Join the fun! (SNORT!) Learn about air permitting — how Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) air quality permitting process works, how to write a comment, and what current and planned emissions are.

Unfortunately, it’s the same time as the City Council meeting. Well, drat… will have to make sure it’s recorded.

A few months ago, I started pushing the MPCA for a meeting here in Red Wing, informational, to let folks know what’s going on. The air permit for this plant expired in 2009, and although Xcel Energy has applied for renewal, the MPCA has not gotten to it yet (nor for so many air permits in Minnesota, Alan filed Data Practices Act Request and got the list, most air permits were waiting in line with nothing happening).

Alan and I have also been on the Red Wing City Council to push for action on this. They did send a letter to the MPCA, urging action, but that was years ago. HOWEVER, progress — they did schedule a meeting! And best of all, during this, we learned that they are working on the air permit renewal! Draft permit isn’t out yet, but maybe soon?

p.s. Here’s the link for Minnesota Air Quality — or lack thereof!

Yesterday was the deadline for “Public Comments” so here are the World Organization for Landowner Freedom (WOLF) Comments:

Bottom line: The court recommends Eastman be disbarred.

His true colors came out in this trial:

Despite the compelling evidence against him, as established in the culpability findings above, Eastman remains defiant, refusing to acknowledge any impropriety whatsoever in his actions surrounding his efforts to dispute the 2020 presidential election results. His lack of insight into the wrongfulness of his misconduct is deeply troubling.

He took a tRumpian stance:

Eastman’s complete denial of wrongdoing, coupled with his attempts to discredit legitimate disciplinary proceedings are concerning. While Eastman is entitled to defend himself, his conduct goes beyond this, revealing a complete failure to understand the wrongfulness of his actions. His unwillingness to consider the impropriety of his conduct goes “beyond tenacity to truculence.” (In re Morse (1995) 11 Cal.4th 184, 209 [unwillingness to consider appropriateness of legal challenge or acknowledge its lack of merit is aggravating].) Accordingly, the court assigns substantial weight in aggravation under this factor. (In the Matter of Layton (Review Dept. 1993) 2 Cal. State Bar Ct. Rptr. 366, 380-381 [ongoing failure to acknowledge wrongdoing instills concern that attorney may commit future misconduct].)

As the tRump dockets move forward, it’s time to indict Eastman, and get the goods on his buddy Ginni Thomas, and his former boss, Clarence Thomas. ONWARD!

Oh my, I had another hissy fit today. Every day, I get zillow postings of homes for sale. Today was this, the one above, here in Red Wing.

13,257 square feet

$2,495,000 price (good luck with that!)

And I wondered who would own this edifice to conspicuous consumption?

Naaah, not Thorsten Veblen. Turns out it’s the Baartman of Keller-Baartman Properties, developers in Red Wing, and elsewhere too.

Ain’t capitalism grand?!?!

Here’s their vacancy map:

Every time we head over to Mayo-Red Wing, and that’s OFTEN until lately, the route on Tyler is right past two of the Keller-Baartman buildings, and I’ve looked at their site with photos, showing the rents. Right now — 60 vacancies in Red Wing — folks are not lining up to rent these apartments:

The City Council approved these apartments, granted developers TIF corporate welfare, and meanwhile, the Council denied a proposal for “affordable” housing (that needed rezoning approval) just on the other side of Tyler. On seeing that “home” for sale, URP! So I sent a missive to the City Council because this is such an extreme example of how our society is SO screwed up.

Sent today to City Council, Mayor, and some staff:

All –

Did ya see this listing?

This is Baartman’s “house.” Baartman of Keller-Baartman.

The Council has approved Keller-Baartman apartment developments in Red Wing, approved building of apartments that are absurdly over-priced. Just over $1,000 a month for a STUDIO,and one right now , a STUDIO, for $1,525!  For a 2 Br, $1,595 at 540Tyler, and $1,465 at 520Tyler.

I believe all of you “own” homes, that none are renters. How many of you are paying less than that $1,030 on your homes? If you are a renter, how much rent are you paying, and for what? Home “values” have shot through the roof. A home purchased right now listed at ~$240k (our zestimate is $239,9, rent zestimate $2,450, ReFi $1,228. HA!), that $240k 3-4 br house has a payment of ~$1,500. Your likely 3+ bedroom homes purchased quite a while ago will likely have much lower monthly payments, and many/most of you are of the age to have paid off your 30 year mortgage, so no mortgage payment. Take a short walk in renters’ shoes.

60 vacancies in their Red Wing properties.

Meanwhile, as you’re permitting these high-priced apartments, you deny permitting of “affordable” housing on the other side of Tyler, which by my standards (and yours too if you had to pay it monthly?), is NOT affordable. How do you justify this?

