Good news from the MPCA?

July 29th, 2014

MPCA Web logo

Credit where credit is due!  MPCA, keep at it!  You all know I love to slap up the MPCA, well, any agency, when they’re missing the boat.  Well, I also am a big believer in letting them know when they’re doing something right, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re seeing the beginning of something important!

For most of this year, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been holding meetings about Environmental Justice, and it looks to me like the MPCA is working to shift active identification and recognition of environmental justice issues and impacted parties/resources to the agency.  Agency initiative.   Can this be?

Yesterday’s agenda (and GREAT food!):

28 July Agenda Final_MPCA

Check out the MPCA Environmental Justice Page!

I’m a grizzled old fart, and have been around agencies for entirely too long, but what is apparent is that this agency is taking the initiative to address environmental justice issues, and to be proactive, not just reactive.  And it’s not just me, there are a few other grizzled old farts who are encouraged, excited, and looking forward to progress.  It feels like something may be happening.

What I’ve also noticed is that the “usual suspect” organizations are absent.  There’s a big long list on the MPCA Environmental Justice Page and with one exception, they’re no shows.  Karen Monahan, Sierra Club, has done a lot to get this moving.  Is it that these other groups don’t care?  Is it a coincidence that things are happening in their absence?

The “Framework Elements” are:

  • Core Regulatory Services (Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement, etc.)
  • EJ Area Analysis
  • Enhanced Ouutreach
  • Consideration of Cumulative Impacts
  • Stakeholder Engagement

Hey, MPCA — can you post the handouts from yesterday and contact info and meeting notices?

If you are interested in what they’re doing, contact Ned Brooks, the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Coordinator:




It’s that time again — Thursday, July 24, is the next meeting of the Silica Sand Rulemaking Advisory Committee.  It will be held at the People’s Energy Cooperative, in Oronoco, and run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Will there be draft rules trotted out for review on Thursday?  $50 says they won’t have draft rules for review this time either… and folks, I do NOT want to win that bet.  But this is a repeated problem. What I’m seeing is that if they are going to put the draft rules before the EQB in September, this is the last chance to receive a draft, take it to constituents, and bring back comments and concerns to the Committee in August!  Now … the last chance…

Those who are “representing” us:

How about standing up and demanding full process and disclosure of draft rules?  And how about reporting back on what’s going on, and more importantly, what’s NOT going on?   You also need to forward the draft rules and other information to all of your “constituents” who you’re representing and solicit for comments to take back to the Rulemaking group.  The communities at stake here should be aware of the utter lack of progress and lack of draft rule disclosure and should be storming the agencies and Governor’s office!  Informing us is a big part of the job of being a “representative” on this committee.  (Listening to the June meeting, Charlie is delivering a message about the importance of keeping alternates informed and of alternates to keep themselves up to speed… that goes for letting the rest of us know what’s happening too!)

I’m also curious about Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s role, and why MCEA is the only NGO represented — what’s up with that?

In the recorded WebEx for June 24 there are some great comments from members on cumulative impacts and density of projects, threshold of acres of farmland lost.  Also consideration of the AUAR process applicable to silica sand mining permits, and baseline info about silica sand mining footprint.  And DOH, the need for the SONAR to be able to address rules, and a need for holistic review and a mine inventory.  Check it out.

Here’s the July 24 agenda — do you see any mention here of the September plan to present rules to EQB?


The statutory purpose of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee is to comment on DRAFT rules PRIOR to release by the agency for comment.  This is where input is most important, because once the draft rules are released for comment, the agency may not approve rules that are substantially different!  Comments after release won’t have a heck of a lot of influence, that’s how the rulemaking process works (or doesn’t work).  So meanwhile, what’s happening here is that not enough is happening, that the agencies here are sandbagging the rulemaking process.  Listen to the WebEx recordings, it’s worthwhile to get the flavor of these meetings.

