Here it is, sent around by PUC Executive Secretary Will Sueffert:

And it’s been sitting here too long, without review… but April 15 is almost over and it’s time to have a look.

Some background info:

Minnesota Office of Legislative Auditor Report:

Public Utilities Commission’s Public Participation Processes – OLA-Report

Rulemaking for Minn. R. ch 7849 & 7850 that was tossed aside by Commission. Go to eDockets (https://mn.gov/puc/edockets/), and at bottom of screen, click on “eDockets” again, and search for 12-1246:

And of course the Reports from the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearings:

And I’ve not kept up with the annual report filings, so here they all are:

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report to PUC – Docket 12-360

2013 Report to PUC – Docket 13-965

2014 Summary Report– Docket 14-887

2015 Summary Report – Docket 15-785

2016 Summary Report – Docket 16-18

2017 Summary Report – Docket 17-18

2018 Summary Report – Docket 18-18

2019 Summary Report_Docket 19-18

20202-160679-01 Summary Report – Docket 20-18

2021 Summary Report – Docket 21-18

Last night the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) staff that’s working on the Xcel Energy and USG air permits, both of which expired long ago (Xcel in 2009!), came down to Red Wing to explain some about air permitting and some specifics on each of these plants. The idea is to get folks familiar with the process, what’s at issue, what’s being emitted over our city.

THANK YOU, MPCA, FOR SHOWING UP!

The powerpoint from last night should arrive and I’ll post it right here when it does. Here it is!!

MPCA staff working on these projects include:

Weidemann, Lisa (She/Her/Hers) (MPCA)(Community Affairs) <Lisa.Weidemann@state.mn.us>, Campbell, Benton (He/Him/His) (MPCA)(on USG permit) <Benton.Campbell@state.mn.us>, Behrendt, Andrea (MPCA)(on Xcel permit) <Andrea.Behrendt@state.mn.us>, Fossum, Rachel (She/Her/Hers) (MPCA) <Rachel.Fossum@state.mn.us>, Volkmeier, Toni (She/Her/Hers) (MPCA)(Supervisor Air Quality Permits Unit 3)<toni.volkmeier@state.mn.us>, Satzke, David (MPCA) <David.Satzke@state.mn.us>, Brooks, Ned (MPCA)(Environmental Justice) <ned.brooks@state.mn.us

Who cares about air permits? Well, those of us who breathe should! How can we have the cleanest air possible in Red Wing? And for that, we need to keep up on emissions and air permits. The Xcel Energy garbage burner permit expired in 2009, and the company filed a timely renewal application, so it’s been grandfathered in and has been cruising along on those bootstraps for the last 15 years.

Incineration… burning garbage, “biomass,” whatever, it’s burning, it’s generating CO2 and some really hazardous emissions, no matter the source. It is NOT clean, and under Minnesota law, it is NOT renewable.

I’ve learned much about this from Alan Muller. One of Alan’s areas of expertise is incineration and air emissions, something he’s been working on for decades, and it’s a lot more technical than the transmission lines I usually work on. Here’s Alan at a Washington County Board meeting, where they were voting to approve an agreement to send their garbage our way (GARBAGE made for a busy day!!!):

Washington County? Why? Well Washington County and Ramsey County send their garbage to Xcel’s Red Wing garbage burner — OUR garbage is a small percentage of what’s burned!

Over the years, it’s become apparent that for some reason, some MPCA staff don’t seem to appreciate Muller. I’ve been to the MPCA with him to do a file review or two, he’s worked against the HERC throughput expansion, Rock-Tenn burner, and all the iterations of the Midtown burner proposed for East Phillips, Rockford, and Rockford Township.

When running Green Delaware, he got through legislation in Delaware prohibiting incinerators near people. Alan’s education about incineration began when working as a consultant for DuPont, marketing incinerators worldwide, with trips to Russia, China, etc. He knows what he’s talking about, the technical details, and methinks that’s what unnerves bureaucrats and technocrats! Anyway, it’s important to know the details.

Last night at the MPCA meeting, Alan addressed some details, including the lead emissions from the Red Wing garbage burner. The MPCA staff present were not familiar with that(!), and wanted specifics, and I’ve found it. First, I found the reference on Alan’s webpage – he had a printout of this chart:

I had also sent a letter to Linda Flanders, our County Commissioner, with that MPCA link (see, Red Wing City Council, it’s not just YOU we’re holding accountable!):

And there’s that MPCA link on Alan’s page and in a footnote of my letter above. Click on the link and get this:

Oh, great, thanks MPCA. So from there I go to Wayback and get the page heading and then … BLANK. So I go ,further back and the furthest back is in 2014, and from there, the page has been redirected, and I’m sent to an MPCA page, but…

The MPCA has eliminated their https://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/data/eda-air-quality-searches/eda-air-quality-search-point-source-data.html page! If you search “point source data” there is a link to a map where you can search Minnesota via a number of categories. For Goodhue County, Xcel’s garbage burner is first to show up, with this info, but NOT all the info that was previously disclosed:

For example, the MPCA does not disclose the amount of lead spewed into our air! That’s one of the most important details, as lead has severe impact on those who breathe, particularly children where it measurably lowers IQ. Here is the MPCA chart from last night, similar as above, different format, that was shown last night:

And the most important part of the meeting last night — public participation is what it’s all about, and for decades, I’ve been working on this. They had this handout, which is very similar to those I hand out at the doors of transmission road show meetings and hearings, laying out the steps of the review process:

That’s my writing there, “PERMIT” because think about the word… issuing a permit, as with land-use and any other kind of “permit,” go to the root of the word — it’s all about “permitting” certain activities, uses, and under what circumstances it will be permitted. PERMIT! That’s what it’s all about.

