10/31/22

Improvements on La Bajada Hill testing I-25 drivers


The evidence of human history on the La Bajada Mesa has been dated to at least 8000 years before the present where volcanic rock provided the tools needed to harvest the abundant prey that migrated up and down the Rio Grande.

Fast forward to the 1300s and after consuming nearly every living thing atop Chapin and Wetherill Mesas in southwest Colorado, the Mesa Verdean ancients sojourned east over the continental divide into the Chama and Rio Grande valleys then settled the Caja del Rio Plateau and Santa Fe. The Santa Fe River canyon was the easiest route to traverse the 600 foot La Bajada escarpment but frequent flooding often made the gap impassible for the ox and horse-drawn wagons used by Spanish invaders along the Royal Road or El Camino Real.
In 1695, “La Majada Land Grant” was awarded to Field Captain Don Jacinto de Palaez for his efforts in reconquering New Mexico. La Bajada Village was subsequently established at the base of the escarpment and first documented by the Franciscan Church in 1737. [US Forest Service]
In the 1800s engineers from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway diverted its main line from the craggy promontory building it alongside the Rio Galisteo instead.

In the Twentieth Century, dynamite, Cochiti Pueblo workers and convicts carved what would become US 85 and Route 66 replete with 23 hairpin turns then I-25 was blasted through the basalt east of La Bajada Village.


The Galisteo Dam was constructed in 1970 by the Army Corps of Engineers and built solely for flood control and sediment impoundment on the Rio Galisteo because of its long history of violent floods including one that wiped out the Kewa or Santo Domingo Pueblo. The pueblo and main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad were relocated to accommodate the dam project which now serves Amtrak's Southwest Chief and the New Mexico Rail Runner. 

Cloudbursts in the upper Galisteo are not uncommon and flooding in 2012 caused serious erosion to an overpass on I-25.

In 2014 county residents stuffed themselves into the Santa Fe Convention Center to witness a hearing by commissioners on a proposal to create a new mining zone on La Bajada Mesa. Although the State of New Mexico does not recognize gravel operations as mining, proponents argued that the area already has a history of mining.

Nearby Cochiti Reservoir at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Santa Fe River is a radioactive sewer impounding millions of cubic yards of contaminated silt from decades of bomb making at Los Alamos and the effluent from thousands of upstream septic systems.
Before reaching La Bajada, the water flows west from the Santa Fe River through a pipeline traversing the Pueblo of Cochiti, Pueblo of Santa Domingo and US National Forest Service land. Below the diversion, the natural stream bed is dry. Cochiti leaders say the amount of water flowing into the pipeline exceeds the amount allocated to La Bajada’s 52 acres of farmland as a result of modifications made to the diversion structure. In short, the pueblo accuses the acequia community of taking too much water from the river. The situation offers a window onto one of New Mexico’s most pressing problems: Less and less water is flowing through the state as climate change and persistent drought tighten their grip. [Santa Fe Reporter]
Now, the New Mexico Department of Transportation has moved the two southbound lanes to the northbound side of I-25 constricting traffic and slowing commuters sometimes to a crawl or even stopping thousands of vehicles on La Bajada Hill.
Back in July, the New Mexico Department of Transportation started the 2-years-plus rebuild of Interstate 25 up La Bajada, just south of Santa Fe, with soil mixing to stabilize the roadway and slope mitigation. That’s because the road is quite literally sliding off the hill. The almost $40 million project ($39,904,622.33) is scheduled to run through November 2024. It’s a big job on a section of road with an interesting history, according to NMDOT District 5’s Jim Murray. Murray explains “the geotechnical analysis of the current conditions has determined that the most cost-effective way of correcting the issue is to improve the existing embankment by soil mixing methods – in lieu of completely replacing the entire embankment. This soil mitigation effort will greatly improve the embankment/fill conditions and allow for a new pavement section to be installed without the current dipping/sagging/cracking issues coming back.” [Albuquerque Journal]
Today, dust is blowing off the mesa after New Mexico Gas Company ripped up ground and crossed the Rio Galisteo with a $60 million, 35-mile, 20 inch natural gas pipeline. A 12-inch line "built by the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1940s, is reaching the end of its useful life and is difficult to replace because it cuts through national forest area, including the Valles Caldera National Preserve."

All images property of interested party.

10/30/22

Tribal lands now at risk to foreign miners for 'green metals'

America ships millions of tons of salvage material to India and Asia to be recycled tearing up our own ground mining for virgin minerals while steel, copper and rare earth metals are still being buried in landfills. 

But, the General Mining Law of 1872 enables Australian miners like Jervois Global to gouge ore containing cobalt from the homelands of the Nimíipuu or Nex Perce at a Superfund site near the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho. At Harshaw, Arizona, South32 Ltd. is ripping into Sobaipuri O’odham and Hohokam ancestral lands at the old Hermosa Mine for manganese and nickel.
Supply chain security, however, is far from complete: The cobalt concentrate pulled from the ground at the Jervois mine, complicated by the presence of arsenic, will be processed in Brazil due to a lack of U.S. facilities. Cobalt is often then shipped to China, where it is put into lithium-ion batteries. Mining companies are targeting the West especially because of its wide swaths of public land and history of mining. [Idaho cobalt mine is a harbinger of what’s to come]
Ores containing lithium are hideously carbon intensive to mine and the 1872 law allows foreign companies to exploit public lands instead of sharing the pecuniary rewards with Indigenous former landowners.

In my home state of South Dakota, British Columbia-based United Lithium has staked some 500 claims, some on Bureau of Land Management ground near Pringle, where lithium bearing pegmatites are already being quarried for potassium feldspars and micas. 

In 1951 after uranium was discovered south of Pringle more than 150 uranium mines were gouged into the Earth where the Oglala Lakota once made their winter camp. Since then, radioactive tailings from those mines have been detected in Angostura Reservoir after a dam on the Cheyenne River broke in 1962.

In 2017 Rare Element Resources said its mine in the Wyoming Black Hills just upstream of the South Dakota border on ancestral Apsáalooke and Lakota lands at the headwaters of the Redwater River, a tributary of the Belle Fourche/Cheyenne, announced financial backing from General Atomics and applied for enough water for the mineral separation process despite widespread contamination in Crook County wells. But some decommissioned coal fired power plants in the Cowboy State are being remediated in part by harvesting needed minerals from coal waste.

ip image: an adobe ruin crumbles at the Harshaw, Arizona ghost town.

