Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 13 min 12 sec ago

Silica Sand Rulemaking — Mtg. Thursday 8/28

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 6:46pm

It’s that time again — the Silica Sand Advisory Committee is meeting again on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the People’s Energy Cooperative in Oronoco, Minn.

Here’s the Agenda:


Dig this:

In my experience, the search/stretch for consensus is the first step in unreasonable compromise.  It takes a push to change things, and it’s important not to give up too soon.

As you know, I’ve been frustrated at the way these meetings are handled, in that they’re NOT doing what a rulemaking advisory committee is supposed to do, which is review and comment on draft rules.  And we’re not getting representation on this committee, there are no regular updates from members that I’m aware of, unless I ask on a list, so we’re not getting any opportunity for input or feedback from the representatives.  Plus there’s Charlie Peterson

I was listening to the July meeting, and for introductions, there were only six members of the committee present:

Tara Wetzel – MN Aggregate Ready Mix Assoc.

Beth Procter – Lime Twp., Blue Earth County

Al Frechette – Scott County

Doug Losee – Unimin

Tom Rowekamp – IT Sand

Kelly Stanage – Citizen Rep. from Houston County

I’ve heard from Amy Nelson that she, Keith, and Vincent Ready were there.  Katie just let me know she was there.  Others?  Were introductions not broadcast?  Did anyone come in later?   Can’t tell, it was audio only (unless I’m missing something), and the audio was out for a large part of the presentation.  Where are the alternates?  Where are the alternates?  And if members are determining that it’s a big waste of time and don’t want to show up, well, it seems they ought to let the agencies know so replacements can be found!  And so the meetings can be changed to become more ___________ and less _________ so members can and will attend!

Here’s the bright spot of the day, from what I’ve seen:

Look where they put the “Advisory Panel.” IT’S IN THE RIGHT PLACE!!!  YES!!!  Now, there needs to be another arrow, though, or a expansion of the purple square that says, “Advisory Panel review of draft rules.”  They’re sidestepping by saying that, even the EQB Board, will “review draft rule concepts.”  NOPE, not good enough, eliminate that word “concepts” and let’s start reviewing rules, the Advisory Panel and the EQB.  DRAFT RULES!  It’s that simple.

From the site, here are the future planned meetings:

Upcoming meetings

All of these meetings will be held at the People’s Energy Cooperative (Oronoco, Minn.) and run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Categories: Citizens

Release PSEG from reactive power requirement? NOT!

Sat, 08/23/2014 - 10:20am

PSEG wants out of its reactive power requirement for its Artificial Island Salem-Hope Creek generators, to get “maximum generation” and wants to build transmission to enable that plan.  Reactive power stabilizes the system, and there’s no reason to exempt PSEG from that requirement.  None!  And that is certainly no reason to build transmission.

Our other home is in Delaware, Port Penn, to be precise, and I’ve just learned that even though the MAPP transmission project is dead, dead, dead, they’ve kept its heart alive, and are proposing to run a transmission line from Salem/Hope Creek across the Delaware Bay to Delaware City. An “Artifical Island – Red Lion” (AI-RL) transmission line.  Great…

Here’s the map.  Note that they don’t show the existing “Artificial Island-Red Lion” transmission line on this map — is this to use the same route, different, and why isn’t it shown on any of the maps?

Why is this needed?

Redacted Artificial Island Problem Statement

It’s not a need, it’s a want.

The idea of the project was to allow the three nuclear power units to generate the most power possible, and to simplify transmission operations, said Ray Dotter, PJM spokesman.

WHAT??? Yes, that’s the PJMese for “ramp up the generation and not have any reactive power requirement” that stabilizes the electrical system, because, he, that takes away from the generation available to sell, can’t be doing that, can we, what’s more important, profit or stability?

Here’s the PJM “Problem Statement” from their site:

WOW… once more with feeling:

Generate maximum power without a minimum MVAr requirement

… and that’s their basis for more transmission? NO, I DON’T THINK SO!

