Marty, Garofolo gag public at “Legislative Energy Commission”

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

Xcel Energy 1940s coal plant burning garbage from Ramsey and Washington counties in Red Wing (Goodhue County). Permit expired since June, 2009

First, thank to all who sent emails or made calls to Ramsey and Washington county commissioners about the garbage grinder purchase.  As expected, the commissioners ignored public input and voted to go ahead with their incineration schemes.  A lot more work will be needed to turn this situation around.  More details shortly.


Should people be allowed to participate, to at least comment, at public  meetings of public bodies?

One would think so, but this is often not the case in Minnesota, and somehow people have come to accept it, or at least gotten used to it.

The Legislative Energy Commission

One of the worst examples is the so-called Legislative Energy Commission (LEC), co-chaired by a Senator and a Representative,–at the moment these are Sen. John Marty and Rep. Pat Garofolo.   The full membership is listed here.

According to the Legislature’s website “The commission also monitors the state’s progress in achieving goals to develop renewable sources of electric energy; evaluates progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; reviews and recommends proposed energy legislation and takes public testimony on energy issues.” [emphasis added.]

Upcoming meeting Sept, 24th

The LEC is meeting at 3:00 PM on September 24th (Room 10, State Office Building, St. Paul)   Here is who gets to speak (full agenda here):

Rick Evans – Director of Regional Government Affairs, Xcel Energy
Eric Olsen – Vice President and General Counsel, Great River Energy
Julie Pierce – Director of Power Supply, Minnesota Power
Bill Black – Government Relations Director, Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association
Loren Laugtug – Legislative Affairs Manager, Otter Tail Power
J. Drake Hamilton – Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy

No public comment or testimony solicited or allowed!  Why?

These, of course, are the same utilities working to block the expansion of solar and continue burning coal.  They are causing Minnesota’s  energy policy problems. “Fresh Energy” is likely the worst, most wrongheaded and overpaid self-serving energy-wonk organization I’ve ever encountered, with a history of promoting garbage incineration, transmission, and “biomass” pollution.  See, for example, this upcoming disgusting event,” where the featured speakers represent the biggest air polluter in St. Paul, and a “biomass” lobby (mis)representing itself as “a trusted source of environmental information.”

So how did this public-excluding agenda come about?  The Executive Director of the LEC, Annie Levenson-Falk (her previous employer was the “Citizens League”) said in an email: “the speakers and the agenda were set by the co-chairs and myself.”  We had no luck getting in touch with these co-chairs.  This attitude of gagging the public and rolling out the red carpet for fat-cat interests didn’t originate with Marty, Garofolo, and Levenson-Falk.  A previous LEC co-chair, Rep. Melissa Hortman, told us “we don’t have time for open mike.”  Levenson-Falk, in an email, said “The LEC doesn’t typically have a public comment period in its meetings.”

So, lower-income ratepayers, environmental justice communities, people concerned about the need for and siting of energy facilities, people truly concerned about climate change, people concerned about the connection between waste management and energy issues, can just be quiet, and listen to bullshit from utility lobbyists.  Or better yet, not show up at all.

With these values and attitudes, is it any wonder that in the last legislative session Marty and Garofolo both rolled out what we called “mega-horrible utility deregulation bills.”  In spite of the strong opposition of the Attorney General, Xcel and Minnesota Power and the other utilities got most of what they wanted.  Xcel’s been boasting about this ever since.  See this investor presentation, for example.

So, doubtless the utilities will be coming back to the Legislature for another bite out of the apple, another reach into ratepayers pockets, more stalling on solar and efficiency, all using the “Clean Power Plan” as an excuse.  Marty, Garofolo, and the other LEC members need to be properly programmed and given legislation to carry.  So, we get meetings that are an orchestrated farce.

What you can do:

Energy policy issues can be complex and confusing.  But letting the public have a voice is simple and obvious.  Please contact call and email Marty and Garofolo, and the other members, and ask them to allow public testimony, not just pre-selected special interest testimony, at all LEC meetings:

Calls are often more effective than emails.

Sen John Marty:  (651) 296-5645,

Rep. Pat Garofolo: 651-296-1069,

All emails in one bunch: ,,,,,, , , , , , , , , , ,

The senators below have withheld their emails, but there is a–less convenient–email contact form for each of them:

Sen Scott Dibble

Sen. Kari Dziedzic

Sen. David J. Tomassoni


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