Here we go again.  Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) and… get this… the Environmental Integrity Project, have teamed up to do a deal with Flint Hills Resources, owned by Koch Industries, our great and good fiends, the Koch Bros.

Why is Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington D.C. entity, even involved in this?

Here’s the deal — download HERE it NOW before it disappears (they took it off the page, but the link still works) — here’s the captured Agreement:


Both are bragging about it in press releases:


Here are the parts of the above agreement that are a problem — they have agreed to not object to this project, and they have agreed to SUPPORT the project — does this sound like CapX 2020 all over again?  They have also agreed not to assist others in any way, and to keep these requirements confidential!  It’s enough to make me wonder if there are, as there have been in other deals, other agreements.  Well, here are the specific parts that are so offensive and which are deemed confidential (click each piece for larger view):



The confidentiality provisions are disturbing — that they’re not to disclose the fact that they’re making their supportive comments as a material term of this agreement, and not to disclose these terms to anyone, “including but not limited to local, state or federal governing or regulatory bodies and agencies, and members of the public.”  GOOD GRIEF!


Thanks to the STrib for getting this out in the open:

Flint Hills refinery signs deal with environmental groups over expansion

The owner of the state’s largest oil refinery reached out to environmental groups and modified a planned upgrade to win their support.


The Flint Hills Resources oil refinery in Rosemount has agreed to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and curb other air pollution in a deal that removes potential obstacles to its planned $400 million upgrade of the refinery, the company said Tuesday.

Under the agreement reached with two environmental groups, Flint Hills also will contribute $1 million to a Minnesota effort called Project Green Fleet that helps owners of school buses, construction equipment and other vehicles retrofit diesel engines to make them cleaner. Flint Hills is a founding sponsor of the program, and contributed $1 million previously.

The upgrade to the 57-year-old Pine Bend refinery aims to boost its efficiency so that it operates closer to its design capacity of 320,000 barrels per day.

The project, slated to begin next year, would increase the daily construction workforce from about 500 to 1,000 for five years, and add about 100 permanent jobs, said Scott Lindemann, vice president and manufacturing manager for the refinery.

But Flint Hills’ plans faced potential opposition from environmental groups, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), a nonprofit environmental law organization based in St. Paul that often intervenes in regulatory matters. That’s because Flint Hills, the state’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, needs state regulatory approval to modify its air quality permit to release additional emissions, including those linked to climate change.

Lindemann said the company reached out to the MCEA and the Environmental Integrity Project based in Washington to hear their views on the company’s plan to install energy-efficient technology that also offers some emissions benefits.

“That conversation confirmed we were heading in the right direction,” Lindemann said in an interview.

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There are meetings happening this week and next on the Great Northern Transmission Line, stretching from Manitoba south easterly toward Duluth.

Meeting schedule (or CLICK HERE):


Where is this project at?  It’s just at the beginning.  To see what’s in the PUC’s docket thus far, go HERE and search for docket number 12-1163.  The Notice Plan and Exemptions from filing requirements have been approved by the Commission, so the Application is probably going to be filed any day now.

What is Minnesota Power saying about the Great Northern Transmission Project?  That’s their site, highlighted, and here’s handouts from prior meetings:

MN-GNTL Handout

Think we need it?  Think we don’t?  I need to do some digging this week, and I’ll post what I find.  But to be clear, I’ve never seen a transmission that was wanted for the reasons they say it’s needed.

Here’s the Certificate of Need process, roughly, and ignore the comments typed in about when Notice Plan comments are due, that’s history.  Remember that to have a seat at the table and the opportunity to influence what happens, it’s time to INTERVENE!!!

PUC Process-Edited



IGCC, FutureGen and Obama

April 15th, 2013


I am so tired of the wing-nut hype against Obama for his “war against coal.”  Obama is promoting coal — he earned his label as a bigger coal toady than Bush when he revived the FutureGen IGCC project which Bush had the sense to drop (one of his few positive acts, well, on the other hand, maybe that was a passive languishing).  As if Obama’s transmission Rapid Response Team and “fast tracking” seven transmission projects and appointing former ATC attorney Loren Azar to push transmission that facilitates transmission for coal wasn’t enough…  WAR ON COAL?  Give me a break… Why don’t they talk about his promotion of coal gasification?  His taking money from coal interests (he is, after all, from Illinois, a coal state).

Just out, a report from the Congressional Research Service about FutureGen, the coal gasification plant that, no matter how they try, they just can’t get built.


