Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category
It’s time people understood just how many jobs anti-development environmentalists kill each year. It’s time people understood, too, the impact excessive regulations have on Minnesota’s state budget. This article helps illustrate the negative and devastating impact overregulation has on economic growth.
This paragraph lays things out perfectly, saying “Enbridge has been trying to build this petroleum pipeline from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to its regional terminal in Superior, Wis. The project is common sense. The oil from the Bakken needs to be moved to market. Building Sandpiper would create thousands of well-paying middle-class construction jobs, bring millions of dollars in much-needed business to rural communities and add millions of tax dollars to rural governments. There is also no disagreement that moving the oil in a pipeline is a safer alternative than moving it via rail cars or trucks.”
It’s indisputable that moving oil through pipelines is safer than other forms of moving product to market. That fight is finished. Further, it’s indisputable that building the pipeline would create thousands of high-paying construction jobs. Think about this: If a bonding bill is called a jobs bill by the DFL, why shouldn’t building the Sandpiper Pipeline project be called a private sector jobs bill by Republicans?
It’s indisputable that the interest that’s paid back by taxpayers on bonding bills costs everyone money, frequently in the form of higher taxes. Interest paid off by companies like Enbridge when they build America’s infrastructure is a net plus on multiple levels plus it doesn’t costs taxpayers a dime in higher taxes. In fact, it’s possible to argue that increased economic growth from the private sector will lower taxes while increasing revenues and raising blue collar workers’ wages significantly.
The result of this uncertainty came home to roost earlier this month. Enbridge announced that it had formed a partnership to purchase a pipeline system that would get the Bakken petroleum to market. One of the pipelines Enbridge will purchase is still under construction, and it runs from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. This pipeline was permitted in all four states in a year and a half. One thing the pipelines in this system have in common is that none of them travels through Minnesota.
Enbridge got what it wanted. North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois approved the alternate pipeline route in about 18 months, which is about a third of the time Minnesota had muddled through the permitting process thus far. BTW, North Dakota has better air quality than Minnesota.
This is particularly noteworthy:
One of the first things Gov. Mark Dayton did when he took office in 2011 was sign an executive order to streamline decisions on environmental permits. The rhetoric clearly has not been matched by action.
It’s noteworthy because Gov. Dayton signed that executive order after Dan Fabian submitted a bill (HF1) to streamline permitting. I wrote then that this was a purely political stunt. There’s little doubt but that I got that right.
Minnesota has strong environmental regulations. Unfortunately, it’s also got some of the most untrustworthy anti-development environmentalists in the US. These anti-development environmentalists oppose the Sandpiper Pipeline. They oppose all forms of mining in Minnesota. They opposed the building of the Big Stone II power plant, too.
At this rate, the anti-natural resources wing of the DFL, which is the dominant wing of the DFL, won’t permit anything that doesn’t fit their rigid ideology.
The Democratic Party’s platform doesn’t mince words when it comes to energy. The Democratic Party’s platform calls for the elimination of all fossil fuels by 2050. That means that Hillary’s statement in May that she’ll try to put coal workers out of work isn’t just campaign trail happy talk. It’s the stated goal of the Democratic Party.
Political parties’ platforms aren’t often followed and can be frequently ignored. This time, it’s different. When was the last time that Democrats sided with labor over the environmental activists’ agenda? Let me know when you get back to the 1980s. BTW, Bill Clinton put millions of acres of federal land off limits for oil exploration. Now his wife is running for office. Anyone that thinks that Hillary isn’t as prone to pandering as Bill is kidding themselves. She isn’t as subtle or charming about it as Bill was but she’s still a world-class panderer. This wasn’t one of her finer moments, though:
Hillary talked quite openly about “clean, renewable energy” energy in that speech. It’s possible that Hillary thinks that she’s just pandering to the environmental activist wing of the Democratic Party. If that’s what she’s thinking, she didn’t do her homework.
