September 24th, 2015
The 20 mph flashing sign hasn’t been very effective, so we’ve had this serious traffic calming regimen coming up the hill, and yes, people ARE slowing down! Well, it’s either that or break an axle. So they do, and wind around doing the serpentine, one yahoo ran over a barrel and left a big chunk of bumper in the street, DOH! How do you not see an orange barrel with reflective stripes?!?!
Today they’re filling them in, blocking off one lane of road, ratcheting it up to a “traffic stopping regimen” which is great. But when College Ave. is closed for utility tree cutting, and the intersection of Putnam and Pine is tore up to fix the huge cavern under the side walk and equipment lined up along Pine, it’s kinda hard to get from here to there today!
Will the fix the bank over the Great West Wall?
September 23rd, 2015
In routing permitting using “Alternate Review” and in wind siting permitting under Minn. Stat. Chapter 216F, exempted from environmental review, the environmental review is inadequate. An Environmental Impact Statement is necessary! DOH!
Looking at Minnesota’s draft Rules for Transmission/Utility Infrastructure siting and routing, it’s clear that the recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision remanding the Sandpiper pipeline case to the Public Utilities Commission has implications beyond Certificate of Need.
The Court’s bottom line was:
This was based on its holding that a Certificate of Need decision by the Public Utilities Commission was a “major governmental action.”
Because the decision to grant a certificate of need for a large oil pipeline constitutes a major governmental action that has the potential to cause significant environmental effects, we conclude that MEPA requires an environmental impact statement to be completed before a final decision is made to grant or deny a certificate of need.
Just as a Certificate of Need is a major governmental decision, a Siting Permit or a Routing Permit is a major governmental decision. The Minnesota statute and rules provide for “Alternate Review” for siting and routing:
And in this statute, there’s a subdivision authorizing an “environmental assessment.”
For the projects identified in subdivision 2 and following these procedures, the commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall prepare for the commission an environmental assessment. The environmental assessment shall contain information on the human and environmental impacts of the proposed project and other sites or routes identified by the commission and shall address mitigating measures for all of the sites or routes considered. The environmental assessment shall be the only state environmental review document required to be prepared on the project.
Throughout this rulemaking, a number of us participating have been stressing that this “environmental assessment” does not comply with MEPA. Under the logic of the “Sandpiper” decision – OPa150016-091415, the Court would agree.
Yet here are the draft rules for Siting and Routing — search for “environmental assessment” in the draft:
And Certificate of Need draft rules:
And regarding wind permits, also a major governmental decision, these are statutorily exempted from environmental review by exempting it from PPSA – Minn. Stat. 216E.03, Subd. 5 “Environmental Review.”
(a) The requirements of chapter 216E do not apply to the siting of LWECS, except for sections 216E.01; 216E.03, subdivision 7; 216E.08; 216E.11; 216E.12; 216E.14; 216E.15; 216E.17; and 216E.18, subdivision 3, which do apply.
Wind siting permits are exempt from environmental review? Public Utilities Commission issuance of wind project siting permits is a major governmental action. Nope, not compliant with MEPA.
September 22nd, 2015
Photo – Gretchen Hoffman, Capitol Chat
John Howe has announced he’s running for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. It’s all over the web. I’d wager a fair amount that John Howe would win the election. The good news is that Drazkowski will not run, Dog help us if he did (though it would get him out of the MN House!). What I know about Howe is that as Mayor of Red Wing, and as our area state Senator, he stood up to Xcel Energy on its Prairie Island uprate and worked to get the full story out, and Xcel Energy did ask that the Certificate of Need be revoked/withdrawn after it was clear that there was no need for the uprate. Howe also returns phone calls, and he’ll stop for a chat at the Farmers Market.
He was working for a bipartisan legislative environmental lobbying/caucus org of some sort, so I hope that he’ll continue with that mindset. But given the MPR blurb below of Howe’s early campaign stop at a Red Wing Tea Party meeting, that gives me the willies, and I do hope he’s not taking that party line. He also says he’ll put in $500k of his own money toward the campaign. If he’s got that kind of money to throw around, and buys in to the “pay to play” notion, that’s a concern. He’s been a moderate, sane voice, and if he continues on in that vein, he’ll win. If not, if he goes off like Republican Presidential candidates these days, well, he’ll have trouble in this swing district.
We shall see…
Here’s the MPR article:
And on Hubbard’s KSTP:
How’s this for an awkward headline from the Red Wing Republican bEagle:
Winona Daily News:
In the STrib and STrib blog:
In the StPPP and StPPP blog:
I think that last headline pretty much sums it up for CD2!
September 21st, 2015
WHAT!?!?! Yes… Really… after the delightful decision from the Appellate Court requiring an Environmental Impact Statement, telling the Public Utilities Commission that an EIS must be completed before a Certificate of Need can be issue, the Applicants dropped Petition. Read this whale-eye inducing filing from North Dakota Pipeline Company, LLC (a/k/a Enbridge) hot off the press:
Here’s the short version:
Once more with feeling, here’s the Appellate Court’s decision:
And the bottom line:
So from this order of the Appellate Court “to complete an EIS” the Applicant now asks for the “need” docket and “routing” docket to be brought back together and to use the “Comparative Environmental Analysis” that the Appellate Court says isn’t sufficient. Yes, that what they’re saying:
What planet is North Dakota Pipeline Company living on? Earth to Mars!!!!! A “CEA” is not sufficient. MEPA requires an EIS. The court told the Public Utilities Commission to complete an EIS. The Court did NOT say to go ahead with a “CEA.”
September 21st, 2015
It’s fall, the sun is rising on the other side of the house and bluff now, and I’m not ready! Getting out to enjoy fall as much as possible, and then Little Sadie and I are heading to St. Louis soon for BaronFest III (didn’t have one last year). Maybe down to Arkansas to catch fall later! This is the first BaronFest where I don’t have a German Shepherd, and I’m not sure how Little Sadie will fare.
It’s hard to feel motivated to work with all this transmission going up here in Minnesota. Earlier in the summer, we went down through Wabasha, and south of Wabasha where CapX Hampton – La Crosse cuts across the Mississippi River to Alma, through La Crosse and checked out the Briggs Road substation, host to CapX and Badger Coulee transmission, to Cassville and Dubuque and back up further west, a tour of electric infrastructure.
Don’t they have enough? If they’re shutting down this coal plant, why would they need transmission? How about using that capacity… oh, right, they get that 12.38% or thereabouts for building transmission, that’s their primary revenue source these days!
Time for a break…
Until then, I can vicariously enjoy my SiL’s trek along El Camino, and transmission lines too, in Spain. Go, Jeanne, go!!!