Yes, it’s true, I’ve not gone to these meetings.  Why?  Because odds are it would be like the last time I went to a meeting where Charlie Peterson was “facilitating” and lots of questions were dodged, answers were not provided and those that were only covered 1/2 the issue, narrowing the discussion rather than broadening it as should be done for scoping, and crucial information was being withheld in a transmission scoping Advisory Task Force group.  The historical scoop:  I’m asking you to leave…

Here’s what the Rulemaking Advisory Committee has done thus far, from the Silica Sand page:

Past meetings

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

January 2014

The panel first met on January 29.

Again, here is the statute:

Once more with feeling:



To the representatives on the Rulemaking Advisory Panel, please represent your constituents and let us all know what’s going on, get the draft Rules, and get them to your constituents — US — for review and comment!




Guess they should try “open carry” of fishing poles!  See what they do then?!?!

“Rueful city officials have slapped a ban on some political speech…” what IS and IS NOT banned?  Who is deciding?  What are the guidelines?

Seems Delaware City had decided to give the 1st Amendment a good swift kick and quash free speech at Delaware City Days.  WHAT?  What could possibly be such a problem with people saying, “PFB REFINERY: STOP KILLING OUR FISH!”

Controversy overshadows Delaware City Day

Jeff Montgomery, The News Journal

Rueful city officials have slapped a ban on some political speech at Saturday’s 34th annual Delaware City Day, claiming protesters hijacked the city’s parade, skies and a few activities last year to target PBF Energy’s nearby refinery.

The ban – enforced through requiring a review before the event of brochures and parade floats – drew accusations of a free speech foul from Delaware Audubon, and a charge that the city was fishing for the refinery’s favor. Audubon now plans a floating protest Saturday afternoon in waters just off the community’s Battery Park.

“It’s a family event,” said City Manager Richard C. Cathcart, a former state lawmaker. “They’re the ones who created the problem last year. In the parade, they were coming down with pictures of the governor in a hangman’s noose.”

The Green Party of Delaware’s parade entry last year included a banner with a likeness of Gov. Jack Markell as a pirate with eye-patch and parrot, alongside the words “Toxic Jack Markell.” A chartered plane also circled the area briefly last year, towing a banner calling on the refinery to “Stop Killing Our Fish,” a reference to fish losses to the plant’s outdated cooling water intake.

Dave Carter, conservation chair for Delaware Audubon, said the city’s effort amounts to an attack on a civil liberty and is inconsistent with the public intent of a $33,000 grant-in-aid that lawmakers approved for the Delaware City Day Committee last month.

“It’s clearly intended to limit and chill free speech at this publicly funded event,” said Carter, who plans to use his own watercraft, possibly with one or more fish-suited crew members, to display a sign objecting to the refinery’s large daily withdrawals from the Delaware River for plant cooling needs.

PBF’s water intake and discharge permit is up for renewal, with environmental groups pressing the state to require investments in towers that would reduce fish loss.

“Is this the appropriate way to use grants-in-aid at a time when people are suffering and people have real needs?” Carter asked, adding he believed the city was protecting aid that the community receives from the refinery.

Carter shared an email exchange in which Cathcart said state aid and sponsorship from the refinery “had absolutely nothing to do with our vendor and parade policy.”

“If you want to protest, go up to the refinery. Don’t come to our battery park, where there are kids and family members going to enjoy themselves,” Cathcart said.

The Sierra Club Delaware chapter, also critical of the refinery, plans to have a table at Delaware City, as it did last year.

As many as 6,000 people are expected at daytime activities in the city, with a nighttime fireworks show expected to draw 6,000. Cathcart said the city’s streets will be closed at 4 p.m. and visitors directed to remote parking and shuttle buses for evening activities.

Delaware City’s fire company manages the parking, with a $5 per car fee supporting cadet programs.

Contact Jeff Montgomery at (302) 463-3344 or



Only six dogs on this dog transport, last time we had 12!  Tomorrow we meet a mom Bridget, her three “chipmunk” pups Alvin, Theodore and Simon; chi/feist mix Perez; and Nora.  Nora’s a wiggle-butt “lab mix” (bottom photo) and she’ll probably be the lap dog this trip.