Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BHEP part of Chaco encroachment



Even as prices plummet, Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. remains focused on its substantial oil and natural gas holdings in the Mancos Shale within the San Juan and Piceance basins. The firm is bankrolling water diversions, too.

Now, fracking is adding to the methane bubble over the Four Corners area from leaks and flaring escalating a serious threat to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape. “I get an overwhelming feeling of, I'm coming back to a wonderful ancient place," says Paul Reed, an archaeologist with the nonprofit Archaeology Southwest. “It might sound a little corny, but a lot of people have that quasi-religious experience driving into Chaco.” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the area is more than ten years old. Now, this federal agency, which is in charge of leases and regulations, is trying to catch up. A new plan would open more land to oil drilling. And that has people like archaeologist Paul Reed worried development will press further south. And even closer to Chaco. But just recently, oil prices started coming down. Way down. So, what does that mean for the Chaco and the San Juan Basin? Right now, nobody really knows for sure. [Laura Paskus, KUNM]
The sign for Black Hills Exploration and Production in Bloomfield, New Mexico was head-snapping on the recent drive to Chaco Wash.
Susana Martinez may also be acting out to a national audience as she is always mentioned on the “short list” of Republican VP candidates for 2016, but behind the scenes she and NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn are quietly fighting New Mexico citizens by supporting polluting industries, going against EPA guidelines and passing their own version of “The Copper Rule,” which allows mining, oil, gas and dairy industries to continue to pollute groundwater on their property as long as it doesn’t leave the property. [Alex Jacobs, Indian Country Today]
Note that the oil and gas industry creates mountains of radioactive waste like filter socks looking for disposal sites even as New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recovers from breaches.

When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is vertiginous .

Alaska Natives are applauding President Obama for stopping new leases for drilling in Bristol Bay: he can stop it at Chaco, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Daugaard chucks $56M at rail industry

Crony capitalism lives large in South Dakota. TIGER grants were trimmed in the Cromnibus but there's nothing quite like greasing the GOP path to a chemical toilet.

From State News: links mine.
The first project is the reconstruction of the Mitchell to Rapid City (MRC) Rail Line. The $29.9 million project between Chamberlain and Presho will upgrade 42.6 miles of rail line to handle modern rail traffic.
The MRC project is being funded by $12.7 million in federal TIGER funds; $7.2 million appropriated by the Legislature during the 2014 session; $7 million in grants and loans from the Railroad Trust Fund; $1 million from the farmers and private investors of Rails to the Future; $1 million from Dakota Southern Railroad; and $1 from a Future fund grant.
The second project is an agreement with the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) to construct two new railroad sidings along the old DM&E line. The $7.5 million project includes a 10,000-foot siding in the Huron area and a 7,500-foot siding near Aurora. RCP&E has committed to giving $3.75 million for the project, which the state will match with Future Funds.
For the third project, the state will partner with Dakota & Iowa Railroad to invest $7.3 million to upgrade the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota. The project will include upgrading nine bridges on the line, which will allow the line to handle 286,000-pound rail cars. In addition, a section of track that is currently in an area subject to landslides will be moved.
The last project, an upgrade of the Britton Line in northeast South Dakota, will include $5.25 million in funds from the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western, as well as $5.25 million in loans from the state Rail Board and $1 million in Future Funds. The $11.5 million project includes constructing the south leg of a wye at Jarrett Junction and replacing 29 miles of light rail with heavy rail to enable the railroad to handle heavy modern traffic.
Of course, Future Fund recipients were donors to Governor Daugaard's reelection war chest. $4 million in Future Funds will be doled out to interested SDGOP parties writing proposals on the backs of $100-dollar bills and putting them into the pockets of apparatchiks at the state Department of Transportation.

Monday, December 15, 2014

South Dakota media have no Democrat to speak on background

When media in South Dakota need a Democrat in the state to speak about actions in Congress they have nobody to call. It won't be Rick Weiland or Pat Duffy or Bernie Hunhoff or even Bob Burns and it certainly won't be South Dakota Democratic Party's new chair, Ann Tornberg or vice-chair, Joe Lowe.

KELO teevee chooses to quote Al Franken (D-MN) when it needs a statement.

So, who will it be? Cory Heidelberger? Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether? Anyone? Bueller?

When there are Democratic Party chairs in Harding, Butte, Ziebach, Corson, Clark, Douglas, Faulk, Haakon, Hutchinson, Jackson, Jones, Potter, Sully, and Todd Counties i will think about sending another fucking cent to a South Dakota Democrat.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guns, cannabis collide in Colorado, Montana


Still believe the Second Amendment is absolute? Think again.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) will make sure you lose your Second Amendment rights if you admit to ingesting cannabis or even if you are a patient being treated under the care of a doctor.

From Brian Doherty's piece at Reason:
Merely having a state medical marijuana card, BATFE insists, means that you fall afoul of Sect. 922(g) of the federal criminal code (from the 1968 federal Gun Control Act), which says that anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is basically barred from possessing or receiving guns or ammo (with the bogus assertion that such possession implicates interstate commerce, which courts will pretty much always claim it does). While the BATFE has not yet announced any concerted program to go after people who may have had legally purchased weapons before getting a marijuana card, Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project says that it’s common practice in medical marijuana-related busts that “if weapons are present, there will be gun charges added on as well.”
A Colorado organization wants to change the law in that state:
A pro-gun group is pushing a ballot initiative for 2015 that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Colorado. “Our goal is to have Colorado’s concealed handgun permit law sync with Colorado’s marijuana laws,” said Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone. “Typically, pro-marijuana legislators are not pro-gun, and vice versa,” he said. “I trust the people more than I do the lawmakers.” [Durango Herald]
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, another state where cannabis has been legalized, has teamed up with Colorado congress member, Jared Polis: they have introduced legislation that would end the federal prohibition.

As tribal nations mull the Justice Department's memorandum on legal cannabis within reservation boundaries and BATFE remains free to pop anybody in Indian Country more clashes and lawsuits seem inevitable.

In a related story, the so-called 'Castle Doctrine' is being tested in a Missoula, Montana trial where a shooter, allegedly under the influence of cannabis, fatally blasted a German exchange student in the face during a 'garage-hopping' incident. Gun advocate groups have bankrolled experts to testify for the defense in the case: one has been paid $44,000 thus far.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Justice Department won't interfere with tribal cannabis

In another nod to tribes as the 51st State, Attorney General Eric Holder signaled to American Indian nations that they could begin building cannabis industries.
The new guidance, released in a memorandum (pdf), will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines, said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues. "The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations," Purdon said. The policy is likely to be criticized in states opposed to marijuana sales, particularly those with Native American reservations. [Timothy M. Phelps, LA Times,] links mine.
Cherished reader and contributor, Bill Dithmer, believes cannabis could bring needed revenue to tribes trapped in South Dakota:
Legalizing the growing of hemp and the industries that would come as a result of that one act would make huge strides on the Pine Ridge Reservation. What we are doing is not working, hasn’t worked in the past, and history is a guarantee that it wont work in the future so why not perpetuate change now?
Deadwood and tribal gaming are inextricably linked: revenue from the sales of cannabis would require a change in the state's constitution then be directed to raise teacher salaries and fix a crumbling infrastructure.