Now Xcel wants to burn biomass at Colorado coal plant

It seems there is nothing Xcel Energy won't do to convince the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that it's not a fly-by-night Earth hating gangster that exists solely to enrich its shareholders. 

Advocates for the Earth are concerned that the megacorp is doing little to offset its reliance on natural gas and that biomass is hardly a sustainable fuel. $5 billion of Xcel’s 'clean energy' goals means some 2.3% increases in customer costs for its 1.6 million subscribers but the other $10 billion will be borne by taxpayers.
As part of its “Just Transition” plan for Hayden, Xcel Energy is proposing the creation of a 19-megawatt biomass plant at the Hayden Generating Station with the two aging units at the coal-fired power plant set to be retired in 2027 and 2028. The biomass unit would utilize primarily forest waste resulting from fire prevention activities and residual debris from beetle-killed trees, according to the Xcel report. Xcel’s Clean Energy Plan proposes to double the amount of renewable energy on the system and invest up to $15 billion across Colorado while taking advantage of $10 billion in Inflation Reduction Act tax credit benefits to reduce costs and support customers, communities and workers. [Steamboat Pilot and Today]
The move comes in tandem with complaints by the utility that rooftop solar could sink its very existence

In light of findings in the causes of the Marshall Fire seven lawsuits have been combined as a class action and filed against Earth hater Xcel in Colorado courts but experts expect many more even as the state seeks to use the company's transmission lines to move electricity generated by geothermal energy

Hulett, Wyoming-based Neiman Enterprises purchased Montrose Forest Products in Colorado in 2012 so in 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted the National Environmental Policy Act Neiman shipped twelve loads of timber from the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to mills in South Dakota. Neiman wants to log 20 million board feet of ponderosa pine per year in Colorado for the next 20 years. Knot-free old growth ponderosa pine is coveted by door and window manufacturers like Pella, Marvin and Andersen.

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. Republicans in New Mexico blame the Forest Service for wildfires despite the straight line to the Trump Organization and its Secretary of Agriculture.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy screws customers in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico but the company gives twice as much campaign dough to Earth haters than to Democrats. 


Trump appointees reject suit to block exploration in Sky Islands

In 2019 we motored to Oracle, Patagonia and Bisbee from Santa Fe and were shocked by the ravages of surface mining in SE Arizona where operations owned by Morenci and Miami are despoiling water supplies and reducing entire mountain ranges to piles of waste rock. 

At Harshaw, Arizona, Australia-based South32 Ltd. is ripping into Sobaipuri O’odham and Hohokam ancestral lands at the old Hermosa Mine for manganese and nickel.
EarthJustice attorney Scott W. Stern asked the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco to intervene, arguing for an expedited ruling as "ground-disturbing development activities" involving the challenged projects would begin as early as September 15, 2023. South32 has two projects in the Patagonia Mountains. Along with the small Flux Canyon project, the company has launched the Hermosa project, which will move to extract high-grade zinc-lead-silver and "battery-grade" manganese that could be central to building high-capacity batteries for electric cars. For months, the projects have faced a salvo of challenges and in June, EarthJustice sought a preliminary injunction against the Forest Service, arguing the Patagonia Mountains "and the rare and imperiled species they host—now face a severe threat." [9th Circuit rejects attempt to stall mining projects near Patagonia]
Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Patagonia, Arizona flyway along the San Pedro River and Sonoita Creek. Standing water at any mine that extracts heavy metals puts wildlife at risk.


Looks like my home town has changed some

It's not always easy to find similarities with New Mexico and my home state of South Dakota but one correlation stands out: the growth in the Latino population is surging. 

In the Midwest the Latino community has grown 28 percent in the last decade and in the Southwest it's grown nearly 20 percent. Venezuelans make up the largest inbound demographic. 

As young people and Democrats flee South Dakota more brown people are doing the work in the red moocher state. Meat processors and industrial agriculture employ the greatest numbers of Hispanics in South Dakota. Spanish speakers prop up the federally subsidized dairy industry East River but in Huron Karen refugees slaughter and process turkeys. So now that brown workers can take the driver's license exam in Spanish white people can spend more time snorting and shooting meth. 

My sister is a former Elkton-Lake Benton High School Spanish teacher who has been tutoring students in math with English as a second language. 

Brookings County is home to a French-owned salted fat factory that relies on subsidized dairies threatening the Big Sioux River and its tributaries.
“People say they’re stealing American jobs. Find me one person who wants to work as hard as they do,” said Amanda Odegaard. Odegaard is the business manager for Hilltop Dairy just outside Elkton, South Dakota. The majority of Hilltop’s 24 employees immigrated from Central and South America. Felipe Huerta emigrated from Mexico in the early 2000s. He has worked at Hilltop for 14 years. He started on the milking floor and now is the farm’s breeder. [Spanish-speaking immigrants help revitalize rural America]
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. 

Learn more about how the Trump Organization created the conditions for Central Americans to flee for the United States then refused them at the border.


Mertz: BHNF a 'mess'

After a century of fire suppression, a decades-long moratorium on prescribed burns, a lack of environmental litigators and GOP retrenchment the Black Hills National Forest has been broken for decades. 

In June an interested party asked former acting BHNF Supervisor Jim Zornes to comment on an article appearing in South Dakota Searchlight about the heinous state of affairs on the Forest.

