on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001: 01-04. , 05-09 .
2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10., 11, 12.. 1999 .
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03., 04-07, 1999
January - April 2000 updates
Judge allows groups' 'intervener' status
From: Ann Stewart firstname.lastname@example.orgBy Ron Brochu
Duluth News-Tribune staff writer
January 21, 2000
A judge is requiring Minnesota Power to undergo a more thorough review of its proposed Duluth-to-Wausau power line project than the utility had desired.
Administrative Law Judge Phyllis Reha on Thursday granted seven petitioners the status of "intervener," which allows them to offer testimony and cross-examine Minnesota Power Co. witnesses at a Jan. 31 public hearing. The Duluth-based utility had opposed applications by 13 groups that sought a higher level of participation during review of the 12-mile Minnesota portion of the company's 250-mile project.
Reha said Minnesota law mandates "broad citizen participation," requiring public input to be maximized.
Allowed as interveners are the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Clean Water Action Alliance, North American Water Office, World Organization for Landowner Freedom, Lake Superior Greens and the Dairyland Power Cooperative. Because the 345-kilovolt line will follow the same 12-mile path as an existing 115-kilovolt transmission line, Minnesota Power had sought to streamline debate about the corridor, which runs parallel to Becks and Midway roads.
"Now that the judge has made her decision, we'll take the time the hearing requires. We'll present our testimony and see what the interveners have to say, " said Minnesota Power spokesman John Heino. Several interveners will address environmental effects, said Jan Conley of Superior, coordinator of the Lake Superior Greens.
"This will allow us to tell the Environmental Quality Board about the possible impacts on Lake Superior. We feel we should be involved, and we are pleased our request was granted, " she said. Reha accepted Minnesota Power's request to exclude interveners who seek to address how the power line extension will affect Wisconsin. The utility stated its opposition in a Jan. 13 letter written by corporate attorney Deborah Amberg.
"Minnesota Power does not believe it should be required to defend against charges arising in another state or against charges over which the (Minnesota Environmental Quality Board) has no jurisdiction, " Amberg wrote. Among the 13 denied petitioners were the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Concerned Minnesota Residents with Wisconsin Land Ownership, Rusk County Citizens Action Group, Village of Exeland and Wisconsin state Rep. Marty Reynolds, D-Ladysmith.
"The Wisconsin docket is the appropriate forum for entities wishing to address environmental impacts within Wisconsin, " Reha wrote. She extended the deadline until Jan. 31 to request information or submit written testimony addressing the power line extension. Earlier Thursday, several environmental groups had petitioned for the deadline extension, said George Crocket, executive director of the North American Water Office.
"The deadline for discovery already had expired. Because we hadn't been granted intervener status, we couldn't get access to information that we needed for the public hearing, " he said.
A prehearing conference will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Midway Town Hall. The public hearing is scheduled in the town hall at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Jan. 31, continuing if necessary at 9 a.m. on Feb. 1.
In the end, Pimicikamak Cree Nation can rest assured that Americans will not turn their back on this knowledge, and that the truth hidden from them for decades will come out despite a technical setback."
(Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation)
Electricity would be transmitted 250 miles from Duluth to Wausau
From: Ann Stewart email@example.com
January 23, 2000
The battle lines were drawn long before November, when the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin received the formal application to build a high-voltage power line between Duluth and Wausau, Wis. Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation want to build aroughly 250-mile-long, 345-kilovolt power line at a cost of between $125 million and $175 million.
On their side are businesses, individuals, legislators and groups suchas the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce who say the line is essential to prevent the possibility of blackouts across the region. The proposed line could carry about 1,000 megawatts, enough to power roughly 300,000 homes. Without it, proponents say the days of inexpensive, reliable electricity in the Upper Midwest will be gone, resulting in more businesses locating in other states and higher costs for those that remain.
"In the past, (inexpensive electricity) was a main factor in attractingindustry and keeping it," said Doug Johnson, senior vice president andcounsel for the Wisconsin Merchants Federation. "Those days arechanging. The rates are going up, and the risk to reliability is increasing."
On the other side of the issue are members and supporters of the grass-roots group Save Our Unique Lands, property owners and others whofear the power line could potentially harm health, property values andthe environment. Others oppose the fact that the electricity would come from coal-burning power plants or massive hydroelectric projects.