This isn’t the old Democratic Party. When it comes to today’s Democratic Party on energy, these environmental activists are fascists. They aren’t interested in walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. They’re willing to take half-a-loaf but that doesn’t mean that they’re reasonable. They’re totally willing to shut down fossil fuels with a steadfast progress towards eliminating fossil fuels.
Voters in Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania need to ask themselves if they’re willing to cast a vote for a Democratic candidate who wants to cripple their state’s economy and hurt their neighbors or their relatives. That’s what’s at stake in this election.
During her acceptance speech, Hillary said that “we all do better when we all do better”, a phrase first coined by Paul Wellstone. I’d like to hear Hillary’s explanation on how this helps miners do better. It’s likely that Hillary used that line without meaning it. It’s even likely that she doesn’t care if everyone does better as long as she’s elected.
It’s time to reject the Democratic Party’s politics of division and their divisive candidate.
In a PR stunt, Gov. Dayton announced that he’s appealing the ruling shooting down the Next Generation Energy Act, aka the NGEA. It’s a PR stunt because Gov. Dayton said “it’s a matter of protecting air quality.” The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees, saying that “Minnesota would need Congressional approval to enforce that section of the 2007 law.”
Gov. Dayton is standing on shaky constitutional ground. He’s argued that the NGEA “doesn’t illegally restrict new coal-powered plants but merely requires that they be offset by reductions at existing plants.” That’s irrelevant. The Interstate Commerce Clause, found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution states “The Congress shall have Power To … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
Think of the insanity if this wasn’t the case. If the ICC didn’t exist, North Dakota could pass a law that requires all electricity sold into North Dakota had to be from nuclear power plants. Without the ICC, Minnesota would face a choice of not selling electricity into North Dakota or to generate that electricity at nuclear power plants.
Such laws would demolish state sovereignty. That’s intolerable.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision last week that barred Minnesota from enforcing key sections of the Next Generation Energy Act. The court sided with North Dakota utilities and other interests that argued [the NGEA] illegally regulates out-of-state utilities.
As usual, Rep. Pat Garofalo nails it with this statement:
This is an election year stunt aimed at improving turnout with environmental activists. It’s Gov. Dayton’s signal that he’s with them. Sadly, Gov. Dayton didn’t swear an oath to be with them. The oath he took said that he’d uphold the Minnesota Constitution and the US Constitution. As usual, he’s got his priorities all mixed up.
When unions signed onto liberalism’s entire agenda, they signed onto some things that are hurting them now. That’s what this article is about. Unions have been among the most trustworthy parts of the DFL’s coalition. Their reward is getting frequently shafted.
The DFL has steadfastly defended the refugee resettlement program despite the national security risks it presents. The State Department’s refugee resettlement program doesn’t just give terrorists a free pass to move into the United States. It also hurts workers.
Last week, the St. Cloud City Council voted to rezone a former convent so it could be turned into an apartment unit that will house “seasonal workers from Ukraine, the Philippines and Mexico” who will work for GNP, formerly known as Gold’n Plump.
Now that it’s their ox that’s getting gored, the AFL-CIO is expressing its disgust with the program. Implicit in their complaint is their disgust with the DFL:
Jane Conrad, a union organizer with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said GNP’s program will have a ripple effect in St. Cloud.
“It’s kind of opening a Pandora’s box that we really shouldn’t be going down,” she said. “When you have guest workers coming in from out of the area, they’re not staying here, they’re not invested in the community, the way those that live here are. And when we have the poverty rate that we have currently right now, we need everything we can get in this community.”
Ms. Conrad can thank the DFL for those refugees taking the place of her union workers. Then again, it’s fair to say that the AFL-CIO can blame themselves for empowering the DFL locally and the Democratic Party nationally.
The AFL-CIO and other major unions have gotten shafted by other Democratic Party agenda items. Think Keystone XL transcontinental pipeline and the Sandpiper Pipeline from the Bakken to Superior, WI. The unions got shafted on those good-paying jobs because today’s Democratic Party will always side with the environmentalists over the unions. Think, too, of the ACA demolishing the unions’ Cadillac health insurance plans, too.