10/29/22

Biden administration reverses course on Trump era ecocide in Wyoming

During the environmental dark ages between 2017 and 2021 preservationists pushed back on the Bighorn National Forest's plan to spray imazapic, an herbicide banned in Europe since 2002 on some 5,100 acres of native mountain big sagebrush and larkspur. The Forest Service burns about 600 acres of sagebrush in the Bighorns each year to accommodate the livestock industry but to kill invasives the Bighorn planned to apply Tebuthiuron, an indaziflam manufactured by Dow AgroSciences. 

Alternatives included no action or burning the invasives ventenata and medusahead and thinning larkspur and sagebrush without aerial spraying. Even a Wyoming Game & Fish Department habitat specialist recommends prescriptive fire instead of poisoning because the intermountain West loses over a million acres of sagebrush every year.
Following a hearing with five groups that objected to the plan, Forest Service Deputy Regional Forester Jacque Buchanan told them native plants would no longer be targeted. In exchange, the groups — Bighorn Audubon Society, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Western Watersheds Project, Council for the Bighorn Range and Bighorn Native Plant Society, will agree to drop their objections, according to an email Buchanan sent them. Critics worried that sagebrush removal would further imperil greater sage grouse, which depend almost exclusively on that landscape. Larkspur, considered toxic to cattle, helps sustain broad-tailed hummingbirds and other wildlife, objectors said. [Bighorn Forest to drop plan to kill native sagebrush, larkspur]
On orders from Donald Trump's Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Governor Mark Gordon, the Forest Service, the US Department of Agriculture and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department sprayed the herbicide Rejuvra® with a helicopter on cheatgrass in a 9,200 acre area within the Mullen Fire scar near Laramie, Wyoming with the goal of reducing, maybe even eradicating its presence. People recreating on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest were urged to avoid the kill zone so imagine the effects on native pollinators and cervid genetics. 
On a sunny, windy fall day in Grand Teton National Park, the mountains loomed over a plot of flat valley land in the park’s southern section near Mormon Row. The plot was originally covered in sagebrush, but homesteaders removed the native plants in the late 1800s and planted non-native pasture grasses in their place to create hay fields for cattle to graze in. In 2007, Grand Teton set out to restore sagebrush to 4,500 acres of valley land, and it’s nearly a third of the way there: So far, the park has either restored or is in the process of restoring nearly 1,400 acres. [Grand Teton National Park is restoring native sagebrush to create wildlife habitat]
Democracy is messy business. The feds are shooting feral goats in the Tetons and feral cattle on the Gila National Forest because domestic livestock are so destructive on public lands but bravery is a trait conspicuously absent in Congress right now. 

In a related story, the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics is suing the Forest Service for pollution caused by fire retardants dropped near streams endangering imperiled native species.

10/28/22

Natives being disenfranchised in red states

President Joe Biden is restoring the White House Tribal Nations Summit after the former guy declared war on Indian Country and undercounted Indigenous Americans. But, Republicans want citizens to believe democracy isn’t for everybody.
Experts say Native voters could lose a lot if they don’t turn out this election, as their representation — and their power — in the Legislature are at stake. Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, is running unopposed for House District 32. He is particularly passionate about issues concerning bison, education, tribal languages and missing and murdered Indigenous people. He said the lack of political engagement for matters outside the reservation isn’t new. If Native voters don’t get to the polls, he said, “We’ll lose our seats. That’s the bottom line.” Windy Boy said he expects issues of bison, women’s rights and gun control to come up this legislative session, as they do every year. But this time, he’s also preparing for Montana’s constitution to come under attack. [On the Rocky Boy Reservation, voters feel ignored, resentful]
With guidance from the Koch's American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC North and South Dakota Republicans passed legislation that disenfranchised Native voters.
A recent court ruling that found South Dakota violated federal voting registration laws has reignited the long-standing concern over Native American ballot access as the state braces for a 2022 gubernatorial election that could hinge on Indian Country precincts. In a state with nearly 78,000 Indigenous residents, comprising 8.8% of the population, advocates of greater Native enfranchisement have worked to enlist new voters in areas such as the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations that lean left-of-center politically. Relations worsened in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the governor engaged in a legal standoff with tribal officials over their use of roadside checkpoints to try to control the spread of the coronavirus on reservations. Many states used federal COVID funds to promote awareness of the census and help reach hard-to-count populations during the pandemic. South Dakota did not, despite an estimated 1.4% statewide undercount in 2010. [Push for greater Native American voting access could impact South Dakota race for governor]
We all know Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is a racist but now my home state has gone from being America's laughing stock to becoming a co-conspirator in hate crimes. Noem has simply become a pinup for the Kochs and boycotting South Dakota is apparently the only language the Republican Party seems to understand.