Power line foes say Wisconsin should meet its energy needs through conservation and distributed generation -- building relatively small power plants where electricity is needed -- rather than by building this power line.
Supporting S.O.U.L.'s aims are eight Wisconsin counties (including Douglas County) and more than 50 cities, villages, towns and other groups that have passed resolutions opposing the line.
"We're not against electricity, " said S.O.U.L.'s president Tom Kreager of Mosinee, Wis. "Everyone uses electricity. We're not against economic growth either. What we are for is responsible management of electricity that minimizes its impact on private property landowners. And distributed generation will fit that ticket so much better than will this transmission line. "
But it's not that simple, say power line supporters. "Generation often costs two to three times as much as transmission, "said Dave Valine, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation's transmission engineering and construction supervisor. "As utilities need energy,they make decisions based on economics. If they can buy power for less than they can generate it themselves, then for the good of their customers they will purchase it. "
To win support for the project, the power companies have held public informational meetings and lobbied business leaders and politicians.They've handed out materials and established a Web site touting the benefits of the power line and asking people to express their support to state officials. They're lining up expert witnesses to testify on the need for the power line and to discount claims that the line would cause undue damage to health or the environment.
To stop the power line, S.O.U.L. has hired lawyer and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey to chart a strategy against the project. The group is finding expert witnesses to testify on the health concerns and alternatives to the power line.
S.O.U.L. also has collected petitions and encouraged power line opponents to contact the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, whichhas the final say on which of two routes involving 220 to 240 miles of line in Wisconsin -- or if either -- is built.
The PSC already has received thousands of letters and e-mails about theproject, months before it will hold public hearings on it. The response "is much greater than anything in living memory, " and overwhelmingly against the line, said PSC public affairs director Jeff Butson.
"It's 220 miles long and affects thousands of landowners. That's why this is so controversial and has drawn so much attention. "
Reinforcing the links
The line is needed, supporters say, to increase the reliability of the electrical system in Wisconsin, which historically has imported about 15 percent of its electricity. But Wisconsin is connected to neighboring states by only four major power lines. Illinois, in contrast, has 25; Minnesota has 18.
"Right now, we have a very weak link to Minnesota, " Valine said. "There's one 345-kv line that ties Wisconsin to Minnesota. When thatline goes out of service, there are serious problems. "
On June 25, 1998, thunderstorms knocked the Twin Cities-Eau Claire lineout of service, causing a ripple effect of overloaded and failing powerlines. Approximately 16,000 customers in Cumberland, Rice Lake,Menomonie and Abbotsford lost power. A larger-scale blackout wasnarrowly avoided. Satisfying America's hunger for electricity has become incrediblycomplex. At the start of 1999, utility companies in the United Stateoperated 3,043 generating plants with a total capacity of 778,513megawatts. Electricity moves from generators to consumers -- often indifferent regions of the nation -- across 711,698 miles of transmissionlines, 85,695 miles of which carried over 254 kilovolts.
"Due to the interconnected nature of the power grid in the UnitedStates, your neighbor's problem is your problem, " Butson said.
That was driven home to Wisconsin in 1997, when nine nuclear generatorunits in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin were out of operation. Several times Wisconsin utilities had to cut power to their interruptible customers -- those who pay lower rates knowing that they can have their power cut during peak usage times.
June 1998 brought the thunderstorm that knocked the Twin Cities-EauClaire line out of service. Last summer saw more excessive loads on theline. Last September the Public Service Commission wrote in a letter to StateSen. Russ Decker, D-Schofield, that "The addition of any new transmission or generation capacity in our state would help prevent the potential for the type of system-wide service interruption that Wisconsin has narrowly avoided over the past three summers. "
In 1997 Gov. Tommy Thompson asked the state's electric companies to forma task force (that became the Wisconsin Reliability AssessmentOrganization) to help recommend ways to improve the reliability of thestate's electrical system. Last June the group released a report sayingthe Arrowhead-Weston line, as the line from Duluth to Wausau is called,is the best alternative to improve the transmission system, in partbecause it "provides geographic diversity -- and is capable of beingconstructed with an acceptable cost and schedule. "
S.O.U.L.'s Kreager, however, believes it would be better to buildgas-fired turbine generators in Wisconsin's industrial parks rather thana major transmission line that would pass near his home. "Then you don't have all your eggs in one basket, " he said. "You're not working off of a 250-mile-long extension cord.
