Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 2 days 14 min ago

Sandbagging Silica Sand Rulemaking – Meeting July 24

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 1:42pm

It’s that time again — Thursday, July 24, is the next meeting of the Silica Sand Rulemaking Advisory Committee.  It will be held at the People’s Energy Cooperative, in Oronoco, and run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Will there be draft rules trotted out for review on Thursday?  $50 says they won’t have draft rules for review this time either… and folks, I do NOT want to win that bet.  But this is a repeated problem. What I’m seeing is that if they are going to put the draft rules before the EQB in September, this is the last chance to receive a draft, take it to constituents, and bring back comments and concerns to the Committee in August!  Now … the last chance…

Those who are “representing” us:

How about standing up and demanding full process and disclosure of draft rules?  And how about reporting back on what’s going on, and more importantly, what’s NOT going on?   You also need to forward the draft rules and other information to all of your “constituents” who you’re representing and solicit for comments to take back to the Rulemaking group.  The communities at stake here should be aware of the utter lack of progress and lack of draft rule disclosure and should be storming the agencies and Governor’s office!  Informing us is a big part of the job of being a “representative” on this committee.  (Listening to the June meeting, Charlie is delivering a message about the importance of keeping alternates informed and of alternates to keep themselves up to speed… that goes for letting the rest of us know what’s happening too!)

I’m also curious about Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s role, and why MCEA is the only NGO represented — what’s up with that?

In the recorded WebEx for June 24 there are some great comments from members on cumulative impacts and density of projects, threshold of acres of farmland lost.  Also consideration of the AUAR process applicable to silica sand mining permits, and baseline info about silica sand mining footprint.  And DOH, the need for the SONAR to be able to address rules, and a need for holistic review and a mine inventory.  Check it out.

Here’s the July 24 agenda — do you see any mention here of the September plan to present rules to EQB?

AGENDA

The statutory purpose of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee is to comment on DRAFT rules PRIOR to release by the agency for comment.  This is where input is most important, because once the draft rules are released for comment, the agency may not approve rules that are substantially different!  Comments after release won’t have a heck of a lot of influence, that’s how the rulemaking process works (or doesn’t work).  So meanwhile, what’s happening here is that not enough is happening, that the agencies here are sandbagging the rulemaking process.  Listen to the WebEx recordings, it’s worthwhile to get the flavor of these meetings.

Yes, it’s true, I’ve not gone to these meetings.  Why?  Because odds are it would be like the last time I went to a meeting where Charlie Peterson was “facilitating” and lots of questions were dodged, answers were not provided and those that were only covered 1/2 the issue, narrowing the discussion rather than broadening it as should be done for scoping, and crucial information was being withheld in a transmission scoping Advisory Task Force group.  The historical scoop:  I’m asking you to leave…

Here’s what the Rulemaking Advisory Committee has done thus far, from the Silica Sand page:

Past meetings June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 January 2014

The panel first met on January 29.

Again, here is the statute:

Minn. Stat. 14.101, Subd. 2.Advisory committees.

Each agency may also appoint committees to comment, before publication of a notice of intent to adopt or a notice of hearing, on the subject matter of a possible rulemaking under active consideration within the agency.

Once more with feeling:

To the rulemaking staff at MPCA, EQB and DNR:  YOU’RE AVOIDING PUBLIC INPUT ON DRAFT RULES PRIOR TO BRINGING TO PROPOSAL TO THE BOARD.  STOP SANDBAGGING THE PROCESS AND PRODUCE THE DRAFT RULES FOR REVIEW.

DISCLOSE DRAFT RULES FOR REVIEW BY ADVISORY COMMITTEE PRIOR TO TAKING THEM TO EQB BOARD & AGENCIES!

To the representatives on the Rulemaking Advisory Panel, please represent your constituents and let us all know what’s going on, get the draft Rules, and get them to your constituents — US — for review and comment!

 

 

Categories: Citizens

Delaware City Daze… quashing free speech

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 8:26pm

Guess they should try “open carry” of fishing poles!  See what they do then?!?!

“Rueful city officials have slapped a ban on some political speech…” what IS and IS NOT banned?  Who is deciding?  What are the guidelines?

Seems Delaware City had decided to give the 1st Amendment a good swift kick and quash free speech at Delaware City Days.  WHAT?  What could possibly be such a problem with people saying, “PFB REFINERY: STOP KILLING OUR FISH!”

