I’ve just by utter accident discovered a few things…

We all remember Byron Starns, attorney for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the coal gasification project from hell.  Check his bio – CLICK HERE – he’s done some amazing things, that Reserve Mining case in particular.

Now let’s take a walk back on memory lane, the 2003 Prairie Island bill, where the “Environmental Coalition”, i.e., Izaak Walton League, MCEA, ME3/Fresh Energy, and Xcel and Tom Micheletti did a deal that advance wind some, let Xcel continue using Prairie Island and increased cask storage, and opened the door for Micheletti’s Excelsior Energy and their IGCC plant that they’d been promoting since the 2002 session.  On one hand, the “Environmental Coalition” including MCEA, in the middle we have Xcel, and on the other we have Tom Micheletti and Excelsior Energy…

Here’s the 2003 Prairie Island bill:

Minnesota Session Laws 2003 – 1st Special Session, Chapter 11

Here’s what it did for Mesaba (as if calling burning garbage “renewable” wasn’t enough):

Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project related parts of 2003 Chapter 11

When the Power Purchase Agreements for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project came up at the PUC,  MCEA intervened, both as a party and representing others:

Petition to Intervene – MCEA – Waltons – Fresh Energy

To look at the full docket, go to and “Search Dockets” and search for  PPA docket “05-1993” and Siting docket “06-668.”

And look who filed a Notice of Appearance for Excelsior Energy dated April 27, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – PPA Docket

And representing Excelsior Energy in the Siting Docket dated September 26, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – Siting Docket

And look who is noted in the MCEA Annual Reports as providing legal services to MCEA in 2005 and 2006, look in the fine print, why it’s Byron Starns!

MCEA Annual Report 2005

MCEA Annual Report 2006

Oh, but that’s not all, look who joins the Board of MCEA in 2007 … and remains through 2008… and 2009 according to his bio on the LSD site — why, it’s Byron Starns again!:

Board of Directors, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 2007–2009 (linked)

2007 – MCEA’s IRS 990

2008 – MCEA’s IRS 990

His bio states he was on the MCEA board in 2009, but the 2009 IRS 990 does not list him as having been on it at reporting year end.

I just spoke with Byron Starns, who, with the forwarning to don his Kevlar vest, was kind enough to entertain a few questions, and said that (close to quotes but not quite):

MCEA has an ethical requirement, that everyone on the Board must make full disclosure of interests and conflicts, and that when issues do come up, anyone with a conflict has to leave the room.  He said he didn’t participate in any decisions related to energy matters for MCEA.  He does not recall if the fact that he was on MCEA’s board was disclosed in the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project PPA or Siting dockets.  Also, he noted he is no longer on the Board of MCEA.

I don’t recall any disclosure about this — do you?

Is it “not a conflict” because MCEA’s interests and the interests of their “clients” the Waltons and Fresh Energy are so closely aligned with those of Excelsior Energy because of that 2003 agreement?