Yup, we are doing our homework, doing our due diligence on all of these projects and technologies — the fact that I’m participating in the coal gasification workgroup is evidence of that. And yes, we’ve been very supportive of getting the Mesaba Energy Project to the point where we can weigh all of the public interest considerations (pro and con: emissions benefits, reliability issues, fuel security, cost & env. impacts, among others) of this emerging & advanced technology. I know you have private clients’ interests to consider, and those are important, too.

The Governor’s support of renewable energy is making us the renewable capitol of the country, first in biofuels (the only state with a 20% ethanol requirement, the only state with a biodiesel requirement), first in community energy (recently, the Governor called for 800 MW of community wind by 2010 — dwarfing any other state). In fact, Minnesota is the only state in the country that has policies in place today, without additional legislation, to have 20% of its gasoline and 20% of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2015. Also indicative of the Governor’s committment to renewable energy is the fact that, as far as we know, I’m the first commissioner-level appointment in Minnesota history focused on developing Minnesota’s renewable resources. (To be clear, my boss, Edward Garvey, is the Administration’s point person on energy issues, generally. My bailiwick is renewable energy.) Whether it impresses you or not, this Administration’s record on energy issues in general and renewable energy in particular is truly excellent.


Yup, the Gov’s Energy Boy said he’s “doing” his homework, and I hope he’ll report soon that he’s digested the Wabash River Final Technical Report and that North Dakota water contamination report. Burp! Let’s see if he asks some researcher from this little coal gasification group to prepare a report reviewing documentation of coal gasification and water contamination, and whether the group makes that report that public! Mike gets extra credit if he searches “Datong” and “Shanxi” and “coal gasification” and reads a few of the results! On the water issue, he says, “Consider it flagged.” Yup, that’s a start, I HEAR YA, MIKEY! I hope to see some understanding of the issues presented by coal gasification, water contamination for starters, bubbling up in the public dialog… because you’ve been out there promoting coal gasification, and Mesaba specifically. Here’s a quote from the press release:

The federal legislation supports and promotes the same energy policy goals of the Pawlenty administration here in Minnesota,” said Mike Bull, Assistant Commissioner, Renewable Energy and Advanced Technologies at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “Our focus is on increasing reliance on homegrown, renewable energy sources; expanding our commitment to technologies and programs to promote the efficient use of energy; and encouraging the development of advanced electric generation technologies, such as coal gasification.

Excelsior yahoos.jpg

That’s why Mike’s on the hook — because he’s the Gov’s Energy Boy. I”m not at all impressed with what’s come down during the Pawlenty administration — it takes a lot of ethanol to reverse the impacts of the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell. Pawlenty has been promoting Mesaba. All the happy words about Renewable Energy in the world doesn’t make up for gutting regulatory review of Mesaba. Construction and operation of Mesaba is a defacto shift in energy policy, a $1.97 BILLION irretrievable infrastructure commitment to another 50-80 years of large central station power a long way from load. Those directing energy policy and making the decisions must be conscious of the decisions and must consider all the implications — and it’s my job to inform them as best I can and hold their feet to the fire.

Some people get it. As Ross Currier, Ray Cox’s brother-in-law, said recently:

In fact, if I were too use the expression “Bone-Headed” with a single individual on the Discussion List, it probably would, indeed, be Carol Overland. I have found her opinions to range from Brilliant to Bone-Headed, excuse me, Really Good to Not-So Good, often in the space of a single posting. However, although I have never met Carol in person, I feel like I know her quite well and that we have a certain bond of intimacy. She, having worked at the Seward Cafe, and I, having worked at the New Riverside Cafe, have, in a way, shared time chopping garlic, washing dishes, carrying out the garbage and cleaning toilets, in the pursuit of creating good food and bringing about revolution.

Admittedly, Carol and my rough and ragged senses of humor are not for everyone. But hey, isn’t it great that two people who can often strongly disagree, or strongly agree, on a wide variety of topics can share a chuckle now and then?

