municipal water supplies, providing individual treatment systems, or constructing new wells. The MPCA shall conduct a source assessment and feasibility study regarding the role of the Valley Branch Water District’s project known as Project 1007 in the conveyance of PFCs in the environment. In selecting and performing activities pursuant to this paragraph, the State shall prioritize water supplies where health based values, health risk limits, and/or health risk indices for PFCs are exceeded.

Here’s the “3M settlement: financial framework” which includes this statement:
Money in the Remediation Fund is appropriated to the MPCA and DNR to be spent for a variety of purposes, including taking remedial actions and rehabilitating and restoring natural resources.”

Seems to me, that “including” means it’s an afterthought, not the primary purpose.

The law is STRICT LIABILITY for those who cause the harm, but I’m not seeing a requirement to CLEAN UP, only that they’re paying in to the state. Am I missing something here? From the “3M settlement: financial framework” again:

MERLA makes responsible person strictly liable not only to clean up contamination from hazardous substances (i.e. Superfund), but also to pay damages to the state for the resulting harm to natural resources. By establishing a legal cause of action to recover for natural resource damages, MERLA recognizes the value of the state’s natural resources and the importance of restoring them as much as possible for the benefit of the public. Minn. Stat. §115B.04,subd.1(3).

Now another Woodbury well is poisoned. How on earth will they clean up this mess for $850 million, when it’s increasing, where additional wells are poisoned. Isn’t this map of purple dot “well advisory” horrifying? Look again:

Color me skeptical, well… furious.

Here are the reports for this “grant.”

3M Settlement biannual report and Spending Plan for FY2020 (August 2019)

3M Settlement — determining how priorities will be met (April 2019)

3M Settlement biannual report  (February 2019)