Saturday, October 25, 2014

“There is still a lot of water in the flood pool.”

During the flood of 2011, the swollen river carried tons of sediment, dumped it into these backwater areas and filled them. Sediment deposits cut off slower side channels from the main river. It left fish, such as the endangered pallid sturgeon, without the habitat needed for survival. Through dredging, the corps is restoring those backwaters and side channels and reviving that habitat. Wallace said wildlife and vegetation are returning to these areas, which didn't have the visibility of flood-damaged structures such as levees and revetments. Those projects will help ensure the river's ecological diversity, said Dave Swanson, director of the Missouri River Institute at the University of South Dakota. [Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal]
The corps will unveil its annual operating plan for the Missouri River in a public meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Bismarck Event Center. State engineer Todd Sando, who will present testimony at the meeting, said a number of factors are contributing to the risk of ice-induced flooding this winter. Sando said the corps’ plan is to release around 24,000 cfs of water through the dam during the winter. “That can create issues during the winter,” Sando said. Higher releases after the Missouri River freezes for the winter could cause overland flooding, as has been the case in some winters since the 2011 flood. “Public input and comments will be fundamental factors at this meeting,” he said. “There is still a lot of water in the flood pool.” [Brian Gehring, Bismarck Tribune]
In related news: the vice-president of the GOP-owned South Dakota Farm Bureau is whining at the US Environmental Protection Agency for what she believes is usurpation of her God-given right to pollute the imperiled Belle Fourche watershed.

South Dakota's earth hater junior US senator is leading a crusade to block EPA from identifying non-point sources of pollution deposited by his GOP donors.

Missouri River discharge from Oahe Dam at Pierre in 2011
photo courtesy Bruce Venner
A report released Sept. 12, 2014, by the Government Accountability Office said a number of factors were behind the flood and there were no forecasting tools available to the Corps that could have prevented the event. “By June 2011, the volume of water coming into the reservoirs from the extreme rains and melting snow was so great that the Corps had no choice in June and July but to release water to accommodate the inflow and prevent damage to dam infrastructure, such as spillways in danger of being overtopped,” the report says. [Joel Ebert, Pierre Capital Journal]
US Senators called for testimony from the attorney general of the State of South Dakota. It's suing the US Army Corps of Engineers to determine ownership of so-called 'surplus water.'
Fort Pierre and Pierre, South Dakota, sit at the head of Lake Sharpe. The Army formed Lake Sharpe after the closure of Big Bend Dam in 1963. The capital of South Dakota and its sister city now face a flood of epic proportions because of a combination of high water releases from Oahe Dam and the presence of a silty delta at the head of Lake Sharpe, which begins just southeast of Fort Pierre. [Muddy Mo: Reservoir Siltation and the Flood of 2011]
Hardly coincidentally, a former earth hater governor of South Dakota after having built a house in a swamp that flooded received a generous self-reimbursement from insurance coverage underwritten by his own company. He's the same US Senate candidate under federal investigation for his role in the EB-5 Bendagate scandal. He also lavished $75 million of state money on political cronies and donors and flagrantly violated the Indian Child Welfare Act.

A sleazeball earth hater state senator who also built a house in a swamp sued the Corps.

Recall this intersection at interested party in June, 2011?
The Corps sells 24% of US hydropower capacity. The Corps enjoys sovereign immunity; expect a political powerplay directed at them from Marty Jackley.
With federal investigators crawling up every GOP asshole in the state with microscopes there may be justice served yet.

Mr. Obama: tear down these dams.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today's intersection: frac sand mining or mining the waste stream?

The Baja Waldo/Red Rock Road geezers try to meet for breakfast every other Tuesday or so. It's a pretty diverse group for a handful of sometimes seven or eight old white guys.

Several are local celebrities. One is a retired Swiss orthopedic surgeon, one a Vietnam vet, one a registered nurse, one a global tour guide; and, yet another is a political blogger with his remaining hair on fire. All live off the grid trying to minimize the amount of waste generated by each household.

One book making the rounds is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

Food scraps go to chickens or are composted, paper not recycled is stored to start fires, but one material in the waste stream remains a challenge: glass. It takes enormous amounts of energy to melt and millions of yards of earth to disturb every year to mine the silica used in its manufacture.

There should be a kitchen appliance that turns plastic packaging into liquid fuel or gas for the stove and oven.