It’s telling that 27% of Democrats think that ‘deniers’ should be prosecuted. It’s frightening, though, that New York State has taken it a step further by investigating Exxon Mobil for refusing to play ball with the popular scientific theory.
According to the NY Times, the “New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business. According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents.”
This is a serious investigation only in the sense that state attorneys general have subpoena power and the resources to make life miserable for the companies they ‘investigate’. Otherwise, this isn’t a serious investigation. The accurate terminology for what the NY State Attorney General is doing is ‘leading a fishing expedition’. Another term that might be used is that Gen. Schneiderman’s hunting for someone’s scalp, a trophy to brag about during his re-election campaign.
I seriously doubt that Schneiderman can prove anything about the science. If he can’t prove that climate change exists to a judge, then he should lose the entire case because, according to the NY Times, the investigation intends to prove how much climate change “might hurt the oil business.”
The fact that people think the government should prosecute ‘climate change deniers’ should be sufficient motivation to vote out Democrats in 2016 and beyond. These people are nuts and vindictive.
Frank Hornstein represents a Twin Cities district. That’s why it isn’t surprising that he opposes the Sandpiper Pipeline project in northern Minnesota. What’s odd is his reason for opposing it:
Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said many frame pipelines as a safer alternative to oil-carrying trains but that it shouldn’t be a choice between the two.
“Pipelines leak and explode and so do trains. The choice is: Are we going to continue our dependence on oil or get serious about conserving?” said Hornstein, who called the debate a symptom of “America’s gluttonous appetite for oil. The science is in, the data is screaming at us. And what goes on inside here,” he said pointing to the Capitol, “is unfortunately not helping.”
Bulletin for Hornstein: The vote is in. People love their oil-loving ways. They don’t care that we’re using lots of oil.
Americans processed all of the data that’s “screaming at us.” The perspective that Rep. Hornstein prefers lost. Actually, it got its butt kicked. It isn’t surprising, though, that Rep. Hornstein isn’t paying attention to what the American people want. He’ a hardline progressive who knows what’s best for Americans. Because knows what’s best for Americans, his policies should be implemented ASAP.
That sounds like a certain pen-wielding president who hates Congress and the courts, doesn’t it?
With all due respect to Rep. Hornstein, the American people don’t care that he thinks he knows what’s best for them. Though he’ll probably continue getting re-elected for as long as he wants, Minnesotans will reject his attitude.
Protesters carried makeshift signs and banners and chanted, “We don’t want your tar sands oil, we won’t let you kill our soil,” and “Pipelines spill, tar sands kill.”
I’d love to see the autopsy report that states that tar sands were the cause of death. These environmental activists are from the outer fringes of the outer fringe of the DFL.
When the PUC approved the certificate of need for the Sandpiper Pipeline project, it was predictable that the DFL’s army of environmental activists would start complaining. MN350 quickly criticized the decision:
“It seems Enbridge has a new office in Minnesota today, staffed by the members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission,” said Andy Pearson of environmental rights group MN350. “The record clearly shows that the Sandpiper pipeline poses unacceptable risks to water, climate, and treaty rights. A better commission would have stood up against Enbridge to protect Minnesotans, but that is not the commission which met on Friday. This decision is an embarrassment to Minnesota and a disservice to its citizens.”
Here’s a series of questions for Mr. Pearson and the other extremists in the environmental movement:
- What is an acceptable risk to water and climate?
- Is there an acceptable risk?
- Are all risks unacceptable?
- If all risks are unacceptable, explain why they’re unacceptable.
It’s more than interesting that Pearson first attacked the PUC, essentially accusing them of being bought and paid for by big corporations. What proof does Mr. Pearson have that substantiates that accusation? Or is he just shooting his mouth off? I suspect it’s the latter.
Shouldn’t people question MN350? Haven’t they made enough statements that have demolished their credibility? I’ve been following environmental organizations for decades. Their predictions are wildly inaccurate. That’s on a good day. Their predictions and/or statements read more like outright propaganda than statements that should be taken seriously.
