After this election, there are so many things to be concerned about, so many reasons to be utterly horrified… a Muslim database, Trump’s fraud trial to begin November 28th, promise of mass deportations, sharp increase in hate crimes, assaults and threats on the street and in the schools (and online, oh my!).  Trump’s “100 Days” plan was out in October, and has many points, full of words to decode, including a ‘clean coal’ reference, showing he’s clueless, just clueless:

Trump’s Contract with the American voter — the First 100 Days

In the 2nd and 3rd debate, Trump used those two words that have deep meaning to me, “clean coal,” because of Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project here in Minnesota, and because of the NRG proposed IGCC plant in Delaware, both of which were defeated after a long protracted fight.  There is no such thing as ‘clean coal.”


Coal gasification is one thing that my coal-plant designing Mechanical Engineer father and I had some bonding moments over, going over EPRI coal gasification reports from the 80s and the Mesaba application…  And I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside my father’s boss’s son, who is also an engineer, formerly with NSP/Xcel, who knew what a bad idea coal gasification is.  Oh yeah, we who fought these projects have learned a lot about coal gasification, “carbon capture and storage,” and will not go there again (see Legalectric and CAMP – Citizens Against the Mesaba Project sites for more info).  We know it doesn’t work.  And experience with the few projects that did go forward, what a mess, cost overruns beyond the wildest SWAG estimate, inability to get the plant running…  Trump, don’t even think about it:

IGCC – Pipedreams of Green & Clean

IGCC, coal gasification, is nothing new.  And despite its long history, it’s a history of failure, failure to live up to promises, failure to operate as a workable technology, and failure to produce electricity at a marketable cost, failure to produce electricity at all!  On top of that, it’s often touted as being available with “CO2 capture and storage” which it is not.  That’s a flat out lie.  Check this old Legalectric post:

More on Carbon Capture Pipedream

A key to this promotion is massive subsidies from state and federal sources, and selection of locations desperate for economic jump-start, so desperate that they’ll bite on a project this absurd, places like Minnesota’s Iron Range, or southern Indiana, or Mississippi.  The financing scam was put together at Harvard, and this blueprint has been used for all of these IGCC projects:

Harvard I – 3 Party Covenant

That, coupled with massive payments to “environmental” organizations to promote coal gasification, and they were off to the races.

Joyce Foundation PROMOTES coal gasification

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation & IGCC – WHY???

VP-elect Mike Pence should know all about coal gasification, he’s from Indiana.  Indiana is coal generation central, and has had a couple of IGCC projects planned, construction started, and built.  Indiana’s Wabash Valley plant is a perfect example, a small IGCC plant that was built, and after it was “completed,” took 22 on-site engineers to keep it running, now and then, at a greatly reduced capacity.

Wabash River Final Technical Report (it was “routinely” in violation of its water permit for selenium, cyanide and arsenic)

When they tried to sell the Wabash Valley plant recently, of course no one wanted it:

Wabash Valley coal gasification plant closing!

And another Indiana plant, with huge cost overruns that never started operating:

Rockport coal gasification plant dies – Indianapolis Star

Coal News: $2.8B coal gasification plant in Indiana canceled

And then there’s Edwardsport IGCC plant, also in Indiana, what a disaster:

Edwardsport plant not at promised capacity

Settlement won’t be the last word on controversial Indiana coal plant

Duke Energy Edwardsport Plant Settlement Expanded

The original settlement in September was a response to the plant’s rising operating costs while failing to meet performance expectations.

In the new agreement, Duke Energy agrees not to charge customers for $87.5 million of the operating costs of the Edwardsport plant, $2.5 million more than the original agreement.

And note that problems with Edwardsport tie in to similar problems with the Kemper IGCC plant in Mississippi:

Indiana ‘cease fire’ could provide a model for Mississippi regulators

Yes, in Mississippi, the Kemper IGCC plant is proving to be a problem, and yes, folks, note the Obama promotion of IGCC — after all, Obama is from Illinois, a coal state, and had lots of support from coal lobbyists.  Check this detailed NY Times article:

Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model “Clean Coal’ project: Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay.

The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational.

The plant and its owner, Southern Company, are the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and ratepayers, alleging fraud, are suing the company. Members of Congress have described the project as more boondoggle than boon. The mismanagement is particularly egregious, they say, given the urgent need to rein in the largest source of dangerous emissions around the world: coal plants.

Trump, just don’t.

Train derailment in Ellendale, MN

November 11th, 2016


Early today, another train derailment, this time near Ellendale, Minnesota.  The town has been ordered evacuated, school is closed (can’t get to it!), but that evacuation order has been revised, and now there’s a declared 400 foot “hot zone” and others can come back home.

It’s a train with multiple types of cars and freight, but one tanker is visibly leaking.  HazMat crews are on the scene, it’s a propane plume, you can see the release in photos.  They’re going to just let it go, and it should be expelled soon.

Reports vary, but some news outlets are saying “several” and “four car” derailment, and yet photos clearly show at least 11 cars off the tracks.

trainderailmentellendate_ryanandersonapPhoto by Ryan Anderson, AP

photocityofellendalefbpageCity of Ellendale FB page


KSTP: Ellendale Residents Allowed to Return Home After Train Derailment

At a midday news conference, Thiele said the gas cloud from a rail car with a cut in it had decreased, reducing the danger. A “hot zone” of 400 feet around that car will be maintained, he added. There’s no threat to the public outside of the “hot zone.”