"If you put ten 100-megawatt generators scattered across the state inindustrial parks and you lose one plant, you've lost 10 percent of yourcapacity, " he said. "If you lose that line, you've lost everything. " Kreager said Wisconsin is overly dependent on the current line fromMinnesota because Wisconsin hasn't built enough power plants of its own.
In 1996, Wisconsin utility companies sold 58,743,628 megawatt hours ofelectricity to their retail consumers. Wisconsin power companiesgenerated 51,651,435 megawatt hours, and the remaining 7,092,193 megawatthours were imported from power companies in other states. During the 1990s, Wisconsin utilities built generators with a totalcapacity of 1,619 megawatts. Another 2,016 megawatts are planned orunder construction for next three years.
"Although we've built new generation, it hasn't matched the growth inthe economy, " Butson said. "Our electric demand is growing at anannual rate of 2 percent to 3 percent. "
The power companies respond that the other alternatives suggested bypower line opponents are also impractical. Conservation doesn't addressthe need to improve the transmission system, they say, and power plantsusing fuel cells cost several times as much per kilowatt as do othertypes of generators. Still, the PSC will consider such things as conservation and alternativesources of energy when judging the merits of the Arrowhead-Westonproposal, Butson said.
"Just about everything you can imagine that should be looked at will belooked at to determine if there is something that would work better for the state of Wisconsin than this transmission line, " Butson said.
"We need new transmission facilities, " Butson said. "New transmissionlines would re-enforce the whole system against any contingency. Butwhether this one is the right one remains to be seen. "
For quick, easy access to the Web sites of the power companies that want to build the proposed power line, of the group that opposes the line andof the state agencies that will decide the project's fate, go to theNews-Tribune's Web site at www.duluthnews.com� 2000 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press - All Rights Reserved
Don't build additional power line
27 Feb 2000
There is a lot of deceptive information concerning a proposed 250-mile transmission line from Duluth to Wausau by Wisconsin Public Service and Minnesota Power. The lights will not go off if this line is not built! This is a scare tactic that has no basis in fact.
The power companies are desperately devouring the rate payers' (your) money in an advertising blitz, begging misinformed people to back their poorly planned project.
Let's assume the last three summers were a little touch and go. Next, let's review what has, and will, transpire. Wisconsin entered 1997 with 10,311 megawatts of generation capacity. From 1997 through 1999, Wisconsin added 563 megawatts of additional generation, making the state's outlook much better. In 2000, an additional 968 megawatts is expected, taking care of future needs for a number of years. If more new generation power was constructed after the 2000 we would be in great shape!
Sadly, in an intense six-page study of generation, conservation, and alternative energy in WPS' and MP's 1,400 page application, they determined there will be absolutely no new generation built in Wisconsin after the year 2000.
Wait a second, there is an application in with the Public Service Commission for the Pleasant Prairie 1,048 megawatt plant, and it is due to come on-line in 2002 in Kenosha County. It has met with no public opposition because it is sited in an industrial park where new generation belongs.
In those same six inadequate pages, the utilities state that in order to achieve the same amount of reliability as the proposed line, we would need an additional 800 megawatts of new generation. Pleasant Prairie handles that requirement hands down. That's not the only planned generation after 2000.
An assumption of no new generation is the only way to justify their proposed line. Money is the real purpose of the proposed line! It should be renamed "The Northern States Power Bypass" because it avoids NSP's territory and control. This is important if you want to be a middle man in the game of deregulated electricity in Wisconsin.
Not only will this line not be built, but the repercussions of this battle will have a very significant effect on the ability of WPS and MP to survive in a deregulated market because of the damage that they have caused to their companies' images through their own greed.
A new organization, Save Our Unique Lands, is extremely well organized, knowledgeable, has tremendous momentum, and is as a serious threat to WPS' and MP's beloved transmission line. We are proud to provide real long-term solutions to short-sighted, unneeded transmission propositions. We sincerely believe that the proposed transmission line is not needed now or the foreseeable future. Public pressure will bring an end to this ill-conceived line. Get involved!
Kreager of Mosinee, Wis., is president of Save Our Unique Lands. Readers may visit the group's Web site at www.wakeupwisconsin.com.
