Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whereizzit in the Black Hills?


This farmstead had remained unseen by a 35-year resident of the Black Hills until this morning. Anybody know on which road it can be found?

Click on the image for a better look.

Okay, here's a hint:



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Krugman: why GOP won't fund infrastructure

The federal government could easily have provided aid to the states to help them spend — in fact, the stimulus bill included such aid, which was one main reason public investment briefly increased. But once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished. Once in a while Republicans would talk about wanting to spend more, but they blocked every Obama administration initiative. This hostility began as an attack on social programs, especially those that aid the poor, but over time it has broadened into opposition to any kind of spending, no matter how necessary and no matter what the state of the economy. [Paul Krugman, New York Times]
Where to start?

South Dakota's current governor says he's a conservative; yet, he has begged for billions from the Obama administration. His predecessor's office where he was lieutenant governor and his current bureaucracy have trafficked Native kids, exploited the federal EB-5 green card scam, and is quietly expanding a Medicaid safety net for those not yet voting for his party.

Meanwhile, in South Dakota, infrastructure is crumbling and 20.6% of bridges are structurally deficient. Over the Missouri River, the US14 bridge between Ft. Pierre and the town to the east and the I-90 bridge at Chamberlain are imperiled.
The report, “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland,” (pdf) was released Thursday by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. The report says that in 2013, 21 percent of South Dakota’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient, the fourth-highest rate in the nation. In 2012, 12 percent of South Dakota’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition. The fatality rate on South Dakota’s rural roads was 2.21 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, the 17th-highest rate in the nation and nearly three times higher than the fatality rate of 0.74 on all other roads. [Mitchell Daily Republic]
The crumbling bridge over the Missouri River between Fort Pierre and her neighbor, the putrid cesspool to the east, won't be replaced until at least 2025: how many more times do you want to go over it for free?
By 2100, Rapid City, South Dakota—in the vicinity of the Pine Ridge Reservation—will reach the average summer temperatures of Cedar Park, Texas, which means a rise from 81 degrees to 93 degrees, Climate Central reported. [Indian Country Today]
Self-reliance or moral hazard?
Officials say five electric cooperatives are using state and federal disaster funds to bury hundreds of miles of power lines to protect against widespread outages from storms. The cooperatives are burying more than 530 miles of line damaged in a powerful storm that struck 14 western South Dakota counties last year. Officials say the cost of the line-burying project is estimated at more than $32 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is paying 75 percent of the cost. The state provided 10 percent and the cooperatives paid the remaining 15 percent. [Associated Press]
That 10% the state kicked in also came from the feds.

The above article doesn't say how many white ranchers will get buried cables and how many tribal nations will still have storm-prone overhead lines.

After public outcry one South Dakota utility thought better and chose not to assess a fee on customers who add alternative means of electricity generation to their services while those poorly served by cooperative utilities are becoming power self-reliant.

From KSFY:
Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones said the department is asking those affected by the drought what they could the department could better. Bones says many farmers have developed a safety net for drought conditions but livestock ranchers don't have the same assistance.


Remember this? South Dakota's embattled earth hater governor wants government assistance according to the Sioux City Journal:
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a preliminary assessment of damages the recent ice storm caused to public and nonprofit property in southeastern South Dakota. Daugaard says damage to rural electric cooperatives and the removal of fallen tree limbs and power lines will likely be a significant part of the cost.
Candidate Dennis Daugaard drew gasps from a State Fair audience in 2010 when he said: “I am skeptical about the science that suggests global warming is man-caused or can be corrected by man-made efforts."
Remember, too, that these utilities are not Google or Facebook. They are not accustomed to a state of constant market turmoil and reinvention. This is a venerable old boys network, working very comfortably within a business model that has been around, virtually unchanged, for a century.--David Roberts at Grist
What a fucking surprise.

Scientists have excused anthropogenic climate change as a negligible influence in the 2013 blizzard.

So, this is how red states finance infrastructure improvements while bitching about Big Government.

Expect the same swindle next year.

The South Dakota governor has turned to Matt Varilek and the Small Business Administration after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a disaster declaration request. The governor's political party passed a resolution at their convention to impeach President Obama.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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

The Missouri River system still has an above average level of water in storage.
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]
And, from Lake Sakakawea above North Dakota's Garrison Dam:
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?