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Governor Says He Didn't Get The Memo
Though His Regulatory Agencies Did
Disclaimer: there will be many typographical, and possibly factual, errors on this page. I did it quickly and did not have time to proofread it more than once.
TheStarTrib is reporting:
Gov. Mark Dayton has told BNSF Railway’s top executive that he is “deeply concerned” about the recent increase in Bakken oil trains on western suburban tracks into downtown Minneapolis, saying it puts an additional 99,000 people at risk.
In a letter to CEO Carl Ice, the governor asked the railroad not to operate oil trains on the line that passes Target Field when events are underway, to extend first-responder training to all communities along the route and assess it for a worst-case accident.
BNSF, the major crude oil hauler out of North Dakota, recently disclosed in a mandatory report to the state that 11 to 23 crude oil trains per week are using the route from Willmar, MN, through suburbs like Wayzata and St. Louis Park into Minneapolis and across the Mississippi River at Nicollet Island.
Dayton said he was concerned that BNSF did not inform him or his staff about the route change. BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said in an e-mail that BNSF will be talking directly with the governor about his concerns. She did not say whether BNSF will consider halting oil trains during Target Field events, but noted that crude oil has been shipped along the corridor at lower volumes. [Wait until BNSF halts trains on the tracks leading into / out of Minneapolis for hours at a time.]
“BNSF has multiple routes in the metro area that we utilize for hauling a variety of commodities,” McBeth said. “Volumes and routes can fluctuate for a number of reasons. In all areas of the metro region where we move crude oil and other hazmat, we take a number of steps to reduce risk.”The article does say that the governor's favorite fuel, ethanol, more volatile than Bakken crude oil, is also carried by these same trains through Minneapolis. Apparently the governor has no concern with ethanol by rail. Memo to self: google Minnesota ethanol production.
I did not read the entire article but I did not see any mention that had Minnesota expedited approval of the Sandpiper pipeline, Governor Dayton might not have had to write the letter, saving some paper and perhaps a tree. Meanwhile, the Sandpiper appears to be dead, keystoned by Minnesota officials. So the trains will continue.
Just In Time For Halloween
Perfect Plant For Decorating
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Minnesota, they have built a stinky "poop plant" to generate electricity from food waste. You have to read well into the article to find that for the privilege of this mess, taxpayers and consumers are paying what it would have cost/MW to build a nuclear power plant.
Deep, deep in the article we learn that this monstrosity generates maybe 8 MW of electricity -- my hunch is that this is rounded up from five or six MW. At $45 million (the stated price -- again, it was probably rounded down and we don't know the on-going operating cost), that $45 million / 8 MW translates into an incredible $6 million / MW (rounded).
This is the going cost for new utility plants:
From an August 25, 2014, post, this is 30-second sound bite for "cost of renewable megawatt":
This stinky plant in Le Sewer, MN, is costing almost twice what a small solar farm would cost, or a small wind farm, and five or six times what a natural gas plant would cost.
- Solar: $3 million / MW
- Wind: $2.5 million / MW
- Natural gas: $865,000 / MW
At least everyone feels good, even if they don't smell good.
If that link breaks, google:
LE SUEUR, Minn. – Nearly two years after going online, an innovative, municipally owned power plant that burns methane from agricultural waste is generating only a faction of its promised electricity.
More:The $45 million plant, built partly with federal aid in this city 50 miles southwest of Minneapolis, also is producing something its promoters said it wouldn’t — stink.
The plant, largely funded with municipal-backed bonds and $8 million in federal aid, has generated controversy from the beginning.My hunch is that the plant will not be operating five years from now. And those bonds? WHOOPS.
The more you read of that stinking article, the worst it gets:
Most methane plants reach 50 percent of their operating capacity in a few months. Yet not all have been a success. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 54 farm-based projects have been shut down, including nine in Wisconsin. A manure-based plant in Dane County, WI, that leaked liquid waste and emitted stinky hydrogen sulfide paid an $80,000 state penalty in July, court records show. [It appears Wisconsin has shut down more environmentally-unfriendly waste energy plants than there are fracking sand mines in the state. And all this time I thought folks who "fought" sand mines in Wisconsin were environmentally serious. My bad.]You have to read to the very end of the article to find out how much this stinker actually produces:
Although the Hometown BioEnergy plant is large compared with other biogas plants — 8 million watts of output — it’s a small part of MMPA’s generating capacity, which includes large natural gas-fired units. In 2014, the biogas plant produced just 0.3 percent of the electricity MMPA supplied to the 12 cities that own the power agency.
The plant produced 0.3 percent just to 12 cities -- it would be interesting to know the population it served. Le Sewer, home of the "Jolly Green Giant," has a population of about 5,000 (prior to the stink). The city cities on a county line and the combined population of the two counties is about 20,000 people. Minnesota state population is 5.5 million. 20,000 / 5,500,000 = 0.36%. Therefore, this stinky plant unlikely produced more than 0.001% of all the electricity consumed by residential customers in Minnesota.One of the goals of the project is to meet the state mandate for utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
As the Chinese say, a 1,000-mile trek starts with the first trek. The Chinese didn't say anything about stepping in poop to make that first step.
Later: after posting this story, a reader sent me additional information about how bad these "on-farm renewable energy science experiments" really are. It makes bird flu and hog farm run-off look tame in comparison. Sometimes I think the Saudis did us a favor dropping the price of oil to $30, and US frackers dropping the price of natural gas to $2.50 -- drive out these alternate energy projects which are simply awful.