St. Louis had some weather!

April 30th, 2012

hail4Taken by Monica Schmuck, hail found in her back yard Saturday evening

This weekend was BaronFest, a gathering of German Shepherds in St. Louis.  Saturday, sitting around the table, I noticed clouds, and it was drizzling a bit, and I commented on it, Monica, hostest with the mostest, pointed out “southwest” from the yard and my directions were off.   But an hour later as I went towards the hotel, southwest was dark green and the wind picked up.  I quick fired off a text and by the time I got about half a mile down the road, BIG thunks were hitting the car, couldn’t see, and moi, who never stops, joined a couple other cars under the I-70 bridge.  The wind picked up even more and the sirens went off. I could barely see beyond the bridge, and soon it was full underneath.  This is the place where the tornado hit one year ago.  Above is the result, below too:



From wall to wall German Shepherds to wall to wall ice balls… Monica might need a new roof, but otherwise damage in Maryland Heights wasn’t too bad.  But closer to downtown, the beer tent at Kilroy’s was another matter:

St. Louis tent collapse raises safety questions:

Back to Monica’s neighborhood:

Everyone was safe, dogs too, but most pups were terrified.


Tomorrow is the day — oral arguments of the appeal of the Public Utility Commission’s Order granting AWA Goodhue a permit.

Notice of Oral Argument

PUC Order – AWA Goodhue Wind Project Permit

Arguments are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. in Room 100 at the Minnesota Judicial Center, 25 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.

I don’t have electronic copies of the Public Utilities Commission and AWA Goodhue briefs, here’s what I do have:

Coalition for Sensible Siting – Initial Brief

Goodhue Wind Truth – Amicus Brief

Coalition for Sensible Siting – Reply Brief

There’s a lot at stake here, primarily local control — whether a county can regulate a wind project.  Under the Power Plant Siting Act (PPSA), local governments are typically pre-empted from regulating utility projects, except in a few narrow cases, for example power plants and transmission where the project applicant chooses local review having met the criteria  set forth in Minn. Stat. 216E.05.  Another way local governments have a say in regulating utility infrastructure is through a legislative tax exemption under Minn. Stat. 272.02 and  Host Fee Agreement in lieu of Utility Personal Property Tax, where the legislative mandate and the Host Fee Agreement can include non-tax material terms.  Neither of these options are available to wind projects or local governments wishing to regulate wind projects.

HOWEVER, the legislature did pass this gem — note “shall” in the language:


A county may adopt by ordinance standards for LWECS that are more stringent than standards in commission rules or in the commission’s permit standards. The commission, in considering a permit application for LWECS in a county that has adopted more stringent standards, shall consider and apply those more stringent standards, unless the commission finds good cause not to apply the standards.

And this is what this appeal is about – whether the Public Utilities Commission had good cause not to apply the standards, because where they do not have good cause, they SHALL apply the county standards.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow…

Oh, Summer… part II

April 18th, 2012

Did I mention that it’s been a year since Summer’s “Gotcha Day?”  And what a year…

Our dear “hospice” NOT doggy, Summer, ate her leash in February, and back then, I predicted we’d see it in April.  It was a hemp leash, an inch wide but pretty soft, pliable, and I think that’s what’s saved her… so far.  Some of it has come through the dog, and I figured it would take a long time because the Wubba tails she ate before she ate the leash, before we knew it was SUMMER and not chewy Little Sadie, before we knew to keep things away from her, that Wubba took months to come out, and only two of three Wubba tails so far that I know of.

Here it is, April, and damned if I didn’t guess that one right!  Remember the fiercely rainy night a few days ago?  She wouldn’t go out, prissy thing that she is, so I went the other way, through the garage to get an umbrella, and by the time we got to the side door, rain had let up, and YES,  she went out.  Next day, Alan’s in the yard and notices the output — A FOOT OF LEASH — complete with two knots!  And some unidentifiable plastic to boot!


How much is still left in aforementioned dog?  Yesterday in the car at an ATC meeting, I found her happily laying on the floor chewing on a towel.  I do believe the towel was ripped in half before, hence designated a “dog towel,” but… SUMMER!!!



“Double Trouble” taken by Marie McNamara on her organic dairy farm within the AWA Goodhue project footprint.