PJM then runs

Ummmmm… oh… OK… well, then, PJM, it says to itself, it says, hey, let’s just produce some “stability test results” to make it look better, yeah, that’s the ticket:

Artificial Island Projects Stability Test Results Summary (Public Non CEII)

How stupid do they think we are?  Well, if you don’t know the secrets of reactive power, here’s “everything you wanted to know about reactive power.”  The basic premise:

Except in a very few special situations, electrical energy is generated, transmitted, distributed, and utilized as alternating current (AC). However, alternating current has several distinct disadvantages. One of these is the necessity of reactive power that needs to be supplied along with active power. Reactive power can be leading or lagging.While it is the active power that contributes to the energy consumed, or transmitted, reactive power does not contribute to the energy. Reactive power is an inherent part of the ‘‘total power.’’

Plus it turns out the AI-RL project proposals don’t meet PJM’s cost/benefit criteria:

The extent to which the relative benefits of the project meets a Benefit/Cost Ratio Threshold of at least 1.25:1 as calculated pursuant to Section 1.5.7(d) of this Schedule 6.

Even PJM had to admit that economic benefits were virtually nonexistent!

These simulations showed that there were market efficiency benefits of the proposals however they were only on the order of several million dollars per year and were far below the savings that would be required to satisfy the market efficiency criteria.

p. 3-4, 8.22.2014 July 2014 – PJM Board Approval of RTEP Whitepaper  PDF

HAH!  So despite this, PJM staff made a recommendation to the PJM Board, which said:

“To ensure a thorough and fair review, given the complexities of the issues, the Board has determined that it will take the matter under advisement and defer a selection at this time.”

OK, transmission wonks, have you ever heard of a proposal that PJM didn’t like?  Sounds like a significant “need” failure to me, that their desire just wasn’t enough.  So back to the drawing board — but who gets a pencil?

But PJM officials, environmentalists and power transmission companies are locked in an ongoing disagreement over the best way to do that. They are considering various options for a costly crossing of the river to a Delaware substation, but a Delaware official said the state’s ratepayers run the risk of shouldering the burden of a project that would mainly benefit people in other states.

Let’s see, PJM rejected it, and now they’re arguing about river crossings?  How do you get from “lack of need” to “options for a costly crossing of the river?”  From PJM’s report:

In April 2013, PJM Interconnection, LLC (PJM) requested technical solutions for improving PJM operational performance in the Artificial Island area under a range of anticipated system conditions and to eliminate potential planning criteria violations. In response to the Artificial Island-Red Lion Window, PJM received conceptual design level proposals from five (5) developers for the design and construction of a 500kV transmission line between Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s (PSE&G’s) Salem and Hope Creek Substations, which are located at Artificial Island in Salem County, New Jersey (NJ), and Delmarva Power & Light’s Red Lion Substation in New Castle County, Delaware (DE). The project is generally referred to as the Artificial Island-Red Lion 500kV Transmission Line.

PJM initiated, and note that:

The assessment of these proposals with regard to their ability to address electrical system needs or reliability is not included in the scope of this study.


And constructability analysis, here’s one (note they have it backwards, RL-AI):

GIA Red Lion-Artificial Island Constructability Analysis AI-RL Xmsn

And another constructability analysis:

US Synergetic Constructability Analysis AI-RL Xmsn

And a third that bears closer examination, because if the point of this is generation without reactive power requirement, look at the option that addresses reactive power:

Burns & Roe – Constructability – Static Compensation VARs on AI-RL

Here are comments from interested parties:

New Jersey Sierra Club Letter – AI-RL Xmsn

New Jersey BPU and Rate Counsel Letter AI-RL Xmsn

Delaware “Public Advocate” Letter – AI-RL Xmsn

Northeast Transmission (LS Power) Letter AI-RL Xmsn

Atlantic Grid Letter AI-RL Xmsn

PEPCO & Exelon Letter AI-RL Xmsn

Dominion Letter AI-RL Xmsn

In the News Journal today:

Indecision remains on power line route

Aaron Nathans, The News Journal 5:20 p.m. EDT August 22, 2014



The nuclear power plants across the Delaware River in New Jersey need their electrical reliability and transmission capabilities strengthened, say officials at the regional grid management company, PJM Interconnection.

But PJM officials, environmentalists and power transmission companies are locked in an ongoing disagreement over the best way to do that. They are considering various options for a costly crossing of the river to a Delaware substation, but a Delaware official said the state’s ratepayers run the risk of shouldering the burden of a project that would mainly benefit people in other states.