Controversy overshadows Delaware City Day

Jeff Montgomery, The News Journal

Rueful city officials have slapped a ban on some political speech at Saturday’s 34th annual Delaware City Day, claiming protesters hijacked the city’s parade, skies and a few activities last year to target PBF Energy’s nearby refinery.

The ban – enforced through requiring a review before the event of brochures and parade floats – drew accusations of a free speech foul from Delaware Audubon, and a charge that the city was fishing for the refinery’s favor. Audubon now plans a floating protest Saturday afternoon in waters just off the community’s Battery Park.

“It’s a family event,” said City Manager Richard C. Cathcart, a former state lawmaker. “They’re the ones who created the problem last year. In the parade, they were coming down with pictures of the governor in a hangman’s noose.”

The Green Party of Delaware’s parade entry last year included a banner with a likeness of Gov. Jack Markell as a pirate with eye-patch and parrot, alongside the words “Toxic Jack Markell.” A chartered plane also circled the area briefly last year, towing a banner calling on the refinery to “Stop Killing Our Fish,” a reference to fish losses to the plant’s outdated cooling water intake.

Dave Carter, conservation chair for Delaware Audubon, said the city’s effort amounts to an attack on a civil liberty and is inconsistent with the public intent of a $33,000 grant-in-aid that lawmakers approved for the Delaware City Day Committee last month.

“It’s clearly intended to limit and chill free speech at this publicly funded event,” said Carter, who plans to use his own watercraft, possibly with one or more fish-suited crew members, to display a sign objecting to the refinery’s large daily withdrawals from the Delaware River for plant cooling needs.

PBF’s water intake and discharge permit is up for renewal, with environmental groups pressing the state to require investments in towers that would reduce fish loss.

“Is this the appropriate way to use grants-in-aid at a time when people are suffering and people have real needs?” Carter asked, adding he believed the city was protecting aid that the community receives from the refinery.

Carter shared an email exchange in which Cathcart said state aid and sponsorship from the refinery “had absolutely nothing to do with our vendor and parade policy.”

“If you want to protest, go up to the refinery. Don’t come to our battery park, where there are kids and family members going to enjoy themselves,” Cathcart said.

The Sierra Club Delaware chapter, also critical of the refinery, plans to have a table at Delaware City, as it did last year.

As many as 6,000 people are expected at daytime activities in the city, with a nighttime fireworks show expected to draw 6,000. Cathcart said the city’s streets will be closed at 4 p.m. and visitors directed to remote parking and shuttle buses for evening activities.

Delaware City’s fire company manages the parking, with a $5 per car fee supporting cadet programs.

Contact Jeff Montgomery at (302) 463-3344 or jmontgomery@delawareonline.com

 

Categories: Citizens

Bark & Ride transport completed!!!

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 7:45pm

Categories: Citizens

Bark & Ride Transport this weekend

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 7:44pm

Only six dogs on this dog transport, last time we had 12!  Tomorrow we meet a mom Bridget, her three “chipmunk” pups Alvin, Theodore and Simon; chi/feist mix Perez; and Nora.  Nora’s a wiggle-butt “lab mix” (bottom photo) and she’ll probably be the lap dog this trip.

Categories: Citizens

Another noisy day… it’s Xcel Energy again!

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:16am

My friends at Xcel are miscalculating my schedule, sending the guys with the boom trucks over on a Friday without a deadline!!!  HA HA HA HA HA HA and not only that,

Yeah, give ‘em the raspberries…

Today they’re taking out the poles across the street so they can start on the mother of all retaining walls.  We do now have a distribution line in the front yard.  Where’s that gauss meter?

Did you know that they saw down utility poles?  Odd, I figured they’d take them out and resuse them.  Here they’ve sawed the support pole in half, then took it down and are sawing it up into little chunks.  So small that I’ll bet they haul them over to their garbage burner here in Red Wing, or down to La Crosse where I know they burn railroad ties.  Railroad ties, penta poles, what’s the difference!

We’ve told the city that we LOVE the quiet at night, what a difference, and they were tickled that we thought they’d done something right (guess Alan and I are known around city offices).  There are deer back in da ‘hood again, one strolling down the middle of the dirt street, and somebody’s been eating the day lily buds.  We need to move some of the construction hazard lights closer.