Seth Tupper has followed up on that piece in the Searchlight with another describing the unheard of turnover of supervisors so the blog asked Dave Mertz to comment on it. Mr. Mertz retired from the BHNF where he worked as the natural resource officer until 2017.
I’d be glad to. It’s a good article that sums things up pretty well. In short, things are a mess on the Black Hills NF right now. Last spring, Jeff Tomac, who was the Forest Supervisor, was removed from his position by the Regional Forester, Frank Beum. To this day, there has not been an explanation why. People suspect, myself included, it was because he wouldn’t play ball in the overcutting of the Forest and he paid a price for that. 
Subsequently, they have had a series of Acting Forest Supervisors. The Forest has some great employees, but they are under tremendous pressure (from the RO and WO [Regional Office and Washington Office]) to keep getting the cut out at levels that they can no longer produce. Everyone in the Agency knows what a mess the Black Hills is right now, and no one wants to touch it with a ten-foot pole. It’s just a sad situation and it’s not the fault of the Forest employees. [Dave Mertz, blog comment]
Mertz believes discussions about the US Forest Service will heat up during farm bill negotiations because for some stupid reason the FS is in the US Department of Agriculture instead of in Interior where the agency belongs.

ip image: Walter White appears on the bumper of a Meade County vehicle parked in Rapid City.


California to tax guns and ammo to slow violence, raise awareness

President Thomas Jefferson believed a standing army and the right to bear arms are mutually exclusive so way back in 2011 this interested party proposed an excise tax on certain firearms and ammunition to slow gun violence. 

Now, after violent attacks driven by outlaw motorcycle gangs spilled into Albuquerque streets Democratic New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a gun ban in parts of Bernalillo County. But the order has been reversed by a US District Court judge amid howls from Democrats and Earth haters alike and threats against the governor's life have emerged on personal Faceberg pages. 

Red states are not going to fix their own problems so stand your ground has become vigilante justice because the courts are overwhelmed with suspects in the war on drugs, communities are becoming armed camps and parents are afraid to let their kids go to school. 

How many more people will be caught in or die from as yet uncounted crossfires?

Always out front of other states California's legislature passed a measure that will add a paltry 11% excise tax on retailers and manufacturers of firearms and ammo. Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign Assembly Bill 28.
More than 3,000 Californians’ lives were lost to gunfire last year, about half of them by homicide. Sustaining these public safety initiatives in cities across the state takes predictable, continuing funding. Recognizing this, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore has backed this legislation, citing a sharp decline in firearm-related homicides since violence intervention programs were implemented. If we can have a federal tax on guns dedicated to conserving wildlife, a state tax dedicated to reducing human carnage is eminently reasonable. [Opinion: Here’s how a California tax on firearms would prevent gun violence and save lives]
Beginning 1 October gun buyers in Colorado will wait three days after a purchase for possession but a court there has blocked a law raising the age of firearm acquisition to 21 years. 

It’s long past time to muster the political will to mandate a two year enrollment in military or police service at the age of eighteen and the civilian age of possession, operation and ownership of all firearms be limited to people 21 and older. Levy 100% excise taxes on the domestic sales of semi-automatic weapons then tag the revenue for Medicaid expansion so parents have the resources to address the devastating effects of Fox News on American youth

If it were possible and the oligarchs wouldn’t hijack a Convention of States a rewrite of the Second Amendment would be at the top of my list.


Xcel whines that rooftop solar could be 'fatally disruptive'

Utilities are not your friends. 

Xcel knows it helped to burn down over a thousand houses and cause over two billion dollars damage in Colorado's Marshall Fire.
“Our goal is to be sure any homeowner who’s interested in going solar in the county has an easy on-ramp to achieving that,” said Tanner Simeon-Cox, a program director with Solar United Neighbors. Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility that uses fossil fuels to generate 58% of its Colorado electricity, has, along with many utilities, viewed distributed energy as potentially fatally disruptive to its business model. [Interested in rooftop solar? New co-op kicks off in Boulder County to get residents cheaper rates]
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. 

In light of findings in the causes of the Marshall Fire seven lawsuits have been combined as a class action and filed against Earth hater Xcel in Colorado courts but experts expect many more. It could be the end of an horrendous history.


Teams from the Black Hills headed to Farmington for annular eclipse

Students from the South Dakota School of Mines, Spearditch High School, Lakota Tech, and Newcastle, Wyoming will travel to Farmington, New Mexico for the upcoming annular eclipse on October 14.
Peggy Norris, the former deputy director of education at the Sanford Underground Lab will lead the trip. She says they’re going to Farmington with a mission from NASA. “NASA has some specific goals to take some scientific data during the eclipse of the changes in the atmospheric conditions – like how it gets cool, and what happens at 85,000 feet where the balloon is,” Norris said. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]
ip image: annular eclipse at sunset from May, 2012.


APD out of control

We all know cops' lives suck because they reliably abuse the rule of law, their families, alcohol, drugs, food, power, detainees and occasionally murder their wives; but police unions are showered with cash while teachers' unions get the shaft. During the Breaking Bad series the Albuquerque Police Department was frequently portrayed as corrupt and ineffectual.
Albuquerque police killed more people last year than nearly any other police department in the country, perpetuating a reputation for excessive force that even the U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t managed to rectify despite a nearly 10-year effort. In 2022, the city’s police force logged a record 18 shootings — killing 10. That grim number of fatalities was exceeded by only three U.S. cities — Los Angeles, New York and Houston — all of which dwarf Albuquerque in population. When law enforcement agencies investigate a police shooting, deference can seem blatant, critics say. Across much of the state, for example, State Police lead the investigation into a police shooting and forward their findings to the local DA’s office. In the last 10 years, such a case has never led to criminal charges. [Hundreds of police killings. Two prosecutions. No jail time.]
Albuquerque is the very definition of free market trickle down economics where the outlaw motorcycle gangs or OMGs trade firearms to the cartels and splay vengeance on the rank and file thugs on the streets when profits lag.


Humanity has driven Earth past six of nine planetary boundaries

Global warming has been accelerating since humans began setting fires to clear habitat, as a weapon or just for amusement and even protohumans tamed fire long before Homo sapiens did. About 200,000 years ago Neanderthal learned to make fire with flint and pyrite by sprinkling manganese dioxide onto woody debris to lower the ignition point but they had cleared much of Southern Europe's forests shortly after their arrival there as long ago as 800,000 years.