By Steve Kuchera
Duluth News-Tribune staff writer
March 12, 2000
Eleanor Coffield minces no words when talking about line across Wisconsin.
"If they come to my land, they're not going to get through," said Coffield, who farms 200 acres near Ladysmith, Wis., with her husband, John. "I'm going to have a shotgun and I'm going to say `You do not have any permission to come on my land.' They're going to have to put me in jail. I'm 75 years old; they can feed me for a while."
The Coffields are two of a number of property owners opposing plans by Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. to build a high-voltage power line from Duluth to Wausau, Wis. Some are upset that the companies can condemn their land; others are concerned by the line's potential impact on their property values.
"Sure they would drop if the line comes through," Robert Ringsted said. "There's no question."
Ringsted owns 35 wooded acres along 2,000 feet of the Chippewa River 10 miles north of Bruce, Wis. He bought the land as an investment.
"There's good building lots there," he said.
Ringsted worries his investment will go sour if the line comes through.
"People do not come from the cities to buy recreational property on a river or a lake and have something like that next door to them," he said.
Project supporters say the line is needed to help meet Wisconsin's growing need for electricity and to improve the dependability of the state's electrical grid. The project would see 12 miles of line in and near Duluth upgraded and around 240 miles of line built in Wisconsin. The companies could receive permission from state regulatory agencies to build the line later this year.
Just how much power lines affect property values and salability has been the subject of numerous studies over the years. The studies have arrived at a range of answers.
One study of land sales in rural New York found that upgrading a 115 kilovolt line to a 345 kilovolt line lowered property values by perhaps 2 or 3 percent. A California study found that upgrading a line in a developed neighborhood lowered property values 4 to 9 percent on average and in some cases up to 12 percent.
The "adverse impacts associated with line upgrading diminish over time, all but disappearing within five years of reconstruction," that study found.
A St. Cloud (Minn.) State University survey of residential appraisers and people who bought, sold or owned property with or near power lines suggests that tracts with the lines may be harder to sell. Both sellers and appraisers felt it took longer to sell such properties. And one-third of the people who bought those parcels lowered their offering price by an average of 4.1 percent.
However, the St. Cloud study found that 51 percent of homeowners with high-voltage lines crossing their property did not consider the high voltage lines when they brought the land. Almost two-thirds of the buyers said the power lines did not affect how much they offered for the property.
"Other issues, including size of lot, square footage of a house, and eighborhood characteristics, have a much greater effect on sale prices than the presence of a power line," the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which has reviewed many of the power line/property value studies, reports.
But power lines do have an impact.
"The estimated reduction in sale price for single-family homes has ranged generally from 0 to 15 percent," with the impact greatest on houses within 200 feet of a line's right of way, the PSC report said. "Effects on price and value appear to be greatest immediately after a new power line is built or an existing (right of way) is increased in size. These effects appear to decrease over time."
Offsetting, at least partially, any loss in property value would be the money the utilities would pay landowners for easements to cross their land. The size of the payments would be based on studies of lands sales in the area.
The easements give the utilities permission to build and maintain the line across a property. And while the property doesn't change hands, the owners could find their use of the land restricted. They couldn't, for example, plant trees or build beneath the line. Farmers may have to work around towers.
"We can't use the property for anything else but we have to pay the taxes," Ringsted said. "I don't think that's right. It's not the way it should be at all."
The fact that the companies can get easements through eminent domain rankles many.
"I think it's a mortal sin," Ringsted said. "Why should the government give them the right of eminent domain? They are for-profit organizations. They're not a county or a city."
Rep. Marty Reynolds, D-Ladysmith, agrees.
"I was totally amazed when I found out that a for-profit had the same condemnation authority a governmental body has," he said. "It struck me that something is wrong with rights for property owners when a for-profit corporation is able to come in, take and use their land."
Reynolds, along with nine co-sponsors, including Reps. Frank Boyle, D-Superior, and Gary Sherman, D-Port Wing, have introduced a bill that would strip ** companies of that power.
Reynolds admits the bill's chances of passage are "slim to none" but hopes it raises awareness of the issue.
"While I have a problem with a governmental entity having that authority, at least governments are responsible to its citizens and the citizens always have recourse through elections," he said. "They can vote out their elected officials. That's pretty hard to do with a for-profit corporation."
