4/24/24

South Dakota still addicted to gambling

According to WalletHub, gambling has become a leading source of anguish and despair in my home state with a high suicide rate and few avenues for treatment. The state is tied for first in the number of casinos and machines and second in overall addiction to the poison.
It also has a high prevalence of gambling through lottery tickets, with the 10th highest lottery sales per resident age 18+. South Dakota has legalized betting on fantasy sports, regular sports and horse races, and it allows gambling machines to be put in stores. With so many different legal ways to gamble, it makes sense that many residents have a problem. The grip that gambling has on the Mount Rushmore State is evident in the fact that it has a high number of Gamblers Anonymous meetings per capita. [Most Gambling-Addicted States (2024)]
The reasoning is hardly mysterious. It’s all about the money video lootery, a too big to jail banking racket, a medical industry triopoly, prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the SDGOP destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.
Gamers visiting Deadwood in March dropped $127.2 million in machines, on tables, and sports betting for just over an eight percent increase compared to March 2023. Thus far this year, the collective handle in Deadwood is $358.3 million, up less than half a percent, compared to the same period in 2023. [Black Hills Pioneer]
When i was still playing Ricky Jacobsen, Chuck Baumann and Jeanette Fraser took their own lives after losing everything in Deadwood's poker games. No doubt there have been others.

4/23/24

Brookings listened: rainwater harvest encouraged

Yes, the Big Sioux River is a sewer of biblical proportions. 

For every 1” of rain and 1,000 square feet of surface (roof, driveway, etc), about 620 gallons of fresh water are generated. The graphic on the right is of snow water equivalent.

Not that those twenty gallon barrels are going to slow much stormwater but it's a start.
Starting Monday, April 22, 2024, City residents can register for and pick up a voucher at the Engineering Division office in Suite 140 of the Brookings City & County Government Center at 520 Third St. Vouchers are limited to one per residential property and are for City of Brookings residents only. A total of 40 vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are gone. [2024 Stormwater Incentive Program]
Let's see: Brookings owns a research park, the hospital, the liquor store, the water, the phone company, the power company, an entertainment venue, the golf course, it's home to South Dakota's largest public university and a federally subsidized cheese and dairy industry.

4/22/24

Expect a contested Republican convention

My working hypothesis means a floor fight at the Republican convention in Milwaukee between Nikki Haley and the other candidates since she has the second most delegates and Trump is toast

Kristi Noem knows it, too and is doing her utmost to trump Haley and win the nomination at a contested convention by winning a majority of the 2,284 delegates and keep an unaffiliated Liz Cheney out of the race as a spoiler.

So who’s the best Veep choice? My guess is Andy Biggs, a rabid Trumper and a Mormon from swing state, Arizona who could also bring Nevada with him. 

Devastating as it sounds there is gossip that Mrs. Noem could become Interior Secretary in a Haley cabinet.

What do y’all think?

4/21/24

Another mountain town turns to ice farming

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

4/19/24

Cancellation of flights between Minneapolis and Pierre could boost passenger rail

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

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

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

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

4/18/24

Earth hating Farm Bureau wants more socialism in farm bill

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

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

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

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

So which part of ecocide don't Republicans understand?

4/17/24

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

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

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

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

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

4/16/24

Rounds, Republicans paved the way for Trump's Covid ethnic cleansing

Republican former South Dakota Governor now-US Senator Mike Rounds is an insurance salesman by trade and has wanted to deconstruct the Indian Health Service and Medicaid for most of his life. 

So to nobody’s surprise, Rounds turned on American Indians when in the days after Donald Trump’s inauguration a career criminal commanded the US Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the Dakota Excess pipeline that violated tribal sovereignty, repeatedly cut funds for Indian education, moved to privatize Native trusts, cut foreign aid to countries with high Native populations and praised Brazil's extreme white wing autocrat who laid waste to Indigenous lands in the Amazon. 

Trump hates American Indians so deeply after losing a 1993 casino case under the 1988 Indian Gaming Act he deployed Covid as a biological weapon in 2020 to annihilate as many people as he could and so far he has gotten away with genocide. Contending tribal nations enjoy racial preference lawyers and political appointees in that administration attempted to deny Medicaid benefits to some three million Native Americans even after Republicans cut funding to the Indian Health Service

Under Trump's direction US Immigration and Customs Enforcement performed mass hysterectomies on Indigenous women, stripped funding for enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act and stonewalled investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women or MMIW cases.

South Dakota's junior Republican US Senator even described the "unimaginable horrors" at the IHS after Republicans created those unimaginable horrors
Americans cannot afford to look back with rose-colored glasses to act as if Trump wasn’t so bad. Certainly, Indian Country cannot afford another four more years of Trump. [When Trump Said, “They Don’t Look Like Indians to Me”]
We all know South Dakota's current Republican governor is a racist so it comes as no surprise to anyone that she has been barred from four reservations and counting.