10/26/22

The state of water: western briefs

As water shortages loom western states gear for war.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego wants to impose an excise tax on foreign entities exporting crops from dry parts of the country, an issue Arizona is facing. A deal between Fontomonte, a Saudi-owned agriculture company, and the state of Arizona allows them to harvest alfalfa with groundwater and send it back to the Middle East to feed cattle. The company uses enough water to supply 54,000 homes annually, Gallego’s office said in a news release. "While Arizona experiences the driest conditions in centuries, our water is being given away in a sweetheart deal with Saudi Arabia,” Gallego said. [Phoenix congressman files bill taxing Saudi crop exports in Arizona]
When Colorado River Basin water rights were divvied up starting in 1922, officials overestimated the amount of water the system would produce each year and ultimately promised more water to stakeholders than actually existed. Climate change, drought, shifting weather patterns and a population explosion in the region have exacerbated that initial over-subscription. [Wyoming girds for a fight over Green, Little Snake River water]
A western Kansas groundwater district is testing the theory that the Missouri River could be tapped to help deal with the declining Ogallala Aquifer by trucking 6,000 gallons of water roughly 400 miles to parched areas of Kansas and Colorado. It took just a few minutes for that water to soak into the riverbed. [Declining Ogallala Aquifer Prompts Test to Transfer Water From Missouri River]
Elizabeth Wakeman has been watching the Big Sioux River for decades, concerned about its future for many reasons. “We need to get the Big Sioux flowing again,” said Wakeman, the Natural Resources Office’s Brownfield Coordinator. [Getting the river flowing again]
New Mexico, Texas and Colorado have negotiated a proposed settlement they say will end a yearslong battle over management of one of the longest rivers in North America, but the federal government and two irrigation districts that depend on the Rio Grande are objecting. Earlier this year, some of the river’s stretches in New Mexico marked record low flows, resulting in some farmers voluntarily fallowing fields to help the state meet downstream water-sharing obligations. [New Mexico, Texas and Colorado reach agreement on Rio Grande dispute; feds object]
A warming globe and dwindling water supply are forcing conversations on alternative water sources, so some water engineers and scientists are encouraging New Mexico to start treating and using the toxic water that comes from oil and gas extraction. Rebecca Sobel is the director of WildEarth Guardians and organized a news conference just a few miles away from the New Water conference to speak against reusing produced water. “Our state’s precious freshwater is pumped 10,000 feet into the ground, coming back as a chemical cocktail known as — quote — produced water,” Sobel said. [Water companies want NM to reuse oil and gas byproduct, despite safety and environmental concerns]
The Gila River Indian Community announced plans to conserve a large portion of its water supplies over the next three years. The tribe is seeking payment from a new federal program designed to incentivize reductions in water use. As climate change has crippled the nation’s largest reservoirs, a patchwork of short-term conservation agreements has emerged to prevent catastrophe before 2026. [Arizona tribe announces water conservation plans, seeks federal payments]
A long-simmering project to deliver clean drinking water to more than 22,500 Eastern Montana residents got a boost this week. As planned, the system would pull 4,000 acre feet of water a year from Fort Peck Reservoir near the North Fork of Rock Creek and treat the water at a newly constructed plant nearby. From the plant the water would be pumped through a spider web of about 1,350 miles of pipeline across a region stretching more than 100 miles east to west, from Sand Springs to Fairview in a region between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. The Dry Redwater Regional Water Authority is one of four rural water projects being developed across the eastern two-thirds of the state. [Eastern Montana drinking water project gets $3M to update study]
Water management professionals say more soil and fertilizer will leave farms and enter the state’s waterways as climate change intensifies storms and droughts. Experts from around the nation discussed the problem recently at the annual Eastern South Dakota Water Conference in Brookings. More intense droughts could also cause problems with fertilizer management, according to South Dakota State University Extension Water Management Engineer John McMaine. [Changing climate could flush more soil and fertilizers into water, experts say]
Late monsoonal rains have provided some surprise inflow to Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs. Dr. Phil King, EBID’s hydrology consultant, reported at the District’s monthly board meeting that project storage has increased by about 30,000 acre-feet since the September board meeting. Since the reservoir releases ceased in August, Elephant Butte Reservoir has gained about 47,000 acre-feet, and Caballo reservoir is up by 28,000 acre-feet. “The Rio Grande Project was built and lives on snowmelt runoff from southern Colorado and northern New Mexico (the watershed headwaters), and that’s what has cratered,” King explained. [EBID’s October Outlook: State Of The Water Update]
Routt County intends to join Eagle County’s effort to stop 100-tanker long trains transporting heated “waxy crude” along the banks of the Colorado River every day as it makes its way from Utah to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement. “What happens if that waxy crude that’s heated ends up in the Colorado River?” asked Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry, at a joint meeting between county leaders in Yampa on Monday, Oct. 24. “Which there’s a really good chance,” Routt Commissioner Tim Corrigan added. “There is a lot of places where the tracks are right next to the river.” [Routt County intends to join Eagle County effort opposing shipment of waxy crude along Colorado River]
As of October 21st, the Missouri River main stem reservoir system storage is at 47-point-six million acre feet. Runoff for 2022 is forecast at 19-point-five million acre feet. Average runoff is 25-point-seven million acre feet. [Fall Public Meeting In Fort Pierre Tuesday]

10/24/22

Travel writer wants South Dakota to legalize


Travel with Rick Steves airs on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio on Sunday mornings. He lives in Edmonds, Washington and has been publicly advocating for ending cannabis prohibition since the 1980s.
As the board chair of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), I speak out publicly across the country on why rather than arresting folks for marijuana, we should embrace a “pragmatic harm reduction” approach so effective in Europe that treats drug abuse as a health and education challenge. That’s why I am asking you to support Measure 27 to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older in South Dakota. Voters in South Dakota have added reason to approve Measure 27 – it will send a clear message to politicians who continually seek to undermine the state’s ballot initiative process. As you know, 54% of South Dakota voters approved legalization in 2020 before the law was repealed in court on a technicality. Measure 27 is an opportunity to restore the will of the people. [Pierre Capital Journal]
Tribal sovereignty binds the hands of states competing for federal resources.

Mary Jane Oatman is executive director of the Intertribal Cannabis Industry Association. She spoke earlier this month at the organization's conference in Milwaukee as did Rich Tall Bear Westerman (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate).
Tall Bear Westerman has three separate state licenses for dispensaries in South Dakota. He plans to open his operations, Green Tatanka, in November 2022, where he leases state property on state land. He pointed out that when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 was being discussed, every casino project was approved if it created a small business economy. However, some say that cannabis presents a second opportunity where tribes can help their entrepreneurs, and this time there are some advantages: land. [Native News Online]
Under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act the Tohono O’odham Nation won its lawsuit with the State of Arizona and in 2017 it opened a casino in Glendale outside its established boundaries. So, in 2018 the Oglala Lakota Oyate bought fifty acres just off I-90 outside their Nation then legalized cannabis for all adults in 2020. According to the Lakota Times Oglala Lakota College has the equipment to test cannabis but so far the cost of constructing a lab in Pine Ridge has proved to be prohibitive. 

The Picuris and the Pojoaque Pueblos have entered agreements with State of New Mexico to market cannabis product outside tribal borders. The Tewa words wõ poví translate to “medicine flower” and so far half of Pojoaque's clients are from Texas and other red states.