Life goes on with construction… but work?  No way!

Categories: Citizens

Power’s back on…

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 1:09pm

Not that I wanted to get back to work.  Thanks, Xcel Energy, for a reason to procrastinate… but if I’ve got a reason, it’s not procrastination, is it!

Categories: Citizens

New nuclear in Illinois? Nope, don’t think so…

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 7:26pm

While cruising the MISO queue for wind projects in Illinois, this popped up, new MISO Queue numbers J371 and J372, 3,664 MW filed near the end of June.  Oh my…

But I don’t think it’s what it looks like.  I think they’re planning to shut them down.  There’s been a lot of buzz about it, they auctioned off the power… but didn’t, big FAIL, hence the buzz.  ???  They’re due for a report out in August, will keep an eye on the queue.

 

Categories: Citizens

Rep. Kowalko about the Newark Power Plant

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 9:58pm

This press conference in Delaware celebrating their victory in stopping a 280 or so MW power plant flying in under the cover of a “data center” that needed maybe 1/10 of that. The University of Delaware terminated its lease agreement.

Rep. John Kowalko of Newark, Delaware — he was on this, leading the charge, and got a lot of flak for it, but persistence paid off. Kowalko is one of the few state Reps. around who represents his people with gusto!

  Press Conference Part I – Rep. Kowalko is on starting ~ 10:50

He’s also on again in Part II at 1:39, announcing a 1.2 MW solar project at the University of Delaware:

Categories: Citizens

Decorah eagle electrocuted

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 4:22pm

“Double Trouble” taken by Marie McNamara, rural Goodhue, MN

Recently one of the Decorah eagle fledglings was electrocuted, and its body was found after ITC noticed a fault on the line and went to check it out.

Here are various USFWS Comments on the CapX 2020 transmission line:

USFWS 2-19-08

USFWS 5-4-09

USFWS_DEISComment_4-29-11

From Iowa Public Radio:

News Buzz: Decorah eagle electrocuted

And in USA Today:

Internet famous eagle in Iowa electrocuted, dies

Power poles are attractive to raptors as high perching spots, and eagles are the most commonly electrocuted birds — 4,300 between 1960 and 1995, according to a federal study cited in a 2005 report by biologist Albert Manville. Electrocution was the fourth-leading cause of death among bald eagles, behind accidental trauma, poisoning and shooting.

… Two eagles from the Decorah nest were electrocuted in 2012.

From the Decorah Newspapers:

Another eagle electrocuted

Categories: Citizens

Richfield hit by “Prolife Action Ministries”

Sat, 07/12/2014 - 9:39pm

A friend found this on her door in Richfield today.  Called the number, 651-771-1500, and asked that they not flyer her house (is there a “Do not lit drop” list?), and got a ration of hateful verbal abuse.

I went to the site, “Planned Parenthood Exposed,” and it’s pretty rabid.  EEEEEUW.

How’s this, according to them, Planned Parenthood  would “aid and abet the sex-trafficking of minor girls” (linked below):

Investigations found seven Planned Parenthood clinics in four different states were willing to aid and abet the sex-trafficking of minor girls by supplying confidential birth control, STD testing, and secret abortions to underage girls and their traffickers.

Or this (linked):

Planned Parenthood received over $500 million in forced taxpayer funding last year. And the nation’s largest abortion corporation is teaching the children it doesn’t abort to abuse, degrade, and torture each other for sexual satisfaction.

It’s an operation of “Prolife Action Ministries” — and today, lit drops claiming “Planned Parenthood is Preying Upon Your Community.”

It’s too bad my brother isn’t in the neighborhood anymore — I’m sure he and Oggy would like to have a chat with them!

Here’s a blurb on their site that has me scratching my head?  If you can figure it out, let me know how it’s possible to “dramatically increased the number of babies killed by abortion in 2013″ “in spite of the number of abortions being performed in Minnesota dropping to its lowest level since before 1975.”  Am I missing something here?  I’d think they’d be happy that the number of abortions are dropping…

Planned Parenthood Dramatically increases abortions Minnesota Abortions at Lowest Level since Before 1975

(July 1, 2014) – Planned Parenthood, Minnesota’s abortion giant, dramatically increased the number of babies killed by abortion in 2013 according to the just released Report to the Legislature by the Minnesota Department of Health.  This in spite of the number of abortions being performed in Minnesota dropping to its lowest level since before 1975.

