Documents about the proposed wood burner in Phillips neighborhood, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The project, thankfully, is dead, but discussions of it keep coming up.  So I’m using this post to link to some relevant documents:

A set of letters endorsing the project, from R. T. Rybak, Mayor of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park Board, Clean Water Action, and others.

A PowerPoint presentation by yours truly:

“Saying “NO!” to permits for ‘Midtown Eco Energy'”

A summary of projected emission from the project, also by Muller.

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Letter about frac sand mining send to Goodhue County officials

Alan Muller

1110 West Avenue

Red Wing, Minnesota, USA




May 20, 2013

Members of the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission

The Commissioners of Goodhue County

Dear Commissioners:

It’s not often that a “new” industry threatens to change the character of a community in the way frac sand mining threatens to change Goodhue County.  This has been recognized by the County Commissioners, who enacted and then extended a moratorium, formed a “Mining Study Committee,” hired consultants—but not the right ones–adopted new zoning ordinance language, and considered the issue in a number of public meetings and hearings.  The City of Red Wing and other cities and townships have also considered frac sand mining and enacted ordinances.   Florence Twp. decided that frac sand mining and processing do not belong in their township. Continue Reading →

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RIP Barbara Brenner (Breast Cancer Action)

Barbara Brenner , long time leader of Breast Cancer Action, was a hero of the fight against environmentally-related cancer–among many other matters–and a consistent challenger of the profit-oriented “cancer industry” symbolized by the “American Cancer Society” and “Susan G. Komen for the Cure.”

She passed on May 10 at the age of 61 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Continue Reading →

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Contact Gov. Dayton today about frac sand mining

Frac sand mining coming to a head in Minnesota Legislature

Minnesotans are putting up a great fight against uncontrolled expansion of frac sand mining in Minnesota.  Methods being used range from inspiring acts of civil disobedience, to online petitions, to extensive and detailed testimony to the Environmental Quality Board, to the hiring of a capable mainstream lobbyist at the Legislature.  Busloads of people from Southeastern Minnesota have appeared in St. Paul several times.  A great deal of technical information has been collected.

The battles are being fought in cities, townships, counties, the state, and nationally.  So far, the results at local levels are mixed, but at the Minnesota Legislature mining interests are prevailing.  Why?  The mining people have the automatic support of essentially all Republican legislators, plus a strong segment of the DFL traditionally associated with mining interests.  They’ve been softening up the Legislature on this issue for years.  Governor Dayton is notoriously indifferent to environmental concerns and subservient to mining interests.

The surviving helpful measure before the Legislature would disallow frac sand mining within 5,000 feet of fragile springs, trout streams and groundwater tables.  It’s being promoted by Trout Unlimited and has the support of the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources and Governor Dayton.  (But Dayton met with mining representatives yesterday while reportedly refusing to meet with anti-sand representatives.)

Strib editorial:  “ Minnesota Legislature must protect trout streams

OpEd from Trout Unlimited:  “ Minnesota waters need clearer regulation

A key Senate vote on this is expected today, Friday.  Yet, Governor Dayton is considered the key person.  Without really strong support from him, success is unlikely.  It will likely require a substantial outpouring of public sentiment to get him to maintain a strong stand in favor of protecting waters.  He needs to insist on it, not just nominally support it.  Please contribute to that outpouring.

Lots of action alerts are circulating.  Here is one from Trout Unlimited:

Governor Dayton is being intensely lobbied by industry to retreat from his support for substantive setbacks and to instead settle for toothless studies and rubber stamp permits.  He needs to hear from you tonight and tomorrow morning, especially via his Facebook page.  Urge him to stand up for average folks and stand behind his quote in today�s paper “I strongly support that position [Schmit�s one-mile setback] and will do everything I can in conference committee to get it enacted.C
Contact Governor Dayton and encouragement him not to waiver
Thank him for supporting the one-mile setback, and the setback to 25 feet above the water table, proposed by Sen. Schmit.  Urge him not to waiver in his support and explain that environmental review is not equivalent to substantive setbacks, and should not be acceptable to him.  A permitting program without strong standards is similarly weak and unacceptable.
The best chance to actually reach him is to contact him is via his Facebook page:
You can also try calling Governor Dayton at 651-201-3400, or toll free at 1-800-657-3717.
He also has an e mail form:

[He also has an email address:]

Something else:

“The critical vote in St. Paul on the amendment protecting trout streams and groundwater in SE Minnesota from the frac sand industry will likely come sometime between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm today. We’ve been losing by a single vote. Gov Dayton’s support is critical, but he’s hearing from industry how great frac-sand mining will be for MN’s economy.”

Thank you for acting.

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Minnesota Energy bills not ready for prime time

Two “omnibus” energy bills, SF 901 and HF 956 are wending their way through the Minnesota Legislature.  These bills are being heavily promoted by a coalition of industrial and environmental groups calling itself the “Clean Energy & Jobs” campaign.  A description of the bills from the point of view of the Clean Energy and Jobs folks is here, on the site of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society.  Lots of people are being urged to contact their legislators in support of these bills.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?   And it many ways it is, but there are enough problems in these bills as they presently stand to potentially do more harm than good. Continue Reading →

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More bad news on DuPont/3M chemicals and drinking water

            Current drinking water limits appear to be “several hundredfold too high.”

The Minnesota Department of Health has a “ Health Risk Limit” of 300 nanograms/liter for C8 (PFOA) one of a family of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) make by 3M Company that has caused widespread contamination of drinking water in Minnesota and elsewhere.  This limit was adopted in 2008 or 2009 and replaced a limit of 500 nanograms/liter adopted in 2007.  That replaced an earlier limit of 1000 n/L.  It means in practice that if C8 levels in drinking water are below this level, the water is considered safe to drink by federal and Minnesota officials. Continue Reading →
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Air pollution, death and disease, and unjournalism from the Star-Tribune

Professionally funded and staffed scams seldom have much trouble getting their emissions into the mainstream media disguised as reporting.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune we get a nice example this morning:

To fight Twin Cities smog, give up that lawn mower, diesel buses?”


Umbrella group urges action on Twin Cities air pollution from all corners.”

The Strib story mirrors a campaign to evade having the US EPA designate the Metro area as in “non attainment” of the PM-2.5 particulate and/or ozone standards.  Why?  Because that might lead to some
regulatory screw-tightening that could actually clean up the air a bit. Continue Reading →

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Letter to John Marty, Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee of the Minnesota Senate (and one of MN’s most respected legislators)

March 22, 2013

Dear Sen. Marty:

Thanks for chatting with me last night (Thursday) after what must have been a long and tiring meeting.

I’ve been around energy policy debates long enough to have a sense of how hard it is to make substantial changes really happen.  You’ve taken on a big project, one we all have a stake in, and I would very much like to see it succeed with solid, change-making legislation. Continue Reading →

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ACTION ALERT: A pair of dirty-air bills: HF1300/SF1092 (Magnetation)

Update:  The Senate bill was stopped in a committee but later the language was sneaked into an “omnibus” bill and because law.  No legislator or lobbyist or advocate warned us that this was happening.  Is this the best we could expect of Marty, in particular??  Cynicism is not easy to avoid….



Here are two bills intended to roll back some air quality regulations.

My sources say these bills are intended to greases the skids for the mining company Magentation. .  But the changes are not artfully written, as bills often are, to focus on one facility.  Rather, the damage would apparently be statewide.  The essence seems to be an effort to remove “fugitive emissions” from permit limits.  Continue Reading →

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Red Wing mayor Dennis Egan finally signs a letter of resignation–sort of.

Here’s the letter.  Note he hasn’t actually resigned.  He’s saying he will resign on April Fools Day.

Egan stalled for a while after saying he’d resign.   Some people are concerned he might have a change of heart before April.

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