Mikey gets it too – he says:

Heyyyy… I’d never call you boneheaded! I enjoy the give and take, and learn stuff in the process. People who read your blog ask me about why you’re always picking on me, and I tell them that Carol and I are friends so she feels comfortable calling me out on stuff — there’s no animosity at all.

Ray&Mike IMG_0688_edited.jpg
This great photo of Ray and Mike was stolen from Griff www.wigleyandassociates.com, from this photo album

Those who can’t take the scrutiny, who can’t withstand public inquiry, they are the ones I worry about, those whose actions can’t stand the light of day. When people in public positions, be it elected office, non-profits supposedly working for the public good or public interest, public figures promoting policies with long term societal ramifications, when these folks are defensive, that’s when I figure it’s time to really get to digging and see what crawls up from under the rocks.

You’ll hear more here on coal gasification, Mesaba, the Waltons/ME3 group, and make particular note of what’re emerging as issues, who’s doing their homework, who’s not and what pigs squeal. And for all those legislators who claim they were mislead about Excelsior’s Mesaba project — what a cop out — obviously you were misled, but SO WHAT!!! What are you doing about it. What legislation are you proposing to assure it goes forward ONLY if the project is what was sold to the leiglsature? What are you doing to rein in that project? Are your feet getting warm yet? And how will you vote when Micheletti wants Mesaba exempted from personal property tax since the 2002 one expired? The whole world is watching…


I was hoping to start reading Barbara Freese’s Coal: A Human History… it arrived today… but there goes the email/blog again, what does it take to get folks to read their own propaganda, I mean really, this is coal gasification, not rocket science… sigh…

longhorn_champ bull.jpg

Hot off the press from Mike Bull, lifted from the Comment sections below:

Comment #1: Carol, the coal gasification work group is a great resource for information (pro- and con-) regarding coal gasification as a technology. As usual, you find conspiracies and skullduggery around every corner. That’s just silly. Of course everyone brings their own agenda to a diverse group like this, but the workgroup as a whole isn’t “pro-IGCC” or “pro-coal.”

For my part, as I’ve said on this board and elsewhere, if we’re going to continue to use coal as a resource, and I think we are, then IGCC seems to be the technology that will allow us to do that with the least environmental impacts. I say “seems to be” — I’m there to learn more about the technology and its potential.

Conspiracies and skulduggery? Ask Neil St. Anthony, who wrote Cleaning up coal: Promising new, cleaner technologies about who’s in bed with who! Wasn’t my idea! And wonder at the “representation” where the usual folks working on coal issues are NOT included. DIVERSE? I don’t think so! Look at who is paying, and wonder what they’re paying for. The problem is that there are not many participants to bring their agendas, there’s only one voice from Minnesota, and that’s the Waltons (Waltons & WOW are the same). Nope, that ain’t diverse.

“IGCC seems to be the technology … with the least environmental impacts.” Makes no sense to me, Mike, when the “sequestration potential” presentations show no sequestration potential for Minnesota and Wisconsin. So connecting the dots, is the agenda to build coal gasification plants way out west where sequestration is possible, build big transmission lines to bring it here or elsewhere, and build big pipelines to take CO2 somewhere to stick in the ground? Plus one tiny fact — from their materials — there is 218 Billion tons of space identified for sequestration, and we produce 619 Billion tons annually, it can’t be done. I’m not talking about sequestering ALLLLLL the CO2, it’s FOUR MONTHS WORTH AT BEST, that’s nothing in the cosmic realm of things. Pinning hopes on coal gasification — Is this rational? Is this efficient? As I said off blog, this is asinine.

Comment #2: And, for what it’s worth, I applaud the willingness of the Ikes, ME3 and WOW to participate in forums like this one — but their opposition to the Mesaba Energy Project, in communications within and external to the workgroup, is clear (in fact, they may be your clients’ best ally on that issue). I don’t mean to speak for Bill or Michael, but it’s my sense that their willingness to consider IGCC stems from the potential for cost-effective capture and geologic sequestration of carbon emissions from IGCC facilities — a net zero carbon emissions potential.

