Red Wing City Council Workshop

January 27th, 2018

Today the Red Wing City Council started its Day 2 of the Council Workshop, and it was worth going to, but too early o’clock. Getting the last Icelandic Almond Roll was some consolation!

Here is what was part of yesterday’s discussion… really…

What’s that? It’s a shield, under the bench, one for each of the City Council members and staff , to pull out in case of terrorist attack.

Oh well, they already did it, and this was mostly a report on what had been done. Rumor has it that these were about $8,000 each, or $50K+ total…  Oh my…

Onward… today first was a discussion of painting on Barn Bluff.  I rather enjoy the painting cropping up on the outcrop. But I also hear that this bluff is a sacred Dakota area. I’ve seen the flag on the bluff, it hasn’t been there all that long, and to me, that flag there is inconsistent with respect for Dakota tradition. Flagpole and flag here in upper right hand corner of this borrowed photo:

Today, from the discussion, I learn that the flag was sited right in the midst of a burial area! WHAT?!?! And this is not the first time siting is an issue, probably this happens a lot here, but I do know it was also an issue with the siting of the Red Wing lay down yard, where that Lot and building and storage area was right within the Water Tank Mounds area and that was not fully disclosed during that permitting, nor was the timing of agency involvement and review correctly disclosed during the Ash Mine permitting proceeding. Looks to me like the City has a pattern of inadequate investigation of and respect for Dakota sacred and burial areas. Falling through the holes, being pushed through, how do we fix this, assure it doesn’t keep happening, and make amends?

And then on to the “Public Hearing Process Discussion.”  Oh my… Here’s the background from the workshop packet:

2_-_Public_Hearing_Discussion

Overland’s $0.02: The discussion of civic engagement and “Public Hearing Process Discussion” morphed into a “no public comments on agenda items where there has been a Public Hearing at Planning Commission” as a council policy and taking it off the Council President. NO, not OK. The “No public comments” is bad policy. I note that 2-3 council members felt it was important for the public to be able to address, face to face, the decision makers. YES, it is. And when that is not allowed, it is the job of those council members to stand up for the public!

Today’s discussion, from the packet, was framed in binary, either Option A, where board/commission brings recommendation to Council, “No public input would occur at the Council meeting.” Option B, Boards and commissions have a lesser role in government decisions. Public input often happens at both the board/commission meetings and the City Council meetings.

Note the framing — problematic, as Option A would as policy eliminate public comment at CC meetings on agenda items. NOT OK! Option B frames it as allowing public comment at meetings means “boards and commission have a lesser role in government decision.” NOT OK! The notion that allowing public comment means undermining the Planning Commission is absurd. If there’s crucial determinative “new information,” then it should go back to the Planning Commission with a clear directive, and mindful that the Planning Commission is an “Advisory” Planning Commission, they are NOT the decision makers.

The framing of the options was off, and impact of this framing was to guide toward making it Council policy not to allow comment. NOT OK! Was that intended or not? Who knows… The framing was NOT OK for two reasons, first, public comment should as policy be allowed and encouraged. Second, the decision not to allow public comment has been a decision of the Council President, and he’s accountable for that. NOT OK! I do think that bullet was dodged, and instead a more reasonable Option C, that public comment WILL be allowed, and if Council has issues about what’s proposed, it will go back to Board/Commission. It took a lot of objecting and targeted statements to pull this into encouraging public participation, and not further limiting it as a matter of policy. We shall see…

PolyMet’s Draft Site Permit has been released by the Dept. of Natural Resources.  Here’s the link:

DNR’s Draft Site Permit (scroll down)

And in there are some links — official word from Barb Naramore, DNR, is that the Permit to Mine Application & Appendices and DNR’s Draft Special Conditions constitute the “Draft Site Permit” for the PolyMet mine, based on this statement:

Following review of PolyMet’s permit to mine application, DNR has prepared draft special conditions for the application. Together, the application and the draft special conditions are considered the draft permit to mine for the NorthMet project.

Guess that’s what they’re presenting as the “Draft Site Permit” for review and comment, but it looks pretty bizarre to me!

