Monday, December 22, 2014

Editorial: South Dakota foolish to ignore global warming

Chemist Jihong Cole-Dai keeps a winter coat in his office at South Dakota State University in Brookings even in the hottest part of summer. He needs it every time he brings another section of ice out of a university deep freeze storage unit in order to melt it down and study the chemical make-up of the ice. “The question on climate change is whether it is happening and whether it is related to human activity. The clear answer to both questions from a scientific perspective is yes,” Cole-Dai said. “Essentially, humans have the ability to influence our environment in a big way, especially starting in the 19th century with the start of the industrial revolution.” Cole-Dai said burning of fossil fuels such as coal had side effects that are apparent in ice core samples from Greenland. “Starting from the 1850s, there is this clear tend of increasing sulfate amounts in snow samples,” Cole-Dai said. “That timing is clearly tied to the start of the industrial revolution.” [Lance Nixon, Mysteries in Fire and Ice]
The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.
If climate change is real, then South Dakota would be utterly foolish to ignore it. Without a doubt politics has been involved on both sides of the global warming discussion. But doubtless if Svante Arrhenius were alive today, that great believer in the power of humans to alter climate for the better would doubtless want his idea to be considered on its merits, not for his politics. [editorial, Pierre Capital Journal], links mine.
In the Mountain West vast tracts of land have been cleared by bark beetles where aquifers are being recharged: a practice well known to pre-Columbian cultures who burned forests to increase ungulate populations.

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Instead of science, politics determines how public lands are managed: the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are prime examples. Ponderosa pine is extremely high in concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) yet it is routinely replanted because the timber lobby owns the Black Hills National Forest.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Betty Olson: global warming bunk because it's cold

Betty Olson is an earth hater South Dakota legislator defending the Bundyists in Nevada.
Winter wasn’t supposed to start until the Dec. 20, but it arrived a little early. The United Nations is holding a Climate Change conference in Lima, Peru, to combat global warming and they want the United States to pony up billions of dollars to control our energy use while China and third world countries can pollute all they want. What a waste of money! Remember back in the seventies when the alarmists were predicting that we were all going to die in the next ice age? I don’t know about you, but I loved the “global warming” we had this week and I wish it would have lasted until April. [Betty Olson, take a right at the beach]
Hello, Betty? The solstice is the 21st and begins the new year for us pagans.
The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [Christopher Joyce, NPR]
Betty hates non-whites, too: because she can; and was reelected in a mudslide.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's time to move LNI out of Rapid City

A police department known to be 'a bunch of racists' recently passed over a person of color for a leadership position and upheld its history of white supremacy.
Rapid City’s police chief has denied a permit request for a “police brutality awareness walk” that was planned for Friday. In a news release, the department said Chief Karl Jegeris decided against approval because of the timing coinciding with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a sporting event that is expected to draw 2,500 youths and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. [Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
When Garrison Keillor opened A Prairie Home Campanion in the Rapid City Civic Center Theatre on November 20, 1999 he cited a statistic that Pennington County has the highest per capita gun ownership in the United States. A nervous chuckle rolled through the audience.

The number of experiences that i have had in gun and pawn shops in Rapid City that have taken me aback are too numerous to count. Two are vivid: a fifteen year old with mother in tow pointing at a Glock in a case saying: "that one" and a man buying five AK-47s with cash.
Christopher J. Capps, 22, who died of multiple gunshot wounds on Sunday night at Rapid City Regional Hospital, had been accepted by the University of South Dakota – Vermillion. Described as a “very outgoing” young man, Capps was well known around the neighborhood where was shot in a hail of bullets that may have ranged as high as five or six shots from Sheriff Department deputy David Olson, a nearly five-year veteran of the department. [Native Times]
The people involved in this skirmish are not the first casualties of this war; nor are they the last.
Most, and we do mean most, Native Americans believe that the Rapid City Police and Pennington County Sheriffs still profile Indians in traffic stops and in other arrests. Profiling means looking at people of a different race much more closely than at people of the white race. This means stopping them more frequently for traffic violations real or imagined or just for being an Indian walking down Main Street and looking suspicious.
Every time we see that the police department has hired a bunch of new officers and their pictures are published in the local daily, all the Indian community sees are a bunch of new, white faces. And we wonder why there are no Indians represented in the new hires. Whose fault is that? Who does the hiring?
It’s like the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where the community is almost 60 percent black and yet of the 53 police officers on the force only 3 are African American. So look at the mess that city is in now and it is not beyond imagination that the same thing could happen in Rapid City given the right or wrong set of circumstances. The writing is on the wall and it is high time that the Rapid City Police Department wake up and smell the coffee. Forewarned is forearmed and we don’t want to be the ones to say “I told you so” should violence erupt between the Indian community and the Rapid City Police Department. [excerpt, Tim Giago, posted at Indianz]
Here is another look at Rapid City's failure to serve and protect: Racist City, SD, (Rapid City), Where Life is Violent, and Often Deadly.

Black Hills State University is aptly suited to host LNI: Rapid City has blown it.

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.