I found my notes!!  On August 29, 2017, Alan and I went to the Goodhue County Courthouse for the GreenMark Solar v. Wacouta Township (Court Case No. 25-CV-17-1462) festivities — a Summary Judgment hearing.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m not a fan of any of the principals of GreenMark, Mark Andrew, Dennis Egan, and Julie Jorgensen.  Mark Andrew is a former Hennepin County Commissioner and a fan of burning garbage. Here’s a thread from the Mpls yak-yak list about Andrew when he was running for Mayor.  Dennis Egan, well, we had a few go rounds when he was Mayor of Red Wing AND was executive director of Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, and at the time silica sand mining issue was on agenda for City of Red Wing. Julie Jorgensen? Her Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project coal gasification plant took up 5 years of my full-time labor before it went to part-time and intermittent, and still just won’t fully go away! Minn. Stat. 216B.1694, Subd. 3(b)(1)(ii).

That said, I’m also a big fan of solar, from way, way back when my father designed the solar on the Minnesota Zoo (that was later taken down, it was hot water! Not quite what was most needed, and they didn’t know much about solar back then).

Here’s the GreenMark Complaint — couldn’t find the Wacouta Answer or the cross-motions for Summary Judgment. The Wacouta Township website is years out of date — what’s up with that?  (2014 is most current minutes, plus a notice of the May 2017 meeting about the solar project. ???)

Greenmark Solar v. Wacouta Township_Complaint 25-CV-17-1462

Here are a couple articles:

GreenMark Solar challenges Wacouta Township | Republican Eagle

Minnesota Developer Sues for Solar Garden Permit

The oral argument started with Greenmark.  Some points (not all inclusive):

Focus on Minn. Stat. 394.33, Subd. 1, that the township decision violates Town Powers Act. It’s inconsistent with their zoning. They can enact more restrictive zoning, but they didn’t, township has no solar ordinance.2

Township ordinance is ambiguous.  Frank’s Nursery case — if ambiguous, allow property owner to do what they want with the property.

“Agricultural community” — Planning Commission and Board selected different definitions.  Current use, peat mining and hay.  Pollinator scale 45, and 85 with solar.  Wetlands. Reduce carbon emissions.

Township argument:

Town Power Act does not restrict township actions. Bergen defines inconsistent, it’s not different.
Township Ordinance, Art. 3, Subd. 10, limits industrial uses that do not support agricultural. Solar is an industrial use. Twp. does allow solar in ag, BUT, it’s more restrictive, and it’s not inconsistnet.

The standard is whether down decision was rational, i.e., legally sufficient, supported by record.

Reasonable — inconsistent with agriculture, exported to the grid. CUP – exported, GreenMark takes issue with def of ag use, but see “Hubbard Broadcasting” denial of Conditional Use.  Review is deferential.  Mandamus (GreenMark’s action) review not to challenge discretionary decisions of local government.

Frank’s Nursery re: ambiguous ordinance, doesn’t require ordinance to be construed to support use. Court still needs to determine rationality.

Greenmark Rebuttal

Mandamus – this is about building permit, a ministerial act, not discretionary.

Does township even have jurisdiction/authority.

Purpose of project — Goodhue County, that’s the area.

Altenberg (?) – Town Powers Act – Twp didn’t adopt a more restrictive ordinance.

Bergum (?) – legislative intent of Town Powers Act.

Township Rebuttal

Cases of Mandamus for building permits

Goodhue – zoned agricultural, township couldn’t zone industrial, that would be inconsistent with county zoning.


Judge Bayley said he has a lot of homework to do, and will do it and issue Order.


More frac sand mining promotion!  The Rochester Chamber of Commerce, run for just 7 months, over a decade ago, by none other than illustrious soon-to-be-former Mayor Dennis Egan, is hosting a frac sand event.

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Friday, March 22, 11:30a.m. -1:00p.m.

Honker Events at the Ramada
1517 - 16th St SW
Rochester, Minnesota

Cost: Members $25, Non-members $35 (includes lunch)

Pre-registration Required

Word first arrived on March 14, 2013, as a email from the Rochester Chamber, where Egan was listed as “Mayor of Red Wing & Exec. Director, Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.” They have altered that to say only “Minnesota Industrial Sand Council” on their website:

Rochester Chamber of Commerce email

And from their website:


Experts!  Who are the “experts” in this Rochester Chamber cast of characters?

Vern Baker is clear about his interests!  Good job!