If Republicans were smart, which is questionable, they’d start championing regulatory reform. They’d start with a conversation that explains how the environmental activist wing of the DFL hurts farmers and businesses. They’d probably do a series of videos that highlight how not building pipelines hurt farmers. They could include another video series that shows that the ‘science’ that these regulations is more voodoo than science.
If all we do is complain, then we should just shut up because we’re getting the government we deserve.
Predictably, environmental activists protested the PUC’s approval of the Sandpiper Pipeline project:
Hundreds gathered Saturday to protest Minnesota’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline. The rally in St. Paul came one day after Minnesota regulators endorsed the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin, according to the Star Tribune. That’s where pipeline owner Enbridge Energy operates an oil terminal tied to other pipelines supplying refineries in the East and Midwest.
Anti-pipeline activists said they expected as many as several thousand people. Activists who led the battle against the giant Keystone pipeline say they hope to turn Minnesota’s pipeline into the next national organizing symbol against tar sands and climate change.
These professional protesters show up wherever a fossil fuel project has been approved. If someone wants to build a pipeline, these professional protesters will protest there. What’s more, they’ll be insisting that the project being built shouldn’t be built if there’s the slightest chance of any sort of accident.
That’s an impossible standard. It can’t be met, which is why these activists insist on that standard.
Richard Smith, who heads the group Friends of the Headwaters, told Minnesota Public Radio News the Enbridge project could put sensitive water resources at risk. “They shouldn’t have the right to exploit our water resources, our headwaters of the Mississippi, our lakes and streams, our wild rice and our drinking water,” he said.
Sharon Day, with the Indigenous People’s Task Force, fears expanding oil production in Canada and moving more oil through the state will hurt the environment. “If you want your grandchildren’s grandchildren to have life, to have clean water, then we must all do what we can,” Day said.
Richard Smith says that Enbridge “shouldn’t have the right to exploit our water resources, our headwaters of the Mississippi, our lakes and streams, our wild rice and our drinking water.” I’d state it differently. Friends of the Headwaters shouldn’t have the right to tell Minnesotans that they have to pay higher prices for energy, whether it’s gas prices or higher home heating bills, just to meet their impossible goals.
I stated earlier that FoH and other environmental activist organizations insist that projects meet their ‘no accidents ever policy’. It’s time to insist that building Minnesota’s energy infrastructure is just as important as protecting Minnesota’s natural resources. Thus far, DFL politicians have said that that’s possible. Then they’ve nitpicked every single project to death. The environmental activist wing of the DFL, led by the MCEA, has literally litigated these energy projects into oblivion.
It’s time the DFL’s actions matched their words.
Technorati: Protests, Public Utilities Commission, Certificate of Need, Sandpiper Pipeline, Friends of the Headwaters, Environmental Activists, MCEA, Litigation, DFL, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
Now that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, aka PUC, has issued a certificate of need for the Sandpiper Pipeline project, it’s time to ask an important question. First, here’s what happened:
ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved a certificate of need for the proposed Sandpiper pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin. While the PUC agreed 5-0 Friday that the $2.6 billion, 610-mile pipeline is necessary, they didn’t foreclose the possibility of rerouting it away from environmentally sensitive lakes, streams and wetlands in northern Minnesota. Enbridge Energy will still have to go through a lengthy review of its proposed route and a proposed alternative.
It’s great that they approved the project but I’m just a little worried about why they’re involved. Their primary responsibility is monitoring public utilities. There’s no doubt that politicians create ‘innovative’ definitions for words but that doesn’t mean a pipeline is a public utility.
There’s no justification for adding the PUC into the regulatory process — except if the goal is to create another hoop for companies to jump through. Then it makes perfect sense. If creating multiple hoops is the goal, then having the PUC review pipeline projects is imperative.
There are multiple agencies that review these types of proposals. Why? Shouldn’t Minnesota create a one-stop shopping center for reviews? Shouldn’t there be a time limit placed on both parties to speed up the review process? That way, companies can’t run out the clock by withholding important information and regulators can’t string companies along with endless amounts of questions.