The Waltons/WOW are the only Minnesota participants thus far, and the Waltons and ME3 are funders, they are making this happen and have a stake in determining the band, the music and the dancecards. What is the agenda? Why are they doing this? Why aren’t they open about it? Where are the standby groups with interest in coal, such as the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action Alliance, the Southeast Como Pollution Prevention Project, who am I forgetting?

You say “potential for cost-effective capture and geologic sequestration of carbon emissions” but I don’t see that. Here’s what I see:


Great, that’s efficiency. Can y’all understand why I’m a fan of distributed and dispersed generation? Why I’ve had it up to here with disbursed generation — energy policy based on disbursement of special interests?


Why, it’s almost “lump of coal” season!

Coal gasification work group?

What does it mean when the primary groups working against proliferation of coal plants, in fact with programs specifically for that purpose, are secretly meeting wtih utilities and coal companies, and it takes Neil St. Anthony of the Star Tribune to make it public? Where is the discussion of the agenda and the potential impacts?

There was a quiet little party in October, “THE NEXT GENERATION COAL SEMINAR,” a coal gasification “work group” where only a very limited number of participants were deemed “stakeholders” and invited to the party — it appears to have something to do with who is paying for the party. For some reason, my clients dealing with Mesaba coal gasification were not invited, nor were any of us who testified against coal gasification in Minnesota in 2002 and 2003.

What does it mean when days after the coal gasification party, the primary groups announce an effort to “Fight Coal Plant Expansion” when it’s their transmission deals and the transmission legislation they promoted as “a deal, a package deal, and a good deal” made those coal plants possible? Year after year, transmission opponents fought back the transmission construction agenda of “Wind on the Wires” yet after Wind on the Wires, Waltons and Crocker’s NAWO push the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell through the legislature, Phase I of the transmission projects is announced, and NINE MORE just showed up in the recently released Transmission Plan. What kind of a “fight” will this be when they’ve opened the doors for transmission across the state and applications are flooding in? NINE projects are now expected, in addition to the Phase I projects.

At the coal gasification party, they were learning about coal gasification and CO2 sequestration, and they were shown this map by Jim Falsetti in his presentation, p. 35:

Sequestration - Potential CO2 reservoirs.jpg

Isn’t that map enough to demonstrate that CO2 sequestration isn’t a reasonable plan in Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Shouldn’t they pay attention to the questions raised about the economic feasibility of coal gasification, that the Mesaba project is not economically viable and too risky for private financing so it requires federal loan guarantees and grants from every entity possible? Shouldn’t they be concerned when Falsetti’s presentation states that past poor performance makes lenders reluctant?

When it’s a very limited number of parties from Minnesota and Wisconsin, none of which have taken any visible interest in coal gasification previously, none of which testified against coal gasification previously, how are they deemed “stakeholders?” Oh, that’s right, they’re paying for the party? Ummmmmmm, why are they paying for the party?

When it’s a very limited number of parties from Minnesota and Wisconsin meeting with the coal companies and utilities, and basic maps show that the area is not suitable for sequestration, that the “plan” clearly doesn’t pan out, doesn’t this mean the party’s over? OF COURSE NOT! Laa, la, laa, la, laa, laa, laa, laa, la, laaa, la…

Who’s a part of this group and who are they representing? NOT ME! NOT MY CLIENTS! We’re finding out who they are because new info has been added to the website. In Minnesota, ‘limited number” is a pretty generous way to phrase it — only the Waltons and WOW were invited, and WOW is just an extension of the Waltons, and don’t forget, the Waltons and ME3 are funders of this little group.