The idea of the project was to allow the three nuclear power units to generate the most power possible, and to simplify transmission operations, said Ray Dotter, PJM spokesman.

Developers were invited to make proposals to fix the problem, resulting in 26 proposals in all. In June, PJM staff recommended to its board of directors a PSE&G proposal for an 18-mile, 500 kilovolt power line that crosses the Delaware River next to an existing power line. The crossing would lead to the Red Lion substation near Delaware City.

It was the first example of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s order requiring competition for transmission projects. That, Dotter said, means someone other than the local utility can propose and build a transmission project to solve a problem.

PSE&G officials in June said they expected final approval from the PJM board in July. PSE&G estimated the project would cost between $280-320 million. The costs of the project would be spread out among all PJM customers.

In choosing PSE&G, PJM staff rejected an alternative plan by LS Power to construct a 230 kv line through Delaware, crossing the river at a new substation directly across from the nuclear power plants.

But at the July meeting, the PJM board declined to endorse its staff’s recommendation. The board did not explicitly state a rationale. It sent a letter to the four finalist developers, stating: “To ensure a thorough and fair review, given the complexities of the issues, the Board has determined that it will take the matter under advisement and defer a selection at this time.”

The board invited the finalists to revise their proposals. The finalists, besides PSE&G and LS, are Transource and Dominion.

The Delaware Public Advocate has supported the 500 kv line, and was concerned the 230 kv line proposal would saddle Delaware ratepayers with the cost of construction, citing PJM transmission tariffs.

“We just thought that was enormously unfair for the Delaware ratepayers,” said Ruth Ann Price, deputy public advocate. The proposal made by PJM staff was expensive but ultimately cost effective in that it addressed the problem, Price said.

Maya van Rossum, who directs the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said in a letter to PJM that the PSE&G option is “very damaging environmentally, and not just to one ecological resource, but to hundreds.” The crossing would require dredging, filling and pilings, which she said would harm water quality and hurt endangered species of fish.

“The development that this option would require will most certainly transform forested wetlands to a less productive condition,” she wrote.

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, said he was concerned about the environmental impacts of PSE&G’s proposal, and urged public hearings. He said the advocate’s office had weighed in too soon.

Delaware Public Service Commission spokesman Matt Hartigan said: “We feel it’s premature to express an opinion regarding the ultimate result of PJM’s decision making process. Having said that, Staff does have concerns with the high cost of any new transmission project, the potential environmental impacts and the economic impact on Delaware ratepayers.”

Karen Johnson, PSE&G spokeswoman, said the company remains “hopeful that the PJM board will make a decision soon and approve our proposal.”

Contact Aaron Nathans at 324-2786 or

Categories: Citizens

Overland Comments on Zip Rail

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 4:04pm

Today’s the day — Comments on the Zip Rail are due RIGHT NOW!  Just filed mine and Alan Muller filed his:

Overland_Zip Rail Comment

How about you?

Categories: Citizens

Silica Sand Mining 1,000 ft setback from Public Waters

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 10:58pm

At long last, here it is — only took a gazillion phone calls, emails, and finally a Data Practices Act Request…


The Goodhue County Silica Sand Mining Ordinance 1,000 foot set back from Public Waters:

1000_BlufflandEco_MEFsetback – BIG map, can enlarge for great detail!

Categories: Citizens

My Comments on Goodhue Co.’s Solar Ordinance

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 1:25pm

Last night was the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Committee.  On the Agenda was the new Solar Ordinance, something we need to get moving on, but which needs work.

Here are the Comments I sent, though not until 2:50 p.m. yesterday:


FERC Order Terminating GIAs  ER14-1719-000_H061

FERC Order Terminating GIAs ER14-1684-000-5_H062

There was an open house before hand, and then the PAC meeting and a hearing on it.  This was a noticed “Public Hearing,” the purpose of which is to take comments on the Proposed Ordinance, not the price of solar, or interesting new designs, but on their proposed Ordinance.  There were a few commentors, most of whom had energy infrastructure siting experience.  Everyone was on point and specific, and it didn’t last all that long.

Bernie Overby was being his usual inciteful self — someday soon, Bernie, we’ve got to have a chat about what your nephew is hauling with the lime green large car and that shiny steel trailer.