So far, the State of South Dakota has issued about 4,000 cards for patients in the therapeutic cannabis program and Genesis Farms opened the first dispensary in Sioux Falls and has plans for another in Mitchell.

10/23/22

Expert: more megafires are coming to the Black Hills

In August, 2000 Newcastle, Wyoming resident, Janice Stevenson stopped her car to pee, lit a cigarette then dropped a match into dry grasses near Jasper Cave in the southern Black Hills. 

Because part of the resulting 83,508 acre wildfire burned on Forest Service land she was sentenced to ten years on federal charges and to twenty five years for second-degree arson in state court. Her attorneys argued that childhood abuse, thirty suicide attempts plus a leg amputation led to previous fire starts and suspicion for lighting the 1988 Westberry Trails Fire that destroyed 15 homes, 45 outbuildings, 40 vehicles and burned almost 5,000 acres near Rapid City. 

Jim Furnish was deputy chief of the US Forest Service from 1999 to 2002 and believes all the fuel treatments in the area before the Jasper Fire were entirely ineffective in preventing the blaze.

Ponderosa pine sucks billions of gallons from aquifer recharges, needles absorb heat and accelerate snow melt while aspen leaves reflect sunlight in the summer months and hold snowpacks in winter. Insects like the mountain pine beetle and spruce bud worm can help promote drought- and fire-tolerant species like aspen. 

Dense stands of water-sucking, heat island-creating ponderosa pine concentrate volatile organic compounds or VOCs that become explosive under hot and dry conditions. The aerosols are like charcoal starter fumes just waiting for a spark. 

According to Todd Pechota, a retired forest fire management officer for the Black Hills National Forest who responded to the Jasper Fire, the next megafire in the Black Hills is just a matter of when.
Pechota also said he feels a forest fire the size of Jasper will “probably be in September or the spring, not the months of June through August.” Citing several reasons for his logic about why we’ll see another Jasper Fire, his main point was that there are “a fraction of resources available in summer,” he said. Pechota also provided a historical perspective of the Jasper Fire that included a reminder that despite the Hell Canyon area’s “April 2000 blizzard of two and a half feet of snow, that summer’s hot and dry conditions set a deteriorating stage for, first, the July 2000 fire near Hot Springs that burned 7,000 acres, and then the Jasper Fire,” Pechota said. Pechota further clarified that the number of fire starts in the Hell Canyon area in the year 2000 jumped from a yearly average of 55 to 1,000 fire starts that year. [War Criminal County Chronicle]
It's the view of this interested party that Janice Stevenson is a scapegoat for decades of land management failures endemic to South Dakota politics and to the Republican supermajority that coddles Jim Neiman.

Image: interested party.

10/18/22

Net metering just another avenue for utilities to cheat

New Mexico is the third best state for solar power potential and some 420,000 photovoltaic modules have been put into service in the Land of Enchantment since 2018. So, in 2020 Spanish firm Iberdrola and its US subsidiary Avangrid announced its intention to acquire Public Service of New Mexico (PNM) for about $4.3 billion.

But in 2019 Rio Rancho residents Paul Ortiz y Pino and his daughter Jessica spent $35,000 on a photovoltaic system that dropped their PNM bill from about $500 a month to $8 a month but the company that installed it nearly went bankrupt because of the Trump-driven pandemic so nobody followed up on maintenance then their PNM bill went sky high again.

In 2021 a study at Michigan Technological University revealed that far more work is needed to ensure the owners of self-generated electricity systems are not unjustly subsidizing electric utilities but in Wyoming, Black Hills Energy and PacifiCorp enjoy a duopoly

In Colorado Xcel charges homeowners 17 cents a kilowatt hour in base rates but only pays 8 cents per kWh to subscribers with rooftop solar who sell their home grown power. So, don't tie your system to the grid but if you use it as a backup keep your own electricity completely separate from the utility that reads your meter. 
New Mexico’s community solar program is supposed to help people with low incomes and organizations get clean energy for cheaper. But regulators are calling out utility companies for trying to charge consumers too much before the program has even launched. There have already been thousands of applications from organizations that want to be part of an interconnected solar energy grid, according to documentation the utility companies submitted to the Public Regulation Commission. PNM spokesperson Ray Sandoval said his utility also raised concerns with the PRC in April about solar providers truthfully disclosing costs, benefits and risks to customers, as well as the high transmission costs. [PRC: Utilities trying to overcharge in a solar program meant to help low-income communities]
Utilities are not your friends and according to WalletHub 16 of the 17 most energy efficient states are blue states but New Mexico still remains in the bottom half. Senator Martin Heinrich wants to change that so he sat down with KUNM to explain how.

10/17/22

Indigenous Americans tell horror stories of South Dakota boarding schools

Blurring one line between church and state America's founders extolled the virtue of education as local schools were run both by christian sects and by local municipalities under the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution. But it was not until 1867 and Reconstruction made public education a federal prerogative when President Andrew Johnson created a Department of Education as a proxy for race politics. Missionaries were hired then dispatched to the Deep South to provide schooling for whites and Negroes alike and Roman Catholics were enabled in the American West to assimilate Indigenous youth often with the use of torture. 

In a letter dated April 24, 2021 former New Mexico US Representative from the Third District Deb Haaland now Secretary of the Interior and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ, 3rd District) asked Pres. Joe Biden for a grant of clemency and the release of Leonard Peltier, a 78-year old tribal citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Peltier attended the Flandreau Indian School in the late 1950s where my mom practice-taught in the mid 1960s and learned first hand how Indigenous Americans were made to write in English.

Now, South Dakota's long history of racism is being told directly to Secretary Haaland.
Rosalie Quick Bear attended one of the 31 boarding schools located in South Dakota. The 78-year-old Sicangu Lakota describes being powdered with the pesticide DDT, spending weeks with an untreated broken leg, and getting locked in a dark cement cellar for days. It’s stories like this the Department of Interior is collecting as part of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. The initiative hopes to identify marked and unmarked burial sites across the boarding school system and the total amount of spending and federal support for the schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the tour is one step among many. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
The Roman church is behind the seizures of thousands of American Indian children in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act where Catholic congregations and state legislatures have engaged in obstruction of justice since the law was enacted. 