We all know about Dennis Egan and his ethical standards and expertise in frac sand mining…

Jeffery Broberg represents landowners such as David Nisbit who want mines on their property, and who said at a public hearing, “As the applicant’s representative, I have a higher level of rights on these issues.” His promotional bent is clear in his statement after the St. Charles rail site was denied by the City:

Jeff Broberg, a geologic consultant to the frac sand industry who lives near St. Charles, said any meaningful expansion of industrial sand mining in the area will depend on the kind of large-scale, rail-aided logistics envisioned by Minnesota Proppant. He said that in his view, fear-mongering and negative exaggerations poisoned public discussion of the St. Charles proposal. “It’s a setback for the industry and for St. Charles,” Broberg said.

From the NoCapX site, we know an awful lot about Broberg, for example his classic “Exhibit 7” portrayal of the long closed sand-barred boat landing at the White Bridge Road!


Dave Christianson is billed as “Project Manager, Minnesota Department of Transportation.


He was billed as something similar at soon-to-be-former Mayor Egan’s Frac Sand Forum.  What does Google have to say? MnDOT Freight, Rail, & Waterways Staff; City of Winona powerpoint, and he’s all for expansion: “We believe it is very well controlled,” he said. “It’s something we look forward to seeing expanded and properly managed as we go forward.”

So of this lot, all are proponents, and not one speaker is independent, and not one speaker is opposed.  “Advocacy” is part of the title of the Chamber staffer who sent the email, and it’s pretty clear what they’re advocating for!

To attend, you have to pre-register, and pay $35: Members and Non-Members.

KARE 11 was down here in Red Wing yesterday, and they caught up with Alan.  “It makes a laughing stock of Red Wing, that the Mayor would do this, would think that he can get away with this.”  Here’s the video — City Council President Lisa Bayley said it very succinctly, “you have to choose one or the other.”  Showing a big file of emails, she said  “You have to be very, very careful, those two things just cannot touch.”  Egan looks like he’s feeling the heat, steadfastly saying there’s no problem, that “the people of Red Wing knew I lobbied for controversial subjects when they voted for me.”  “These mines, those family owned Minnesota businesses, are not looking at mining the bluff, they’re not looking at mining the area.”

maidenrocksand_stribPhoto of Maiden Rock frac sand mining operation across the river

Oh, right, Mayor Egan… get a clue!  This is NOT acceptable.  It’s time to resign.

MN mayor’s new ‘frac’ job stirring up controversy

Keep those emails coming to the Red Wing City Council members — tell them what you think of this:

sebion3@gmail.com, lisa.bayley@ci.red-wing.mn.us, deanhove@charter.net, michael.v.schultz@charter.net, peggy.rehder@ci.red-wing.mn.us, ralph.rauterkus@ci.red-wing.mn.us, marilyn.meinke@ci.red-wing.mn.us

And copy the Mayor and City Administrator too:

dennis.egan@ci.red-wing.mn.us, kay.kuhlmann@ci.red-wing.mn.us

Faux News 9 has a poll — weigh in!

Faux News – Red Wing mayor hired for frac sand lobbying poll!

On Minnesota Public Radio today:

Red Wing mayor lobbies for silica sand industry


Red Wing Mayor Egan exposed

February 6th, 2013


Red Wing’s Mayor Dennis Egan is in pretty deep, and it’s getting deeper.  The Red Wing City Council will address the discovery that he’s a frac sand toady at the Monday City Council meeting.  That’s good to hear.  And they need to hear from those of us who are appalled at his duplicity.

URGENT – TODAY – contact the Red Wing City Council members and forward this Red Wing City Council contact info to friends, neighbors and family in Red Wing.

sebion3@gmail.com, lisa.bayley@ci.red-wing.mn.us, deanhove@charter.net, michael.v.schultz@charter.net, peggy.rehder@ci.red-wing.mn.us, ralph.rauterkus@ci.red-wing.mn.us, marilyn.meinke@ci.red-wing.mn.us

And don’t forget to copy: dennis.egan@ci.red-wing.mn.us, kay.kuhlmann@ci.red-wing.mn.us


Red Wing Mayor to represent silica sand industry

Sand storm heads toward Capitol

Mayor Egan – the voice of frac sand mining!

Red Wing Mayor Egan leads Minnesota Industrial Sand Council; citizens wonder who he’ll serve


In the STrib today:

Red Wing’s mayor gets second job with frac sand lobbying group

(I liked the first headline better: “Red Wing’s mayor signs on with frac sand lobby”)

His work to promote fracking is a conflict of interest, residents say.

Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan has been hired to run a new lobbying and trade group for the frac sand industry, triggering consternation in his hometown just as it begins considering what position to take in a sand-mining debate that is emerging at the State Capitol.

Egan said Tuesday he sees no conflict of interest and won’t step down while he works as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.

But Red Wing City Council President Lisa Bayley, a lawyer, said she has received many “complaints, questions and concerns” from residents about the mayor’s new job as a paid advocate for an industry that is at the forefront of local ferment.

The situation comes as the sand-mining industry is raising its profile at the Capitol amid a boom in silica mining to supply the oil and gas industry with a vital ingredient for a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

The sand council, a consortium of aggregate, trucking and petroleum companies with interests in frac sand and gravel, has hired Twin Cities law firm Larkin Hoffman to lobby its cause. Egan, a professional lobbyist, also has registered in St. Paul to lobby for the sand council.

But Egan’s decision also occurs as debate rages up and down the Mississippi River corridor over the sand boom. In the past four years, more than 100 mines and processing facilities have been permitted in Wisconsin and Minnesota in a rush largely controlled by local units of government.

Bayley said the council will discuss the matter Monday at a regularly scheduled meeting.

“If the facts are as we think they are, it could prove to be a very serious matter,” she said, declining to elaborate.

Egan said he talked to City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann before signing his employment contract last week with the sand council. He declined to say how much the group is paying him.

“She didn’t raise any red flags at that time,” said Egan, who was re-elected in November to a four-year term.

Kuhlmann did not return a phone call Tuesday afternoon.

Egan said there are no applications pending before the city for frac sand facilities. The city ordinance that will regulate the industry was “put to bed” in October, and the sand council shares his position that “mining the bluffs on the Mississippi River is not a good idea.”

“In my mind, there’s not a conflict,” Egan said.

Bayley and fellow Council Member Peggy Rehder, however, said the frac sand debate is very much alive in Red Wing. The city is dealing with truck traffic issues and barge loading of frac sand from the city-owned bulkhead, or dock. Part of the agenda for Monday’s council meeting, Bayley said, is to discuss what position the city should take on frac sand issues that crop up at the Legislature. No bill has been introduced so far regarding frac sand mining, but there has been talk behind the scenes of possible statewide involvement in the issue.

“The issue of local control is very important to us,” Rehder said.

Throughout southeastern Minnesota and as far north as Scott County, local officials are trying to balance worries over air quality, water pollution, water depletion, truck traffic and noise against jobs and other economic benefits that the sand mining industry offers. Egan said part of the sand council’s mission is to advance the best practices for mining, processing and transportation.

“It’s not across the board that people are opposing” the frac sand industry, Egan said. “This group acknowledges there are issues, but that they can be dealt with.”

Rehder said she wants the city attorney to issue an opinion for the council as to whether the mayor has a legal conflict of interest. Rehder is a former lobbyist who worked in Washington, D.C., and who used to represent Hennepin County.

“Would I ever be a lobbyist and hold public office at the same time?” Rehder said. “No.”

She said Red Wing is “in the heart of frac sand mining country” and people are “very concerned” about Egan’s new position.

Tony Kennedy 612-673-4213

And in the Rochester Post Bulletin:

Red Wing mayor to represent silica sand industry

The peculiar situation has riled some.

Egan, who took office in 2011 and was re-elected in 2012, signed a contract Friday that installs him as executive director of the newly formed Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. The council is an organization of six Minnesota companies with an interest in mining silica sand, including the owner of a proposed St. Charles development, with Egan at its head. The council also represents the interests of companies involved in silica mining in an ancillary way, such as railroads, trucking and petroleum producers.

“The folks had gotten my name because that’s what I do,” said Egan, who has worked the last 10 years as a Capitol lobbyist. “It wasn’t tied to anything other than ‘Dennis, you’ve done this for 10 years and you have a good reputation.’ My approach is you need to work in collaboration to move projects forward.”

The new group has hired Minneapolis-based Larkin Hoffman law firm to serve as its lobbyist during the current legislative session, where Sen. Matt Schmitt, DFL-Red Wing, is expected to propose silica sand legislation later this week. Egan hopes to develop a list of best practices related to dust mitigation and other mining issues.

