April 9, 2008

Key Message:
Because of concerns about public health risks and environmental justice, there is strong and growing community opposition to the Midtown “Eco” – Energy project. THE COMMUNITY DOES NOT WANT THIS PROJECT TO BE BUILT.

Questions we have heard from officials, council members, etcetera:
1. What is the public health concern? 2. What are the concerns about environmental justice? 3. What about the fact that, at one time, there was community support for this project?

Talking points to address questions above Specific public health concerns:
 Environmental review continues – but enough is known now for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to have determined that the project will be "a major source of hazardous emissions" (from MPCA Technical Support document, page 2 – see our blog) The MEE project is NOT replacing a power plant using other sources of energy – therefore, the project will be adding more pollution and hazardous emissions to an area that is already home to many other industrial polluters. This is not acceptable.

Specific environmental justice concerns:
 The area where the MEE is proposed to be built is already heavily impacted by industrial pollutants. Current permitted industrial uses include two asphalt plants and a foundry. It has also been declared an EPA superfund site as a result of arsenic contamination. The area in which the MEE plant is proposed to be built (Phillips Community) also has a high proportion of children (40%), and the majority of its residents are people of color and Indigenous citizens. It is also one of the lowest income communities in the state. According to health disparities data from the Minnesota Department of Health, residents in Phillips already bear a disproportionate burden of environmentally-related health problems such as asthma and childhood lead poisoning.

Adding to this burden is a violation of federal civil rights law, two separate presidential executive orders, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's own environmental justice policy which insures that "Minority and economically disadvantaged communities in Minnesota do not bear a disproportionate share of the involuntary risks and consequences of environmental pollution…"

Regarding the fact that, at one time, there was support for the project:
1. The MEE project is a very different project than the one that was first conceived by the Green Institute and endorsed by residents in 2001:     it will be a privately owned facility with no community oversight or decision making capacity, developers have indicated that the most effective emissions control equipment will not be utilized (as it they do not consider it "cost effective"), and the developer is under no obligation to provide any level of community benefits to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods and communities MOST IMPORTANTLY, we now know that the type and amount of emissions from the project are hazardous and unacceptable to the community

2. Now that people are becoming aware of the project, there is growing opposition:  Prior to December, 2007 MPCA public hearing, there was little public conversation about this project. Very few community residents were even aware of the project until the MPCA held a public hearing on December 13, 2007. After that hearing, an ad hoc group of volunteers began to organize. As the facts about emissions have become known to the general public, many groups and public officials have gone on record in opposition to the project. In the last 4 months, more than 700 Minneapolis citizens have expressed their concerns to the Mayor and the Minneapolis City Council. Strong public statements of opposition have been made by Council Member Gary Schiff, State Senator Linda Berglin, State Representative Karen Clark, and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin – all representing residents of the area where the plant is proposed to be built. Other resident organizations who have gone on record in opposition to the project include Little Earth of United Tribes, East Phillips Improvement Coalition, and Midtown Phillips. Environmental groups that have expressed strong concern include the Green Institute, Clean Water Action, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

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Who to contact at Xcel:
Dave Sparby President, Xcel Energy, Inc. 414 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis MN 55401 Scott Wilenski Executive Vice President, Xcel Energy, Inc. 414 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis MN 55401

To phone corporate representatives: 1-800-328-8226

Who else to contact: = on record as opposing burner
Hennepin County Commissioner

Peter McLaughlin
(612) 348-3085 Mayor R.T. Rybak (612) 673-2100

Ward 4: Barbara Johnson (612) 673-2204

Ward 9: Gary Schiff
(612) 673-2209

Ward 5: Don Samuels (612) 673-2205

Ward 10: Ralph Remington (612) 673-2210

Ward 1: Paul Ostrow (612) 673-2201

Ward 6: Robert Lilligren
(612) 673-2206

Ward 11: Scott Benson (612) 673-2211

Ward 2: Cam Gordon
(612) 673-2202

Ward 7: Lisa Goodman (612) 673-2207

Ward 12: Sandy Colvin Roy (612) 673-2212 Ward 13: Betsy Hodges (612) 673-2213

Ward 3: Diane Hofstede (612) 673-2203

Ward 8: Elizabeth Glidden (612) 673-2208

Minnesota State Legislature  Senate information 651.296.0504  House information 651.296.2146

MN Pollution Control Agency (Project Manager for Environmental Review) 520 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194 651-296-6300

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