September2013_MeetingsClick for a larger view!

Notices were sent of “open house” meetings for the Not-So-Great Northern Transmission Line but guess who didn’t get one!  And I’ve spent some time looking at their site, and I can’t find a meeting schedule anywhere.  But thanks to two little birdies, we’re in luck!




I know, what people care about is the map, but it’s hard to see the map, and that’s all we’ve got.


The application has not yet been filed, but it’s working its way toward the Public Utilities Commission.  There’s a docket, so you can check to see what all has been filed.  Go HERE TO SEARCH DOCKETS and then search for docket number 12-1163.

Now is the time to get involved, at the Certificate of Need stage, because NOW is when they determine “IF” a line is needed, and if it’s deemed “needed,” then it WILL go somewhere and it’s a very difficult struggle.  The Certificate of Need stage is a bit more esoteric but it’s where the action is, and in this line in particular, they don’t have much to show as a “need.”  It’s a want (as are most, if not all, transmission lines).

Meetings are the second and third week in September.  Check out one near you and come on down for coffee and treats to settle your stomach while they explain their plans.





Now things are making more sense.  A Bloomberg article, via the STrib, written by a Greiling, puts it all together.  When the rail cars blew up and took out the heart of Lac-Megantic, I couldn’t understand how crude oil had exploded so horrifically.  It turns out that the contents of the cars being shipped out of Bakken had been under investigation for at least three months prior to that explosion, and as the article below notes, “Most grades of crude would not be that volatile.”  DOH!

The investigation began in March, and the explosion was July 6, 2013.  Thus far, the railroad crew has been blamed for not properly setting the brakes, but it seems there’s more to the story.  There have been murmurs of whether the brakes that had been repaired previously had been repaired properly or if they were overheated and triggered the explosion.  But if what was inside the car wasn’t crude, and was more volatile, it’s an entirely different animal.

Let’s see the FOIA responses to questions about what triggered the investigation!

This is an issue for us both here and there, Red Wing and Port Penn, Delaware.  These Bakken cars go through Red Wing, the heart of Red Wing, as they did in Lac-Megantic — that’s the rail station right smack dab in the middle.  If things went BOOM! in the night, there goes Red Wing Shoe, the St. James Hotel, the ADM oil plant, downtown Red Wing good bye!

Rail in Red Wing MN

And on to Delaware… in Delaware City, just up the road from Port Penn, it’s same thing.  The refinery there was reopened, thanks to Gov. Jack Markell, the brown governor, and Bakken rail cars are sitting around and going through to the Delaware City refinery.  They built a big spur near Hwy. 1 for staging the cars (so new it’s on the map but not on google earth!) and are taking in Bakken oil, even adding a new unloading facility.

PBF Energy Completes Delaware City Rail Terminal for Bakken Oil


The oil going to Delaware City is loaded at the same “New Town” Bakken oil loading facility that’s under investigation and where inspections are being conducted, the same one where the Lac-Megantic cars were loaded. They stage the cars off to the west of the refinery, it looks like a horse track, and then they run the cars through the middle of the refinery, in the middle of this map, and way to the eastern end:

Delaware City, DE - Map

Delaware City, DE - Google Maps.pdf

It seems to me that Delaware City has more security/terrorist issues that just the three nuclear reactors across the river in Salem.  And it seems that the risks of pollution and harm to the people nearby is heightened beyond the already horribly polluted air and water due to this hornets’ nest of industry.  They’re already having to bring water in for people.  What are they thinking to reopen this refinery?

U.S. rail safety regulators began a “Bakken blitz” of inspections of crude oil tank cars this week as they seek to prevent a railroad disaster in the United States similar to July’s fatal inferno in Quebec.

Inspectors from the Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are examining rail cars moving crude from North Dakota’s Bakken region, Cynthia Quarterman, PHMSA administrator, told reporters Thursday during a break in a Washington meeting to discuss U.S. rail safety risks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movin’ from Montana soon…

August 29th, 2013


For those of you interested in filing a complaint against Judge G. Todd Baugh in Montana, here’s the Complaint form and the Judicial Standards and Judicial Ethics (those rules are important because you need to cite the ones he violated):

Complaint Form for Judicial Standards Commission

Rules of Judicial Standards Commission

Canons of Judicial Ethics

If these links don’t work, here’s the link to their JUDICIAL COMPLAINT PAGE.

This guy is so off the wall that I hope thousands file solid well written complaints that they’ll have to deal with.

Montana judge apologizes for comments in teen rape case, protesters call for his resignation

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana judge on Wednesday stood by his decision to send a former teacher to prison for 30 days for raping a 14-year-old girl who later killed herself, but said he “deserved to be chastised” for his comments about the young victim.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold to 15 years, then suspended all but 31 days and gave him credit for one day already served.