However, others say there are valid reasons that utilities have the right to condemn land.
"The basic theory behind eminent domain is that the entity that has the authority to condemn property is doing something for the public purpose -- that the public in general would be harmed if a single individual was able to stand in the way of the project," said David Ludwig, a lawyer with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
There are safeguards built into the condemnation process, Ludwig said. First, the governmental body or utility that wants to condemn a property has to show there is a public need for the action.
If Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. convince the Public Service Commission that there is a need for the Duluth-Wausau line, the commission would issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The certificate would specify a route, probably a corridor, for the line. If the commission decides there isn't a viable route or no need for the line it wouldn't issue the certificate.
Once the companies receive the certificate, they could begin the process of buying easements. After studying recent land sales in the area to determine property values, the companies would begin negotiating with property owners over purchase prices.
If a landowner desires, he or she could require the utilities to pay for two appraisals -- one done by an appraiser picked by the landowner and one done by an appraiser picked by the companies -- to determine the property's value.
If negotiations fail, the utilities can go to the local County Condemnation Commission, which can condemn the property and set the purchase price. Either side can appeal the commission's decision.
"The basic protection to the landowner is that he will receive fair market value for what he must give up," Ludwig said.
Steve Kuchera can be reached at (218) 279-5503 or (877) 269-9672,
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina, March 15, 2000 (ENS) - Prolonged exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by large power lines may double the risk of suicide, says a new study from the University of North Carolina.
Dr. David Savitz, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and four other researchers, reviewed the health records of all electricians and other field technicians employed at any of the five major electric power companies in the United States between 1950 and 1986. Almost 6,000 from a total of 139,000 workers were selected for detailed study. The average length of time worked in the industry was 16 years.
Out of the 6,000 workers studied, there were 536 deaths from suicide. These suicide deaths were twice as high among those whose work regularly exposed them to extremely low frequency (EMF) electromagnetic radiation.
Suicide risks were considered for electricians, linemen and power plant operators, the three most common jobs with increased exposure to magnetic fields among the five utility companies. Only men were studied because women rarely worked in jobs where they were exposed to EMFs.
The highest risk of suicide was found among those with the highest levels of exposure, particularly in the year preceding death.
The association was even stronger among those whose death occurred before the age of 50.
The authors suggest that electromagnetic fields may reduce the production of melatonin, a hormone that maintains daily circadian rhythms, including the sleep and wake cycle. Reduced levels of melatonin are associated with depression. Dr. Savitz has worked for years on the potential carcinogenic effects of electromagnetic fields in the home and workplace.
The association between power line fields and suicides was first posited back in the 1970s in England, says Dr. Louis Slesin, publisher and editor of "Microwave News," a bimonthly report on non-ionizing radiation published in New York City.
The most interesting thing is the "dose response" in the population examined in the current study, said Slesin, referring to the fact that the greater the amount of exposure to EMFs, the greater the likelihood that they would commit suicide.
Dr. Slesin also noted the fact that it is the younger people who seem to be more affected by the EMF radiation.
"There's conflicting data here," Slesin told ENS, "but this clearly says that some of the original reports are worth looking into." In addition, "the melatonin connection gives you a very credible hypothesis to link EMF exposures to health effects," Slesin said.
Dr. Savitz and his team were able to consider some factors other than exposure to EMFs that might also increase the risk of suicide, but not others.
Power lines in front of coal fired generating station (Photo courtesy National Renewable Energy Lab) "Established risk factors for suicide are history of mental and addictive disorders, abnormalities and alterations in the serotonin system and disrupted family environment. However, information on these confounding factors was not available from personnel records at the companies," the authors wrote. Socioeconomic status, solvent exposure, decreased exposure to sunlight and living the the western United States are also possible risk factors for suicide, according to the authors, who did assess these risks and include them in the final analysis.
While calling for more study, the authors concluded that there is an association between "cumulative exposure of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and suicide, especially among younger workers and physical impairments among older workers."
The research was funded by the Electric Power Research Institute.
The study was published in the most recent issue of the journal "Occupational and Environmental Medicine," under the title, "Exposure to Electromagnetic fields and Suicide among Electric Utility Workers: a Nested Case-Control Study," by Edwin van Wijngaarden, David A. Savitz, Robert C. Kleckner, Jianwen Cai and Dana Loomis.