Cecelia Fire Thunder is the first woman elected President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
After attending elementary school at a local school that was largely taught in Lakota, she was enrolled at Holy Rosary Mission’s school for high school. The school forbid speaking Lakota [and] imposed its strict rules through fear, intimidation, and violence. [Firethunder Educator of the Year]
St. Joseph's Indian School in South Dakota fleeces $50 million a year from unwitting donors selling Chinese-made goods that appropriate Native culture all with the approval of a rubber-stamp red state legislature.

Native Americans in Montana have also suffered abuses and rape at the hands of predator priests and nuns. 
“It is a truly historic day to have Secretary Haaland in our homelands,” said State Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission). “I would encourage the rest of the Legislature and all future Administrations to learn about these events and attend one if possible. These atrocities to children happened right here in South Dakota, and not that long ago.” [KSFY teevee]
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has reached a $121 million settlement with victims after centuries of man's inhumanity to man.

10/13/22

SDGOP chair sides with Russia as KSA threatens US


The Chair of the South Dakota Republican Party works for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but ideological purists in SDGOP loathe Dan Lederman because sleaze and crime built his business.
Lederman’s work in opposition to [Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act] (JASTA) put him, a Republican, on the same side as the Democratic Obama administration, which argued that the law would expose Americans and their government to retaliatory lawsuits in foreign courts. Meanwhile, Lederman’s work on behalf of [Saudi] Arabia has placed him in affiliation with a country that discriminates against his Jewish faith and violates his own and his political party’s stated support religious freedom. [Rapid City Journal]
The Marquis de Saud spent $50,000 to buy a seat in South Dakota's corrupt legislature flaunting the same class by throwing it away resigning after the 2015 session then forcing his way into the chair of South Dakota's Earth Hater Party. That Lederman would steer criminals like Mohammed bin Salman into South Dakota is completely within his crooked wheelhouse. 

As President Biden puts the screws to Dan Lederman’s bosses in the KSA Mrs. Noem is distracting some attention from her own foibles by pecking at Uncle Joe. It seems unsustainable.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday night rejecting claims that the oil supply cut was "politically motivated against the United States" or that the Saudis were "taking sides" in an international conflict — apparently referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It wasn't just the sheer size of the cut in oil production by OPEC+. It was also the timing — coming less than three months after Biden visited Saudi Arabia to lobby against such a reduction, and just ahead of the U.S. midterm elections where prices at the gas pump could have an effect on voters. Pouring salt into the administration's wounds was having Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is sanctioned by the U.S., sitting at the table when the cuts were announced. Saudi Arabia and Russia co-chair OPEC+. [Saudi Arabia's siding with Russia on oil cuts causes a rift with Washington]
There is little doubt in my mind that damning evidence linking the Trump Organization to Russia was destroyed by the House of Saud on 9/11 and it’s impossible the Obama Administration didn’t know Donald Trump was being installed through a vast white wing conspiracy with at least one hostile government.


Image lifted from the Shad Olson Show.

10/12/22

South Dakota rancher targeted in Fall River County


In 2018 Fall River, South Dakota rancher Susan Henderson and her lawyer, Republican former SD Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen, sued the county weed and pest board to stop the forceful use of fumigants to kill prairie dogs on her 8,000 acre property. 

Just a few miles away, boasting remote off-grid survivable spaces with two deep wells, California-based Vivos xPoint is leasing hardened shelters to doomsday preppers. In October, 2020 dead cattle were found in one of the Igloo bunkers after fences were cut on six area ranches in incidents that Fall River County Sheriff Bob Evans acknowledged were "malicious." Activist Henderson said her ranch was one that was targeted. 

During public comment at last month's meeting of the Fall River County Commission Henderson testified that she pays a shooter to control prairie dogs after the weed and pest board threatened to use fumigants on her ranch again even though she had won her lawsuit. She reminded those in attendence that poisons kill other wildlife indiscriminately then stormed out after being shouted down by one of the commissioners. 

Sylvatic plague has been confirmed in prairie dogs in the Oglala National Grassland upstream on the White River from Conata Basin and just south of the Henderson place. The disease kills black-footed ferrets, the prairie dogs' natural enemy reintroduced by officials  and biologists for prairie dog control.
Susan Henderson went to school in Edgemont when a uranium mill operated in town in the 1950s and 60s. The Fall River Rancher said there were devastating consequences. “I can remember watching my classmate’s mothers coming down with cancer because they’d gotten exposed to uranium around the area," Henderson said. Henderson’s parents settled in Fall River County in 1902 and she took over the ranch in the early 90s. She worries the project could affect her cattle operation. Henderson, along with others in the county, are asking county residents to declare uranium mining a nuisance. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
Nearly all of the 300 mile long Cheyenne River flows through Indian Country and Powertech USA, part of Canadian firm Azarga Uranium, now enCore Energy, wants to mine near Dewey northwest of Edgemont on a tributary of the river despite warnings of high risk from a securities firm. Recall that the South Dakota Republican Party ceded regulatory authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency for uranium mining after the legislature realized there is no competent oversight from state agencies.

No doubt the mine’s principals wish ill will on Ms. Henderson, too. Texas-based enCore has uranium claims or operations in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota. 

ip photo: a prairie dog peers at a photographer from its burrow at Wind Cave National Park in Fall River County.

10/11/22

Today's intersection: the Prairie Pothole Region and 'networked federalism'

Throughout its history the US Army Corps of Engineers has had purview over water that flows into bodies that can support navigation and in 2014, through the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Obama White House moved to identify more closely the sources of non-point pollution. Despite a judge's ruling EPA went forward with a new federal rule protecting small streams, tributaries and wetlands. 

Waters of the United States or WOTUS legislation seeks to give authority to EPA and the Corps to use some teeth to enforce the rights of people downstream to have clean water. 

When the US Constitution was written the Federalists argued for a strong central government with co-equal branches but today neo-Federalists advocate for a weaker central government with a strong unitary executive. Tribes are bound by the Supremacy Clause just like individual states are. Nevertheless, Republicans and their toadies cry government overreach while WOTUS architects regroup for another round in Congress. 

