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Earlier this afternoon, I wrote that Gov.-Elect Dayton was thinking about nominating Paul Aasen to be the next commissioner of the MPCA. Since that post, I’ve had time to do a little digging into who Paul Aasen is and what he’s been involved with. One thing I’ve learned is that he co-authored an op-ed with Michael Noble that ran in the Strib on Sept. 16, 2009.

Here’s a telling part of 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.

This time around, the administrative law judge ruled in our favor, saying the utilities had proven the need for, at most, 160 megawatts and had failed to prove that coal would be the least expensive way of providing the electricity. The Minnesota PUC approved the transmission lines into Minnesota, and we filed an appeal that is pending with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

These words should put a chill in every sane Minnesotan’s mind: “We kept losing but a funny thing happened.”

My first question is who’s funding Aasen’s litigation organization? It takes tons of money to litigate this type of case. There’s lawyers to pay, court costs, research costs, just to mention a few of the many costs.

Another question I’ve got is what Al Junhke, Tom Bakk and the construction unions think. Does Junhke like the attrition litigation against agribusinesses in his district? Does Sen. Bakk like the lawsuits filed against logging companies and mining companies up in the Arrowhead?

Do the construction unions get upset that MCEA has cost them construction jobs on the Iron Range and on Big Stone II?

Was MCEA funded by people who have made big investments in green energy businesses? Or in Cap-And-Trade futures markets?

Most importantly, would Aasen be hostile to companies that would upset the green energy business model?

Aasen’s track record with MCEA has proven to be more hostile towards businesses than collaborative. At a time when the legislature and the executive branch should be putting in place policies that create jobs, Aasen’s nomination would send a terrible signal to the legislature and to Minnesota that a Dayton administration would be hostile towards small businesses.

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11 Responses to “Attritition, Not Litigation”

  • eric z says:

    It appears to be a sound choice.

    Score one for Dayton.

    To the extent greater amounts of energy may be needed the wind blows in Southwest Minnesota and the infrastructure needed is transmission – improvement of the now overloaded grid, and wind turbines. Not Excelsior.

    To the extent there has been resistance to upgrading the grid, the NIMBY thing against transmission lines, things do need to change.

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