RE: PURPOSE AND NEED MEETINGS — CORRECTION FROM DOT:

CORRECTION: Purpose and Need Statement now available for proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service


Our mistake! We gave you the wrong public information meeting dates in yesterday’s update. Wisconsin’s meeting is actually first. Correct dates are:

  • Sept. 6 at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in Wisconsin
  • Sept. 7 at St. Paul’s Union Depot 

We wouldn’t want you to miss these important public meetings. Sorry for the confusion.

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There’s been a lot of bruhaha here about the “Zip Rail,” but that’s now “Zip” since the DOT suspended “work” on that project.  What’s new is that there’s a specific initiative by the DOT now for adding a 2nd daily passenger train to and from the Twin Cities to Chicago, serving multiple points in between.  THIS IS NOT A HIGH SPEED RAIL PROPOSAL, it’s adding another passenger train on the eastern end of the Empire Builder route.

Here’s Amtrak’s 2015 feasibility report (PDF) 

And the reports this rail group has generated with DOT:

Meetings seem to be held monthly, but there’s no notice of when the next meeting is on the e“meetings” page, and there are no details of the meetings, agenda, minutes, presentations, etc.   See future forum meetings.  HA!  They’re missing PAST meeting!

Look at the “Public Engagement” and tell me if you see anything about the public, and look at “Membership/Members” and tell me if you see anything other than corporations, governmental and lobbying organizations — WHERE’S THE PUBLIC?

Here’s the “Put Me On The List” link, copied from their page: contact the MnDOT Project Managers or Mary McFarland, MnDOT Communications.

Have at it, and keep an eye out for a Fall 2017 public meeting where the Purpose and Need Statement – July 2017 (PDF) will be presented and discussed (it does not note a formal comment period).

There’s been a flurry of activity, and finally they posted the actual documents so we can see what’s going on, or what won’t be going on.  This was part of my “One a Day” plan to send off a missive to the White House every day, something of substance.  When the Contact page was blank on Monday morning, I started calling, ALL DAY LONG, and got through around 7 p.m., when a human answered, and hung up.  I called back, got that same human, who wouldn’t tell me who I should talk to about the Executive Orders (presumed that’s what they were as that’s what was said) and said the Comment office person was gone so I had to leave it online, and she got pissy when I said that the Comment page was blank, and hung up again.  OK, whatever…

Civics Lesson from USA Today, Presidential memoranda vs. executive orders. What’s the difference?

Here are the Memoranda thus far from the White House page (these are not required to be published in the Federal Register, so ???, but they are now on the White House Memoranda page:

Now maybe they’ll have the routine down and keep up with what they’re doing.  Drives me crazy to be loating around in the dark — it’s hard enough to know or guess what these might mean in practice, but without an actual document to look at, it’s just blather.  Well, it’s just blather anyway, but here it is.  Read it and get busy!

My beautiful picture

When the wintry winds starts blowing
And the snow is starting in a fall
Then my eyes went westward knowing
That’s the place that I love best of all
California I’ve been blue
Since I’ve been away from you
I can’t wait till I get blowing
Even now I’m starting in a call

California, here I come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers bloom in the spring
Each morning at dawning birdies sing at everything
A sun kissed miss said, “Don’t be late!”
That’s why I can hardly wait

Open up that golden gate
California, here I come

California, here I come, yeah
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers bloom in the spring
Each morning at dawning birdies sing at everything
A sun kissed miss said, “Don’t be late!”
That’s why I can hardly wait come on, come on
Open up, open up, open up that golden gate
California, here I come

DSC00041

DSC00038

silica-sand-washing-plantA quick reminder:

January 5, 2017 – 2:30pm

Silica Sand Technical Assistance Team Meeting

January 5th, 2017 @ 2:30pm in the DNR Central Office Lobby Conference Room.

Meet to discuss technical and agency updates to the EQB Tools to Assist Local Governments in Planning for and Regulating Silica Sand Projects, agency rulemaking updates, and updates on silica sand activities in the State of Minnesota

Conference call: 1-888-742-5095 | Conference Code: 3649223869#

Agenda:
1) Introductions
2) Agency updates on silica sand activities in the State of Minnesota
3) Technical and agency updates to EQB Tools to Assist Local Governments in Planning for and Regulating Silica Sand Projects
4) Agency updates on rulemaking
a. DNR
b. MPCA
c. EQB
5) EQB Ordinance Library
6) Other topics
7) Adjourn

Show up — keep the heat on to get these projects MOVING!  It’s been YEARS!

MaidenRockSandDerail_RepubBeagle

epa

There was a Wisconsin focused EPA “listening session” last Tuesday in Eau Claire, and I received an email today urging comments be sent to the EPA.  Didn’t notice that this was happening, GRRRRRRRRR.  But in the request for comments, there’s little info on what to focus on, other than “water.”  Hmmmm… I’m letting my imagination run wild, as in, “well… that’s a deep subject!”

Here’s a video of the session via Steve Hanson’s blog:

EPA Water Listening Session in Eau Claire

The EPA, and particularly Region 5, needs a lot of pressure now, after Region 5’s Susan Hedman’s “Flint failure” and her subsequent resignation.  As we know, Drumpf wants to dismantle the EPA, which has long been on the Republican agenda.  So we need not only pressure, but support and funding for EPA to be able to do its job, and active resistance to Myron Ebell, Drumpf’s EPA appointment.

Add to that the EPA’s delegation of much of its regulatory activities to the states (delegation primer here), in Minnesota air quality regulation is delegated to the Pollution Control Agency, and we see the state has a role as well.  In Minnesota, there were funding cuts, so extreme that there’s a backlog of expires air permits, and those air permits are unlikely to be reissued under current regulations, so the emissions go on and on, allowed if the operator/owner files for a permit renewal.  This is the case with Xcel’s Red Wing garbage burner, where the permit expired in 2009.  It’s one example of hundreds here in Minnesota, where the MPCA has authority via EPA delegation.

This Wisconsin “listening session” comes at a time when Wisconsin’s DNR has been stripped of funding, employees, and authority by Walker’s administration.  What’s left?  The state agency is hobbled — that’s one of the primary issues!

Regarding Wisconsin, I think the thing to do is to demand that EPA take back regulatory authority because Wisconsin is unwilling and unable to do the job!

Here are examples:

EPA Page – NPDES Petition for Program Withdrawal in Minnesota

EPA Page – NPDES Petition for Program Withdrawal in Wisconsin

Here’s contact info for the EPA, from the EPA site:

Use this link to comment form to send the a comment or question, or send email to r5hotline@epa.gov.
If you’d like a reply, please tell the EPA how to reach you.

Mailing Address:

US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

Do let them know what you think!