Republican welfare farmers are the real ecoterrorists who hate subsidies unless they benefit from them.
Waterfowl are well adapted to naturally occurring drought conditions, but much of today’s waterfowl habitat loss is human-caused. That includes everything from emissions that make droughts more severe, to the drainage of wetlands – a practice Chuck Dieter said has been steadily increasing for decades. According to Duck[s] Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation group, the Great Plains and Prairie Pothole Region are the most important and threatened waterfowl habitats on the continent. They say up to 90 percent of the potholes in some regions have been lost or severely degraded – a trend that continues in South Dakota today. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
Sackett v. EPA is in the Supreme Court spotlight in a test of the authority of the agency to regulate wetland protection.
Jared Mott is the conservation director of the Izaak Walton League of America. He said changing the EPA's jurisdiction is unsupported by law, science, and common sense. "It's not a mystery why the Clean Water Act was able to improve water quality so quickly, and that's because it established this federal floor," Mott said. "And if we removed that floor, I think it's silly to think the states are going to step up and replace those protections. And in a state like South Dakota, I think that means a loss of water quality because these wetlands are absolutely part of these larger watersheds. It's not going to be good for wildlife." Isolated wetlands that lack a continuous surface connection to another body of water can directly affect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of downstream waters through underground connections, or "sub-surface waterways." [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
Craig Holt Segall, JD is Assistant Chief Counsel of the California Air Resources Board, a Visiting Assistant Scholar at UCLA Law, a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Law School and is married to Lilly Allen, who grew up in our Red Rock Road/Baja Waldo neighborhood. She got her Master’s at the University of Edinburgh and is expecting their first child. They stayed at our casita before their sojourn in Scotland. Craig was vetted for a post at EPA and Lilly's dad sent me the link to Craig’s paper.
Subnational governments, working with non-governmental advocates, drove climate action during the Trump administration while rebuffing federal rollbacks. Under the Biden administration, focus may initially shift towards the federal government, but the subnational network is critical to continued progress on climate change. I use the term “networked federalism” to describe how a horizontal, interconnected, and polycentric collection of states, local governments, Tribes, and advocates provides the resilient frame needed to buttress national action. Indeed, this structure mirrors the successful structure of the Paris Agreement[1]—in which international action depends on subsidiary national contributions. The climate problem is too big for any one government to take it on—including the federal government. The Biden administration, as it confronts this challenge, should embrace the irony that the Trump administration has left it a gift: an engaged, effective, and growing network of subnational actors. The Biden administration should nurture that network, setting us on a course for sustained progress with little time to lose. [excerpt, Segall, Networked Federalism: Subnational Governments in the Biden Era]
Diving ducks like the Canvasback, Redhead, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup and the Common Goldeneye feed on invasive zebra mussels that have been plaguing the mainstem dams in the Missouri River since at least 2004 but they're just some of over a hundred species at risk to the South Dakota Republican Party. To prop up the pheasant industry the state's Republican governor put bounties on raccoons and skunks also known to feed on the prolific invasive bivalves.
Both conservative and liberal justices — including the court’s newest member, Ketanji Brown Jackson — expressed skepticism that the Sacketts’ preferred definition of WOTUS was consistent with Congress’ primary purpose in creating the Clean Water Act. Mark Ryan, a former Clean Water Act attorney for EPA Region 10, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the court delivered a 6-3 win for the federal government. [Supreme Court appears to back EPA in WOTUS war]
Most East River lakes are eutrophic shit holes filled with toxic algae and unable to even support fish populations so the Prairie Pothole Region is becoming increasingly threatened by the encroachment of industrial agriculture but more irrigation means pumping fossil water from depleted aquifers mainly recharged by the Prairie Pothole Region. 

The grassland fire danger index will be in the very high and extreme categories today and tomorrow for most of South Dakota including in the Prairie Pothole Region.

10/10/22

Lee Atwater still driving Republican war on America

The United States has a label for non-white men: felons. 

A plank of the Southern Strategy seeking to assuage poor white people in the wake of the civil rights movement, the so-called 'War on Drugs' declared by the Nixon White House, then institutionalized by the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, redefined caste in the United States becoming a policy tool for the mass incarceration of non-white men

Listen to part of the basis for what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow at WYNC's On the Media:
Lee Atwater became one of the most complicated and successful Republican political operatives in history by employing a triple threat: spin when you can, change the subject when you can’t, and if all else fails, appeal to the voters’ resentment and fear, usually of African-Americans. In this conversation from 2008, Brooke talks to Stefan Forbes, director of "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story", about the dark legacy of Atwater’s Southern strategy.
Lee Atwater is one of the Republican dirty tricksters who brought the Dixie crackers into the Republican Party but Newt Gingrich authored the racist's handbook and it's still the official little red book of what used to be the Big Tent.
Taking his lead from Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, masters of contorting the finest achievements of decent adversaries with vicious lies repeated until they seem true, Newt endeavored to turn the Republican Party inside out. His plan was as old as skullduggery at the crossroads. Speak with one voice. If the opposition moves to solve a problem, thwart them at every turn. Say the problem isn’t real or its cause is something else. Then vote against all constructive solutions. [Guest Opinion: The dangerous legacy of Newt Gingrich's obstructionist GOP]
In 1993, Trump henchman, Roger Stone constructed ad copy and radio scripts depicting the Mohawk Nation as violent criminals and drug dealers so Donald Trump could erect a casino. After losing a lawsuit to the Tribe Trump declared war on Native America then launched a biological weapon attack. Stone convinced George W. Bush to declare himself the winner of the tainted 2000 election despite Vice President Al Gore clearly ahead in the popular vote.
During the 1980s, he continued to consult for Republican candidates but also lobbied for various foreign nefarious clients on the side. Stone’s lobbying partners included fellow Republican consultants Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater. [A new viral video says a lot about Roger Stone — and the GOP’s steep decline]
To this day reservation border towns are influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, their attacks on public education and their fear of the "Great Replacement."
This is what Republicans have been doing for some time with practices that are characteristic of dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, and, yes, fascism. They include:
Exert political control over the nation’s courts. Republicans have turned the U.S. Supreme Court into an extension of the Republican Party that is establishing extremist policy in the guise of legal opinions. It is arguably no longer a legitimate democratic constitutional court.
Control the nation’s electoral system. Along with a majority of Republicans refusing to accept the results of a legitimate presidential election, last year Republicans passed 34 laws restricting voting in 17 states, performed extreme gerrymandering for both state and Congressional offices to disadvantage Democrat voters, and are working to put partisan “election deniers” in key positions to exert Republican control over future elections. This is at the top of the autocrat’s playbook.
Control the media and what is truth and fact. A Republican ex-President who continues to lie to the public, buttressed by conspiracy theorists, fear mongering, the Internet, international actors seeking to destabilize the U.S., and media like Fox News that peddle misinformation and propaganda – all unchallenged by Republicans – is creating a large, angry, poorly informed political base – essential to autocracy.
Identify scapegoats, usually minority groups, upon which to focus hate as a unifying cause. Donald Trump started with “Mexican rapists,” “Muslim immigrant terrorists,” and immigrants from “shithole countries.” Republicans have expanded political hate to include liberal “groomers,” Jews, the LGBTQ community, history teachers, promoters of life-saving vaccines, immigrants, Democrats, and a long list of “others.” Hate is at the heart of the MAGA party, as it is with most autocracies.
Promotion of violence as a legitimate political tool. Republicans and their supporters continue to threaten violence. Election officials, school board members, librarians, medical staff and others continue to receive death threats. Polls vary, but according to a recent University of Chicago poll 45% of “strong” Republicans, and a third of all Republicans, approve of violence against the government to achieve political goals. [David Darby, How democracy and Montana may be dying]
Today, the goal of the New Apostolic Reformation, cult member Ginni Thomas, the Council for National Policy and others in the Republican Party is to use the packed Supreme Court of the United States to undo constitutional rights. Dominion theology proposes that christians must control the seven “mountains” of government, education, media, arts and entertainment, religion, family, and business in order to establish a global christian theocracy and prepare the world for Jesus’ return. 