But in deliberations and discussion, Dan “Wrongzigel” started with a low key rant about the number of comments and the detail (hello?  We’re supposed to be commenting on the specific Ordinance, anything else would be off point!) as if that’s a problem, and then goes off about the U.S. Constitution and how it’s vague, doesn’t even specify the number of Supreme Court justices, and then there’s Russia trying to control everything down to the last detail, “and guess who’s still around.”  So was the implication that attention to detail means collapse, that we commentors are Communists, that there’s too much information for him to handle, too much effort to fill in the blanks, that considering issues raised might slow down his steamroller, or ??  What do you mean, Dan?

And these comments from a teacher who “teaches classes such as Honors American Government… [who] takes great pride in bringing government into his classrooms.“  Wrongzigel’s taken some notes and proceeds to diss almost every comment, one by one, waving it away with his hand, towards Bernie, saying “we can deal with that in the CUP.”  And he even argued against setting some guidelines for how much ag land could be taken out of production by saying,”we’re for preserving agriculture, not preserving ag land.”  This, Mr. Wrongzigel, is a topic for some discussion — what exactly do you mean?  What’s the race to get this Ordinance through?  Whose interest are you representing?

And Dan, on August 18, 2014, looking at the state of our Constitution, can you really “guess who’s still around.”

Yeah, right, Dan, look around… our Constitution has been shot full of holes…  Yesterday was not the day to make such a bizarre statement!

Categories: Citizens

Mastic’s H061 & H062 Interconnection Agmts TERMINATED

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:45pm

Peter Mastic, a/k/a New Era Wind, and Peter J. Mastic Holdings, LLC, has apparently been trying to leverage his MISO Interconnection Agreements into some sort of advantage as a proposer of a solar project in Goodhue County.

DOH!  That won’t work — MISO went to FERC and requested that Mastic’s Interconnection Agreements for MISO queue projects H061 and H062 be terminated.  “New Era” vigorously defended its Interconnection Agreements, and against claims it had not paid requisite costs.  Oh well, that didn’t fly.  FERC complied and issued the orders a couple months ago.  H061 and H062 are TERMINATED!

FERC Docket No. ER14-1719-000_Order – TERMINATION of Interconnection Agmt H061

FERC Docket No. ER14-1684-000_Order – TERMINATION of Interconnection Agmt H062

So given the public nature of these Terminations, and MISO requests to FERC for termination which Mastic was obviously aware of, what would you call statements claiming that these Interconnection Agreements and spots on the MISO queue are Mastic’s asset, or that they could be used for any purpose?  Hmmmmmm…



Categories: Citizens

Latest version of PUC draft rules

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 9:48am

We’re working on the revisions of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rules for Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and for Routing/Siting (Minn. R. Ch. 7850), and it’s OH SO PAINFUL and tedious.  But this is where it happens — the rules developed here will be presented to the PUC to release for public comment and adoption — and once they’re released, they can’t adopt rules that are significantly different, so realistically, there won’t be major changes.  It’s now or never… this is where participation matters.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, August 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Commission’s Large Hearing Room in the Metro Square Building, located at 121 Seventh Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101. The PUC will provide refreshments.

FINAL MEETING – Wednesday September 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Please take a look at these rule drafts and send in your comments.  Here are the latest drafts.

August 13 Draft 7849

7850 July 8 draft

August 13 Ch. 7850 comparison

The next meeting is this Wednesday, so not much time for review and comment.  Comments can be sent to kate.kahlert [at] and/or posted in the PUC’s Rulemaking Docket, 12-1246.  To see what all has been filed in that docket, go to PUC SEARCH DOCKETS PAGE and search for 12-1246 (“12″ is the year, “1246″ is the docket number).

Categories: Citizens

VOTE – Get out there and do it!

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 3:39pm

Categories: Citizens

Zip Rail comment period extended to 8/22

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 3:33pm

The Comment Period for scoping for the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement has been extended until August 22, 2014.  Really, here’s the quote from their site:

Comment Period Extended

In response to public interest, the comment period on the Scoping Booklet/Draft Scoping Decision Document is being extended to August 22, 2014, an additional 16 days.