Southeastern Minnesota is at the forefront of the state’s silica sand controversy. The issue first surfaced just a few miles from Red Wing when Windsor Permian, an Oklahoma-based energy company, purchased 155 acres of land in 2010 and expressed an interest in mining silica sand. Concerns spread rapidly through the region since then, with Winona, St. Charles and Wabasha being the current hot spots.

There are just five active silica sand mines in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, but many new ones have been proposed. Demand for the hard, round sand has exploded due to advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil and natural gas, particularly in North Dakota.

Egan, who has previously served as the Chamber of Commerce President in Red Wing and Rochester, said that he’s been brought in to resolve controversial situations in St. Louis and Ramsey counties, among others, in prior business deals. He’s since created his own company called Egan Public Affairs, which specializes in such endeavors.

“It’s another project in which you find passions on both sides of the aisle,” Egan said of his new role. “I don’t want to come across as downplaying that for southeast Minnesota. It’s a big issue; I recognize that.”

However, some aren’t convinced Egan’s new role is proper given his status as an elected official. Carol Overland, a Red Wing attorney, e-mailed the city council raising concerns about a conflict of interest and her concerns don’t appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Though council president Lisa Bayley declined comment and others didn’t return calls, council member Peggy Rehder expressed frustration that she wasn’t directly informed of Egan’s plans; the news was first posted online Friday evening by “Politics in Minnesota.”

Egan said he informed Red Wing City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann of the job offer prior to accepting; Kuhlmann was not available for comment.

“I’m puzzled,” Rehder said. “I think we need more information and we need a legal opinion from the city attorney.

“You’re absolutely right that people are concerned.”

While the situation is expected to be discussed further at Monday’s city council meeting, members of the citizen’s opposition group Save The Bluffs see it as a clear conflict of interest.

“How can you represent citizens and the industry at the same time?” asked John Tittle, a Red Wing resident and Bluffs member. “It seems like it would be a conflict. It seems kind of obvious.”

Egan responded to those challenges by saying the city ordinance had been approved for months by the time the sand companies approached him in late December. Should any new proposals be made, the mayor says he’d recuse himself from those discussions.


Red Wing’s Mayor, Dennis Egan, is the voice of frac sand mining.  Yes, it’s true, and here is his email so you can tell him what you think: dennis.egan@ci.red-wing.mn.us



What’s the big deal?  Well, it’s a simple matter of whose interests the mayor represents.  It’s about ethics.  The Mayor’s job is to public represent the City of Red Wing, the “titular head” of the city.  Can he spell C-O-N-F-L-I-C-T?

The City of Red Wing recently spent a year addressing frac sand in the City, first enacting a Silica Sand Moratorium and then an Ordinance.  This remains a major issue at Goodhue County, and in the entire state of Minnesota.

It appears that organizing his “Red Wing 2020,” an “Advisory Committee to the Mayor” and having this “Advisory Committee to the Mayor” host a frac sand mining promotional love fest wasn’t enough, nooooooooo, now he’s officially, publicly, and professionally promoting frac sand interests, and he’s being paid for it.  While he’s Mayor of Red Wing?  Can you believe it?

A recent Politics in Minnesota article laid it out, that he’s “Executive Director” of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, which is a lobbying group to promote frac sand mining and associated interests.  Here’s the scoop that relates to Mayor Egan:

Mining industry mobilizes

The sand mining industry has recently gotten organized as well. The Minnesota Industrial Sand Council was formed about three weeks ago, with Red Wing Mayor and Capitol lobbyist Dennis Egan as its executive director. The council, which is part of Aggregate & Ready Mix of Minnesota, has hired the Minneapolis-based Larkin Hoffman law and lobbying firm as its lobbyists. The group includes sand-mining companies as well as railroad, trucking and petroleum interests.

“We’ve got mining operations that have been in Mankato and Shakopee and St. Peter and Winona. These are Minnesota folks,” Egan said. “When they hear their operations and their livelihood potentially is going to come to a screeching halt, they said: ‘We need a voice at the Capitol, because that’s now where the conversation is going.’”

The group is stressing to lawmakers that the sand is used in industries ranging from sand paper to fiber optics, and calling attention to state and federal regulations that hold the industry in check, Egan said. He said the group is also putting together a best practices document.

“We want this industry to be safe and healthy, not only for those for those who work in the pits but for the communities that surround it,” Egan said. “Truck traffic, dust issues that comes from mining, we recognize there can be concerns, so how do we best address that?”

FYI, Mayor Dennis Egan’s facebook pages says he “lives in St. Paul.”  Curiouser and curiouser!