From the report, first, a most understated explanation of the impossibilities facing this demonstration plant — that no investor would sink money into IGCC, that PPAs are outrageously cost prohibitive, and 90% capture, while difficult, means nothing if it’s not stored somewhere which is logically and physically impossible at the magnitude of coal plant production:

Congressional interest in CCS technology centers on balancing the competing national interests of fostering  low-cost, domestic sources of energy like coal against mitigating the effects of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. FutureGen would address these interests by demonstrating CCS technology. Among the challenges to the development of FutureGen 2.0 are rising costs of production, ongoing issues with project development, lack of incentives for investment from the private sector, time constraints, and competition with foreign nations. Remaining challenges to FutureGen’s development include securing private sector funding to meet increasing costs, purchasing the power plant for the project, obtaining permission from DOE to retrofit the plant, performing the retrofit, and then meeting the goal of 90% capture of CO2.
Multiple analyses indicate that there will be retirements of coal-fired capacity; however, virtually all analyses agree that coal will continue to play a substantial role in electricity generation for decades.
The money that has been wasted on this project, and other IGCC projects, when there are so many workable, constructable energy projects clamoring to be built, it’s insane, but this promotion belies their agenda of “finding a way forward for coal.”
Jackie Cherryholmes, stolen Fair Use from MPR

Oh my, Jackie Cherryholmes, running for Mayor of Minneapolis, went and did a “Dennis Egan.”


There’s nothing better than when an industry hired gun goes and blows it, when given a choice to do the right thing they just can’t manage to do it, showing their lack of ethics and character for all the world to see.

What do we see?  That Jackie Cherryholmes was a registered lobbyist for Covanta, the evil promoter and operator of the HERC garbage burner that is now trying to get their garbage burning capacity increased, asking to burn more garbage and spread toxic emissions over Minneapolis.  A big thanks to the STrib for getting this out into the open.

From the Campaign Finance Board:

Jackie Cherryholmes lobbying registration

Covanta spent $80,000 lobbying in 2012, 2011 and 2010, and $40,000 in 2009.

On February 16, 2013, Cherryholmes announced she was running for Mayor of Minneapolis.

On March 1, 2013, she terminated as lobbyist for Covanta on Leg/Metro issues.  She’d registered as Covanta lobbyist on February 15, 2011, just over two years prior.

Cherryholmes also terminated as lobbyist for M.A. Mortenson that same day.  What about entities such as Minneapolis Refuse?  Others?  Do others have interests before the City of Minneapolis?

In the STrib today:

Cherryhomes omits a detail in support for burning more trash

Posted by: Maya Rao under Politics and government Updated: April 8, 2013 – 6:55 PM

After several Minneapolis mayoral candidates at last Wednesday’s debate criticized a proposal to burn more garbage at the Hennepin County incinerator, Jackie Cherryhomes stepped in with a different view.

“I support the plan,” she said, adding that the county has increased its recycling. “The fact of the matter is, everybody knows you’ve got stuff that you can’t get rid of, and it’s got to go somewhere.”

There was just one detail Cherryhomes left out: until a month ago, she was a registered lobbyist for Covanta Energy, the company that runs the incinerator.

“I didn’t feel that it was necessary to mention it in that context,” she said, when questioned later about the omission.

After leaving office as City Council president at the end of 2001, Cherryhomes transformed her deep knowledge of municipal government and Minneapolis into a business lobbying and consulting for companies and nonprofits. She ended her registration as a lobbyist for Covanta on March 1, after two years, and has said she will not lobby City Hall during the campaign.

Since 2009, New Jersey-based Covanta and Hennepin County have tried to win approval from the city to allow the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center to operate at full capacity. The facility currently operates at 90 percent and burns enough garbage to supply electricity for 25,000 homes a year. Some Minneapolis officials are concerned the plan would worsen air pollution.

Asked if her lobbying work had involved the incinerator, Cherryhomes said, “My job with Covanta has been more involved around the issue of community organizing and connecting them to the community… I wouldn’t say it had anything to do with the incinerator. I was organizing so they had a better corporate community presence, connecting them to some churches, connecting them to Insight newspaper, connecting them to community people.”

She said she had never lobbied City Council in connection with Covanta.

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You seem to think you’re Dog’s gift to this earth…

Two things appeared in the inbox at about the same time, the first an announcement of McKnight Foundation and Energy Foundation grants in the Midwest, and from Truthout, a review and interview of Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.

First, the massive foundation to “environmental” organizations:

McKnight fights climate change with $25 million in grants

The two-year grants of $20 million to Energy Foundation and $5 million to RE-AMP, a network of nonprofits, extend existing funding partnerships and the philanthropy’s $100 million commitment, announced in 2008, to blunt climate change. The two groups will focus on developing policies and public education to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.

And on to Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.  GO HERE TO ORDER.

Power Shift Away From Green Illusions

Mainstream environmental groups are exchanging their principles for power at a suspect rate of exchange. It’s not just the alternative energy technologies that rely on fossil fuels. The environmental groups do, too. They rely on funding from the excess wealth accumulated as froth on the top of the fossil fuel economy. But it’s not just money. There are other influences too.

That pretty much sums up what I’ve seen over the last 20 years…

There is an impression that we have a choice between fossil fuels and clean energy technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines. That choice is an illusion. Alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels through every stage of their life. Alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels for mining operations, fabrication plants, installation, ongoing maintenance and decommissioning. Also, due to the irregular output of wind and solar, these technologies require fossil fuel plants to be running alongside them at all times. Most significantly, alternative energy financing relies on the kind of growth that fossil fuels drive.

…the binary aspect, and looking for a simple “flick the switch” solution when it’s oh-so-complicated.