4/14/24

Saving the planet from Republican money no easy task

After the Soviet Union fell Republicans began their war on the environment substituting a new Green Scare for the old Red Scare. 

Today, the Center for Western Priorities found 92% of 10,000 comments encouraged the Interior Department to adopt the US Bureau of Land Management's Public Lands Rule as written or even strengthen its conservation measures.
With governments of the world facing a 2025 deadline for new and stronger plans to curb carbon pollution, nearly half of the world's populations voting in elections this year, and crucial global finance meetings later this month in Washington, United Nations executive climate secretary Simon Stiell said Wednesday he knows his warning may sound melodramatic. But he said action over the next two years is “essential.” If emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from burning of coal, oil and natural gas continue to rise or don't start a sharp decline, Stiell said it “will further entrench the gross inequalities between the world’s richest and poorest countries and communities" that are being worsened by climate change. And behind it all is money. [UN climate chief presses for faster action, says humans have 2 years left 'to save the world']
Margaret Byfield is the daughter of a couple with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion and in Nevada they grazed their cattle without permits on federal land. In 2022 her group, American Stewards of Liberty or ASL presented anti-Earth resolutions to a receptive Otero County Commission and the San Juan County Commission heard two resolutions dealing with land use issues after watching Byfield's dog and pony show. Her husband, Dan has been a lobbyist for the Texas Farm Bureau

Charging as much as $225 a head Mrs. Byfield recently spoke to the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association "alleging that environmentalists are atheists and casting conservation efforts as a plan by the federal government to take power from property owners."
Alfredo Herrera is kinder, and softer-spoken, a young rancher whose ancestors first homesteaded their family plot in northern New Mexico 100 years ago. All weekend long, there has been talk of “grassroots.” At the time, ASL’s website declares that 54 percent of its hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue comes from small donors. (The vast majority of that money is spent on the couple’s salaries.) The group’s 990s tell a different story: “Service fees”—money that comes presumably from their county-level consulting and, lately, their summits—make up more than two-thirds of ASL’s revenue. Who do they want to own this country? If I squint a bit, this conference starts to look like a front on behalf of the oligarchs who pay the bills—the people who, if our public lands are ever privatized, will wind up the new owners. [This Land Is My Land: Inside the Growing Movement to Fight Conservation]
Learn more at the Wisconsin Examiner.

4/13/24

No significant impact? BHNF, Spearditch Canyon under attack

Under the General Mining Law of 1872 even foreign miners have carte blanche to rape the Black Hills, so they are

Land seized from the Great Sioux Nation had been remanded to the tribes under the Treaty of Fort Laramie but Congress broke the agreement to pay down Civil War debt then exploited the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills.

In 2020 American Rivers released a report that named Rapid Creek the seventh most endangered waterway in America, identified mining as a major threat then called on the US Forest Service to go beyond regulation outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and "do more thorough environmental impact statements on proposed projects and potential impacts, including formal consultation with 16 tribal nations." 

Regulations are protections but as the war on the West escalates South Dakota has given up on environmental protection and self-reliance and yielded to moral hazard. 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 then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone are at risk to the Republican Party

Solitario Resources is combing 580 mining claims and wants to drill 25 holes on some 33,000 public and private acres in the Spearditch Canyon watershed in Lawrence County. Solitario's predecessor parent, Crown, is notorious for violating laws in Washington State over 3000 times.
There were 383 formal objections from the public, and the Forest Service determined that 122 objections were “eligible for review.” However, no objection resolution meeting was held, as is typical with this process. Instead, the Forest Service will move directly to a decision. Its draft decision was that there would be “no significant impact” and to let the drilling go forward. Like 382 others – and like hundreds more in other phases of the project — Black Hills Clean Water Alliance put time and effort into this process. To see the Forest Service brush off our concerns with its repeated assertions that they did the minimum necessary is insulting. [GOLDEN CREST GOLD DRILLING PROJECT: BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST ISSUED A “RESPONSE” TO PUBLIC OBJECTIONS]
While exploratory drilling wastes millions of gallons of water it tends to have minimal impact on the Forest itself but the drillers usually sell their data to bigger miners like Barrick, a Canadian earth raper.

4/12/24

Snowflake Neiman announces layoffs at Spearditch sawmill, blames Forest Service

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. The collapse of the Black Hills hydrologic region was forecast in 2002 even as the mountain pine beetle raced to save Paha Sapa water supplies. 