Santa Fe County does a lousy job recycling or repurposing glass.
Officials are working to change the fact that Santa Fe only diverted roughly 8.4 percent of its waste stream to recycling in fiscal year 2013, a number revealed by a draft of an external audit. That number represents a steady worsening of recyling habits, down from 9 percent in 2011. For now, however, there’s a temporary use for some of the excess glass. Officials have been busy blasting away thousands of cubic yards of basalt rock at Caja Del Rio landfill. The construction of the new cell will help lengthen the life of the landfill to keep it up with the 300 million pounds of trash it collects annually—5.5 pounds of waste per resident per day. The agency estimates that it will spend over $5 million to construct the new cell. In a bid that’s due this month, companies are vying to be selected by the entity to use some of that glass as a lining for the landfill to help prevent contamination. [Justin Horwath, Santa Fe Reporter]
Now open pit frac sand mines are competing to tear into yet another thousand acres.
Right now the ceramic alternatives are much more expensive, but companies are experimenting with different ways to bring the cost down. One idea is to manufacture it near where the fracking is taking place, using local clay. For now, sand remains king. It makes up about 90 percent of the proppant market overall, according to Brian Olmen of Kelrik, a Wisconsin-based consulting firm that analyzes the industrial minerals industry. [Minnesota Public Radio]
Growstone, Inc. buys Albuquerque's glass and manufactures a medium for horticultural applications.

The US has thousands of mountains of glass cullet from the municipal waste stream just waiting to be repurposed: Japan recycles nearly 100% of her glass.

We sell millions of tons of salvage material to India and Asia to be recycled while tearing up our own ground mining for virgin minerals while steel and plastics, that could be petroleum, are buried in landfills.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thune, Noem donors resisting Black Hills habitat protection

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering habitat protection for the northern long-eared bat endangered by human encroachment in the Black Hills.

Donors for South Dakota's junior senator and the sitting At-large member of the US House of Representatives are having a cow. Earth hater and longtime lobbyist for land rapers, Larry Mann, works for the Black Hills Forest Resource Association, the GOP-owned cabal mentioned in this piece:
A possible restriction would be no harvesting of trees over three inches in diameter from April through October, when the bats are leaving the caves and mines in which they hibernate for the winter and moving to nests in trees. The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a decision next spring. Officials are concerned about being able to manage the forest, but they also want to do what's best for the bat if it truly is endangered, said Kerry Burns, a U.S. Forest Service forest wildlife biologist in the Black Hills. "We want to incorporate conservation measures that are truly going to make a difference," he said. "The first and foremost threat is white-nose syndrome." [Rapid City Journal]
If history is any guide, locals will just kill the offending bats like they do with elk, cougars and their kittens.

And of course: the fake bark beetle war is just a subsidy for Republican donors.

$20 bucks says black bears, wolves, and moose sighted in the Black Hills coming from the Bighorn Mountains are migrating up the Little Missouri from the Tongue via the Yellowstone River.

How would their presence in the Black Hills not automatically make them candidates for endangered species protection?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bill Janklow's idea of public broadcasting anchor blows etiquette

Last night, during a "debate" between Major Corinna Robinson and South Dakota's sitting At-large US Representative, the teevee personality for Bill Janklow's idea of public broadcasting, Stephanie Rissler, addressed the decorated Army veteran by her first name while calling the bimbo-at-large by her title.

I apologize to news director Cara Hetland for confusing her with Rissler: I was livid and savaged Hetland on twitter by mistake.

This is not the only time an SDPB anchor has pulled such a stunt. An on-air interview with a former UN ambassador and South Dakota senator turned from a laugh out loud moment into a cringeworthy eternity when host Brian Bull asked his esteemed guest how he'd like to be addressed to which Ambassador McGovern replied, "George." To listeners' aghast amazement, that's how cub reporter Bull began every question.

Public broadcasting in the failed red state serves at the pleasure of the Republican Party whose legislature controls the purse strings. Paul Guggenheimer, a five-year host of Dakota Midday, the flagship program at Bill Janklow's idea of public radio, posted his last show in December, 2011 and moved to Pittsburg to host a similar program.

It's easy to speculate that his exit was the result of red state collapse after he performed a virtual blow job on SDGOP's Lucas Lentsch during a broadcast.

Dakota Midday's current host, Karl Gehrke, soft-balled the state's corrupt GOP former governor and US Senate candidate this week during an interview.

twitter coverage of the forum, read @carasdpb

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bison restoration imperative

The GOP is lying: there is no bark beetle epidemic in the Black Hills, there is a ponderosa pine infestation.

Red flag warnings were in place for nearly all of the proposed Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.
Historically, Montana’s Great Plains teemed with an abundance and diversity of wildlife species not found elsewhere in North America. Arguably, the most definitive and iconic of these wildlife species was the American Plains bison. Yet, through a series of disastrous choices made by the non-indigenous settlers in the 19th century, bison were virtually extirpated from the Great Plains, and a remnant population of wild bison survived only in Yellowstone. We are convinced they will do so again given the chance to engage and discuss the future of wild bison in Montana. [excerpt, Montanans can meet challenge of bison restoration]
It's time to rewild the West.