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Ellison recommends blocking gas companies’ $380 million charge

Plus: Minnesota Senate adjourns without further action on Walz commissioners; GOP senators comment on PCA commissioner resignation; some workers returning to downtown Minneapolis; and more.

Attorney General Keith Ellison
Attorney General Keith Ellison
REUTERS/Eric Miller

From KMSP-TV, “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is recommending the Public Utilities Commission block gas companies from charging consumers the increased gas costs they paid during February’s winter storm after an investigation found the companies could have reduced gas purchases during the price spike, but failed to do so.  Ellison is recommending the PUC disallow gas companies from charging $380 million to utility ratepayers in Minnesota, which represents nearly half of the approximately $800 million in higher costs utilities paid when the price of natural gas went up during Winter Storm Uri, according to a news release.”

Steve Karnowski of the AP and Brian Bakst of MPR report, “The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate adjourned its special session Wednesday without taking a planned vote on confirming two of Gov. Tim Walz’s commissioners, after Democrats objected to how GOP lawmakers essentially forced out another cabinet member a day earlier. … Only five of approximately two dozen state agency commissioners have won Senate confirmation since Walz took office in 2019…”

Says Shaymus McLaughlin for BringMeTheNews, “Comments from two prominent Republican state senators are providing more insight into their targeting of Laura Bishop, the now-former Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) commissioner who resigned ahead of a confirmation hearing that likely would have resulted in her immediate removal. ‘I want to say, there was a number of issues that just kept bubbling up, and it was more political than anything,’ said Senator Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, of Bishop, in a Facebook video following her Tuesday resignation, ‘and so we just felt like we had to address it’ … Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, appeared on Ox in the Afternoon on KNSI, to discuss Bishop’s resignation and the Senate’s continued look at Walz’s commissioners and appointees.  ‘She was a horri – terrible commissioner. Absolutely terrible commissioner, particularly with that clean cars junk she was trying to ram through,’ Osmek told host Dan Ochsner. He later noted it wasn’t only about the vehicle standards but ‘also how she’s been treating legislators and acting as a commissioner,’ though he did not provide any specifics.”

Hannah Flood of KMSP-TV says, “The Minneapolis Downtown Council says, according to information gathered from downtown businesses and employers, around 30 percent of the 218,000 workers who came to Minneapolis every day, have returned to the office. … [Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council] says employers tell him the week after the Fourth of July holiday and the week after Labor Day are two major timeframes for starting to welcome employees back. … He says around 80 percent of the businesses they surveyed said workers will likely return on a hybrid model, returning to the office three or four days a week.”

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For The Daily Mail, Geoff Earle reports, “Pardoned former Trump National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell can be seen posing in front of a giant whiteboard in an image Flynn shared Tuesday that shows Donald Trump at the center of a melange of political figures sprinkled with religious slogans. The creators call it a ‘path to Trump,‘ and it features a bizarre conglomeration of individuals with a series of lines and arrows all ultimately pointing to the former president who has turned out throngs of followers to his rallies. ‘This is the path to Trump – the trail to Trump,’ said an unidentified man in an April video about the whiteboard. ‘We’re trying to get connected, reach the man.’”

For The Nation, Wen Stephenson writes, “The Line 3 project, a rerouted expansion of the existing Enbridge Line 3, will initially carry some 760,000 barrels per day of highly toxic, carbon-heavy, tar-sands crude from strip-mined First Nations land in the boreal forest of Alberta to Superior, Wis., crossing pristine Indigenous wetlands in northern Minnesota and threatening the headwaters of the Mississippi River. When operational, this one pipeline would account for carbon emissions equivalent to 45 or 50 new coal-fired power plants, or 38 million cars, even as the global climate emergency accelerates.”

MPR’s Tim Nelson says, “Plymouth police are looking for the person who shot and killed a motorist on U.S. Highway 169 on Tuesday night. Police said in a statement released Wednesday morning that two vehicles were traveling southbound on Highway 169 near Rockford Road at about 10 p.m. when a suspect in one vehicle shot the driver of the other car as the two vehicles were side by side on the road. The suspect then fled the scene. Police say they’re looking for a light-colored SUV, possibly a Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban or similar vehicle, possibly with damage to the driver’s side rear bumper.”