In handing down the sentence Monday, Baugh said the teenage victim was “older than her chronological age” and had as much control of the situation as the teacher who raped her.

Faced with a backlash over the comments and calls for his resignation, Baugh, 71, wrote an apology in a letter to the editor of The Billings Gazette. He said his comments were demeaning of all women and not reflective of his beliefs.

Later Wednesday, the judge spoke to reporters in his office. He said he was “fumbling around” in court trying to explain his sentence and “made some really stupid remarks.”

“I don’t know how to pass that off. I’m saying I’m sorry and it’s not who I am,” Baugh said. “I deserve to be chastised. I apologize for that.”

However, Rambold’s sentence was appropriate, he said.

Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after authorities alleged he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, starting the previous year when she was 14. Moralez killed herself in 2010 at age 16 while the case was pending, and the girl’s mother, Auleia Hanlon, said her daughter’s relationship with Rambold was a “major factor.”

Hanlon said in a statement to the Gazette that she no longer believes in justice after Baugh’s sentence and remarks about her daughter.

“She wasn’t even old enough to get a driver’s license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age,” Hanlon said. “I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14.”

Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

Yellowstone County officials previously agreed to defer Rambold’s prosecution for three years and dismiss the charges if he completed a sexual offender treatment program. The case was revived in December after prosecutors learned Rambold, 54, was kicked out of the program for having unsupervised visits with minors who were family members and not telling counselors he was having a sexual relationship with a woman.

Defense attorney Jay Lansing said Rambold has continued his treatment with a different program and an evaluation found him at low risk to re-offend. Prosecutors had recommended a 10-year prison term.

“My thought was, given the relatively minor violations in the sex offender treatment program, it didn’t seem appropriate to put him in jail, put him in prison” for a longer time, Baugh said. “It didn’t seem to me that the violations were such that the state should be able to back out of their agreement.”

A protest scheduled for Thursday outside Yellowstone County Courthouse will go on despite Baugh’s apology, said organizer Sheena Rice.

“I’m glad he apologized, but he should have known better as a judge,” Rice said. “The fact that he said it makes me think he still believes it.”

A petition will be circulated at the protest calling for Baugh’s resignation. An online version of the petition had more than 17,500 signatures by late Wednesday afternoon.

If the petition and protest aren’t enough to force Baugh’s resignation, protesters will shift to defeating him in the 2014 election, Rice said.

Baugh was first elected to the bench in 1984 and has been re-elected every six years since then without an opponent.

He said he has no plans to resign and he has not decided whether to run again in 2014.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito previously said he disagreed with the judge’s ruling but would not appeal it.

“The judge’s reasons are his reasons and his reasons alone. He has broad authority under state law,” Twito said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he told the Gazette his office was reviewing the sentence to make sure it conforms to the facts of the case and the law.

Twito also said he has consulted with the appellate division of the Attorney General’s Office about the case.


Yesterday was the quarterly meeting of Minnesota’s Mississippi River Parkway Commission.  Attorney Bill Mavity, accompanied by several others from Wisconsin, presented on frac sand mining and impacts on the Great River Road.  He authored and promoted the Pepin County ordinance:

Pepin County Ordinance

He brought up the economic report that they’d completed in association with the Ordinance:

The Potential Impacts of Frac Sand Transport and Mining on Tourism and Property Values in Lake Pepin Communities – 14 May 2013

He noted that the Ordinance is economic regulation, and if challenged, this report essential because it provides the rational basis necessary to support the Ordinance.  This points to the necessity of having an economic analysis for this type of ordinance, without it, or some other substantive support, it is much weaker and susceptible to challenge.

The Minnesota MRPC is sensitive to the impacts of frac sand mining on the Great River Road and the Mississippi, and has agreed to pull together a Resolution similar to that of the Wisconsin MRCP, which they’ll discuss at their November meeting.  They also will be considering a silica sand presentation at the annual convention.

I gave a short update on the completion of permitting for CapX 2020 transmission, what with this week’s Supreme Court denial of Oronoco Township’s Petition for Review.  MRPC submitted comments for a number of the CapX 2020 dockets — CapX 2020 transmission will have a significant impact on the Great River Road.  Any day now they’ll start the 345kV part of the Hampton-La Crosse route which crosses the Mississippi River at Alma.  Staff also got the scoop from me about agencies’ silica sand mining agenda including Standards and Criteria (which includes bluff and road impacts).

This was a very effective presentation by Mavity.  It’s unfortunate that no one else from frac sand mining land showed up!


Progress in my own backyard

August 22nd, 2013

It’s taken all summer thus far, but LOOK!  The male has been hanging around some for a month or so, and now the female is here!  So maybe the babies will show up soon!