The nuclear mess in Japan is just slowly getting worse, with radiation leaking out at higher levels, more radioactive water from the plant leaking out, nowhere to store what they are able to pump out, and efforts to pump water in aren’t sufficient to provide cooling.  The good news is that they are finally openly admitting that the plants will have to be “scrapped.”

Here are some updates from around the world:

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Japan nuclear crisis: evacuees turned away from shelters

Link to photos from plant

Japan to scrap stricken nuclear reactors


Here’s a view of our own Monticello reactor, the same GE as some of the Fukushima plants:


For some technical info and photos of this type of GE reactor, check this “Virtual Nuclear Tourist” site, put together by Joseph Gunyeau (here’s some background on him) who I think is based in nearby Cannon Falls, he has been a contractor at many nuclear plants — and he says that a Fukushima page is in the works:

Monticello Page from Virtual Nuclear Tourist

Fukushima Daiichi update

March 26th, 2011


The saga at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site continues, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, officials continue to report the situation as “grave.”

Radiation doses spread unequally – Daily Yomiuri Online

TEPCO workers not warned of radiation risk- Daily Yomiuri Online

Iodine 1,250times over limit – Daily Yomiuri Online

Radiation spikes in sea off Fukushima plant – Market Watch

Radioactivity rises in seawater near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant – Washington Post

Japan PM calls situation at nuclear plant “grave” – Business Week

Draz, kill the amendment..

March 26th, 2011


I’ve seen some bizarre bills over the years, but mandating logging in our state parks here in Southeast Minnesota has got to be one of the worst.  Who put it in?  Rep. Steve Drazkowski… EARTH TO MARS — PULL THE AMENDMENT… what more to say?

House Committee Minutes – p. 1035


Notwithstanding Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 2, or any other law to the contrary, the commissioner of natural resources shall assess the black walnut and other timber resources in Frontenac State Park and Whitewater State Park, harvest the black walnut and timber resources suitable for harvest, and deposit the proceeds from the sale into the state parks account in the natural resources fund by June 30, 2013.

From Bluestem Prairie, with a link to a great Op Ed from Mankato Free Press:

Only God can make a tree, but stupid ideas are left for the Draz to introduce

This posting drew this comment from a reader who was there:

I sat in on the House Environment evening 
session on March 16.  Some time after Lee 
Frelich offered his testimony Drazkowski 
went on a little rant about global warming 
and invasives.  I recall his remarks as being 
"Climate change, SO WHAT.  Invasives, SO WHAT."  
My notes probably don't have the wording exact 
but his "so whats" were so contemptuous that 
they stuck in my memory.  I'm pretty sure the 
meeting is recorded so his voice should be 
available but I don't know if the camera was on him.

I recall some ancient philosopher's prayer as 
being "O Lord, please make my enemies ridiculous."  
We've been granted ridiculous enemies.  I just 
wish they didn't have the majority in the legislature.

Here’s his contact info – tell him what you think:

651-296-2273  and  507-843-3711

E-mail: rep.steve.drazkowski@house.mn

Next it goes to Ways and Means, so contact all the members, just cut and paste the addresses below:


































It’s hard to miss the Tammens — they are EVERYWHERE!!!  Saw them up in Clouqet about a year ago at an IATP Biomass love-fest, and they have been at every meeting and hearing for the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project.  Good to see they’ve been noticed!!!

Here’s the profile in Session Weekly — thanks to Darrell Gerber for pointing this out:

Soudan snowbirds

Published (3/25/2011)
By Sue Hegarty

Pat and Bob Tammen leave their home in Soudan to come to St. Paul as citizen watchdogs. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)You might not notice Bob and Pat Tammen sitting in the House hearing rooms. Bob, clothed in a crisp, pressed dress shirt and necktie, blends in with the lobbyists, deputy commissioners and expert testifiers. Pat sits next to her husband, alert to the day’s agenda.

The Tammens are not on anybody’s political payroll, nor are they required to hear or give testimony about proposed legislation, unlike most in the gallery. Yet there they sit, day after day.

“We’ve seen a couple of committees that have citizens sitting there with equal standing. Sometimes I believe those citizens represent our values better than our elected officials,” Bob said.

On Pat’s 74th birthday, March 22, they were in the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee hearing by 8:15 a.m. for 90 minutes of testimony; then again as testimony continued into the evening.

A retired couple from Soudan, the Tammens could spend the long, cold Minnesota winter anywhere. Instead, they pack up their 24-foot camper and drive to St. Paul, where they park in the Sears parking lot across from the State Office Building, so they can be close to all the legislative action.

“We like where we live, and when we talk about the quality of life in Minnesota, Soudan has it,” Bob said.

They begin their mornings with a walk across the street to buy a newspaper and coffee in the State Office Building. After sitting though the morning hearings in the House or Senate, they grab a bowl of soup at the Rathskeller, the State Capitol cafeteria. Afternoons may include more hearings or witnessing a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. In the evenings, they often drive their self-contained Winnebago to a bookstore where they share a sandwich. Pat scours the bookshelves while Bob uses the wireless Internet to check email.

They pay Sears a monthly parking fee of $30. So far, no one has rattled their metal cage, but they do need to watch their step when the snowplow clears the lot. On weekends, they return home to do laundry, open the mail and repack for another week in St. Paul.

In the spirit of full disclosure, they say they are DFLers and lifelong union workers. Pat taught elementary school in the Ely area for 38 years. Bob was an electrician who worked in the mines and did contract electrical work at Xcel’s nuclear power plant in Monticello. They pay dues to nearly every environmental group, but neither has ever held a board seat, they said.

Bob and Pat met after he returned from Vietnam in 1965.