From what’s been made public, it’s the Izaak Walton League, ME3, Clean Wisconsin and Citizens Utility Board, and none of them are talking about it. There’s a piece in the most recent ME3 newsletter, but note what it doesn’t say, like who is participating and what they’re doing and when and where the next meeting is! Here’s the blurb from the newsletter:

Proposed coal plants threaten energy system innovation
ME3 regional partnership tackles global warming, promotes clean energy solutions

The Upper Midwest has been called the Saudi Arabia of clean energy in the United States. With an abundance of wind, biomass, and solar power, the Upper Midwest is poised to lead the nation toward a clean, secure, and innovative 21st-century energy system. To accomplish this, ME3 has joined a six-state effortâ??covering Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsinâ??of more than 35 nonprofits and foundations, working to develop Midwest leadership in energy systems and to reduce global warming pollution from Midwest electricity by 80 percent by 2030.

However, despite the Midwestâ??s clean energy potential, the region faces an onslaught of new coal plant proposals that threaten to increase our dependence on coal-fired power. More than 75 percent of the electricity in six Upper Midwest states is already generated from coal-fired plants. In Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois, at least 24 new coal plant proposals are currently on the table.

The impacts of burning coal on human health and our environment are well-documented. Once built, coal plants operate for decades. If currently proposed plants are built, the next generation of Midwest power plant capital investments will consist largely of brand new, massive sources of smog and global warming pollution.

Regulatory processes for major proposed coal plants in the Midwest are already under way. A few key proposals follow:

* Big Stone II plant, a 600-megawatt pulverized coal plant proposed for Milbank, South Dakota, but whose electricity will mainly serve Minnesota consumers, has already begun its regulatory process. A process to determine the scope of a federal Environmental Impact Statement is under way by the Western Area Power Administration. An air permit application has been filed with the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources and a plant site permit application has been filed with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. The project will require a permit in Minnesota for the transmission line, as well as a Certificate of Need in Minnesota.

* Mesaba coal gasification project is a 530-megawatt plant proposed by Excelsior Energy Inc. for Minnesotaâ??s Iron Range. Many questions remain unanswered about this plantâ??s impact on the environment and local community. Some analysts believe coal gasification has the potential to solve coalâ??s environmental problems. But unless this plant can provide a realistic plan for managing its global warming pollutants, it should not claim to be a clean energy solution, because, if constructed, it would be one of our state â??s biggest polluters.

* Peabody Coal Prairie State Energy Campus in Illinois is currently slated to use outdated pulverized coal technology in its 1,500-megawatt plant. But Illinois regulators are feeling increased pressure to request that Peabody Coal investigate tougher air pollution technologies for its Prairie State plant proposal after Kentucky regulators rejected an air permit for a similar Kentucky plant proposal and sent it back to Peabody to be redone. Citing the â??best available control technologiesâ? requirement of the Clean Air Act, Kentucky regulators asked Peabody to consider cleaner technologies for its Thoroughbred Generating Station in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky.

Certainly, advocates for a clean, innovative, and sustainable 21st-century energy system face a challenge. But this unprecedented six-state alignment of nonprofits and foundations is up to the challenge. Look for updates on this groundbreaking collaboration from ME3.

Deal opens door to windpower


Cleaning up coal: Promising new, cleaner technologies

A group of strange bedfellows banded together to look for clean answers to the region’s energy potential.

Then on a list, Bill Grant of the Waltons admits that indeed, discussions are ongoing about the future of coal, and Katie Nekola says that they’re talking about coal gasification. Mike Bull and Betsy Engelking aren’t talking at all! In light of all the postings about Mesaba and sequestration I’ve made on this list, in light of attempts of “allies” to quash my testimony, that of Paula Macabbee, and others, against Mesaba in 2002 and 2004, in liglht of the silence of the parties involved, needless to say, I think they’re up to no good.

Here’s the poop that’s now posted that wasn’t there a while ago:
The agenda
Attendees from a October 6, 2005 meeting have been published on their site.

Here’s the list of who went to the October 6 gathering::

Attendee List
Name, Company

Beth Soholt, Wind on the Wires

Betsy Engelking, Xcel Energy

Bill Edmonds, Pacificorp

Bill Grant, Izaak Walton League of America

Bill Ward, The P&G Paper Products Co.