Here is that application and special conditions:

Why did I ask about this?  You’ll note above, there is the DNR’s Draft Special Conditions, but tell me, do you see a Draft Site Permit anywhere?  I’d spent a lot of time looking, and cannot find anything that resembles a “Draft Site Permit.”  So I asked around.  Oh, but wait, there’s no project contact info on any of the DNR’s pages or press release.  WHAT? No problem, I have contact info for the chief grand poohbahs at the DNR, and that worked.

To Comment:

DNR’s PolyMet’s Permitting COMMENT Page (note you are asked to accept set up to Comment online

In the news:

4 things to know about the PolyMet mine — MPR

With Minnesota mining permit, PolyMet proposal reaches a turning point – STrib

Comments will be accepted through March 6, 2018.  Two public meetings (not hearings?) will be held.  Petitions for a Contested Case may NOT be filed using the online commenting form, so they say at the link above!

Comments and objections may be submitted by US mail to the following address:
MN Department of Natural Resources
Division of Lands and Minerals
500 Lafayette Road, Box 45
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Public comments and written objections will be accepted at two scheduled public meetings:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School
601 N 1st St W, Aurora, MN 55705
4:00-9:00 p.m.  open house
6:00-9:00 p.m.  public comment forum

Thursday,  February 8, 2018
DECC – Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
1:00-9:00 p.m.  open house
6:00-9:00 p.m.  public comment forum

On Tuesday, Commerce is having a wind project transmission scoping meeting (MPUC Docket 17-322):

6 p.m. on December 19, 2017

Room 124

 Riverland Community College

Albert Lea, MN

The Albert Lea Tribune printed my Letter to the Editor about the Freeborn Wind Farm transmission scoping meeting:

Letter: Meeting on new wind farm is planned next week

At 6 p.m. Dec. 19 in Room 124 at Riverland Community College, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is holding a public comment and scoping meeting for the transmission line designed to serve the Freeborn Wind project. This is the opportunity for you to raise any questions and concerns about what issues should be investigated and reviewed in the Department of Commerce’s environmental review. This includes all of the things you know about the area, and any alternatives that should be in the mix.

Minnesota has a policy of non-proliferation of transmission corridors, which means that as a matter of law, transmission should be routed using existing corridors, such as transmission lines already in place or road right of way.  This line, instead, is proposed to traverse cross country.  That’s not non-proliferation.

Another problem is that Freeborn Wind developers claim they have land rights to all land needed for this transmission line, and then state that they’ll use eminent domain if they don’t. Well, which is it? And it’s troubling, because only public service corporations have the power of eminent domain, but Freeborn is a LLC, not a public service corporation. To make things more complicated, need has not been demonstrated, and there is no certificate of need. Need is a requirement for use of eminent domain. What’s their basis for saying they can use eminent domain?

This is yet another overreach by the developers — more infrastructure, which would forever change the landscape of this community.  Dec. 19 at Riverland College — now is the time to speak up!

Carol A. Overland

Attorney for Association of Freeborn County Landowners

Here it is:

17-410+Comments & Draft Site Permit

Now, get to work reading and doing a thorough mark-up!

 

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again… remember this map, way back when, connecting existing coal plants to the proposed CapX 2020 system? (note the Mid-American coal plant built in 2007 over by Council Bluffs isn’t there, it’s at the green lines on the southwest side where transmission starts.)

It’s the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing!

Here’s the full notice:

2017_Docket 17-18_Notice_201711-137509-01

And going back in history:

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report to PUC – Docket 12-360

2013 Report to PUC – Docket 13-965

2014 Summary Report– Docket 14-887

2015 Summary Report – Docket 15-785

2016 Summary Report — Docket 16-18

Here’s the summary of what I had to say last year, from the report above:

Does this sound familiar?

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on the rulemaking, 12-1246, which addresses PPSA siting rules, Minn. R. Ch. 7850.  To see rulemaking docket, which ostensibly is to address the changes in the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, go HERE and look up rulemaking docket 12-1246.

I expect this rulemaking to reach the Public Utilities Commission before I drop dead.  But I’m starting to wonder.  The “12” in “12-1246” means the docket was opened in 2012.  This is 2017, almost 2018.  Good grief!