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Carol Overland - Legalectric
Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 1 hour 23 min ago
There are more and more aspects of rail safety coming into question as people learn about life with the many Bakken oil trains rolling through our communities.
What about the greatly increased air emissions due to the increased rail traffic? Locomotive emissions are regulated:
The short version, from the EPA:General Information
- Fact Sheet: Control of Emissions from Idling Locomotives (PDF) (4 pp, 143K, EPA-420-F-13-050, December 2013)
- Fact Sheet: Federal Preemption of State and Local Standards for Locomotives (PDF) (3 pp, 11K, EPA420-F-97-050, December 1997)
- Summary of emission standards
That regulates individual locomotives, but how are the cumulative impacts of so many trains addressed, particularly in the Mississippi River Valley, the “land of inversions?”
There’s continued talk about the new DOT111 rail cars, but how will that address the problem of volatility, that the Bakken crude contains a much higher level of gas than other crude, and that although regulators have said that the Bakken crude should be degasified before it is shipped, whether by rail or pipeline, this is not yet incorporated into standard practice. And it bears repeating — this is an issue for Bakken crude in pipelines! Pipelines are not a miracle cure for the Bakken crude volatility problem!
It can happen here. It has happened here. It will happen here. What do we do to protect ourselves?
This is a train incident in September, 2013 just across the river in Hager City, WI:
And in Red Wing:
A Wisconsin town’s fire chief was part of a discussion with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind recently regarding rail safety. The station is one block from the river and the railroad tracks. Congressman Kind asked the fire chief what the impact of a Bakken oil wreck would be on his community, if the fire unit could respond, and the fire chief said, “I doubt it, we’d be vaporized.”
If a Lac Megantic level explosion occurred in Red Wing, presuming that buildings two blocks from the explosion would be leveled, and maybe three blocks, it would reach to Main Street, and perhaps the block beyond:
This is how it is in all the communities along the Mississippi River, a disaster waiting to happen for us, for the River.
There’s a reason it’s called the “Bakken Boom.” BOOM!
This is the Hollydale Project proposed route, the one that Xcel Energy couldn’t demonstrate need for if their Certificate of Need depended on it, and it did, and they didn’t. Hence their petition to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for withdrawal of Applications for both their Certificate of Need (12-113) and their Routing Permit (11-152). I love it when that happens…
This was a great victory to get Xcel to acknowledge that this project was in trouble, that they couldn’t demonstrate need, not that they admitted it outright, but close enough. The down side is that they are persistent, and when they want something, they keep trying, sometimes the same thing, sometimes something different. What will they do here? Who knows, but I doubt they’ll disappear.
There was a surprise filing letter and proposed decision option sent by Paula Maccabee on behalf of WPNA at 8:37 a.m., less than an hour before the meeting began, and half an hour after we’d already left for St. Paul, first I learned of it was when it was passed out at the meeting.
Here are the changes that were requested:
D. Future Filing Requirements
2. Require the company to file a discussion on their public outreach efforts and an update on improvements made to the load serving capacity of the distribution system serving the area six months from the date of the order granting withdrawal and quarterly thereafter.
I don’t get it… why? And no, that doesn’t work. Where Xcel is saying they’ll be back, after developing a more palatable option through discussions with stakeholders, why eliminate the disclosure of its “public outreach efforts? Thankfully, this was not adopted.
From Xcel’s filings, it’s clear that the Hollydale Project is “desired,” strongly desired, despite that it’s not “needed” in any criteria-based sense. Xcel wants this project so badly that it has stated that if permitted to withdraw this application, it is coming back, and that:
The residents of Plymouth and Medina, as well as other key stakeholders, have expressed serious concerns about the potential impacts of this Project…
… that “it may take some time to collaborate with stakeholders on developing a new solution…”
… and that it “intends to work with the community and stakeholders on developing a more widely supported electrical solution…”
Those words get me more than a little concerned, particularly where at a meeting organized by Commerce at Plymouth City Hall, after we’d gone around the room in introductions, Sen. Bonhoff said, very pointedly to me, “Who are you?” “Why are you here?” “Who is the Barry Family?” I got the idea that she though I shouldn’t be there, that it was to be a more private party, and I shouldn’t have been invited. And yesterday, a woman present in support of WPNA asked the same questions. Hmmmm… Oh well. We’re parties to this party!