Fast forward to European settlement and the Industrial Revolution where in the New World settlers took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests. Humans are sixth on historian Christopher Lloyd's list of 100 important species because of anthropogenic climate change and for no other attribute.
This planetary boundaries framework update finds that six of the nine boundaries are transgressed, suggesting that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity. Ocean acidification is close to being breached, while aerosol loading regionally exceeds the boundary. Stratospheric ozone levels have slightly recovered. The transgression level has increased for all boundaries earlier identified as overstepped. As primary production drives Earth system biosphere functions, human appropriation of net primary production is proposed as a control variable for functional biosphere integrity. This boundary is also transgressed. Earth system modeling of different levels of the transgression of the climate and land system change boundaries illustrates that these anthropogenic impacts on Earth system must be considered in a systemic context. [Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries]
In 1991 after the Soviet Union fell Republicans began their war on the environment substituting a new Green Scare for the old Red Scare. This blog was established in 2010 as a vehicle for rewilding the American West.
The CO2 Coalition, established by William Happer, a senior director with the White House National Security Council, has received more than $1 million from energy executives and conservative foundations that fight regulations since it was founded four years ago. The group is stacked with researchers who cast doubt on climate science. Other members have spent years fighting regulations that would reduce fossil fuel consumption. The largest donation — $170,000 — came from the Mercer Family Foundation, a top donor to President Trump. The Mercers have also contributed more than $7 million to the Heartland Institute, which attacks climate science. The Charles Koch Institute provided $33,283 to the CO2 Coalition, while the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation donated $50,000. The Sarah Scaife Foundation contributed $135,000, and the Florida-based Thomas W. Smith Foundation gave $75,000. EOG Resources Inc., an oil and gas company spun off from Enron Corp., gave $5,000. The Randolph Foundation in New York provided $40,000. [Trump adviser created group to defend CO2]
In March the CO2 Coalition was booted from the National Science Teaching Association’s convention in Atlanta. 

This time we're the asteroid according to University of Leicester geologist Colin Waters, who chaired the Anthropocene Working Group.


New Mexico, Minnesota Oklahoma sued to block traitor from state ballots

John Anthony Castro, a 2024 Republican Presidential candidate, has filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, Sept. 8. It looks to remove Trump from the New Mexico Republican primary election and the 2024 presidential ballot in the state. [KOAT teevee]
Some prominent Minnesotans filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking the state Supreme Court to keep former President Donald Trump's name off the 2024 Minnesota presidential primary and general election ballot. The lawsuit was filed by a group called Free Speech For People, on behalf of several Minnesota voters including former DFL Secretary of State Joan Growe and former state Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson. [MPR News]
The write-in candidate John Anthony Castro claims Trump provided aid or comfort to those who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The suit is filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Trump and the Secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board are named. [KJRH teevee]


Food giants' merger concerns AGs, locals

The Kroger/Albertsons merger is causing significant heartburn among policymakers here in New Mexico but we’re blessed with Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and a local coop so the impact could create more food deserts in rural communities. There are also two Sprouts in Santa Fe, a sprawling farmer’s market, roadside produce stands along nearly every byway and numerous Latino markets that serve local communities. 

Twelve Albertsons stores in New Mexico are part of the proposed $24.6 billion merger as are 24 Smith’s, owned by Kroger. In August New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver signed a letter with secretaries of state from Colorado, Rhode Island, Arizona, Maine, Vermont and Minnesota rejecting the deal. Which Albertsons or Smith's in the state would be sold or if the sale of those supermarkets would affect storefront names remains a mystery

The companies argue that competition from Walmart, Costco and others are forcing consolidation in the industry.


Women flocking to New Mexico, Colorado for reproductive care

Procedures are up 220% and nearly 6500 women were provided medications or have had surgery to terminate their pregnancies in New Mexico — a state where Texas patients have found sanctuary. Colorado is seeing more women coming from South Dakota for their care but stress on clinics and staff is significant especially with spikes in the Trump virus. 

New Mexico is the political inverse of my home state of South Dakota. It's where after the lopsided Supreme Court of the United States aborted Roe v. Wade women are still free to exercise their reproductive rights because Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act that repealed the 1969 state statute banning some medical procedures. In New Mexico Medicaid covers abortions, even transportation in rural areas to get to clinics in Albuquerque. 


Arizona next to tackle American football?

American football is a tool of fascism. 

NFL players protesting law enforcement industry violence against people of color during the Star-Speckled Banana before contests is America's just deserts. The only difference between American football and Roman gladiators is the losing team isn't fed to the lions. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 110 out of 111 brains of those who played in the National Football League had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The reality looks even more grim following a recent study published by the Boston University CTE Center. Diego Mastroeni, an Associate Research Professor at Arizona State’s Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center, says the outlook for teenage brain development is concerning. Researchers have found that the worst damage to brains comes from repeated blows to the head, rather than one large collision. Athletes will often fail to notice the smaller hits. “Most of those you don’t really feel,” Mastroeni said. [CTE study reveals alarming numbers about athletes who died before reaching 30]
The NFL, the Fox group and the Trump Organization are among the country's most hated companies. Dissolving the NFL then ending college and high school ball can't happen soon enough.