Influenced by the theosophists, the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party Falangist crusaders are rousing the rabble again

In Santa Fe, Michelle Alexander reminded the mostly flaming liberal attendees at the Lensic in 2012 that had Barry Obama been raised in the 'hood his chances would have been unremarkably grim. 

That's because the Republican Party is the most dangerous institution on the planet today.

10/8/22

New Mexico doing cannabis right as Biden administration pledges federal reform

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services has the unilateral authority to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 so the world would be a very different place today had Tom Daschle stayed for Senate confirmation in 2009 but there's that

As cannabis retailers post another $40 million dollar month here in the Land of Enchantment supporters are lauding legalization as a way to diversify New Mexico’s economy, bring in tax income and address inequities left by the war on drugs while balancing the state's water crisis with growers.
Richard Auxier, a senior policy associate with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, presented some best tax practices to the Legislature’s interim Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee that covered cigarette, alcohol and cannabis. But findings from the cannabis portion showed that New Mexico’s cannabis tax structure could work well for the state’s finances, assuming the retail price drops in the coming years. Auxier told the committee it was a “pretty smart decision” to hold off doling out cannabis tax proceeds before getting a feel for how much money can be made. “You don’t want to make any programs solely dependent on those revenues,” he told legislators. [Andy Lyman, Santa Fe Reporter]
During a Democratic primary debate in 2019 Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg emerged as the candidates who looked like the most sensible candidates but Cory Booker won the night especially after he forced then-Vice President Joe Biden to flip on cannabis legalization.
First: I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden. Second: I’m calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either. Third: We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I’m asking [Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra] and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. [President Joe Biden]
The US House has passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 or MORE Act which removes cannabis from Schedule 1 but legalization remains in the hands of the states. The bill's lead sponsor in the Senate was now-Vice President Kamala Harris.

10/7/22

Moral climate hazard still driving Republican states


So, what’s not to like about six (seven? eight?) month winters, rampant racism, chilling effects on civil rights, an extremist legislature, living in a chemical toilet, sacrifice zone, perpetual welfare state and permanent disaster area? 

Yes, tornadoes, flooding, habitat destruction, drought, wildfire potential and now another eight month winter will soon descend on the red moocher state. According to WalletHub, South Dakota is tied for first place with three other horrible red states where the loss amounts from climate disasters caused a billion+ dollars in damage per capita since 1980. North Dakota has had 45 billion-dollar climate disasters since 1980 and my home state has suffered 38. 

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" but got on the phone anyway in 2013 and groveled before President Obama for several disaster declarations. Disaster declaration results from the Christmas 2016 storms that hit much of South Dakota enriched Black Hills Energy, Butte Electric, Grand Electric and others...again. 

South Dakota's current Republican governor isn’t about self-reliance because she’s wedded to moral hazard. Recall US Representative Kristi Noem voted against federal disaster assistance when acts of god ravaged blue states. A tornado hit her home town of Castlewood and Noem praised her god for sparing her campaign war chest because science karma chickens come home to roost where the governor is a climate change denier. In 2019 she was quick to ask the Trump Organization for disaster cash but when she asks a Democratic president for help, especially after blaming him for an infant formula shortage, she's admitting she's dependent on federal aid. And if she doesn't she risks looking like a miserable partisan.

Ice storms routinely knock out electric power on reservations sometimes resulting in lost lives even as microgrid technologies enhance tribal sovereignty and free communities from electric monopolies. So, this is how red states finance infrastructure improvements while bitching about Big Government. 

GOP hypocrisy seems endless—like wiping yer ass with a hula hoop. 


ip photo: a thunderstorm dwarfs Mato Paha in occupied South Dakota.