“Clearly, Planned Parenthood equals abortion.  Planned Parenthood has attempted to rebrand itself as healthcare, but it remains nothing more than the state’s greatest purveyor of abortion,” said Brian Gibson, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action Ministries.  “There is no truth to its propaganda about reducing abortions.  This organization finds a way to dutifully increase its abortion numbers in accord with Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s quotas while Minnesota’s abortion number continues to decline,” Gibson continued.

Planned Parenthood opened a referral clinic in Richfield on Monday which targets the Hispanic community in a continuing effort to expand its abortion business.

Categories: Citizens

Newark Data Center gas plant dead…

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 8:17pm

Three cheers for Rep. John Kowalko, who was on the front lines taking the heat about his opposition to the “Data Center” natural gas plant proposed for Newark.

This from Alan Muller, Green Delaware:

Gas attack: U of Delaware kills $1 billion data center/power plant.”

“The Data Center” was a scam so blatant, so absurd, that it should never have gotten any traction at all.

That it did is a sad commentary on the intellectual and ethical emptiness of Delaware’s “Chamber of Commerce” business community, and, of course, the administration of Gov. Jack Markell.  The so called “Delaware Economic Development Office,”especially, demonstrates a consistent and predictable idiocy backed up by secrecy and dishonesty.

Per usual in Delaware, the scam was assembled by various parties, including the Markell Administration, the University of Delaware, and the City of Newark, before the public was given notice.  Then, it was rolled out as a done deal.  Thankfully, it apparently has been undone.  (Note that the objection is mostly to the power plant, not to a data center as such.)

Aside from the obvious lie of saying a 278 megawatt gas-burning power plant was “auxiliary” to a data center, consider the un wisdom, or the symbolism, of a large new fossil-fuel power plant in a state so vulnerable to the effects of climate change that much of it will soon enough be under water.  Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of any state at 60 ft above sea level.   (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 ft.)  The mean elevation of Kent County is only 36 feet.  Current measured sea level rise is around 3.4 mm per year and speeding up–it varies from place to place–and almost every new official prediction of sea level rise is higher than the last one.  See Waters rising … Delaware going away?”

It is long past time to be shutting down the the existing combustion power plants that drive climate change and sea level rise, far less a time to be building new ones.  (The total generating capacity in Delaware is on the order of 3300 megawatts.)

In the face of this, Markell has allowed investment in wind, solar, and energy efficiency to mostly come to a stop–suiting the interests of Delmarva Power–while embracing various schemes for burning more natural gas.  (All considered, it appears that the climate change impact of natural gas is at least as high as coal, because of the unburned methane emissions.)

Residents of the City of Newark, and faculty and students of the University of Delaware came to life to oppose a scam in which the City and the Administration of the U of D were deeply involved.  In recent decades is has been rare to see signs of political life in Newark, but self-interest does have an energizing effect.  See Newark Residents Against the Power Plant.

The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club (especially Amy Roe) and the Delaware Audubon Society contributed.

But the real hero of this fight, in my opinion, is Rep. John Kowalko of Newark.  Kowalko relentlessly sought accurate information from various parties so he could represent the true interests of his constituents.  It doesn’t take a lot of courage for professors or environmentalists to oppose a power plant, but Kowalko, a longtime union man, took a lot of heat from any-job-at-any-cost Delaware union officials.

Kowalko, as usually does, behaved with gumption, integrity, and right-on values.   Consider the oath of office that Delaware’s Constitution prescribes for public officials:

 I, (name) , do proudly swear (or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of (name of office) to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.

How many legislators take their oath seriously?  John Kowalko is one who clearly does.  (I don’t know what role has been played by Senators representing the area.)

Compare the “Data Center” fight with the fight of people around Millsboro against a giant Korean chicken-killing plant, another Markell project just as absurd and undesirable.  See “ Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?“  That area is represented by Gerald W. Hocker and John C. Atkins, two of the most special-interest-serving legislators in Delaware.  (Atkins has been in the news recently, and Green Delaware has featured him before.)

Friday and Saturday are forecast to be Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware.  Saturday is also Code Yellow for particles.  Some discussion of the meaning of this is here.