Urgent rally against transmission lines
April 6, 2000
Please, share this call for help! Immediate Action Needed! The largest, longest high voltage transmission line in the history of the state of Wisconsin (345,000 volts 250 miles long) is planned to carve a permanent scar across the beautiful face of northern Wisconsin. Two private utilities (Wisconsin Public Service and Minnesota Power) will use the power of "eminient domain' to take the land which crosses 10,000 private property owners and the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Reservation to market wholesale cheap 'power' from Canada/North Dakota to supply energy hungry markets to the south and east. The towers alone are 13 stories tall!
The largest grassroots resistance in the state has also formed to stop this line, which will not serve the very area that it will harm negatively (with EMF electrical pollution, lowered property values, impact on tourism etc). That movement is called Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL). To learn more about SOUL and how you can help visit the web site http://www.wakeupwisconsin.com There is another way to help immediately, if you live close enough to Madison to join in a rally. The rally will be held at the Public Service Commision offices on this Thursday April 6th.
PSC Intervenor Meeting
SOUL is asking that anyone who is opposed to this line to be there to help. This is a very important rally. For more information, call SOUL's lawyer Ed Garvey at 608 256 1003. People are gathering in the parking lot at 1:15PM on Thursday. You may bring signs that say "No Line" if you can. (make them if you are able).
SOUL is made up of farmers and others who are either living where the line is proposed to cross, or of people who care about the missuse of eminient domain and 'power'. Many of these people live a good 2 hour round trip from Madison. They need all the friends they can get who would be willing and able to spend and hour or two filling in for them at this rally.
A little background. Last July, many people literally had their lives taken away from them when WPS/MP announced this line. It would run from Duluth Minn. to Wausau, Wis. with 130 foot tall towers. The line would market cheap electricity from Manitoba Hydro (where an area the size of the state of Minnesota has been flooded, largely on Cree land... who are now experiencing the highest suicide rate in Canada, due to the loss of their entire way of life for the sake of generation of electricity in the dams) and it would also buy cheap coal powered electricity from North Dakota (thus adding more mercury to Minnesota's 10,000 lakes and Wisconsin's 'vacationland') This electricity can be purchased very cheap (around $30-$50 per MW/hour and then sold, during peak usage times in air conditioning season for around $7,500 per MW/hour to markets in Chicago..............a huge profit)
Governor Thompson wants this line. WMC wants this line. The Crandon Mine would use 20MW of this line, (this information is documented on the wakeupwisconsin web site and http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/powerline.html )
The electric companies have been running a continuous and expensive PR campaign on TV and print and newspapers (Minnesota Power has even bought up the web sites of local newspapers along the route). The electric companies have deep pockets and know how to use their 'power'. The grassroots people have people power. Yet, to fight the permitting battle before the permitting agency (the Public Service Commision PSC, a three person panel appointed by Thompson) the grassroots movement of SOUL needs "Intervenor Funding". This is money that was set aside by the legistature for purposes such as this ...........yet, ironically, it is the PSC itself who decides who gets the funding, to help pay for expert witnesses and legal help. SOUL has requested funding to meet this need. The PSC will be debating the issue at the Thursday meeting. SOUL is requesting everyone who can make it, to be there in body, so that PSC can see how many people care about this issue. It will be harder for them to hide under the "Thompson Rock" and deny SOUL's funding, if the PSC is surrounded by an acres of friends.
This is a serious call to action. If you care about the Crandon Mine issue, if you care about mercury in the waters, if you care about cows and the people who milk them, if you care about the misuse of power in the state........BE THERE. And bring a friend.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE.
And remember the April 29 Capitol rally against the Crandon mine, transmission lines, and Perrier.......
Decision is a step forward for project, but will limit
testimony on impact of proposed Duluth-Wausau line
Decision is a step forward for project, but will limit testimony on impact of proposed Duluth-Wausau line
By Martiga Lohn and Steve Kuchera
Duluth News-Tribune staff writers
April 21, 2000
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board voted unanimously Thursday to go ahead with public hearings on a high-voltage transmission line proposed to begin in Hermantown -- but will limit testimony to the line's possible environmental and public health effects in Minnesota. The decision clears the way for public hearings to be held this summer. The hearings, which were to begin in March, have been on hold while the board considered a request by project opponents to allow testimony on potential impacts beyond Minnesota.