Bob worked for several mining operations and for U.S. Steel, where he became familiar with mining’s residual effect on the environment. “Most of us were pretty nonchalant about what we were doing. There were a few voices in our communities warning us about this, but most of us didn’t listen,” he said.

They don’t always agree with some DFL legislators who say mining brings prosperity to a community.

“Look at Virginia. They are surrounded by taconite mines. You couldn’t squeeze any more mines in there hardly. They’re still losing population,” Bob said.

Pat followed the alternative pathways for teacher licensure debate in the House education committees and believes it will weaken the classroom.

When the legislative session ends, they’ll drive north again and park the camper on

20 acres of undeveloped land they own along 800 feet of shoreline. They’ll drop their canoe in the water and pick up stray fishing bobbers to add them their collection. Enjoying a respite from the Capitol chatter, they’ll hike through the new Lake Vermilion State Park near their house. No doubt, these citizen watchdogs will keep a watchful eye on how taxpayer dollars are being spent to develop the park that’s been called the jewel of the state park system.


Does anyone give a rodent’s rump about Xcel’s Hiawatha Project transmission project through Phillips?


Listen up!  It’s time to Comment on what we all think the scope of the Environmental Report should be for Xcel Energy’s Hiawatha Project transmission line.  What should be reviewed, what system alternatives should be considered (conservation, reconductor the distribution system at issue), demand side management (demand is DOWN, DUH!), solar on every roof of Phillips to follow peak load… , whether the size of the project (the specs) conform with the need they’re claiming, whether a power factor and distribution based need claim can and should be addressed with a big honkin’ transmission line, and how ’bout some realistic magnetic field modeling, ____________ (your issue here!).

Does anyone care?

Last week was the public meeting to solicit comments on the scope of environmental review, a meeting (NOT a hearing!) held by our friends at Minnesota Office of Energy Security – MOES:


MOES – Hiawatha Transmission Project Scoping Notice


Send Comments to:

Bill Storm
State Permit Manager
Minnesota Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101-2198
Fax: 651-297-7891
email: bill.storm@state.mn.us

More on Comments below… I couldn’t attend the public meeting because it was in the middle of the AWA Goodhue Wind evidentiary hearing, there was no way to do both.  However, this is my old neighborhood, I spent 20 years in Prestigious East Phillips!  I can’t stand the thought of this project ripping up Phillips…

To look at the dockets for this case, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and click “Search eDockets” and search for:

Hiawatha Project Routing Docket – 09-38

Hiawatha Project Certificate of Need Docket – 10-694

I’m concerned whether anyone cares, whether anyone is going to be weighing in on this, because the big intervenors in the routing case, Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis, and the Midtown Greenway Coalition have all pledged not to intervene:

Joint letter from Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis, and Midtown Greenway Coalition

Why would they say they’re not planning on intervening?  Did they agree not to intervene?  Why?

What does it mean if the large funded intervenors aren’t participating in the Certificate of Need docket?

Why does it matter if anyone intervenes in the Certificate of Need?

Well, it’s simple.  This project isn’t needed.  And in a Certificate of Need proceeding, the applicant has to prove up need.  If it’s not needed, it doesn’t go forward.  If you want to stop a project, force them to do it another way, the odds are a lot higher if you show up and participate in the Certificate of Need docket at the PUC.  If not, well, you’re just sitting on the sidelines and stuck with whatever result happens while you’re not there.  The moral to the story?  SHOW UP!

During the Hiawatha Project’s PUC routing process, there were loud objections that this project was not needed, was not subject to a Certificate of Need, and should be.  Rep. Karen Clark pushed through a bill requiring a Certificate of Need for this specific project:

2010 Session Laws, Ch 361, Art 5, Section 19-21

So amid much breast-beating, this bill of Rep. Karen Clark was added to SF 3275 and became part of Ch 361.  A Certificate of Need is now necessary for the Hiawatha Project.

But here’s the hilarious part — there was a $90,000 kicker to ????  some organization, to do neighborhood conservation and energy planning, $90,000, and that the project would go forward, it wasn’t hinged on the results of this “work.”  The bill passes and goes on to the Gov. to be signed… SNORT… Pawlenty vetoed the $90,000 payout in the bill!


So now where are we?  The money is gone… funding to a community group is pulled out from the bill.  (And what  community group would that be intended for… CERTS?  … Xcel-funded Green Institute?  What organizations have “experience in energy conservation and energy planning at the neighborhood level?”)  Oh well, the project moves forward.

Next, Xcel applies for the Certificate of Need, which under this bill is not to proceed until after April 1, 2011, and now the scoping for the Environmental Report is held.

What is “scoping?”  It’s when an agency collects comments and mulls it over and determines what all should be covered in environmental review.  In this case, because it’s a “Certificate of Need” proceeding, system alternatives are at issue, in addition to the usual environmental suspects.  And of course, a full disclosure of impacts is necessary, things like the expected range of magnetic fields.  That’s a particularly prominent issue because in the routing docket, the Administrative Law Judge recommended that the Hiawatha Project be put underground due to exposure of local residents and workers to high levels of magnetic fields, higher than the threshold above which the World Health Organization would urge we exercise precaution.  And of course, the reasonable levels are a lot higher than what they’re disclosing.

MOES – Hiawatha Transmission Project Scoping Notice

Before you work on your comments, take a look at what’s been posted as the “Draft” Scoping Decision:

Draft EA Scoping Document

And check out these magnetic field charts from the application – do these amp levels have any relation to the claimed need and the potential amps on the lines as spec’d?




Send Comments to:

Bill Storm
State Permit Manager
Minnesota Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101-2198
Fax: 651-297-7891
email: bill.storm@state.mn.us