Alan Muller

Muller and Kowalko just prior to arrest at Legislative Hall years ago

Categories: Citizens

Stealth rulemaking — PUC’s Minn. R. Ch. 7829

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 10:17am

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is to take up the proposal for revisions to Minn. R. Ch. 7829, which is the PUC’s practice and procedure chapter.  I call it their stealth rulemaking docket.

    A little birdie told me that the Commission will publish a Notice of  Intent to Adopt based on the draft filed on July 9, and delegated to Commissioner Lipschultz the authority to make necessary, non-substantive edits for cleanup and consultation with the Revisor, before publication in the state register.

It will be coming back up for public comment probably in the next month or so once the draft is published.

 

Here’s the draft filed July 9:

Staff Briefing Papers_(Last Minute)_20147-101333-01

Here’s what was filed on July 2 (link may not work, eDockets is funky, “eFiling Image Repository is unavailable. We’re sorry, your search cannot be completed at this time. If you feel you have reached this message in error, please Contact Efiling.Admin@state.mn.us“):

Briefing Papers 13-24.pdf. JULY 10, 2014 AGENDA

The new filing didn’t appear in e-dockets until this morning, as I understand it, because of technical problems with e-dockets over the last 24 hours or so.

I’ve been concerned about this chapter for a long while, and submitted a Petition for Rulemaking some time ago:

Overland Petition for Rulemaking-7829

Here are the rules:

7829 Utility Proceeding, Practice, Procedure

Here’s the notice and proposed changes:

Request for Comments_20132-83863-02

Proposed Rules

It’s been an odd rulemaking.  They published the initial notice of “potential” rulemaking, or some such, but who got it?  Not moi… and I learned of it only just before it was to go before the PUC.  Here are a couple of posts:

PUC’s Stealth 7829 Rulemaking Docket June 4th, 2013 PUC requests Comments on 7829 rules August 8th, 2013 Minn. R. 7829 marches on… September 9th, 2013
Categories: Citizens

We have to destroy the eagle in order to save it…

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 2:55pm

American Wind Energy Ass.’ John Anderson is spouting off in the DelmarvaNow Opinion section, and good thing it’s in the Opinion section because it’s a little skewed on facts and displays a disturbing outlook.

Anderson’s bio says:

I am the industry lead on national wildlife and non-wildlife siting issues for both land-based and offshore wind development. In this role, I get to work on critical issues related to the deployment and operations of U.S. wind energy facilities, which – once addressed – will aid in the advancement of a form of energy generation that is key to combating climate change.

Two things jump out at me:

  • John Anderson is the industry lead, but I’m not seeing anything about development of wind siting that’s respectful of humans or wildlife, and in his opinion piece, it discounts documented issues of eagle kills and projected eagle kills and it minimizes the potential for eagle and other bird kills via wind turbines.
  • John Anderson advances the fiction that “deployment and operations of U.S. wind energy facilities, which – once addressed – will aid in the advancement of a form of energy generation that is key to combating climate change.”  Oh, pleeeeeeeaze…  Building wind turbines does not reduce carbon emissions — shutting down coal plants does.  Not one Renewable Energy Standard/Mandate links building and using renewable energy generation with shut down of any generation that produces CO2.  PERIOD.  There is no link.  This is a problem that needs to be corrected, but as it stands, building all the wind in the world, adding to the existing surplus of generation, will not decrease carbon emissions.  The economic depression actually did something for reducing CO2 emissions, but we’ve got a surplus.  AWEA is a big fan of transmission, which rather than force shutdown of the CO2 emitters, adds to transmission capacity for regional marketing, and allows those coal plants to continue operating.  If they were shut down, there’d be plenty of capacity for all the wind they could want on those wires, actually taking the place of the coal now on the wires.  The massive transmission build-out is all about keeping “Coal on the Wires.”  ICF – Midwest ISO Benefits Analysis explains it quite well, and succinctly, when it states that the benefits of the transmission build-out is best achieved where coal displaces natural gas.  Great… just great policy…

I’m concerned about this both as an attorney who has worked for clients intervening in wind project dockets with significant eagle kill issues, modeling showing deaths of both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles would occur (see record for the Goodhue Wind project here in Goodhue County, PUC Dockets 08-1233; 09-1176; 09-1349 and 09-1350), and as a former board member of the National Eagle Center, referenced with a quote from its site (though he’s misnaming it as “National Bald Eagle Center.”  The name is a BIG deal to the National Eagle Center.)  I’m also concerned about this because its appearing in Delmarvanow, as I have ties to Delaware and my partner Alan Muller is Executive Director of Green Delaware, instrumental in the Delaware Public Service Commission’s RFP selection of a wind/gas combo in a level playing field comparison between wind, natural gas, and IGCC (coal gasification).