The SDGOP is splitting and it's good

The ever-widening chasm in the South Dakota Republican Party opened even farther after Donald Trump targeted the state's congressional delegation during a rally in Rapid City.
The state’s all-Republican, three-member congressional delegation — Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, and Rep. Dusty Johnson — did not attend the event in the ice arena at The Monument. Their absence was loudly noted several times by a crowd of about 7,000. In a piece of rhetoric aimed at South Dakota’s agricultural industry, Trump boasted that “farmers picked up big, fat, beautiful checks” during his administration, thanks to his efforts to secure government payments to farmers during the pandemic. [Trump rally highlights Republican division with booing of absent Thune, Rounds, Johnson]
Now, in addition to a traitor piling on already stressed farmers the state's Republican-glutted public utility commission has rejected one carbon dioxide pipeline and all but sank another proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions splitting Republicans even more. 

Industrial agriculture is ecocide and for those of us who love the Earth shucks like Summit’s are subsidized corporate greenwashing but ironically many Republicans actually benefitting from caching greenhouse emissions decry them as caving to the Green New Deal. So Summit had turned to using eminent domain to condemn land for private enterprise provoking resistance from many Republican landowners and their surrogates.

According to the latest Rasmussen poll only 45% of Republicans want Trump on the general election ballot so Republicans with legal standing are driving the lawsuits to block him. 

Sens. Thune and Rounds are among the republic’s most popular so how are attacks on them from the state’s Republican governor not a disconnect?

If you are a South Dakota conservative who can get on the general election ballot in 2024 and intends to run as an unaffiliated or third party candidate for the US House or for the legislature from your district I will support your efforts both with money and in print.


After success in New Mexico CREW leading suit to block traitor Trump from Colorado ballot

Update, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve says he doesn't have the authority to block Trump from the ballot but anyone may petition for it and that if it goes to the State Supreme Court he'd abide with the ruling: Minnesota Public Radio.


Disgraced Republican former Otero County Commissioner and Trump disciple, Couy Griffin broke into the US Capitol, plotted the violent overthrow of the federal government, alleged voter fraud when there was none, arbitrarily defied the Lincoln National Forest's plan revision and threatened Democrats with murder. He is barred from ever holding office again after being prosecuted under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment when he was convicted in a case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in 2022.
Wednesday's suit against Trump was filed, with CREW's attorneys, by six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, including former state, federal and local officials. CREW President Noah Bookbinder said that the organization is bringing the lawsuit because “it is necessary to defend our republic both today and in the future.” [ABC News]
New Mexico was one of seven states where fake electors were recruited to steal the 2020 presidential election for Trump. 

Suits to block Trump from the Republican primary ballot have also been filed in Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and New Hampshire but many more are expected including in New Mexico. 

Do you guys know anyone with the legal standing who could sue South Dakota’s secretary of state to keep Trump off the ballot under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment?


More evidence Trump targeted Indigenous people

Indigenous Americans and reservations have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country yet rural white, conservative christians would rather get sick and die. Nevertheless, adjusted for age and population Donald Trump killed many more American Indians and Alaska Natives per capita than he did whites. 

Now, another report, this time from the University of New Mexico, adds evidence of his crimes committed in Indian Country.
This work provides insights into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on American Indian/Alaska Native patients and highlights the need for interventions and resources to address health disparities in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Navajo Nation, which extends into Utah, Arizona, and NM, surpassed New York as the most COVID-19-affected US region per capita early in the pandemic (May 2020) (22). Within the same period, data from the National Indian Health Board showed that AI/AN individuals accounted for 43% of COVID-19 cases in NM (23). [Disproportionate impact of COVID-19 severity and mortality on hospitalized American Indian/Alaska Native patients]
Donald Trump tried to exterminate Native America but infected many of his own supporters soon after a visit to New Mexico in 2019 then again in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In the penultimate episode of Designated Survivor there is even a racist who engineers a virus to sterilize or kill people of color to erase the Democratic voter base — the defining feature of the Trump term.


HHS: cannabis could be moved from Schedule I by year’s end

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services has always had the unilateral authority to recommend the removal of cannabis from Schedule I so the world would be a very different place had Tom Daschle stayed for Senate confirmation for that post in 2009.
For the industry, the reclassification would allow them to make federal tax deductions that are currently prohibited for businesses involved in the sale of Schedule I or II drugs. Because of this prohibition, the cannabis industry has faced a significantly higher effective tax rate, and state governments have taken it upon themselves to provide state-level tax relief for their regulated markets.“While HHS’s scientific and medical evaluation is binding on DEA, the scheduling recommendation is not,” the HHS spokesperson said. “DEA has the final authority to schedule a drug under the [Controlled Substances Act] (or transfer a controlled substance between schedules or remove such a drug from scheduling altogether) after considering the relevant statutory and regulatory criteria and HHS’ scientific and medical evaluation. [Top Federal Health Agency Says Marijuana Should Be Moved To Schedule III In Historic Recommendation To DEA]


NIMBY threatening Colorado geothermal development

At least as early as 2012 the Four Corners region was seen as a geothermal powerhouse where Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories assembled plans for energy development. 

Colorado could tap orphaned oil and gas wells to supply hot water for electricity generation especially now that the state is falling behind on its own self-imposed emissions-reducing mandates.
Since 2019, when the legislature ordered the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to reprioritize health and environment as they considered drilling permits, the state has been adding provisions to advance one of the few untapped sources of clean energy in Colorado: geothermal. To get electricity from a geothermal plant in the Mount Princeton area to the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association, for example, the plant would have to tie into an Xcel Energy high-voltage transmission line running from near Dillon to just west of Salida and then into the San Luis Valley through two main lines, one owned by Xcel Energy and one shared with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, according to Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey. The Lost Creek group also worries about noise pollution and odor the proposed plant would create. Hits to the housing market, damaged real estate value, and viewshed impact round out the Lost Creek group’s complaints. [A fight is brewing to build Colorado’s first geothermal plant as neighbors oppose development]
In 2021 the Bureau of Land Management sold a geothermal lease in Hidalgo County, New Mexico despite a 2016 blowout near a $43 million geothermal electricity plant erected by Cyrq Energy in 2013 when Republican Susana Martinez was governor. Cyrq Energy has four working geothermal projects including Lightning Dock Geothermal Power Plant near Animas. It's a 15.3 MW binary geothermal plant with two production wells and 7 injection wells that sells power to Public Service of New Mexico (PNM) with firm baseload power.