Streamlining the review process gets important projects approved quickly while still asking the important questions.
There’s a throng of anti-corporation organizations filled with environmental activists attempting to kill the Sandpiper Pipeline project. They thrive off of multiple bites at the apple during the regulatory process. They’re assisted by politicians like Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken, not to mention Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and legislators like Rep. Thissen and Sen. Marty.
These environmentalists will stand in the way of this type of reform. They’ll insist that the process isn’t broken and that it doesn’t need fixing. That’s a fantasy. Any system that requires years to get a project approved isn’t just fractured. It’s broken. Companies should be held accountable but they shouldn’t be required to spend tens of millions of dollars on each step of the regulatory process.
A strong national economy relies on cheap energy. If that’s our goal, which it should be, then it’s time we stepped into the 21st Century.
It isn’t a secret that environmental activists don’t want the Sandpiper Pipeline built. That’s because they’re pushing for an all-renewable energy economy. Here’s what they’re saying this year:
“We’ve just suggested that there should be a safer place to put it across the state, environmentally,” said Richard Smith, president of Friends of the Headwaters. “The state would still retain whatever property tax dollars come from the company from the pipeline itself, plus there’d still be construction jobs.”
That’s a lie. Here’s what they said about their earlier actions:
The Friends of the Headwaters (“FOH”) was successful in educating Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (HCCOLA) Board Members who submitted a resolution to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the Sandpiper Pipeline Route must be relocated in order to protect and preserve the lake country’s natural resources http://www.hubbardcolamn.org/sandpiper-pipeline.html. FOH also successfully educated the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners and the County Soil and Water Conservation District (“SWCD”) so that they submitted resolutions to the PUC requesting that it include a non-water alternate route in its proceedings regarding the Sandpiper route.
For the first time in an energy request before the PUC, both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (“MPCA”) and the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”), the state agencies charged with protecting the state’s environment and natural resources, have raised very serious concerns regarding the North Dakota Pipeline Company, LLC, an Enbridge affiliate (“Enbridge”) Route. The MPCA concluded Enbridge’s route is the least environmentally sensitive of 6 of the routes proposed. See http://www.friendsoftheheadwaters.org/latest-news-and-information.html.
The Friends of the Headwaters are doing everything within their power to prevent the building of the Sandpiper Pipeline. Meanwhile, there’s a massive railcar shortage that’s preventing farmers from getting their crops to market and creating safety issues for towns that the oil trains pass through.
Here’s more proof that the FOH is attempting to kill the Sandpiper Pipeline:
Leading up to the June hearing before PUC regulators in St. Paul, Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman criticized the regulatory procedure for being “a lot harder than it ought to be.”
Lipman’s 106 page ruling advised the PUC to exclude “rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels…global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict” from consideration in future proceedings. “The addition of those larger items to the hearing agenda has a significant impact. It adds genuine complexity and expense to a contested case—and the burdens of coping with that complexity and expense falls upon energy companies, government agencies and ordinary citizens alike.”
Here’s a little interesting information about FOH:
Friends of the Headwaters is represented by the legal team at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA). Arguably the most respected environmental stewardship organization in Minnesota, MCEA is staffed with knowledgeable and passionate people fighting for environmental best practices across Minnesota.
That MCEA is mentioned as FOH’s attorneys speak volumes. I wrote about MCEA way back in this post. Here’s what MCEA bragged about in their op-ed:
Along with our allies at the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Wind on the Wires, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Fresh Energy argued, first in South Dakota, then before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), that the new plant was a bad idea. Our message was simple: The utilities had not proven the need for the energy, and what energy they did need could be acquired less expensively through energy efficiency and wind.
We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.
MCEA has a lengthy history of stopping fossil fuel projects. They’re in the legal sabotage business. Frankly, they don’t care if farmers get hurt. FOH and MCEA’s highest priority is stopping any project that makes fossil fuel more available.