This Hollydale Project was an odd project, in ways that weren’t fully addressed in the proceeding:
- First is the inherent legal definition of transmission – this project, as proposed, would change this line from a relatively unregulated 69 kV line to a highly regulated “High Voltage Transmission Line” as defined in statute.
- The project as proposed represents a significant physical and electrical change, from an inactive 69 kV line to a high capacity HTVL that is an operating part of the grid.
- This project would require a change in ownership – Xcel is requesting to buy the easement, gain the powers that ownership of easement interests represents, and planned to use the easement to build a line of a very different character than what was built under the original easement.
- This project would change the purpose of the line through Plymouth and Medina, from a purpose of rare emergency backup for the local distribution system, to a high capacity grid support for the 345 kV system.
Now the application has been withdrawn. Xcel says it’s going to work collaboratively to come up with a “new solution.” Let’s see what happens next!
Xcel’s request for withdrawal of its Hollydale Transmission Project Certificate of Need and Route Permit Application is before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission tomorrow. We’re 4th on the agenda. Come on down, or watch it live!Live Webcast Public Utilities Commission Meeting PUC Large Meeting Room 121 7th Place East, Suite 350 St. Paul, MN
And look how a decision came down in Chino, California! There was a transmission line through the community for a long, long time, and it was “inactive” for a long, long time. Then one day, the utility started taking down the towers that weren’t being used, and stuck new bigger ones in their place. Thankfully, the story didn’t end there — they had to take the poles down and underground that transmission line:
Here’s the Chino Hills group’s website:
The primer stuck on the walls! YES!!! And the new paint is sitting there in the corner waiting, “Stream of Silver” for the walls, to match the grease and such, and “White Lullaby” for the ceiling, but lots of plastering up there, so that may happen first, before the walls are painted.
A van load over to the scrap yard, and another van load over to the Humane Society’s garage sale, and… sigh… I gave up all my truck stuff, a coffee pot, cooking pot, and my CB! It’ll be there at the sale, the end of an era… sigh… I still have my license, and in cleaning out the office, I found my file box full of directions which I still haven’t thrown out (if you want to know how to get to Jacmar Sales in Alhambra, CA, or Seaside Cold Storage in Hayward, CA, well, just let me know!).
It’s so nice to have a little time off to get these stupid things done!
The mudroom has been driving me crazy, the color is this dark depressing BLUE, and we tore out the awful laminate flooring that was in there, the vinyl underneath isn’t too bad, so in went the toilet, in went the washer dryer… oh, and did I mention that during that project, we found the “bonus room” underneath — a coal bin 1/2 full of coal!!! Holiday gifts for all my friends! But the blue of this room has persisted, same blue that my office was before I painted it and stripped the darker blue and purple off the woodwork, but been there, done that, and now on to the mudroom.
… and now, to get rid of those ugly blue walls now that it’s warm enough to paint. Something green/grey to make the floor look greenish flecked, not so grey. No problem, so I thought, until I scraped at a few bumps on the wall, and two layers of paint fell off, it’s just in the middle, not way at the top and not way at the bottom. Go figure. So now it’s an utter mess, but scraped, sanded, patched, and tomorrow, sand some more, and slap on the primer.
It’ll look better soon… floor cleans up well, need to put the quarterround in, and it’ll be painted, at least this corner and to the right where the dog food bin goes, and put up a cabinet here way up to the ceiling, and a shelf for all the crap that comes in the door and ends up on the “dog station” just inside the kitchen. There’s a snazzy RED double decker toolbox below — but maybe grey spray paint is called for… what to do…). And then after it’s all painted, the little sink goes in the far corner.
No, unfortunately it is NOT about the beer. The Grain Belt Express Transmission Line is moving forward, now in Missouri. Yesterday they filed their “application” and I’ve never seen anything so light on substance. But there’s more… A big pile o’ testimony was filed yesterday, and today there’s the first prehearing order, setting an intervention deadline of April 25, 2014.
Missouri Public Service Commission Code of State Regulations
Missouri CSR – Chapter 4 – Code of Conduct (i.e., ex parte!)