Would you rent these options? 60 vacancies means people are not lining up at the door. Isn’t that sufficient proof that that type of housing is NOT needed?!?! NOT wanted? Yet these developers get obscenely rich exploiting regular folks who have nowhere else to go. A 13,257 sq ft. house offered for $2,495,000 is a clear demonstration of lack of balance that the Council is facilitating, enabling.

I realize it’s not “ALL” of you, but enough of you vote to pass and deny these projects.

You are ostensibly in office to represent not just the interests of your demographic, and of those who voted for you, but the interests of ALL of your constituents.  In this case, you should be mindful of all your constituents who are renters. Consider the higher than average percentage of those not voting who are renters! Hmmmm, funny how that works. Renters in your districts ARE your constituents and deserve consideration.

Red Wing needs truly affordable housing, not housing deemed “affordable” by bar napkin calculations. Red Wing does have some “1st time home-buyers” resources, but the cost of housing stock here is obscene and beyond the reach of too many. The Council needs to be mindful of the struggles of regular folks trapped in full-time jobs that don’t pay enough to get out of the renting quicksand. Red Wing needs more affordable rental housing and increased resources for renters to move into home ownership. Home ownership is the most stabilizing force in communities, because then people have a very literal investment in community.

Carol A. Overland, Ward 2 resident, grateful my house is paid off, and homeless if I had to rent or buy a house these days but for the option of affordable hamster-habitats downtown.

Tom Micheletti died!

March 24th, 2024

A visitation will take place on Thursday April 4 from 4-6 p.m. at David Lee Funeral Home, 1220 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata. A memorial service will be held on Friday April 5 at 10 a.m. at Wayzata Community Church, 125 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata 952-473-8877. All are welcome to attend.

In the STrib:

Thomas Andrew Micheletti

Thomas Andrew Micheletti

January 28, 1947 March 15, 2024

Micheletti will not be forgotten.

Per his obituary, a PR campaign in its own right, he shares a military avoidance scheme on a level with Captain Bonespurs:

Tom broke his ankle his senior year playing football. He cut the cast off himself, long before it had healed, so that he didn’t miss the opening hockey game. This messed his ankle up just enough to eventually keep him out of the Vietnam War, but not so much that he couldn’t keep playing.

And “Tom’s career became another arena for his love of the game.” Yup, gaming the system, he was certainly an expert. Here’s the legislation he got through, by hook or by crook, paired with Xcel’s bid for more dry casks for nuclear waste — a deal with the devil, or between the devils:

Micheletti was a/the primary architect of one of the most costly boondoggles on the Range and in Minnesota, history, the “Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project.

It was introduced in 2002 at an energy committee hearing, I was there — cost said to be $800 million. HA! By the time it got to the Public Utilities Commission, the cost was over $TWO BILLION!


“… capable of offering a long-term supply contract at a hedged, predictable cost.” NOPE The PUC did catch it, was NOT a reasonable cost, was not in the public interest, and the PUC denied approval of the Power Purchase Agreement.

Throughout this, we faced bizarre, and yes, I’m using that term a lot here, and it’s fitting. The things they claimed were pulled out of some nether orifice, put in writing, and entered, under oath. The sums of money they took from so many agencies, the way they steamrolled local governments, legislative committees, throughout I was wondering what he had on so many, kompromant? Why would people would jump on his bandwagon, it made no sense. Did people think it was too much work to look at the facts? Was it a personal thing? Was it “debt,” and for what and why? Still don’t understand. I do know that so much that was said was not true. So much that was put in writing was not true. So much was made up, tossed at a wall, and why did it stick? Ultimately, it did not, but it took YEARS and hundreds of hours.

About that Mesaba Project, Micheletti’s obit says:

For a decade, he and his wife, Julie, combined their talents and built a company that partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a large- scale clean-tech power plant to be constructed on the Iron Range. He holds dear the many individuals who dedicated themselves to that effort, taking on the special interests that block innovation and progress. He was proud the team conceived and enacted significant state and federal policy legislation that removed significant barriers to innovation in the power industry.

“… partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy…” Nope, more like scammed the DOE, also the Minnesota legislature, Renewable Energy Development Fund, and of course the IRRB. How much of that IRRB “loan” has been paid back?

Here’s where some of the money went — somewhere in my Mesaba Project files we’ve got documentation of their using taxpayer funds for a Christmas trip to Italy! I’m looking, and in the meantime:

And spreadsheets for 2004, 2005, a tiny bit of 2006:

Here’s a review from Citizens Against the Mesaba Project (CAMP),:

“… special interests that block innovation and progress…” Special interest!?!?! Right… Here’s a wayback link to Citizens Against the Mesaba Project (CAMP), and my clients, grassroots “special interest” groups addressing community concerns, groups which did the most amazing organizing, and the drudgery of detailed work and digging about coal gasification, the financing of this mess, and documentation of much of the federal and state dollars; federal, state, and local perks, given to this vaporware “project.” Special interests???