And their press release:

August 6 2014    Zip Rail News Release – Public Comment Period Extension

So get to it and get your comment in:

Zip Rail’s Comment Link

or email:        

or mail to:

MN DOT Passenger Rail Office ATTN: Zip Rail 395 John Ireland Boulevard, MS 470 St. Paul, MN 55155

For more info go to and for high speed passenger rail generally, with more technical info than you’ll find on the Zip site, try Midwest High Speed Rail Association, and make sure to look at their “Studies/White Papers” page.



Categories: Citizens

IGCC Kemper plant lawsuit

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:58am

Thanks to John Blair, Valley Watch and Bruce Nilles for the heads up on this IGCC project settlement.  We fought off one here, the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project, which took a lot of people, a lot of groups, a lot of approaches and a lot of coalition, and thanks to all, we do not have a coal gasification plant in Minnesota.

What’s disturbing is that they get to run this boondoggle $5.2 billion dollar project (initially billed as $2.6 billion) at all, though they are shutting down older coal plants and converting to natural gas.  It’s the most expensive power plant in history, and guess who’s paying for it?

Mississippi Power, Sierra settle coal litigation

Mississippi Power, Sierra Club settle coal power dispute

Categories: Citizens

Progress on West? Another old tree down…

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:54am

OH NOOOOOOOO… We’re losing another big beautiful tree today.  Diesel fumes are particularly intense.  The noise these days is unreal, industrual-strength jackhammer on a bucket breaking up rock and digging down to build the wall foundation.  They’re getting down, all right!

Categories: Citizens

Zip Rail – Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 1:29pm


For those of you interested in how we got to where we are on this, take a look at what the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority has been doing:


Board Packets & Minutes

 Regional Railroad Authority

Meeting Date Packets Minutes June 23, 2009 Packet (117KB) Minutes (13KB) January 19, 2010 Packet (38KB) Minutes (9KB) June 22, 2010 Packet (11KB) Minutes (10KB) December 14, 2010 Packet (43KB) Minutes (8KB) January 18, 2011 Packet (49KB) Minutes (13KB) September 27, 2011 Packet  (837KB) Minutes  (11KB) October 25, 2011 Packet (69KB) Minutes (29KB) November 22, 2011 Packet  (23KB) Minutes (14KB) January 17, 2012 Packet (65KB) Minutes (8KB) February 21, 2012 Packet (60KB) Minutes  (12KB) April 24, 2012 Packet (26KB) Minutes (15KB) September 25, 2012 Packet (1140KB) Minutes  (51KB) January 22, 2013 Packet (28KB) Minutes (9KB) August 27, 2013 Packet (161KB) Minutes (17KB) January 21, 2014 Packet (296KB) Minutes (17KB)  June 24, 2014 Packet (36KB) Minutes
Categories: Citizens

Zippy Kenyon Zip Rail meeting!

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 8:08am

Nearly 400!  And asking questions that need to be asked, and expecting answers about a project that could have immense impact and even more cost!  “The people” get it.

For more info, see  and  Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

Comments due by August  6, 2014.  Send comments to:


MN DOT Passenger Rail Office ATTN: Zip Rail 395 John Ireland Boulevard, MS 470 St. Paul, MN 55155

So last night, I’m at the Zip Rail meeting, blasted down from Red Wing, greeted everyone at the door, handed out some flyers, didn’t have nearly enough, and was standing in the back listening to the same ol’, same ol’ rap, on and on.  Chuck Michael, then Garneth Peterson, then Chuck again, yawn… and getting irritated hearing the song and dance with little of substance, so I went into the commons, the meeting was broadcast out there, writing out a few things to hand in, zzzzzzzzzzz … it’s pushing 7, meeting end time, and I’m following the discussion, nothing exciting, winding down, so I hit the road.  I felt good about getting some questions and info on how to comment into people’s hands.  All in a day’s work…

But DAMN!  Left too soon!!!  This meeting, the people stood up and let them know what they were thinking!

Here’s the report in the Post Bulletin:

Fireworks erupt at Zip Rail meeting in Kenyon


KENYON — Zip Rail representatives traveled to Kenyon on Thursday night and were greeted by an ornery crowd of nearly 400.

It was the fourth area meeting of the week on the proposed high-speed rail connecting Rochester to the Twin Cities, but the first in which many rural residents of Dodge and Goodhue counties weighed in. People packed the auditorium and let project manager Chuck Michael have it during a biting, free-flowing exchange that went an hour over the scheduled time — and could have gone much longer had the school’s janitorial staff not stepped in to clear out the building.