MPR: All Clear in Ellendale after train derailment

Details took a while this morning, but here’s a good STrib article:

Train derailment prompts evacuation of Ellendale in southern Minnesota



This is an example of why it’s important to stand up!  This is also an example of regulation, how the process works, and why we need it.  But for regulation, they’d have rammed the Sandpiper pipeline through even though it’s not needed, and would have rammed through the Clearbrook-Clearbrook West 115 kV Transmission Project through as well.

But regulation worked.  The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Order that the Clearbrook-Clearbrook West 115 kV transmission line be withdrawn has been served as of a few minutes ago.  This was a transmission line with the sole purpose of serving a pumping station/tank farm for the Sandpiper pipeline.  Sandpiper pipeline was withdrawn, ergo, transmission line application should be withdrawn as well.  We got the request/demand in right after the Sandpiper withdrawal, and the applicants did indeed request withdrawal.

PUC Order_Withdrawal_201611-126419-01


Trump’s Contract on America

November 9th, 2016


Contract on America (1994), been there, done that, but here we go again.  Trump’s announced another:

Trump’s Contract with the American voter — the First 100 Days

Here’s what he says he’ll do:

Six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest

collusion in Washington, DC:

FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to
impose term limits on all members of Congress.
SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees
to reduce the federal workforce through attrition
(exempting military, public safety, and public health).
THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.
FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and
Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they
leave government service.
FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising
money for American elections.

Seven actions to protect American workers:

FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate
NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.

SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the
Trans-Pacific Partnership.

THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.

FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of
Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to
identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly
impact American workers and direct them to
use every tool under American and international
law to end those abuses immediately.

FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the
production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of
job-producing American energy reserves,
including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.


Five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.

SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.

FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”

Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act
An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with two children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from seven to three, and tax forms will likewise be greatly
simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35%
to 15%, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10% rate.

End the Offshoring Act
Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

American Energy and Infrastructure Act
Leverages public-private partnerships, and private
investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in
infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.

School Choice and Education Opportunity Act
Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends Common Core and brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes two- and four year
college more affordable.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act
Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want
to speed the approval of life-saving medications.

Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act
Allows Americans to deduct childcare and eldercare
from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services and creates tax-free dependent care savings accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

End Illegal Immigration Act
Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern
border with the full understanding that the country of
Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a two-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions
or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Restoring Community Safety Act
Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating
a task force on violent crime and increasing funding for
programs that train and assist local police; increases
resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.

Restoring National Security Act
Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester
and expanding military investment; provides veterans
with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend
the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital
infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening
procedures for immigration to ensure those who are
admitted to our country support our people and our values.

Clean Up Corruption in Washington Act
Enacts new ethics reforms to drain the swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.




Red Wing 2012 voting numbers

November 8th, 2016


Voting in Red Wing, and everywhere in the U.S. today.  I was number 362 to check in, and number 352 to check out (some were taking a while to vote), and was told it was a high turn out.  While waiting for results to come in, I was thinking about how this election might compare to the last Presidential election.

From the Minnesota Secretary of State site, HERE are the 2012 voting results.

So here are some numbers for Red Wing, taken from the above spreadsheet.  First the numbers of voters in each Red Wing precinct (click for larger view), by the time the polls closed, 8,748 voters, and in Minnesota we don’t register by party:


For the 2012 Presidential race, it’s 4:3 for Democrat/Obama v. Romney, with very few voting 3rd party, and for those few, mostly Green Party.   This distribution is significant when we get down ballot, where there’s quite a bit of crossing over and people voting for an R here and a DFLer there, back and forth.

2012_rw_ussen-repFor the US Senate race, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (incumbent) v.  State Rep. Kurt Bills (? know nothing about him?), it’s more than 2:1 DFL over Republican!  A very heavy win for Klobuchar.  And then for our Representative, Rep. John Kline (incumbent) v.  Rep. Mike Obermueller (or former Rep.), it’s favoring Kline the Republican, but nearly tied!

Looking at the Minnesota Legislature in the 2012 election:


In 2012, for the state, it was very much like the U.S. races, for Minnesota Senate, first term Sen. John Howe (R) v. unknown Matt Schmit, which went by a wide margin to the DFL, though not as much as the US Senate contest.  Conversely, as with the Congressional race, the House race between Rep. Tim Kelly (R) v. unknown John Bacon (DFL) went Republican in an almost mirror image of the lopsided MN Senate race!  ???

It’s been a split ticket forever down here.  For way too long, we were “represented” in the Minnesota Senate by Steve Murphy (DINO and corporate toadie), the Senator from Xcel, literally an Xcel/Northern States Power employee until he resigned/retired(?) in his last term.  And in the state House, forever it was Rep. Jerry Dempsey (R), and I mean FOREVER, well, maybe it just seemed it, from 1993 to 2006, replaced by Rep. Sandy Wollschlager (DFL) for one term, then Rep. Tim Kelly (R) for three terms.  Now it’s an open seat, with Haley (R) v. Bayley (DFL), hotly contested and lots of outside money on this race — my guess is it’ll flip back to DFL this time.

And then there’s Goodhue County, the Senate District 21, it’s a swing district…