4/21/24

Another mountain town turns to ice farming

In 1999 we were listening to an NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice when my daughters' mother turned to me and said, "wow, they should do that in the Open Cut."
Lake City is an old silver-mining town — population 432 — tucked in a valley in the San Juan Mountains. The Lake City Ice Park was created by a motley crew of carpenters and raft guides who shared a passion for the sport. They began “farming,” or creating their own ice in the Lake City area in the late 1990s — a scheme fueled by a mischievous curiosity and thousands of feet of hose. In Ouray, the climbers can scale more than 150 named routes along the Uncompahgre River Gorge at what has become the world’s largest man-made ice-climbing park. During the winter of 2021-’22, the Ouray Ice Park pumped $18 million into Ouray County. [Can ice climbing bring life to an isolated Colorado town in the dead of winter?]

4/19/24

Cancellation of flights between Minneapolis and Pierre could boost passenger rail

Recall that in 1997 South Dakota got $23 million for going without Amtrak service so then-Gov. Bill Janklow funneled much of that money into the Governor's Club and in 2007 Republican Gov. Mike Rounds spent some of it on an airplane for his personal use. 

So, in a state that says it hates big government money essential air service into South Dakota's capital city has always looked like a bridge to nowhere. After the failure of Great Lakes Airlines to even board enough passengers to make subsidies work the corruption in Pierre continues. Water lines breaking, sinkholes, polyandry: just another day in the ditch, right?
Denver Air Connection and the Pierre Regional Airport gave flights to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a try, but that’s coming to an end June 9, 2024. [Lack of use leads to quick end to flights from Pierre to Minneapolis-St. Paul]
My proposal for passenger rail from Minneapolis to Denver is a multi-modal route from the Twin Cities to Mankato on the right of way owned by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad to Brookings, South Dakota and Pierre then to Rapid City and to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks at Alliance via Chadron, Nebraska then to Cheyenne and Denver. Service to Sioux Falls and Omaha could diverge at Florence, Minnesota.

A route in the I-90 median between Sioux Falls and Rapid City should also be explored.

South Dakota received nearly $27 million from the Federal Railroad Administration in both 2022 and 2023 through what’s known as federal Short-Time Compensation program. But Republicans in Montana and SD Department of Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt believe subsidized air service is what Republicans want because hey, why would they endure riding through the destruction they've caused when you can just fly over it?
Rail advocate Dan Bilka disputed that during the Wednesday meeting. The current study is meant to identify routes that would best serve both rural and urban transportation needs, enhance existing long-distance routes and “reflect public engagement” on passenger rail. “That’s why we might be actually a higher priority than some of these other ones that might overlap with state supported services,” Bilka said of the South Dakota proposals. [State transportation head doubts passenger rail service is a real possibility for South Dakota]
Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry, socialized water systems and now a socialized internet are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.

4/18/24

Earth hating Farm Bureau wants more socialism in farm bill

In red states like South Dakota freedom equals the right to pollute

After the last farm bill was enacted in 2018 Trump era Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gave away a pool of cash in the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at buying off welfare farmers

Kristi Noem's cuckolded husband is an insurance peddler and so is her fellow Earth hater, Mike Rounds. Senator John Thune (Earth hater-SD) is already notorious for encouraging moral hazard and adding layers of government overreach to the farm bill

The American Farm Bureau Federation is notorious for conflicts of interest and denying the human effects on a warming climate while lobbying extensively for crop insurance in the federal farm bill and against Waters of the United States or WOTUS rules while ag bankers continue to enslave landowners.
“It’s time to get it passed, this year,” said Scott VanderWal, president of South Dakota Farm Bureau. “We didn’t really want to be in a presidential election year when we had to do this, but that’s where we’re at. We have to deal with it.” Tensions between ranchers and farmers sometimes arise when policies that favor crop subsidies encourage the conversion of grassland to cropland or reduce grazing areas for livestock. Thune told South Dakota Searchlight that balancing those interests can be achieved within the framework of the farm bill. [Cattlemen tell Thune: ‘More ranch’ needed in already overdue farm bill]
Yet, Republicans in red states are howling because the federal government and states are buying land to protect it from desertification.

So which part of ecocide don't Republicans understand?

4/17/24

After SCOTUS ruling American Rivers names New Mexico's waterways most imperiled

In 1979 the breach of a dam in New Mexico released some 94 million gallons of radioactive uranium waste into the Rio Puerco.

Until it closed in 1939 the Tererro Mine in the headwaters of the Pecos River took gold, lead and other metals then left piles of toxic waste rock in their place. After major flooding in 1991 when sulfuric acid, aluminum and zinc swept into the river miner Freeport-McMoRan was held responsible for the deaths of some 100,000 Rio Grande cutthroat trout and for the subsequent decades of acid mine drainage. 

Back in 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing arguments in Sackett v. US Environmental Protection Agency to determine the extent of federal authority over waters of the US or WOTUS. In 2015, the Gold King Mine spill caused by a contractor for EPA emptied three million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Animas River turning it bright orange damaging New Mexico communities downstream. But, in 2023 the Trump-packed SCOTUS reversed environmental protection for a majority of American citizens and enabled the corporatocracy to pollute at will.
To address the gap in clean water protections left by the Supreme Court decision, New Mexico must secure durable funding to establish a state-led surface water permitting program to protect its rivers, streams, and wetlands. The state’s heritage, environment, people, and economy depend on it. [American Rivers]
Watersheds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico provide between 50-75% of the water found in the Rio Grande but irrigators in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas take at least 80% of that from the 1,885 mile long river. At least fifteen native fish species and their aquatic habitat once found in the southern portion of the Rio Grande are now gone because the river dries up every year.

ip image: the Rio Grande meanders through the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.