Bob Raney, Montana Public Utilities Commission – SPEAKER

Bonnie Turner, Westmoreland Coal

Bruce Reynolds, Idaho National Laboratory

Cathy Bois, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Charles Higley, Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin

Dallas J. Scholes, Kennecott Energy

David L. Klemp, Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Ed Steadman, University of North Dakota – PRESENTER

Elizabeth J. Wilson, U of MN Hubert H. Humprey Institute of Public Affairs

Gary Hanson, South Dakota Utilities Commission

Howard Herzog, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – PRESENTER
(also Advisory Board, Clean Air Task Force)

James S Falsetti, Process Energy Solutions – PRESENTER

Jeffrey Haase, Minnesota Department of Commerce

Jimmy Sedeita, Joyce Foundation

John Thompson, Clean Air Task Force

Karen R.H. Utt, Xcel Energy

Katie Nekola, Clean Wisconsin

Ken Detmer, Wisconsin Public Service Commission

Ken Wolf, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Kevin Vesperman, Alliant Energy

Kim Zuhlke, Alliant Energy

Mark Hodges, Proterra Trust

Mark Meyer, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin – SPEAKER

Mark Redsten, Clean Wisconsin

Melody Sakazaki, Energy Center of Wisconsin

Mike Bull, Minnesota Department of Commerce

Randy Pilo, Wisconsin Public Service Commission

Ray Knudsen, Petroleum Technology Research Center – PRESENTER

Rich Wardner, Dickinson Chamber of Commerce

Roger Johnson, Department of Agriculture

Steve Brick, Energy Center of Wisconsin
(also Board of Directors, Clean Air Task Force)

Susan Capalbo, Montana State University-Bozeman – PRESENTER

Thomas Lynch, Conoco Phillips – PRESENTER


I’ve got a lot of questions about this, like why is this so secretive, but another question sticks out — HAS THIS GROUP ADDRESSED CONTAMINATED WATER, an issue at Wabash River and in North Dakota?

Has the group reviewed the Wabash Final Technical Report that notes that the plant was “routinely” in violation of its water permit with high levels of selenium, cyanide, and arsenic?

Here’s a report about the problems with contamination of water from gasification in North Dakota.


I guess I’ll be sending these reports and others that I have on water contamination to all the participants… sigh…

…and talking about sequestration as if it’s the panacea… and for some reason no one’s talking about the problems with sequestration. Let’s start with basics. Simple math. According to one of the power points from this session, there are 218 billion tons of sequestration storage available, and there is 619 billion tons produced annually. It’s enough sequestration space for what, FOUR MONTHS and then game over! Isn’t that sorta like drilling in ANWR for oil? But then again, for some reason people don’t want to understand that we “need” 6,300MW by 2010 and have 16, 712MW waiting in line, 6,412MW to spare, more simple math that just isn’t acknowledged.

Howard Herzog’s presentation, p. 8, lists potential sites nationally, including the site underneath Nancy Prehn’s home in Waseca! Why wasn’t Nancy Prehn invited to this little party???

Here’s that map, once more with feeling:

Sequestration - Potential CO2 reservoirs.jpg

Maybe it’s time for my Mesaba clients to crash the party! They understand better than most what coal gasification means.

Tails from the Fourth Estate — odd this is happening during a Northfield Issues list about editorial changes in the Northfield News, good bye Guest Columns, hello ????

Statue of Liberty.jpg

One thing I think we have gained with the new Editor/Publisher is a “been there, done that” common sense that comes with a lot of years at the helm.

Northfield News is issuing a correction to its false and boneheaded sub-headline from last Saturday – they’ve read the judge’s order, Louie Seesz, Editor/Publisher and Mark Anfinson, Esq. are in utter and obvious agreement that the paper’s sub-headline isn’t true, and they’ll issue a correction. It’s a start. What’s a false claim like that worth?

Methinks compensatory damages ought to include a monthly Guest Column! Sound equitable?

Now, will any of the Rice County defendants read the Correction? Or their attorney?

(if you’re feeling the urge to buy a gross of these, here’s the link, and only $2.50 apiece!)