Michael, who led much milder discussions earlier this week in Rochester and Inver Grove Heights, was able to keep his sense of humor while being put through what one audience member described as a “buzzsaw” of questions and critiques.

“I’m not seeing anyone raising their hand to trade places with me,” Michael said.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, was among those who implored citizens to attend the meeting and voice their concerns regarding the project, which carries an unknown price tag and remains years away from fruition — if it ever becomes reality. The issues raised by citizens were varied, but most centered around one main theme: How is this project going to benefit anyone outside of Olmsted County and the Twin Cities? The questions echoed a point previously made by Dodge County commissioner Steven Gray.

‘Raped and pillaged’

Zip Rail officials are seeking public opinion, as part of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, to help select a preferred route for the train, which would reach speeds of 220 mph. Eight potential paths are being considered that would connect a terminal in downtown Rochester with a northern hub at the Minneapolis International Airport and/or the Union Depot in St. Paul.

The proposed paths either parallel U.S. 52 or Minnesota Highway 56 and would involve acquisition private land through eminent domain. That issue inflamed rural residents, many of whom have fought similar legal battles in recent years over CapX2020 transmission lines and wind turbine projects.

“I can’t believe these people,” said Greg Soule, a Goodhue County resident who collected a list of about 50 names after the meeting to start a Zip Rail opposition group. “It’s like they want us to be their donkeys and not get a thing for it.”

“It appears this area is OK to be raped and pillaged by large (projects),” added Nora Bryson Felton, who is running for Goodhue County commissioner this fall.

Michael and Minnesota Department of Transportation official Garneth Peterson attempted to explain the need for the project to an unreceptive crowd. Michaels said 40,000 employees commute to Rochester on a daily basis, and that number is expected to grow to 70,000 by 2034, thanks to Destination Medical Center.

Rochester also gets up to 3 million visitors per year, a figure that’s projected to double in the next 20 years.

“It’s really important to think about transportation as fueling that growth,” Peterson said. “Economic growth can’t happen if people can’t get there.”

Hader farmer Heather Arndt, who said she’s spent 100 hours studying Zip Rail in the past two months, offered a withering critique of those numbers. If the Zip Rail is aimed at daily commuters with one-way tickets costing about $30, a full year on that system would cost more than $14,000 and would simply cut the commute time roughly in half.

Michael then asked Arndt to summarize the rest of her point, which drew the crowd’s ire. She continued for nearly 10 more minutes before receiving a standing ovation from many in the audience and setting the tone for the rest of the night.

‘Back to the drawing board’

Drazkowski and Goodhue County commissioner Dan Rechtzigel were more succinct in their criticism, but no less pointed. Rechtzigel said placing the rail parallel to Highway 56 would require blocking off 24 intersections, while the U.S. 52 option would mean blocking more than 40.

“You’re asking a lot for no real reward in Goodhue County,” said Rechtzigel, a K-W teacher. “It will benefit Rochester and the Twin Cites, and that’s fine — until you start blocking off our roads.”

Added Drazkowski: “I think it’s time to go back to the drawing board.”

Many were frustrated by Michael’s inexact responses. One citizen sarcastically thanked the project manager for actually answering his first question — more than 2 hours into the meeting.

Michael acknowledged the frustration, but said many of the answers sought by the public will be discovered only after further studies are completed.

“It’s a bit early in the process and that’s a frustrating thing,” Michael said. “We prefer not to guess too much because we might be wrong.”

Categories: Citizens

Tonight in Kenyon — Zip Rail

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 8:00pm

Today was the Zip Rail meeting at the Kenyon High School, and it was PACKED.  I printed up 80 flyers, but ran out and could have handed out another 80.  WOW!  It’s great to see people so interested.

I’ve been learning about this project, and it takes some digging to get information.  My goal is to encourage people to ask questions, and where there’s the opportunity, to file comments.  In this case, we have until August 6, 2014, to send comments in for scoping on the “Tier 1″ EIS.  This means that we should tell them what all we think should be covered in the environmental review, and send the comments to:

Comments due by August  6, 2014.  Send comments to:


MN DOT Passenger Rail Office ATTN: Zip Rail 395 John Ireland Boulevard, MS 470 St. Paul, MN 55155  

What I’ve found is that it’s hard to find anything.  Start looking, and what do you find?  Zip!  The best information source is the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, and to look at their “Studies/White Papers” page.  I’m most interested in “Midwest” “HSR” (high speed rail) and “Economics,” and HERE IS THE RESULT for that.