I know, too much alphabet soup in the title… but the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued the Order denying the AWA Goodhue Avian and Bat Protection Plan week before last, and I’ve been drowning in CapX and didn’t get it posted, so…


DNR Comments on ABPP

USFWS Comments on ABPP

Revised AWA Goodhue Avian and Bat Protection Plan

The DNR and USFWS wrote blisteringly negative comments, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and AWA revised their plan, but not enough.  This was the scenario where Commerce wrote staff briefing papers for the Commission and didn’t even tell them about the agency comments, and didn’t update their “recommendation” even after the meeting had been cancelled twice for their failure to allow time for comments on the Revised Plan and failure to disclose DNR and USFWS comments and then rescheduled yet again for the PUC’s failure to provide legal notice of the meeting, an amazing series of screw-ups.  Finally, the PUC meeting was held, it lasted almost all day, and they rejected it.


PUC Order Denying AWA Goodhue’s ABPP

AWA Goodhue did NOT expect this, that was obvious.  The PUC was pretty clear that AWA had not complied, that “good enough” just wasn’t.

The Commission, too, is concerned about the extent of missing bat data because collecting a full season of data prior to construction would enable the parties and the agencies to make determinations as accurately as possible about the presence of bat species. That process has been severely compromised, and the permit condition was not met. The Commission will therefore direct AWA Goodhue to complete the acoustic bat monitoring required under the site permit and to conduct an additional season of monitoring in 2013.

And trumpeter swans!  They’re paying attention to trumpeter swans!

In August 2011, the DNR confirmed a report of trumpeter swans nesting within a two mile buffer of the Project’s footprint. AWA Goodhue stated that it will visit the nest site early in the 2012 breeding season to determine whether it is again used for nesting. AWA Goodhue also stated, however, that the Project area encompasses very little habitat potentially suitable for nesting by trumpeter swans. The DNR stated that swans are not likely to move substantially during the breeding season and that monitoring should be conducted during the breeding season, summer post fledging, and fall migration.

The Commission must ensure that the potential impacts to trumpeter swans, which were previously considered eliminated in Minnesota, are understood and addressed. The Commission concurs that future monitoring will be useful in making those determinations.

DNR’s Non-Game Wildlife – Trumpeter Swan page

Bottom line?  Here ’tis:


1. The Commission hereby denies approval of the AWA Goodhue revised avian and bat protection plan.

2. AWA Goodhue shall conduct the bat monitoring required under the site permit.

3. AWA Goodhue shall conduct an additional season of acoustic bat monitoring in 2013 from July 1 to October 15 using the methods specified in site permit condition 13.1.2.

EEOC gets slapped

April 4th, 2012


In today’s STrib:

Class-action suit alleging sexual harassment of female truckers at Iowa company backfires

When I started driving truck in 1983, few companies would hire women, and the crap we had to put up with was disturbing.  But those companies that would hire women knew the good deal they were getting and consistently hired without a hassle.  Make no mistake about it, I loved to drive, it fit my personality well, nothing is better than heading west through Wyoming on a beautiful Wednesday or Saturday morning, looking for antelope butts on the horizon, waking up, a 2 or 3 step “commute” to work, with a quart cup o’ coffee or two going down the road.  Yet I hated it at the same time, particularly on the receiving end, people who ordered the stuff but didn’t seem to want it and made it a chore to get unloaded.  It’s an addiction, and one that’s hard to break, that’s why I’m not fit to work for anyone and need road time — this “job” now is perfect that way.  On the other hand, I feel all those miles, to say I’m “high mileage” is an understatement, and my back, L rotator cuff, and hip are forever screwed up, glucosamine a necessity, movement is difficult and I’m in constant pain.  Those days had a lot to do with my going into law, and were the way I paid for a B.A. – the pay is great but try getting through college in a truck, class between trips to CA, faxing assignments in…  I don’t know what I was thinking and don’t know if I’d do it again knowing how hard it was.

You drive that thang?

I pulled into the Hammond truckstop,
tired, beat and worn
Feelin’ every bump in the 800 miles
I’d put on since dawn.
As I backed it up and I hit the brakes,
the cowboy next door yelled,
“Ohhh, baaaa-by, you drive that thang all by yourself?”

I took a quick look around the cab,
there was no one hiding there.
Just all my worldly possessions,
and me sittin’ in the chair.
He saw me pull in, he saw me back up,
and yell at the boss on the phone.
Tell me, why don’t he think I’m able
to drive this thing alone?

I’m the large car passing you by
don’t gawk, wink, or bat an eye,
‘cuz I’m a busy woman
with loads of things to do.

I’m the large car passing you by
and bubba, don’t you be surprised
I do this just as well,
and maybe even better than you!