As above, when writing your comments, you need to be specific. The paragraph below from a Notice, similar to the one they’ll send out for us:

RIGHT NOWShoot an email to Lisa.Weidemann@state.mn.us, Community Affairs, and to the engineer on the project, Andrea.Behrendt@state.mn.us, to get on the email list for notice when the Draft Permit is issued and public comment opens up. Receiving that notice is important because it specifies the length of the comment period and the deadline for comments, and it also offers advice on what to say in a comment. For example, to get a public hearing, one must REQUEST it, and state why. Here’s the paragraph explaining that from a recent Notice for Mayo in Rochester – it’s roughly a form, and the one for Xcel’s garbage burner will look much like this:

To request a Public Informational Meeting (important so people can learn about what’s at issue, the REAL story) here’s how, from the Notice:

So when you write a comment, if you, friends, neighbors have questions, request a public meeting! MPCA Staff then considers it, weighs the reasons — a meeting is NOT a given! That’s part of why I’m so glad MPCA did come down here in advance.

And then there’s also the Contested Case option, essentially a trial about factual issues related to the air permit. Again, as with the public meeting, you must ASK FOR IT, and give specifics on why it’s necessary, which requires FACTS at issue, and in the request, you must state specific facts that require correction, addition, etc. (FYI, I don’t know of any request for a Contested Case that has been granted, and on behalf of clients, I’ve asked for a few.).

Once the Draft Permit is released, the Notice will state the comment deadline, and will have directions on where to send comments, an email and/or the MPCA site’s comment page or even by snail-mail.

I don’t know how much sense this made for folks not used to this, and unfortunately, the front row on the left was Xcel Energy employees, and there were not that many regular folks in the room, but I’m glad word got out and some reps from local groups attended. There were a few questions from other than Alan and I, and that was good.

Maybe we should have a comment writing session after the Draft Permit and Notice for Comment comes out?!?! Will publish the Draft Permit and Notice for Comment here!

And here we go — the Public Utilities Commission has announced the first Comment period on the just-applied-for “Mankato-Mississippi 345 kV Transmission Line” or the “Wilmarth-North Rochester-Tremval 345 kV” depending on who’s talking…

At least 2 of my clients are affected by this, clients that I’ve heard from and are outraged, and likely many more are in the way of this project. These 2 clients’ families have already had way too much experience challenging unneeded utility projects. And yeah, here we go again.

It’s PUC Dockets CN-22-532 and TL-23-157. (if you need help, see MN PUC – How To eDockets)

What to comment on?

Big question is “given all the other transmission proposed for Minnesota, WHY? What’s the need?”

Get to work!!!

Speaking of Transmission

April 7th, 2024

This report appeared, and as a “barrier to transmission,” I resemble that:

So after I finish up with this latest round of insurance and medical money crap, I’ll get to this. I look forward to it as much as taxes…

Monday — Red Wing’s a happening place! The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is coming to Red Wing. Yes, Monday, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. downstairs in the Foot Room.

Here’s an announcement in the bEagle:

MPCA to host air permit community meeting

Why? For an informal meeting to explain how air permitting works, what it does and doesn’t do, and the status of the renewal process for both Xcel Energy’s Red Wing garbage burner (above) and the USG plant just south on 61 (check that loading dock right off the road — below — not one I’d particularly like to back into!).

MPCA is working on renewal of both of these LONG expired permits, though they just recently started on the Xcel permit renewal (in agency terms, December, fyi), and USG‘s permit renewal has been in the works longer. I’m so glad the MPCA is taking renewal of permits seriously, and I’m particularly grateful that they’re taking the role of the public seriously!

This is an INFORMAL thing. They’ll be going over what it is involved in a permit renewal, what they look at, how they decide when to work on it, what input the permittee has, and what input we the breathers have, rough idea of timelines, etc., and of course, answer questions we may have. When these permits are in “DRAFT” form, they’re released and then there’s a FORMAL MPCA meeting, that is, if we ask for it after the DRAFT is released.

A fundamental question I have is:

  • WE HAVE MAJOR POLLUTERS IN RED WING, BUT THERE ARE NO AIR MONITORS IN RED WINGWHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET AIR MONITORS IN RED WING?

Make that two:

  • HOW MANY POUNDS OF MAJOR POLLUTANTS ARE RELEASED ANNUALLY BY EACH OF THESE FACILITIES, i.e., HOW MANY POUNDS OF LEAD; HOW MANY TONS OF CO2; NOW MANY POUNDS OF OXIDES OF NITROGEN

The list goes on. Here are some estimates of pollutants from an Alan Muller presentation on the permit for the HERC burner in Minneapolis when it was wanting to increase garbage throughput:

How much of each of these and other pollutants are coming out of the Xcel garbage burner and USG stacks into our air?

Alan Muller and I have been pushing the Red Wing City Council to get on the MPCA and Xcel to deal with this permit that expired in 2009. Not long after he learned it had been expired for so long, he filed a Data Practices Act Request for a list of air permits and dates of renewal and/or expiration, and found that most air permits in Minnesota at that time were expired! I’m sure that was at least 8-10 years ago, but the MPCA has been struggling with prior decades of budget cuts and insufficient resources to do the job. Each time this comes up, we advocate for full funding so they CAN do the job. Oh well, it’s better but not sufficient.

Anyway, I got on the MPCA to come down to Red Wing and let us know what to expect. The unfortunate thing is that it’s the same night as the City Council meeting, and there wasn’t wiggle room in the Library’s schedule to change the date. Well drat.