Sand – UNEP’s report

May 7th, 2019

Here in Red Wing, and throughout southeast Minnesota, and along the other side of the river in Wisconsin, sand has been a major issue. Many communities were dragged into this issue when an epidemic of silica sand mines, processing, and transloading facilities sprang up to support fracking for oil. Sand interests got Red Wing’s Mayor ejected when he was both Mayor and Executive Director of sand mining industry’s Minnesota Industrial Sand Council:

Mayor Egan Resigns

Sand was also an issue as Minnesota attempt at, though I’d say avoided, developing sand mining rules:

Someone explain rulemaking to the MPCA

As to sand as a resource, that’s not really been a part of the discussion in these parts. And on that note, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has released a report:

And in the STrib: UN environment agency warns of effects of rising sand use

Check it out!

Hey Red Wing!  Mark your calendars:

City Council Strategic Plan Public Forum & Q&A

Monday, March 18, 2019

6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Public Library – Foot Room

6:30 to 7:00: Informal Meet and Greet time (snacks and beverages provided)

7:00 to 8:00: Brief presentation, City Council panel discussion, and question-and-answer period with Council members regarding the Strategic Plan draft.

Here’s the 2019 Strategic Plan Draft 3-13-19_201903130811429189-1

And here’s the Red Wing 2040 FINAL for comparison.

GOOD!  Another incremental win for Association of Freeborn County Landowners.  That’s an interesting development!

County board opts not to vote on wind farm, will have further talks in March

After last Friday’s PUC meeting where Freeborn Wind’s siting permit was put on hold as they consider amendments:

Yesterday at PUC – Freeborn Wind TABLED!

… and today, at Freeborn County, when Motion was made to vote on the Freeborn Wind Development Agreement, and others, there was no 2nd!  Silence!!

Here’s the latest drafts of the agreements that I’ve been able to scrounge up:

Freeborn Development Agreement final January 2019

Freeborn Road Use Agreement final January 2019

Freeborn Public Drainage System Agreement final January 2019

How bad is this agreement?  Check this, on p. 8:

6.1. Amendments to Development Agreement. This Development Agreement may be amended by mutual agreement of the Parties only if the amendment is in writing and signed by an authorized representative of each Party. County authorized representative will be County Board Chair or County Administrator. Developer authorized representatives will be as designated by Article 9.4 of Development Agreement.

Ummmmm, no. Guess again…  Amendments must go to entire County Board. And there are additional changes you’ll need to make, Freeborn Wind!

Stay tuned.  Next meeting is mid-March.

Yesterday, Freeborn Wind, the Applicant, had its wind project permit tabled by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.  How’d that happen!?!  SNORT!  I heard there was an audible gasp from that side of the room when it happened.

This latest round started with a bizarrely attempt to get more than what they got:

20191-148986-02_Freeborn Wind’s Request4Clarification

Yeah, it sure got them more!!  Great idea, disclosing an “agreement” with Commerce and MPCA after being granted a permit by PUC after the ALJ Recommendation that the permit be denied (and in the alternative, that they be granted time to demonstrate that they COULD comply):

So what did Freeborn say in its Request4Clarification?

Freeborn Wind requests the Commission clarify its Site Permit to adopt Section 7.4, as
proposed by Freeborn Wind and agreed to by the Department and MPCA, in place of the current Sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2, to both ensure consistency with the Order and avoid ambiguity in permit compliance.

Freeborn Wind’s September 19, 2018, Late-Filed proposal for Special Conditions Related
to Noise outlines the agreement reached between Freeborn Wind, the Department and the MPCA on this issue.[fn omitted] The letter indicated that Freeborn Wind had carefully reviewed the proposed Sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2 from the Staff Briefing Papers, and was concerned they “create[d] ambiguity and would lead to significant compliance challenges.” [fn omitted] Instead, Freeborn Wind offered “proposed alternative language addressing pre-construction noise modeling and postconstruction noise monitoring special conditions” which is “specific to this case” and would “achieve a similar level of noise regulation, but in a manner that can actually be measured following the applicable rules and standards.”

p. 1-2, 20191-148986-02_Freeborn Wind’s Request4Clarification (emphasis added).

SNORT!  Really, they said that!  It was good to see confirmation of the orchestration I’d observed at the September 20 PUC agenda meeting, being in the middle of the full court press of  Freeborn Wind, Commerce and MPCA (why exactly was MPCA there, they have no jurisdiction).  Oh, about MPCA’s jurisdiction, the letter of Kohlasch explains that well:

Exhibit M_Kohlasch_Letter_20189-146351-01

So we responded to that Freeborn Wind Motion:

AFCL_ResponsetoFreebornMotion-ClarificationRequest

I’d sent Data Practices Act Requests to MPCA and Commerce:

MPCA-Agreement_Data Practices Act Request

Exhibit C_Commerce-Agreement_Data Practices Act Request

And on receiving Data Practices Act Requests from MPCA, which showed some of the behind-the-scenes going on, filed this:

20192-150272-01-1_AFCL Motion to Remand to ALJ

And the moment I filed it, and went to email to check filing status, get confirmation, and I see an email from Wachtler, Commerce-EERA, which is included in this, filed the following day:

AFCL_Motion-Addendum to Remand to ALJ_FINAL FULL PACKET

They produced NON-O-T-H-I-N-G!  Nothing at all!

So off we went to the PUC, and the meeting was bizarre.  The Commission did not take up the Many Motions, Motions to Strike, Motions for Reconsideration, Motions for Remand, Motion after Motion, it was dizzying.  Admissions of “confusion” were heard, and can’t have Commissioner confusion.  Methinks that there was confusion at the September 20, 2018 meeting, which was why the permit was approved with the conditions offered and haggled over just a bit.  The video, do check it out, scroll down to #3 at link, starting at 16:43:

TABLED!  We have 14 days to provide language for the permit conditions, 7.4; 7.4.1; 7.4.2.  Then another Agenda meeting date will be set, ostensibly to deal with Motions, language, etc.

Friday, Freeborn Wind is before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, where Association of Freeborn County Landowners’ Motions for Reconsideration are on the agenda:

20192-150272-01-1_Motion to Remand to ALJ

UPDATE:

AFCL_Motion-Addendum to Remand to ALJ_FINAL FULL PACKET

Why update? Because we got more juicy details.  As I was filing the “Motion to Remand to ALJ” I got an email from Commerce-EERA’s John Wachtler, and he said that there were no emails, that Commerce deletes them after 90 days.  Well, emails weren’t all that was requested, and yet, NOTHING was produced. NOTHING!

Here’s what we asked for:

Exhibit C_Commerce-Agreement_Data Practices Act Request

Why am I not surprised…