To keep up with the docket CLICK HERE and plug in “EA-2014-0207″ and you’ll get all the filings — here’s what’s been filed thus far:
Title of Filing
Filed on Behalf Of14 3/27/2014 Order Directing Notice, Setting Intervention Deadline, and Directing Filing of Staff Recommendation Commission-(All) 13 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Robert M. Zavadil Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 12 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Michael P. Skelly Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 11 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Gary Moland Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 10 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Dr. David G. Loomis Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 9 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Mark O. Lawlor Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 8 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Timothy B. Gaul Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 7 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of Dr. Anthony Wayne Galli Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 6 3/26/2014 Direct Testimony of David Berry Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 5 3/26/2014 Application of Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 4 2/25/2014 Order Granting Leave To Withdraw As Counsel Commission-(All) 3 2/25/2014 Notice of Withdrawal Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 2 2/25/2014 Entry of Appearance Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric) 1 1/13/2014 Grain Belt Express Clean Line LLC Notice of Intended Case Filing Grain Belt Express Clean Line, LLC-(Electric)
Last night at the Red Wing City Council meeting, the Council voted to tear down the City’s incinerator.Don’t ignore big burning issue
CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE DISCUSSION (they take a break, restarts at 38:50):Consider action to close the City’s Solid Waste Incinerator
Staff will present a recommendation to the Council with options for the Solid Waste Campus. Please see the attached staff report with background information, the rationale for closing the Solid Waste Boiler at this time, and alternatives. Staff seeks a Council decision on the recommendation to close the City’s Solid Waste Incinerator.
And not a moment too soon:
One down… Now it’s time to shut down Xcel Energy’s two unit garbage burner! This is a view from the bluff just above our 8th Street house!
TO DO: Contact House Committee members and urge passage:
In the House, all the bills have been referred to Transportation Finance (HF 3134 after a trip through the Transportation Policy and Public Safety committees), so now we’ve got to contact those in Transportation Finance to move HF 3133, HF 3134 & HF 3135 on to the House floor — it’s Frank’s committee so he shouldn’t have any trouble getting a hearing!!! Contact info for House Finance members HERE!
TO DO: Contact Senate Committee members and urge passage:
In the Senate, two have been referred to Transportation and Public Safety (SF 2795 and SF 2796), and one to Environment and Energy (SF 2797). Contact info for Transportation and Public Safety HERE! Sen. Scott Dibble is Chair so there should be no problem getting a hearing here either!! Contact info for Environment and Energy HERE!
Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee will hear them tomorrow:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Something very noticeable here in this district is that Rep. Matt Kelley and Rep. Steve Drazkowski have not signed on. ???? This is a huge issue for those of us along the Mississippi with the rail line running right through town.
TO DO: Contact these legislators along the tracks and urge them to sign on (and also those towards Fargo too, don’t know where the train runs there):
Why aren’t state Representatives and Senators in SE Minnesota acting on this explosive issue?
Here are notes from a City of Red Wing meeting with CP on March 17th:
Sure, it’s Sheldon Johnson’s birthday, but check this amendment coming up in committee today:
Maybe introduce this NEXT Tuesday too???
No, not that kind of MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or is it Midwest Energy, or… (they’ve been changing the name lately) anyway, it’s the electric market kind of MISO:
They’re having a shindig at the Minnesota MISO HQ:10:00 a.m. – High Noon Friday, March 20, 2014 MISO Eagan Office 2985 Ames Crossing Road Eagan, MN 55121
Here’s the Notice:
Where it talks about the “MISO report” that is to be reviewed, here’s what they’re referring to:
And apparently this is being constantly updated, so the link is the most recent update.
It’s that County Convention time of year, so we hustled on down to Goodhue for the DFL convention and voted on resolutions. Alan spoke to let people know what his most important resolution was about:
2) That the words “the heat value of mixed municipal waste or refuse derived fuel” be removed from the definition of biomass included in Minn. Stat. 216B.1691: Renewable Energy Options.
They screwed up the Resolutions, mislabeling statutes” as “legislation#” or “legislative bill #” — very strange.
Anyway, I wasn’t really in the mood this morning, it was kind of hard to stomach the DFL when the headlines today state that the legislature passed, and Dayton signed, a bill that “kills some taxes for businesses.” Here’s the STrib article:
TAX RELIEF FOR BUSINESSES? If businesses are paying lots of taxes, they are making lots of money, and that’s after they take deductions for expenses and then some — there is NO excuse for cutting taxes for business. AAAAARGH!