Using an enhanced geothermal system at its Project Red site in northern Nevada Google-financed Fervo Energy completed a full-scale, 30-day well test able to generate 3.5 megawatts or enough electricity to power over 2,600 homes full time. Fervo employs a hydro-shearing process and believes it can deliver about 400 megawatts by 2028 or enough electricity to power 300,000 homes at once from half a dozen other sites across the western US.


Sicangu Oyate edging closer to trust status at Mato Paha

In ’97, I performed my first of six seasons as Mother Ginger in the Black Hills Dance Theater’s production of the Nutcracker. Vanessa Short Bull danced the Sugar Plum Fairy. On opening night, her dad brought her likely centenarian great grandmother backstage before the show to watch her warm up. The vision of three Sicangu generations attending a Tchiachovski ballet was all it took for me to understand how public media funds bridges.

The late Bob Barker was an enrolled member of the Sicangu Oyate. 

Today, with cooperation from Democratic former South Dakota State Senator and Sicangu citizen, Troy Heinert more bison are coming home to the Nations. 

Now it's time for the State of South Dakota to abandon Bear Butte State Park that it claimed through colonization and remand it to the tribes for governance so they can restore its name to Mato Paha and for the US Park Service to add the name Mahto Tipila to Devils Tower National Monument.
Meade County Commissioners oppose a renewed proposal from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to place 38.14 acres of land at Bear Butte into a land trust status. Earlier this month the tribe submitted the request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, stating that the land would “advance tribal economic development and the ability to be self-sufficient, assist tribal self-governance and self-determination, and restore the ancestral tribal land base by replacing tribal lands lost through the allotment system.” The application states that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe would use the land for youth activities, and both cultural and spiritual purposes. 
“Bear Butte has been and continues to be a profoundly important sacred site and is vital to the spiritual, ceremonial, and religious needs of the Sioux people,” the application states.   In 2016 the Rosebud Sioux Tribe issued a similar request, which Meade County Commissioners opposed.  
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trust land qualifies as a reservation if it has been validly set apart for the use of Tribes. Therefore, once the land is put into trust status the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be responsible for providing all services, and the county would no longer have jurisdiction over the property.
While the Rosebud Sioux Tribe application is for just over 38 acres, there are other Tribes that have even greater land holdings at Bear Butte. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe owns 1,080 acres, and the Northern Cheyenne Agency owns 560 acres.  [Black Hills Pioneer]
Mato Standing High practically lived at our house in Spearditch from 1983 until he and my stepson graduated high school in 1994. As both my step kids did he got his Bachelors of Science at the University of Wyoming. A Bush Fellow and a member of the Sicangu Oyate, he is an attorney having received his Juris Doctor at University of Montana Law School. He has also taught at Black Hills State University, a leader in American Indian Studies. No doubt he has heard me expounding on the importance of preserving indigenous languages as i have been ranting about it for nearly forty years. My young nephews called him "My Toad." Mato is Lakota for bear. 

ip image.


FBI, NM LEOs seize 150 firearms in Bandidos raid

Update: all-out war between the Bandidos and Mongols imminent.


Update: Trump worshipping outlaws traffic the bulk of fentanyl and meth in the US.
In addition to moving drugs, the court documents allege that Bandidos members in El Paso were involved in the transporting of firearms that were then smuggled into Mexico to the cartel in exchange for methamphetamine and cocaine. The FBI had search warrants for 25 Bandido members homes throughout New Mexico. In the raids, 151 guns and thousands of rounds of ammo, ballistic vests, fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and a stolen police radio were recovered. [KRQE teevee]


Hells Angels, Bandidos, Sons of Silence and other outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) own property in the Black Hills area to serve as bases of operation for sex and meth trafficking much of it through what appear to be legitimate businesses but New Mexico is hardly immune from gang activity.
On Thursday morning, FBI and New Mexico State Police SWAT teams launched early morning raids in towns across New Mexico, searching the homes of the 25 Bandidos members identified as having made “imminent threats” to kill or hurt rivals involved in the fatal shootings in May. Evidence seized included more than 150 firearms, and three men were arrested on state charges as the investigation into possible racketeering and other crimes continues. The searches occurred in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Farmington, Hobbs, Gallup, Capitan, Ruidoso, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas and several smaller communities. [Trying to head off 'threats' of revenge, FBI teams hit Bandidos across NM with search warrants]
Red River, New Mexico is a town of about 600 souls that gambled on some 28,000 bikers but was terrorized by members of rival gangs so the mountain hamlet will no longer advertise its Memorial Day event as a motorcycle rally destination. 

Las Vegas, New Mexico canceled its motorcycle rally as the US Marshals Service and other federal law enforcement agencies warn of heightened, even unprecedented violence among OMGs. Motorcycle gang violence in Oklahoma City took the lives of three bikers in April.

Albuquerque is the very definition of free market trickle down economics where the outlaw motorcycle gangs or OMGs trade firearms to the cartels and splay vengeance on the rank and file thugs on the streets when profits lag.


Arizona scrambling to undo Republican damage to public land on southern border

Etched into the rhyolite on Signal Hill in Saguaro National Park about 800 years ago by the ancestors of the modern-day Tohono O'odham are their petroglyphs and rock art which are probably directions to water sources and hunting. Their Nation straddles the US/Mexico border. 

A Santa Fe County, New Mexico couple touring the area in 2019 was shocked at the level of Trump era paranoia and was forced to endure multitudinous Border Patrol checkpoints. 