It seems the lessons of the Goodhue Wind Project and its Avian and Bat Protection Plan, typical of wind projects and eagle take permits in Minnesota, need review:

AVIAN AND BAT PROTECTION PLAN

U.S. Fish and Wildlife predicted the following eagle mortality would accompany the small 78MW Goodhue Wind Project a/k/a New Era Wind Farm, and yes, folks, it would require an eagle take permit:

USFWS Comment on Goodhue Avian & Bat Protection Plan January 16, 2013

Let’s be clear — an eagle take permit is a federal permit allowing the permit holder to kill eagles.

The National Eagle Center’s website states under “Do wind turbines need an eagle take permit” an incorrect answer:

An eagle take permit is not required for a wind turbine project to proceed, however, if harm to eagles results, the company would then be subject to prosecution. The eagle take permit process itself requires that mitigation procedures to limit potential harm to eagles be put in place, as well as mandatory data collection and regulatory oversight of the project.

This needs correction.  Many wind projects do require take permits.  Eagle take permits are on a project by project basis and they absolutely can and are required for wind projects, the project here in Goodhue a local example.  FYI, it’s not just wind projects, it’s transmission that kill eagles too, and the AWEA folks are fond of promoting transmission “for wind” (NOT).  The CapX 2020 transmission project required eagle take permits for its Belle Plaine Minnesota River crossing and for the Mississippi River crossing near Alma, Wisconsin.

Today at Delmarvanow.com:

Like people, eagles benefit from clean environment

John Anderson

To Americans, the bald eagle symbolizes our freedom, spirit and democracy. With National Bald Eagle Day happening every year at the end of June, we are reminded of the need to do all that we can to care for and protect our national bird across the country.

Many man-made threats to eagles exist in the landscape today, including power lines, mercury and lead poisoning, and illegal shootings — with thousands killed annually by these sources. Further, according to most in the scientific community, the single greatest threat to them, and all wildlife, is climate change.

That’s why National Resources Defense Council Executive Director Peter Lehner has said, “We need to move as quickly as possible to the clean energy future, and scaling up wind power will be a big part of the solution,” and why ConservAmerica President Rob Sisson said, “Developing energy from America’s abundant renewable natural resources must be our priority, not only for the tremendous economic benefits it yields, but because it’s one of the best tools available to help conserve wildlife, including eagles.”

All sources of energy generation, and human activity for that matter, have an impact on the natural environment. However, Americans are confronted with needing to make choices about how to generate the electricity necessary to power our modern society and doing so in the least impactful way.

According to the National Bald Eagle Center, stewards of National Bald Eagle Day, the overall impact of wind turbine collision on eagle populations is minimal compared to other sources of mortality. While unfortunate, eagle losses at modern wind farms are a rare and random event, with only a few bald eagles having ever been observed to have died in collisions with a wind turbine.

Studies of the life cycle impacts of the six major energy generation sources have shown wind energy has the lowest environmental impact of any form of electricity generation, as it emits no air or water pollution, uses no water in the generation of electricity and creates no hazardous or radioactive waste requiring permanent storage. In fact, pollution-free, renewable wind energy was built on a legacy of care and has expended significant resources proactively minimizing its impact on wildlife while representing an economical solution to mitigating the effects of climate change.

American wind power is one of the cheapest and most reliable ways we can rapidly reduce carbon pollution and solve the challenges of climate change. The American wind fleet avoids 127 million tons of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of reducing power sector emissions by 5 percent or taking 20 million cars off the road. Wind energy is the single largest zero-emission, newly installed energy source for the past three decades. As it continues scaling up from more than 5 percent today to 20 percent of the U.S. power grid and beyond, the pollution savings will rapidly grow.

The wind energy industry does more to address its impacts on eagles than any of the other, far greater sources of eagle mortality known to wildlife experts. Wind has taken the most proactive and leading role of any utility-scale energy source to minimize wildlife impacts in general, and specifically for eagles, through constantly improving siting and avoidance and minimization techniques, and identifying options to offset the industry’s comparatively minimal impacts.