Minnesota Power has requested an exemption from certain state requirements for route designation and construction permits for 12 miles of proposed transmission line. The 345-kilovolt line would follow an existing 115-kilovolt line from the Arrowhead substation in Hermantown to the St. Louis River near Gary-New Duluth.
The company's request has attracted a lot of attention, since it would be the first step in a 250-mile line from Duluth to Wausau, Wis. With limited testimony Thursday, the 15-member Environmental Quality Board spent almost two hours discussing how much latitude to allow at public hearings on Minnesota Power's exemption request.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Karen Studders said the purpose of a public hearing is to gather information before making a decision. Pollution issues -- such as increased mercury depositions caused by power lines -- don't follow state borders, she added.
"Some people want to minimize that this is only a 12-mile line," Studders said. "The whole policy behind the Power Plant Siting Act is to allow all persons to have a dialogue. All we're doing is deciding who can take part in that dialogue.... We need to allow information in so we can make a well-informed, good decision for the state of Minnesota."
But Sen. Bob Lessard, DFL-International Falls, testified for limited public testimony. Lessard said he became aware of the proposed transmission line after several people lobbied him against it at an awards banquet where he was being honored in February.
"I would hope that this group would just use plain and common horse sense," Lessard said. "If we're going to have to require (Environmental Impact Statements) on 12 miles of line,... we're going to be wasting a lot of time on insignificant things."
Lessard also said he heard conflicting information on whether Indian nations in Canada oppose the proposed line.
Electricity for the line could come in part from hydroelectric plants in Manitoba. The Cross Lake Cree Nation, who say their way of life has been destroyed by dams, are opposed to the line as well as plans to expand the province's hydroelectric generation.
But Douglas Mackenzie, a lawyer representing the Split Lake Cree First Nation in Manitoba, said that nation doesn't want public testimony on impacts outside Minnesota, but asked to be given official status if testimony were expanded. The board didn't address his request. Several board members said they wanted to avoid an "unruly" public hearing process.
"This could be quite an expedition if we just open up the entire system back to its sources," said Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg. "This review should be limited to impacts in Minnesota. Anything beyond that gets us into all kinds of other issues.... For me that would seem intrusive and patronizing."
Acting Commerce Commissioner Jim Bernstein recused himself from voting, saying that he had been involved in discussions about the power line as deputy public service commissioner.
Under the resolution passed by the Environmental Quality Board, public testimony can address how the power line inside and outside Minnesota would affect Minnesotans. But testifiers must show that the impact comes from the power line and not some other source.
Power line opponents hoped that the board would reject Minnesota Power's exemption request or allow testimony on the power line's effect on people and the environment in Wisconsin and Canada. Still, opponents hailed the board's decision as favorable.
"We're in a better position now to put on the record the true impact of the project," said George Crocker, executive director of the North American Water Office, who argued in February for expanded public testimony. "We're better able to raise the issues that need to be raised."
"Pollution doesn't stop at the borders," said Pam McGillivray, an attorney representing Save Our Unique Lands. "We'll still be able to show the same impacts of the entire line on Minnesota."
Minnesota Power was also happy with the board's decision. "We're pleased with the EQB decision, and we look forward to continuing with the process," Minnesota Power Vice President of Corporate Relations Jim Roberts said.
The judge in charge of running the hearings will likely soon hold a pre-hearing conference with the groups that will be allowed to testify at the hearings, MEQB senior planner Bob Cupit said after the meeting. "I think she's prepared to move fairly quickly on this," he said. "We're happy to have a decision. We're ready to move forward."
Cupit doesn't expect the hearings could begin until after June 1. Several dozen citizens, mostly from Wisconsin, attended the Environmental Quality Board meeting Thursday. Under the decision, they won't be able to testify about the transmission line in Minnesota.
"It will change the way my farm operates," said Linda Ceylor, a dairy farmer and SOUL member who lives in Catawba, Wis., along the proposed power line. "The more I read about it, the more I realize it's not a benefit to my community."
In Wisconsin, the state's Public Service Commission is working on a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed line. The statement should be finished later this spring.
Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001, 01-04 , 05-09 .
2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12 . 1999 .
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03, 04-07 . 1999 .
Midwest Treaty Network Contents