Just hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden issued the Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction. 

Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Sky Islands in the Patagonia, Arizona flyway on Sonoita Creek and along the San Pedro River. Now, efforts to undo the damage to jaguar and ocelot habitats including on the Coronado National Forest is happening while courts sort the fraudsters. Even North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel conspired with the Trump Organization and its henchman, Steve Bannon to defraud the United States. Fisher Industries is a major campaign contributor to Earth hating Republicans like Arizona's former governor and is being investigated for substandard work on the US/Mexico border. 

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs called her predecessor's actions a political stunt.
The federal government is finally ready to drop its lawsuit against the state over the storage containers it contends were erected illegally last year on Forest Service land by then-Gov. Doug Ducey. But it's going to cost Arizona taxpayers another $2.1 million to put this all behind them. That's on top of the $95 million the state paid to AshBritt Management & Logistics to install the ersatz border barrier in the first place. And it doesn't include another nearly $66.6 million, also of taxpayer dollars, to tear it down, transport the containers to Tucson and start restoring the site to the way it was before the controversial barrier went up. The deal marks the end of what had been a highly publicized move by Ducey to close gaps in the reinforced barrier that was started by Donald Trump and canceled by Joe Biden his first day in office. [High costs for shipping container wall at Arizona's southern border almost over]
In southeastern Arizona operations owned by Freeport-McMoRan Inc, Morenci and Miami are ravaging water supplies and reducing entire mountain ranges to piles of waste rock in Tonto Apache lands.


Column: movie raises awareness of nuclear fallout

On orders from President Franklin Roosevelt one of the largest concentration camps in the United States was built in Santa Fe in 1942 and imprisoned some 4,555 people of Japanese heritage. During World War II National Guard units from New Mexico became trapped on the Bataan peninsula where they experienced torture at the hands of soldiers of the Empire of Japan. Four Los Alamos scientists armed the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed over 200,000 children, women and men.

Beginning in 1958 Homestake Mining Company gouged uranium from New Mexico leaving piles of waste rock laden with selenium causing cancers and thyroid disease in its wake. In 1979 an earthen dam collapsed releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive and highly acidic water into Navajo tribal lands.

Tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can cause birth defects and spontaneous abortions, has been found in groundwater near Los Alamos National Laboratory. Today, Cochiti Reservoir at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Santa Fe River is a radioactive sewer impounding millions of cubic yards of silt contaminated with chromium and the effluent from thousands of upstream septic systems after decades of bomb making at Los Alamos

In 2022, Archbishop of the Santa Fe Diocese John C. Wester offered a pastoral letter he calls “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.” Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis is home to the plane that dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast or 'Mother of all Bombs' on Afghanistan. 

Democratic New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is at odds with the US Department of Energy and Bechtel National who seem to believe transporting diluted nuclear waste like plutonium over and over America's railroads and highways is completely harmless. Energy has set a goal of producing 80 new plutonium pits a year by 2035, enough to fully replace the triggers in every existing thermonuclear warhead by 2105. 

A nuclear waste dump would make southeast New Mexico a sacrifice zone that amounts to “nuclear colonialism," according to Leona Morgan, a Diné woman and organizer with the Nuclear Issues Study Group.

New Mexico’s Democratic delegation is moving an amendment through Congress to the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act intending to offset decades of hardships suffered by people downwind of the atomic bomb tests in the 1940s.

Dr. Lyndon  Haviland is a regent at Western New Mexico University and a distinguished scholar at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. She lives with her husband, Tom on their spectacular Morning Star Ranch in rural Santa Fe County. Last October they hosted a fabulous wedding party for neighbors Kate and Phil.
The movie “Oppenheimer” shows the destruction from the blast of the first atomic bomb, known as the Trinity test, on July 16, 1945, roughly 200 miles south of Los Alamos, N.M. It’s a sad fact that a Hollywood movie was needed to spur political action to correct a major public health injustice. The victims of New Mexico deserve to be compensated for the suffering they have endured. It should have happened decades ago. But Congress can finally right this wrong by honoring those who’ve been ignored for far too long. [Haviland, In New Mexico, ‘Oppenheimer’ offers new hope for long denied compensation]
Learn more from the Associated Press.


TRNP horses are not what you think

The modern horse was introduced to North America by the Spanish late in the 15th Century and then by other European colonizers. 

Acquiring the horse in the 1740s enabled the Lakota to win the Black Hills. But, in occupied North Dakota the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park that are believed by some to be the descendants of those belonging to Sitting Bull have reached nuisance level. Because they have no natural predators wild and feral horse herds double in size every four to five years.
The Park Service is revising its livestock plans and writing an environmental assessment to examine the impacts of taking no new action — or to remove the horses altogether. Removal would entail capturing horses and giving some of them first to tribes, and later auctioning the animals or giving them to other entities. Another approach would include techniques to prevent future reproduction and would allow those horses to live out the rest of their lives in the park. [National Parks Service proposes plan to remove wild horses from North Dakota National Park]
Now, in an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, the threatened Greater sage grouse and all the other wildlife at risk to the Republican Party how is running nurseries for introduced species like free-roaming horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?
GonaCon is an immunocontraceptive vaccine that is developed and used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the Department, when GonaCon is injected into an animal, it induces the body to make antibodies against its own Gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This then causes infertility in the injected animals. While GonaCon has proven to be an effective tool in managing fertility in wild and feral mammals, this includes the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt Park — meaning that some are calling for a study on the vaccine to view the effects it has on the equine population. [Are the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park infertile?]
Ironic that in a country that exports more weapons of mass destruction than all others combined and relentlessly hunts nearly anything that moves Equus ferus is still seen as a pet.
The study by a graduate biology student at the University of North Dakota said the park horses show little influence of Spanish mustangs and are most closely associated with draft horse breeds, including Shires and Percherons. A ranch Shire-Paint cross stallion performed well, and was considered the park’s dominant stallion for almost a decade. In 1991, an estimated 15% of the herd was traced to the stallion. The herd’s Percheron influence might stem from the HT Ranch, an immense horse ranch in the Little Missouri Badlands headquartered near Amidon, south of the area that became the park. Ranch owner A.C. Huidekoper imported Percherons -- a large, powerful breed -- and a thoroughbred stallion to crossbreed with mares he bought from the Marquis de Mores, who bought them after the ponies were seized from Sitting Bull and his followers when they surrendered at Fort Buford in 1881. Huidekoper, a contemporary of Roosevelt’s, called the cross the “American horse,” which became the prototype of the “Indian pony” that was favored for years by ranchers in the area, prized for its endurance and agility. [Study: National park wild horses are ‘distinctive,’ not closely related to any one breed]
ip image: free-roaming horses browse on private ground in Santa Fe County. Click on it for a better look.