In recognizing that some human impact on eagles is unavoidable, during the last two years the U.S. Department of the Interior worked with major conservation groups and other stakeholders, including the wind energy industry, to make available limited authorization, for up to 30 years, for the taking of eagles that is incidental to and not the purpose of otherwise lawful activities. The permit is available to all sources of human-caused eagle mortality including oil and gas development, electric utilities and transportation, and was designed to conserve eagle populations by providing for a net conservation benefit for an eagle lost.

Protecting and caring for our national bird is important to the wind industry, which is why we proactively work with conservationists and regulators to find ways to minimize and fully offset our impacts.

As we take a moment each year to celebrate Bald Eagle Day, remember, the American wind energy industry is doing its part to keep bald eagles safe while providing a clean, affordable means of generating electricity, which is one of the key tools to addressing the impacts of climate change.

John Anderson is director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association.

Categories: Citizens

I swear Xcel Energy is distracting on purpose

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 1:44pm

Much as I love our friends at Xcel Energy, I’m really losing my patience.  I’ve got a brief to write.  Can’t concentrate with all that noise going on…  Can’t go office at the St. James or Caribou without a pack mule for all the crap that constitutes the file.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Categories: Citizens

Thanks, Xcel…

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 6:29pm

Look what they’re putting in at the end of our driveway… Thanks, Xcel Energy!

 

 

Categories: Citizens

Issues with mining reclamation in SE Minnesota

Sat, 07/05/2014 - 2:29pm

Last year, the legislature directed three agencies to get to work on rulemaking for silica sand mining.  Minnesota’s DNR was tasked with the “reclamation” aspects of silica sand mining, and reclamation is nothing new for the DNR, it’s something over which they do indeed have regulatory jurisdiction.

Minnesota Silica Sand Information Page

Silica Sand Advisory Panel Page

 

The Silica Sand RulemakingAdvisory Committee has been meeting for months… and months… and months… but the DNR has not produced any reclamation draft rules (oops, first typed “daft”) for the committee to review.

Some suggestions and issues to be aware of were raised based on Wisconsin practice, and hopefully they’re taking that into account.

Now here’s some pertinent information.  There’s an extensive article in today’s Rochester Post Bulletin, issues that should be taken into consideration when the Rulemaking Advisory Committee addresses mining reclamation… dare I say REVIEWS DRAFT RULES FOR RECLAMATION???

Mining slows progress on Cascade Lake Park

Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014 10:35 am | Updated: 10:35 am, Fri Jul 4, 2014.

Bryna Godar, bgodar@postbulletin.com

Some roads near Cascade Lake Park in Rochester bear names like Beach View, Cascade Beach and Beach Lake. Some day, the road signs will be more descriptive of the area, but for now part of the lake shore is lined with big piles of sand and gravel still being mined there.

Cascade Lake Park has been a decades-long project centered on turning the gravel mining areas along Cascade Creek into a 100-acre lake and surrounding park with a public beach, fishing piers, a boat launch and trails linking it to the rest of the city.

According to a 2005 master plan for the project, mining activity was expected to be wrapped up in 2007 or 2008. But the economic downturn slowed the demand for the mined materials and consequently delayed the lake’s completion, said Park and Forestry Division Head Mike Nigbur.

Now, the park will likely not be complete until around 2022, Nigbur said.

Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik, whose ward encompasses the park, said he hoped the lake would be entirely mined by now but he’s not worried about the park’s future.

“They are delays that are necessary to do what we want to do out there,” Wojcik said. “We could force the issue and just go ahead with the park, but the reality is we really want to have that big beautiful lake out there, so they need to keep mining.”

The project’s timeline has always been vague because it depends on mining progress and funding. In fact, some residents in the area don’t even know a park is planned.

“We’d kind of always been told not to hold our breath,” said Gregg Erickson, manager of Bouquet Cos., which is planning development alongside the future park.

Denny Stotz, who was assistant director of the Rochester Park and Recreation Department until 2011, said there never really was a concrete timeline for components like the beach or parking lot.

“The master plan was done in order to take advantage of the mining and the reclamation that the mining company was obligated to do, whether there was a master plan or not,” Stotz said.

Some facilities are already in place in the area, including soccer fields and a trail, which nearby residents said they love.

Nigbur said the city is hoping to work with the mining company to get the rest of the trail built around the lake in 2015.