Here is my favorite for basic information, it’s got some basic cost estimates, particularly on p. 105 of 151, for the Metro – Chicago route, take a quarter of that and it’s a good starting ballpark figure, just over $7 billion (the number I hear being thrown around is $1 billion, and no way, no how, so just pay no attention and do some digging):

Economic Impacts of High Speed Rail 2011

And some others:

ROCOG Presentation ZipRail_011714


Zip Rail Report


And remember, here is from the Minnesota Zip Rail site, their documents, sparse, but this is what we have:

Title Document Type Date Format File Size 1 Page size:

select  10 items in 1 pages Zip Rail Open House Flyer Public Meeting Materials Jul 16, 2014 132 KB Newsletter – July 2014 Newsletters Jul 07, 2014 885 KB Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No. 4 Other Jul 07, 2014 5 MB Zip Rail Scoping Package Reports Jul 07, 2014 7 MB Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No.3 Reports Oct 17, 2013 3 MB Draft Purpose and Need Statement Reports Oct 07, 2013 634 KB Public Involvement Plan Reports Jun 01, 2013 4 MB Notice of Intent Reports May 13, 2013 28 KB Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No.2 Reports Apr 04, 2013 1 MB Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No.1 Reports Feb 28, 2013 1 MB


Categories: Citizens

OH. MY. DOG! EPA hearings, God, and power outage

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 11:04am

The Alabama Public Service Commission joining with the state’s representative to the Republican National Committee to object to EPA rules, “Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” he said.   The last two lines of this article say it all:

The press conference was held in the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.

The EPA hearing was to be held Tuesday at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center but has been relocated to the Omni Hotel because of a power outage.

This reminds me of the Mayor of Hoyt Lakes, who said in promotion of the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project after a discussion of mercury, “Mercury?  We’re used to mercury here.”

And then there’s the “Obama war on coal” fiction — if only… but dream on.

Congressman Byrne joins fellow Republicans in denouncing Obama ‘war on coal’

The good news is that since the EPA hearing was moved to hotel, a building other than a federal building, the two ID requirement to enter a federal building will not apply.

Here’s the full article, read it and snort — if it weren’t so tragically absurd:

Pray God blocks EPA plan, chief regulator of Alabama utilities tells consumers

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Alabama’s coal industry will lose jobs and consumers will see their utility bills increase should the EPA implement proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants, Alabama regulators said at a press conference in which they invoked the name of God in the fight over fossil fuels.

Two members of the Alabama Public Service Commission, a member-elect and an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee said proposed EPA regulations that aim to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent represent “an assault on our way of life” and are a purposeful attempt by the Obama administration to kill coal-related jobs.

“We will not stand for what they are doing to our way of life in Alabama,” said PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. “We will take our fight to the EPA.”

Cavanaugh and several other Republican leaders from Alabama plan to offer testimony at an EPA hearing in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The EPA announced in June its intent to implement new standards meant to curb carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Such emissions are among the biggest contributors to global warming. According to EPA documents, the proposal would require Alabama to lower emissions from its coal-fired plants by 27 percent from 2012 levels.

A spokesman for Alabama Power Co., which has six coal-fired plants in the state, has said it’s too soon to know what action the utility would have to take to meet the new standards.

At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.

“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” he said.

Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God’s intervention.

“I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done,” she said.

Also speaking in opposition to the EPA plan were PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Paul Reynolds, an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee.

Oden said he believes the EPA has dramatically underestimated the economic impact that the proposed regulations will have, and that the 600-page proposal represents overreach on the part of the Obama administration. Reynolds said the Obama administration has more important issues with which to contend.

“The Obama administration should be concerned about a potential world at war instead of something dumb, like a war on coal,” he said. “What we’re dealing with is government run amok.” 

The press conference was held in the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.

The EPA hearing was to be held Tuesday at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center but has been relocated to the Omni Hotel because of a power outage.


Categories: Citizens

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