Monday, June 8, 2009

More Openness and Transparency in Minnesota?

Despite public assurances from DNR officials that no side deals with U.S. Steel were being worked on, documents show what state negotiators have offered, or at least considered, during the negotiations:

• Agreeing to recommend approval of 25-year taconite leases to U.S. Steel on 240 acres of land, a deal worth an estimated $10 million.

• Providing the steel giant $5.4 million in free biomass fuels such as wood chips, and offering to have DNR workers assigned to help manage U.S. Steel's interests in converting from coal.

• Turning over 3,000 acres of wetlands to U.S. Steel anywhere in the state and ensuring that DNR and Pollution Control Agency staff put a priority on U.S. Steel's needs.

Other bright eyes have lit on these developments:

Did Pawlenty skirt state law on legacy park?

By David Brauer | Monday, June 8, 2009
The Strib's Mark Brunswick has a nice get on the Pawlenty administration trying to skirt state law to seal a Lake Vermilion state park deal. The Legislature capped a payout at about $13 million for the 3,000-acre up-north parcel; owner U.S. Steel insists at least twice as much, but the state felt that appraisal was bogus. So the administration tossed some goodies the steelmakers' way: 25-year taconite leases worth $10M, $5 million in free biofuel and 3,000 acres of wetlands. Still didn't work.

More Vermilion: Brunswick says the administration "sought to help U.S. Steel get its higher appraisal certified." A contractor hired to review both appraisals expressed shock the tightfisted TPaw was trying to justify "a substandard appraisal"; she was told to keep politics out. A gubernatorial spokesman elides the question of whether the extras were proper. Guess we'll find out what the steelmaker can really reap for selling the land to developers.

But, but, it's his legacy...

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