There are some concerns with simultaneous construction activity and park development, Nigbur said, but there are ways to mitigate conflict and start doing some projects sooner rather than later. In addition to the trails, that could include starting to clear land area for a beach, Nigbur said.

Funding

Any added park component requires funding, something the department must request every year through the city’s capital improvement program.

“We’ve got some money in the budget right now, about $200,000, but that won’t go very far,” Nigbur said.

The department will need much more for its ambitious plans, but it will have to wait and see on a year-by-year basis how much the project gets.

“We don’t have funding to do a lot of the things that we intend to do out there right now,” Wojcik said, adding that they’re hoping to get Minnesota Legacy funding.

Even with less-than-certain funding and delays in the mining project, city officials are optimistic and excited about the park’s future.

“I think this park will be our generation’s gift to future generations,” Wojcik said.

Categories: Citizens

Title bout: Overland v Vargas!

Fri, 07/04/2014 - 10:58am

David Overland gets hit with “Welcome to Los Vargas!”  It’s Fernando, Jr.:

So there’s David, he’s minding his own business, toolin’ down the road, had to slow down… (it turns out there was a wreck further up on the other side of the street, a black Escalade had a wheel come off (!), and traffic on his side was backed up, learned from 911 dispatcher later), so he slowed down, stopped, waited to see what’s up, and then looked in the mirror, “OH SHIT!” and BAM!

Then he heard wheels squealing behind him, and the guy who rammed him was taking off!  It’s nothing major, scrapes and scratches, lots of white paint on his new Nissan, but it’s a lease car, so he’s on the hook.  He’ll need to get it fixed, so he couldn’t let the guy get away…  He backs up and takes off in hot pursuit, and finally the guy pulls over.

Nothing on his front end, the license plate did the damage.  And he’s a kid with a learner’s permit, so no license to operate alone, and no insurance card.  (David sent me all the stuff yesterday, bogged down my computer with  photos: the cars, the front end and license plate of the car that hit him, the perp, his license, and the vehicle registration, AAAAAAAAAARGH, I just couldn’t have my computer tied up right then, GRRRRRRR.)  He called the cops, they don’t come out to “no injury” wrecks… well, hit and run?  Don’t seem to care.

So today I looked at what all he’d sent to figure out what he was going on about.   GOOGLE to the rescue…  It’s Fernando Vargas, Jr., and the car was just registered a few days prior!

Who?  Yes… really…  it’s Fernando, Jr.  Still who?  Ja, well… same here… but thanks to google, now I know:

Welcome to Los Vargas…

Oh my…  Vegas version of Duck Dynasty?

Sure enough, when I check the names on the registration… yup, Fernando and Martha…

The good news is that mom Martha Vargas is on the case… as she told David, “I’m not happy now,” and of course he’s “not too happy either!”  Jr. told mom that David cut him off… ummmm… at a dead stop?  I don’t think so.  It’s a well centered rear end, DOH!  But it sounds like she’s sorted out the truth and is stepping up.  Hope the kid gets a reality check, let’s watch next week to see!

There was an address on the registration, so first I googled that and got a rental site for a gross expensive rental, $3,000/mo.  “Not available.”  That’s where they’re filming.  The house across the cul du sac is for sale…  Here’s the front of the rental:

I swear this pool is the mirror image of the viral one with the dogs running around and sliding in when the owners are away:

Categories: Citizens

Hobby Lobby decision

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:45pm

Here’s the full decision.  … sigh… read the Dissent:

Hobby Lobby_U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 13-354

A short version of this decision, with some implications, taken from the Ginsberg dissent:

In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ.

This decision mirrors the track of academic “free speech” which follows the institution, not the teachers or students.  This decision follows the corporation, not employees, allowing the corporation to impose its opinions and beliefs on individual workers.  Gee, thanks.

Read the decision, read the dissent…

 

Categories: Citizens

It is SO hard to concentrate here…

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 5:20pm

There are advantages to being as deaf as dear ol’ Kady, who is sleeping right through it all.  This morning:

And now — they’re running into a lot of rock, so it’s shake, rattle & roll all day:

They put a big metal vault in there, but it won’t settle in right because there’s rock in there, so here comes the jackhammer.

THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK:

Hey, over here, I’ve got this molar that has to come out…

Categories: Citizens

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