Ethnic cleansing a real part of Trump legacy

Attorneys are gathering even more evidence that the Trump Organization committed crimes against humanity throughout Indian Country not only by slow-walking resources to reservations during a pandemic but by undercounting Indigenous populations during the 2020 Census. Donald Trump even killed the White House Tribal Nations Summit because he loathes Native Americans. 

That "Pocahontas" thing Trump does to Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn't just betray his hatred for women; it's a tell that he detests American Indians no matter how much or how little Native blood a person has. That Republicans continue to prop up his assault on the courts and stoke his criminal race baiting are the most telling aspects of this march toward the abyss. Trump’s erasure of protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was cruel retribution targeting Indigenous peoples. 

Why? In past years the Trump Organization has used the federal courts to punish tribal nations who built casinos Trump said were competition then deployed COVID-19 as a biological weapon in Indian Country. Starting in New York Donald Trump targeted the Mohawk and Oneida Nations for annihilation then his Tulsa trip and his campaign rally in occupied South Dakota spread disease throughout Native America. 

Adjusted for age and population Trump killed many more American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) per capita than he did whites.
As a nation and global society, we are still recovering from two life altering events: a pandemic and the Trump presidency. While the memories of these events seem to fade with time, as a former tribal leader, I am here with a stark warning: We cannot forget Donald Trump's record, especially on tribal matters, or that of his supporters and enablers. Trump drained funds from the very programs created to fulfill the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes. Year after year, tribal leaders had to fight against his proposals to cut funding for Native education and health programs. It is crucial to remember that he submitted budget requests to Congress every year that could have zeroed out funding for Bureau of Indian Education facilities and the only existing CDC Tribal budget item. At times, Trump was outright transparent about his thoughts and feelings about the Native peoples. When asked about issuing a proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, he outright proclaimed, “Not as long as I’m president.” He appalled the nation when he could not even hold back expressing his racism during a White House event planned in honor of our national heroes, the Navajo Code Talkers. [Amber Torres, Trump’s Tribal Record: The Destructive Era]
Some nations are still suspicious. One of the most popular national monuments in New Mexico is just across I-25 from our place but remains closed because it’s co-managed with the Cochiti Pueblo.

It’s called ethnic cleansing even genocide elsewhere but in Trump’s America it’s called MAGA.

ip image: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument with the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background.


Today's intersection: Zorro Ranch sells as Santa Fe lawyer surrenders

Two days before Donald Trump's attempted takeover of the United States in 2021 John Eastman was summoned to the Oval Office to share some exotic extralegal scenarios. As he left a Santa Fe restaurant in 2022 he was frisked by federal agents who seized his iPhone Pro 12 presumed to contain incriminating evidence of Trump's attempted coup d'état. Eastman owns a property at 180 Valley Drive on the north side of Santa Fe not far from the Governor's mansion. 

Eastman knew Jeffrey Epstein through impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor and through Alan Dershowitz, also believed to be a pedophile. A Florida church has claimed the deed to the isolated Zorro Ranch outside of Stanley, New Mexico that Epstein purchased in 1993 now tied up in a court battle in Santa Fe and languishing on the market for $18 million.
The Santa Fe County assessor lists the new owner of the 7,560-acre property near Stanley as San Rafael Ranch LLC, a limited liability corporation that was filed only July 28 with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. No immediate identity for the individual behind San Rafael Ranch LLC was available other than its registered agent, Santa Fe attorney Charles V. Henry IV. Epstein purchased the Zorro Ranch in 1993 from former Gov. Bruce King. [Epstein's Zorro Ranch in Santa Fe County sold; price not disclosed]
As Eastman faces disbarment in California he surrendered to Georgia where was booked at the Fulton County jail Tuesday.
Eastman is charged alongside Trump and 17 others, who are accused by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis with scheming to subvert the will of Georgia voters in a desperate bid to keep the Republican president in the White House after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. [Santa Fe's John Eastman is one of America's most infamous attorneys]
In a 2016 deposition Virginia Giuffre told a court that when she was sixteen Epstein madam, Ghislane Maxwell aided and abetted her rapes there. Giuffre went on to work for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Herr Trump is expected to surrender in Georgia today.

Jeffrey Epstein died under suspicious circumstances in a New York jail after being sued by numerous women after using his New Mexico ranch as a baby farm.


