Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ding, Dong

The Midtown burner is dead! The developers released a statement yesterday (June 6, 2008) saying they are giving up their fight to build the Midtown Burner.

But, as Steve Brandt notes in his most recent Strib article, the push to build more incinerators in the Twin Cities has not ended.

Stay informed and stay involved. One thing we've learned from this long process is that we can't always rely on our leaders to take care of our air because they sometimes become investors in projects that can harm us. But we also learned that when ordinary citizens stand up to protect our air and our health against boondoggles we can have an impact.

There will be a meet up at the Acadia Cafe on Tuesday June 10th beginning at around 6 p.m. to celebrate the victory and to discuss the future. The meet up has been arranged by Julonne Glad and the Minneapolis Residents for Clean Air. As they say on their website, everyone is welcome.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Xcel cuts off negotiations

The burner project is looking deader all the time:

Xcel leaves developers powerless on ‘Midtown Burner’ project

This isn't over but a takeaway at this point is this: if you attended a meeting, talked to a neighbor, wrote the Mayor or a City Councilperson or State legislator, or if you emailed the MPCA or did anything to voice your objections or concerns about the Midtown burner proposal you have had an impact. The only thing that stands in the way of boondoggles like the Midtown Eco-Energy burner are the people who stand up to voice their concerns.

If you stood up, now would be a good time to give yourself a pat on the back.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cumulative Pollution Impact

A bill passed the Minnesota Legislature requiring that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency consider the cumulative pollution impacts of the proposed Midtown burner before granting a pollution permit.

Steve Brandt from the Strib has written an article about the bill.

The existing law does not require the consideration of the cumulative impacts, which is kind of like hearing your doctor tell you it's okay to eat another donut even though you've had 10 already today because he doesn't consider the cumulative effects of eating multiple donuts. The neighborhoods near the burner already suffer from a variety of pollution -- considering the cumulative effects of yet another pollution source makes sense.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mayor Rybak apparently still supports the burner

Our Mayor, R.T. Rybak, says he still supports the Midtown Eco Energy burner, in part because he has not heard enough public "outrage" to convince him that the burner is a problem.

You can email the Mayor at

He apparently needs to hear from you if you are "outraged" by any of the following (even short emails are helpful):
  • This burner would be located in one of the most densely-populated and poorest neighborhoods in our State,
  • It would emit up to one million pounds per year of regulated toxins into the air we breathe, including mercury, dioxin, sulfur dioxide, arsenic and formaldehyde,
  • This would cause generations of people who live, work or play near the Midtown Greenway or 28th and Hiawatha to experience increased levels of cancer, reproductive deficiencies, neurological diseases and a host of respiratory problems such as asthma. Asthma is reaching epidemic levels in our State and even if you don't care about the kids who will suffer most remember that we all pay for these illnesses through higher medical insurance premiums and government support for medical treatments.
  • The burner WOULD INCREASE WORLDWIDE CO2 LEVELS by an increase in the fossil fuels used by the semi-trucks (25 per day, by the developers' estimates) that would haul in waste and haul out ash. It would also NOT result in a net reduction in worldwide CO2 levels because the plant itself would emit CO2s. The developers like to argue that their plant is good for the environment becuase it would emit fewer CO2s per megawatt of energy than a coal plant. That argument only makes sense if coal plants are taken offline.
  • If we're truly concerned about protecting the environment we should avoid building incinerators anywhere. Incinerators actually create MORE waste because they rely on it to survive. Waste that could be recycled or conserved is instead burned. See U.S.: Waste Incinerators Making a Comeback for a more thorough explanation.
Contact Mayor Rybak today! Why is this important? Because the burner is not a dead issue. Even though the current land deal has stalled out the developers have invested substantial time and effort into their project and they will do anything they can to push the project through. The Mayor needs to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Double blow for incinerator

The City of Minneapolis re-confirmed its decision to deny the land sale yesterday! This is a big deal because the developers obviously can't build their incinerator at 28th and Hiawatha unless they have the land.

And at the State Capitol, legislators added language to an existing bill that would prohibit the MPCA from issuing a pollution permit for the incinerator.

The developers aren't giving up. A Steve Brandt piece in the Strib summarizes the latest developments.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

To the bitter end...

Things are happening quickly as Midtown's investors struggle to meet the conditions of the City's agreement before the March 30, 2008 deadline. Here are two recent articles that will bring you up to speed:

(1) "Midtown burner project hits a snag with the city," another Steve Brandt piece in the Strib.

(2) "Minneapolis 'Midtown burner' plan could go up in smoke," a "Finance and Commerce" article.

The Midtown investors are finally playing the lawsuit card. It looks like they're on the ropes. But you shouldn't count them out -- contact your City Councilperson today and remind them that you oppose the burner at Hiawatha and 28th Street!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lastest Strib Article; if it looks and smells like a boondoggle...

An article by City Hall beat reporter Steve Brandt appeared in the Strib on Friday: "Wood-burning plant embroiled in local politics."

The article highlights the controversies about the project developers' connections with the powers that be, suggesting that the public interest has been taking a backseat to greasing some friendly palms:

"Public officials say Havey and Krause, familiar figures at City Hall [and lead developers in the Midtown burner project], began a successful lobbying effort for Kandiyohi to bid for the site."

"During [Havey's] five years as director of Minneapolis' federally designated economic development zone, the city hadn't approved any of its $130 million in tax-exempt bonds. Havey said that federal requirements made that too tough. Yet federal records show such bonds have been issued in nine of the other 14 Empowerment Zone communities nationally designated in the same year as Minneapolis."

"The city will net little from the land deal...."

The article brings some of the pieces of this boondoggle into relief. The story would be sad enough if this project didn't have a public heath impact. But what makes it truly outrageous is the tangible ways this burner would harm generations of Twin Cities residents if it goes up (see posts below).

It is more critical than ever that you contact your City Councilperson and Mayor Ryback to tell them you do not want another burner to go up in your City.