10/6/22

Trump killed more Republicans than Democrats

Donald Trump tried to exterminate Native America but sacrificed his own supporters doing it.
Political affiliation has emerged as a potential risk factor for COVID-19, amid evidence that Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democrat- leaning counties and evidence of a link between political party affiliation and vaccination views. This study constructs an individual-level dataset with political affiliation and excess death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic via a linkage of 2017 voter registration in Ohio and Florida to mortality data from 2018 to 2021. We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available in our study states. Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76%, higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post- vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153% of the Democrat excess death rate). The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available. [Excess Death Rates for Republicans and Democrats During the COVID-19 Pandemic]

10/5/22

Another Black Hills burn scar will be restored after non-native pine planted

As many readers are aware the first US Forest Service timber sale took place in the Black Hills near Nemo but only after nearly all the old growth of every native tree species had been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. Native Douglas fir and lodgepole pine are virtually extirpated from the Hills and the Black Hills National Forest is longer a wild thing. The Island in the Plains has been broken for decades but the collapse of select Black Hills ecosystems has been evident since at least 2002

Add the very high number of private inholdings within the Black Hills National Forest that make the wildland urban interface (WUI) very large to one of the highest road densities in the entire national forest system and Region 2 to lots of logging, hardrock mining and pesticides like Carbaryl then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone and a million worldwide are at risk to the Republican Party.
In 1939, the McVey fire burned nearly 21,000 acres in the central Black Hills. The McVey fire is recorded as one of the 5 largest wildfires on the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. Shortly after the McVey fire, the burned area was re-planted and seeded with non-native Ponderosa Pine from outside the Black Hills area. “Eighty years later, there are poor-formed, non-regenerating ponderosa pine that have branches that reach the ground in this area,” said Jim Gubbels Mystic District Ranger, Black Hills National Forest. “These trees create hazardous fuel conditions, as well as poor wildlife habitat.” [Restoration Work Occurring in the 1939 McVey Burn Area Near Hill City, SD]
Forty years ago I logged in the Buckhorn and Moskee, Wyoming areas of the Black Hills when much of it was owned by Homestake Mining Company. At that time it was home to some of the last old-growth ponderosa pine stands in the region.
In August 1936, a wildfire burned approximately 4,700 acres on National Forest lands and 2,400 acres on private lands near the old town of Moskee, WY. The Forest Service re-planted and seeded around 2,500 acres of the burned area with non-native Ponderosa Pine from outside the Black Hills area. [Moskee Burn Restoration Project Proposed]
ip photo: a dense doghair pine stand threatens the Nemo area.

10/4/22

Canadian land grab in Black Hills approved by US House


The US Forest Service is often powerless to stop the extractive industry from permanently altering sensitive watersheds because of the General Mining Law of 1872. Repeal or even reform of the 1872 statute has been thwarted repeatedly by the Earth hating Republican Party. 

In the pre-cellphone days Brohm Mining Company and this former Twin City Fruit marketing associate shared a radio telephone party line where managers plotting an environmental disaster at the Gilt Edge site unwittingly leaked the news to anyone listening. Brohm was an Australian company recruited by a now-dead Republican governor who gutted environmental protection in South Dakota. In 2016 then-Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton toured the Janklow/Brohm mining disaster calling it "a textbook example of how not to do it." 

Recall that in 2016 the Forest Service told South Dakota to go fuck itself after Republicans tried another land grab in Spearditch Canyon. 

Today, the State of South Dakota is trying to force a sale from the Forest Service so Republicans can lease or sell it to Canada-based Agnico Eagle and its CEO, Ammar Al-Joundi to further despoil the sacred Black Hills. The US House has passed the Gilt Edge Mine Conveyance Act.

Dave Miller grew up in Deadwood and was part owner of Twin City Fruit.
In late 1986 and the mid 1990s South Dakota officials issued mining permits to Brohm Mining at Gilt Edge Mine near Deadwood. Brohm was spectacularly high risk from the outset, and informed people were not surprised when Brohm abandoned the site in bankruptcy in 1999. Since the Mine was clearly a public health threat the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2000 declared Gilt Edge a superfund site. By 2019 federal taxpayers alone had spent 120 million dollars to contain and control poisonous mine drainage that could not and cannot be stopped. That did not, then or now, much concern State leadership. The State has all along focused on how to escape responsibility (liability in particular) for the ongoing disaster it permitted at Gilt Edge. It can do that by permitting another mine at Gilt Edge because with that permit the new mine will also assume the liability that comes with Gilt Edge. That is why, without so much as a public meeting, State and Federal regulators in 2018 quietly allowed another mine, AGNICO, to do exploratory drilling at Gilt Edge—drilling in a disaster area already known as a hot bed of acid producing rock. And the story isn’t over. [David Miller]
South Dakota School of Mines President Jim Rankin believes there's no time like the present to rape Native cultural sites in He Sapa, The Heart of Everything That Is. SDSM&T has just broken ground on the $40 million Nucor Mineral Industries Building named for a North Carolina Earth raper.

ip photo of the high walls at the Gilt Edge mining disaster taken from Elk Creek Road.

10/3/22

Republicans follow Tester’s lead to biochar research network

Biochar is produced by cooking organic biomass from agricultural and forestry wastes in the absence of oxygen in a process called pyrolysis. Biochar sequesters carbon and got a boost during the Obama Administration so more applications for it are still being advanced by the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. In Bonner, Montana retired Forest Service project manager Dave Atkins is developing his own biochar production concept with yard landing waste and timber too small for commercial harvest. 

According to a 2013 Argonne National Lab study the Black Hills National Forest is highly suitable for biochar harvest. But, as Jim Neiman mulls the shuttering of another sawmill other mill owners are converting the kilns that dry lumber to biochar production.

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is an organic farmer and a leading voice in the advancement of biochar so Sen. John Thune (Trump-SD) apparently sees Sen. Tester's  vision. Readers who know the ag mags and media can see where rural state Republicans tout their brand of corporate welfare while voting against any money for blue states. The Farm Bill pork is just waiting to be diced and sliced. 
The Biochar Research Network Act would authorize $50 million in Agricultural Research Service (ARS) funding to set up a network of up to 20 research sites around the country dedicated to studying biochar. These sites would study biochar in a diverse range of settings in order to evaluate the technology’s benefits for soil health, crop production, potential soil carbon sequestration, the climate, and the wood products industry. Tester has long been Montana’s leading champion for family farmers and ranchers. He secured $100 million for biochar and wood product innovation in his bipartisan infrastructure bill to turn low value forest material into a commercial product to help promote forest management. [Tester introduces bipartisan biochar research legislation to support Montana farmers]
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has just secured $2.5 billion for mitigation in the aftermath of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak wildfire complex. Harvest of some of that Santa Fe National Forest material could be processed for biochar.

Image: US Forest Service.