All Aboard Northwest reaches out to blogger

Hello Larry, 
I just wanted to follow-up with you about your comments on the Dakota Free Press article "Idaho wants Amtrak." 
I want to thank you for your comments and ideas supporting passenger rail in South Dakota (your personal blog) and let you know about a Federal Railroad Administration study that may be the impetus to get South Dakota "on the map." I am an invited stakeholder with this Study through my professional work.
I lead a regional transportation advocacy organization, All Aboard Northwest. All Aboard Northwest has been created as the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group in response to a request from eight US Senators. We are the region-wide organization and work with state groups like the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority. It is our mission that all people and states in the region have an equal voice in the future of passenger rail. We are advocating for long-distance passenger rail since the operational costs for them come through Federal Amtrak Appropriations; not from states or communities like "state-supported" service. 
Thank you for your interest, I just wanted to flag this study for you to follow as well. 
Dan Bilka  
Co-Founder & President, All Aboard Northwest 
Coordinator, Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Coalition 
Director, Rail Passengers Association 
Fmr. South Dakota Representative
Although I grew up in Elkton near Sioux Falls and spent nearly 30 years in the Black Hills and ten in Montana my current obsession is integrating the New Mexico Rail Runner with the Santa Fe Southern spur to Lamy into a route to Denver!


Pinyon jays destined for ESA protection

In August of 2019 warblers, swallows and flycatchers died in large numbers throughout the southern Rockies. Scientists studying them noted their emaciated conditions and reduced body fat. 

Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Patagonia, Arizona flyway along the San Pedro River. The robins that love juniper berries and the dark-eyed juncos that feed on grass seeds winter here in Santa Fe County. 

Pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) live here year round and mob the bird bath in a flock of about forty every morning but the bird's numbers have declined 80% in the last fifty years.
U.S. wildlife managers announced Wednesday that they will investigate whether a bird that is inextricably linked to the piñon and juniper forests that span the Western United States warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. The pinyon jay’s numbers have declined over the last half-century as persistent drought, more severe wildfires and other effects of climate change have intensified, leaving the birds with less food and fewer nesting options as more trees die or are removed. [U.S. wildlife managers to review plight of New Mexico bird linked to piñon forests]
They even used to be seen in the Black Hills of South Dakota but no longer according to SDSU Graduate Student Emily Macklin and Professor Amanda Cheeseman PhD.

Click on the image for a closer look.


Santa Fe trade route likely ancient

Food and reproduction. Flint and pyrite make fire.

Perhaps as long ago as 23,000 years human footprints were pressed into the mud along the shore of prehistoric Lake Otero now called Alkali Flat just west of the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It's believed the hunters who made that trackway carried spears tipped with the large fluted stone points of the so-called Clovis culture. 

A Clovis site in Alaska dated to about 12,400 years ago has led most archaeologists to believe the culture arose only after their arrival to North America. Exploiting the gap between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode those Clovis People were the first humans to see the Missouri Buttes and Mahto Tipila in Wyoming. The Clovis culture thrived on the high plains and in the Black Hills before settling the rest of the Mississippi basin but those pioneers had already explored parts of Montana long before they found Clovis, New Mexico where their stone tools were unearthed in the 1920s. 

Before US 14 was widened a team led by Adrien Hannus from Augustana University uncovered evidence of human habitation from over 12,000 years ago in a cave in Boulder Canyon near Sturgis, South Dakota. At one excavation site in Wyoming evidence revealed that humans killed a mammoth with a Clovis pointed spear launched from an atlatl, a type of throwing stick. Nearby Inyan Kara Peak in the Wyoming Black Hills is the bastardization of Amerindian words where chert was quarried for atlatl points. 

The relatively small distance along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana and the Front Range between the Pecos River in New Mexico and the Missouri at Fort Peck reminds me again how the earliest humans in North America who were thwarted by glaciers, the dire wolf, and Smilodon on everything north of the Sangre de Cristos terminating at Santa Fe blazed the Pecos Trail from west to east into the southern Great Plains and Mississippi Valley to find an inland paradise teeming with prey. 

I believe the ancestors of the Chacoans came up the Columbia and the Snake Rivers then into ancient Lake Bonneville in Utah and down the western slope of the Rocky Mountains into the Four Corners Region. At the southern terminus of the Rockies near Santa Fe interaction with the Clovis culture seems perfectly likely. Numic is an Ito-Aztecan language and the linguistic base for most western slope tribes including Mono, Comanche and even Shoshone. 

In Southern California the success of pre-Clovis humans caused a mass extinction event.

Indigenous history in the Valles caldera goes back at least 8,000 years and obsidian quarried there for knives and projectile points is found throughout the region. The ancestors of Jemez Pueblo or Walatowa migrated into the area in the late 13th Century after Mesa Verde was laid bare. Some linguists have grouped local Keres speakers with Siouan and Iroquoisian dialects.

Santa Fe Indian Market 2023 is featuring an Alaska Native exhibition happening now.


Today's intersection: industrial agriculture and anthrax in North Dakota

We modeled location-specific effects of land use on grassland bird habitat use for four grassland bird species (bobolink [Dolichonyx oryzivorus], grasshopper sparrow [Ammodramus savannarum], Savannah sparrow [Passerculus sandwichensis], and western meadowlark [Sturnella neglecta]) in North Dakota, a state experiencing rapid growth in both energy sectors. Our analysis showed that grassland birds responded more negatively to biofuel feedstocks (i.e., corn and soybeans) on the landscape compared with oil and gas development. Our results indicate that expansion of oil and gas development has negatively affected habitat use by some grassland birds, but this impact was more localized when compared to biofuel crops. [Trending against the grain: Bird population responses to expanding energy portfolios in the US Northern Great Plains]
There are now 16 premises affected by anthrax in southwest North Dakota; 15 laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable case based on clinical signs. One confirmed case is in eastern Hettinger County with the remaining cases in Grant County. The cases were confirmed by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “While typically only a few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota every year, it can cause devastating losses in affected herds,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Weather and soil conditions have contributed to the number of cases we’re seeing this year.” [North Dakota beef cattle anthrax cases increase; Hettinger County now affected]