EPA community air monitoring leaves Twin Cities gasping for breath

Webinar: Thursday 9 July 2015, 09:00 AM – 12:30 PM [Note: 8 Central Time!]


Thanks to Jim Gurley of Winona, MN, for the heads-up on this. The MPCA is predicting CODE YELLOW bad air in the Cities and Rochester for Wednesday, July 8, 2015, through Sunday. The MPCA has been rather unresponsive to communications during the last few days. Perhaps officials are gasping for breath? I can’t predict the quality of the information that will be offered in this webinar, but it might be helpful to people concerned about health threats from air pollution in their communities. Continue Reading

Garbage action alert….

After years of controversy in Minneapolis, ending with rejection of a burning increase at the HERC garbage burner, controversy seems to be shifting to St. Paul/Ramsey County, where officials have their own incineration schemes. More below:

Washington and Ramsey counties are planning to spend over $26 million to buy a now-privately-owned garbage grinding facility in Newport, Minnesota. By making it a publicly owned facility they would be able to use “flow control” to force all the haulers in the two counties to bring their garbage there. An unregulated monopoly would come into being. Continue Reading

Renuking Minnesota?

Above: The Monticello reactor.  Note the tall stack used to vent cancer-causing radioactive gases. (Please forgive the personal notes in this post.  So often we debate the technical merits of nuke power, without sufficiently considering the human side, the human impacts, of the decisions getting made.  This was originally posted on my blog alanmuller.com.)

I’ve had more of a relationship with the nuclear industry than seems ideal.  In Delaware, I can look out a window and see the domes of three reactors.  In 2000, I wrote in an alert:
“Parts of New Castle County (DE) are in the “ingestion zones” (= within fifty miles) of 7 nuclear reactors (Limerick 1 and 2, Peach Bottom 2 and 3, Salem 1 and 2, and Hope Creek). While the nuclear industry has always claimed that it’s radiation output is too small to cause health problems, more and more reports are linking proximity to nuclear facilities to breast cancer, leukemia, childhood cancer and birth defects, and other health problems.” For a while, for some reason, I was on a Nuclear Regulatory Commission “call list” usually reserved for public officials.  Whenever something official was up with my favorite three reactors, a pleasant and well-informed NRC official would call in advance.  It was a good lesson in how artfully the nuclear industry is able to manipulate official perceptions and mainstream media coverage. I remember the rainy night of March 28, 2004, spent in Londonderry Township (Middletown) Pennsylvania, at the site of the Three Mile Island nuke plant.  We listened to people, on the 25th anniversary of the meltdown there, talk about the impacts on their lives of the meltdown. Continue Reading

Community Voices: A white boy’s thoughts on Martin King

(I originally posted this on Facebook, but that is probably not the right venue for essays.)


Martin Luther King. His day, so to speak?  What should a white boy think or say about this?  I was born in 1950 and remember the snarling hostility towards King. The billboards saying “Martin Luther King is a Communist.” And so on. King was hated by nany people, including my family. Continue Reading

CV | Alan Muller: Every contaminated site in Minnesota needs to be reviewed

Decades of disregard leave families exposed to toxins.One of the best elected officials I know of is Cam Gordon of the Minneapolis MN City Council. Gordon is a Green Party member, one of a relative handful of official Greens holding office in the United States. I don’t agree with all Gordon’s positions, of course, but he shows an impressive ability to maintain independent and thoughtful positions while seeming to maintain working relationships with his colleagues. In March, 2014, Gordon posted this commentary (below) on one of the more consequential environmental scandals to surface recently in Minnesota.Some background(Disclosure: I have not done anything like a full file review of this, and nobody has asked my opinions on it. But the patterns shown–patterns of negligence–are consistent with patterns of inadequate “cleanup” and overdone coverup seen at contaminated sites nationwide. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Strange nonsense at the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (and the MPCA)

Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB), and it’s Climate Change Subcommittee, held a meeting on June 18, 2014.“The mission of the Environmental Quality Board is to lead Minnesota environmental policy by responding to key issues, providing appropriate review and coordination, serving as a public forum and developing long-range strategies to enhance Minnesota’s environmental quality. The Environmental Quality Board consists of a Governor’s representative (by law the board chair), nine state agency heads and five citizen members. Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 103A, 103B, 116C, 116D and 116G (Statutes and Rules of the EQB)”The EQB is supposed to address environmental issues that are “cross cutting” in the sense of involving the turf of more than one executive agency.  Thus, it is made up of the heads of the Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Department of Health, and so on.  It is not clear if the “citizen” members play a substantial role, or if they are tokens.  Members and contact info listed here.So, this body is essentially the heads of the executive (controlled by the governor) agencies and represents Governor Mark Dayton’s agendas.Several years ago, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other darkside interests decided to get rid of the EQB, or at least pull its teeth by getting rid of the staff and gutting the environmental review process.  (It seems to be a basic darkside objective to prevent the State of Minnesota from being able to address environmental problems effectively.)  Governor Dayton went along with this agenda, and the EQB staff was mostly gotten rid of.  There was push back, and it seems to have been decided that at least minimal staff are needed.  So the EQB again has a staff, but this staff is located in the MPCA and seems to lack the independence it once had.  Contact information for the staff.There are also “tech reps” from the agencies whose role is not entirely clear.  Contact information for tech reps.For some more background see Comments on the “Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card,” and “Governor Dayton Moves to Simplify Minnesota’s Environmental Review Process.”Frac Sand miningWhen frac sand (“silica sand”) mining reared an ugly head in Southeastern Minnesota, people went to the EQB for help.  They asked in proper form for a “Generic Environmental Impact Statement,” to evaluate the consequences of letting this industry loose in Minnesota.  Comments were heard at many meetings from citizens, industry reps, and state agencies.  The board members listened politely but nothing happened.Eventually, the citizens were shuffled off to the Legislature, their GEIS petition forgotten. Continue Reading