That’s a CAMP meeting, above, a room packed with regular folks. The special interests? Well, “they” showed up in force at the hearings. There were 300+ filling the Taconite Community Center, so if you’re classifying all these regular folks as “special interest,” people who got up, one by one over HOURS of the hearings testifying about seriously technical issues and considerations in their own backyards that were being ignored in Micheletti’s Mesaba Project plans… special interests? well… that’s a bit misguided.

Here’s Micheletti at a Mesaba Project meeting in Trout Lake Township before the Town Board:

And he instructed his new hired hand, Xcel’s recently retired Michael Wadley, not to let me speak because I didn’t live in the area — nevermind that I was representing, a group of local residents! Oh, and I was living in Red Wing right across the street from Wadley’s parents! Why Wadley got involved in the Mesaba Project mess I’ll never know, had to be money, but it sure couldn’t have been worth it to wade in that cesspool.

And here’s a wayback link to

Leadership team of seasoned power industry executives? Seasoned? Right — stick a fork in, they are DONE!

Micheletti was an extreme example of using connections and knowledge and influence to cobble together many moving pieces into a phenomenally orchestrated steamrolling line of bullshit that was the Mesaba Project, taking advantage of public and governmental ignorance and apathy, dragging those of us who opposed it on a decade of intense work — successfully stopped — but what a grind that was.

Micheletti & Overland near fisticuffs in the Hoyt Lakes Arena October 27th, 2005

The legislation promoting the project required that it was to be built on a site with available infrastructure, and here what it looked like – see above, Minn. Stat. 216A.1694, Subd. 1(3), “adequate infrastructure to support new or expanded development,” so it says, but here’s the reality. They were discovered trespassing in the woods by hunters:

Here’s a photo from a DOE site visit — dig that utility infrastructure:

Tom was not at all happy to find our “boys in the woods” and the press there too. From an MPR site visit:

The only way to get to the site was on ATVs using a transmission easement over land that wasn’t theirs, not theirs via easement or in fee — yes, they were trespassing:

Here’s an example of the bizarre filings from Micheletti’s “seasoned” experts:

Health Benefits of Coal (ya gotta read this one, HILARIOUS!)

Bizarre? Yes, that’s the operative term here. A bit of Alan Muller’s cross-examination, the question clarified by ALJ Mihalchick:

I’m looking for the map showing their plan for rail access — they wanted to go right THROUGH Diamond Lake! Found it — that’s it, circled in pink, from the DOE’s EIS:


There was also a bizarre, yes, again, bizarre, “plan” to capture CO2 and store it, BUT the amount that could be captured was not much at all, it severely decreased efficiency of the proposed plant, AND once captured, it took it … really… only to the PLANT GATE, no further. Then what? Who knows, they sure didn’t have a clue. Yup! Really… a brilliant plan. And where it possibly could be stored? Another bizarre filing:

Their plan? Read it and guffaw, snort, hoot and holler: Ex_EE1067_Plan for Carbon Capture and Sequestration Download

They got a GRANT for this, our tax dollars thrown away:

Sequestration grant press release June 24 2005 Download

Looking back, it s really uplifting to see what we did accomplish, two rag-tag groups of people on the range who knew a boondoggle when they saw it, and who put in the time and effort to learn about coal gasification, no small feat, enough to make knowledgeable comments on what Micheletti & Co. were proposing, and put on enough pressure to slow it down, and ultimately stop the project. Considering the resources that Micheletti brought to this, with DOE, MN legislature, IRRB, and Renewable Development Fund, plus so much Joyce Foundation funding to enviros to support it:

Joyce Foundation PROMOTES coal September 5th, 2006

Yes, the Mesaba Project did go down in flames. Took a long time, but looking back, we did a good job.

As of last week, Tom Micheletti will not be promoting any more bogus projects and pocketing our taxes to do it.

Apparently, Micheletti resurrected Reddy Kilowatt! That’s something that really ought to be in his obit!

Back to Micheletti’s obituary:

p.s. To access the PUC’s Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project Power Purchase Agreement docket, go HERE – eDOCKETS, and then click again on “eDockets” and click on “Search Documents” on Left, and arrive at this screen and add Year “05” and Docket “1993” and then click SEARCH!

For the siting docket, plug in 06-668:

The siting docket was also bizarre. We tried to intervene, but were not allowed, and as “participants” were not allowed to question witnesses. The hearing was a farce, and it was in a gym next to the hockey rink, the heat turned of on a -20F day, because with the blower on we couldn’t hear a thing. Afterwards, Excelsior entered in a LOT if additional exhibits, as the record was flimsy:

Mesaba – Extend the hearing! February 23rd, 2008

That site hearing was such a travesty…

Gotta get out of this rabbit hole.