So, in 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted the National Environmental Policy Act then was thrown from the White House Hulett, Wyoming-based Neiman Enterprises closed their Hill City, South Dakota sawmill and is threatening to shutter another in Spearditch announcing layoffs and production cutbacks while blaming the US Forest Service. Lumber prices are depressed as wildfire salvage floods mills.

Responses range from relief among those who love the Black Hills to outrage and threats of violence from Republicans. Spearditch Republican, Randy Deibert calls the move, "sad news for our community" and his wife, Lori said, "the risk of forest fires and pine beetle infestation will be greater!" During the 2024 South Dakota lawmakers rejected some $20 million in federal pandemic aid for the timber giant.

At his Faceberg page Ogden Driskill, Republican from Wyoming Senate District #1 wrote, "Unnatural disaster—-No thanks to the United States Forest Service. We will be facing increased fires and bug epidemics. We will then have the same short sighted people blame it on 'climate change.' SAD." His family has milked the US Park Service for three generations with a campground at the mal-named Devils Tower National Monument.

Neiman bought the former Homestake mill in Spearditch in 2008 logging most of the Black Hills National Forest into the dirt. The downsizing comes despite successful operations in blue states while enjoying the fruits of socialism as Republicans found a way to funnel taxpayer dollars to the Black Hills timber mogul under a partnership between the US Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

In 1998 this interested party opened the account for Sysco at the newly-built Neiman-owned Golf Club at Devils Tower in Hulett.

The Black Hills National Forest is accepting comments on the North Sand Management Project in the Bearlodge Ranger District in Crook County, Wyoming. 


4/10/24

Corps advances Spring Pulse in upper MO basin

On the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain Front Spring runoff allows endangered pallid sturgeon in Yellowstone tributaries like the Powder and Tongue Rivers to spawn but the Corps canceled the Spring Pulse below Lewis and Clark Lake in 2022 due to inadequate runoff into the Missouri River. 

So today, dry winter and low mountain snowpacks are driving the Corps to release storage in the Missouri River mainstem dams hoping to prop up the navigation season at the risk of providing less water for hydroelectric generation. Pallid sturgeon are living dinosaurs but when the Missouri River dams were built it sealed the fate of the ancient species. Scientists and the US Army Corps of Engineers have learned that unless newly hatched pallid sturgeon have several hundred miles of unimpeded waters they cannot survive.
“Even with the lower than average runoff forecast the hydrologic conditions are sufficient to conduct a flow test from Fort Peck Dam,” said John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, in a news release. The goal is to boost flows from Fort Peck by 1,700 cfs each day until the peak flow at the Wolf Point gauge reaches 16,000 cfs. [Fort Peck Reservoir water releases planned for pallid sturgeon research]
During heavy Spring runoff Fort Peck Dam partially failed in 1938 then was tested by flood waters again in 2011 when this interested party was living in Montana.

Under President Joe Biden and pressure from the US Fish and Wildlife Service the Corps boosted releases from the Fort Peck Dam in 2021 for spawning pallid sturgeon after it was suspended during the horrors of the previous administration.

4/9/24

Managing the managers won't be enough to save the BHNF

From the Latin, manus means hand: "MANAGE implies direct handling and manipulating or maneuvering toward a desired result."

Dave Mertz is a retired natural resource officer for the Black Hills National Forest who attended a roundtable discussion in Spearditch hosted by South Dakota's Republican US Representative Dusty Johnson when Johnson sicced two fellow Republican congress members on Regional Forester Frank Beum and BHNF Supervisor Shawn Cochran. Johnson has since sputtered a response to Mertz's comments about the BHNF's General Technical Report in a column written by the forest expert at South Dakota Searchlight.
My real education came as chief of staff to then-Governor Dennis Daugaard during the mountain pine needle epidemic, when I spent a lot of time focusing on state efforts. And so I think part of the question is, what do you want to manage to? Do you want to manage to 20% off the all-time peak, or do you want to manage to a different number? And Dave can say, “Oh, it’s just not out there.” That’s not what the GTR says. The GTR doesn’t say that the annual harvest target should be zero or 5,000 or 20,000 CCF. [Q&A: Johnson calls criticism of his forestry hearing ‘absurd’]
Wildland fire expert Joe Lowe even called Dusty Johnson's former boss, Denny Daugaard, incompetent and uninterested in governing. Lowe obviously believes that Daugaard didn't take the ecological collapse taking place on the Black Hills seriously enough. And, 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 and surrounding grasslands remain at risk to more blazes like the Legion Lake Fire

Mertz returned fire at the Searchlight's Faceberg page.
Well, I don’t think it’s absurd to think that Rep. Johnson and Senators Thune and Rounds have pressured the Forest Service to continually raise the timber cut off of the Black Hills NF. We have copies of numerous letters from them to the Forest Service to prove it. If Rep. Johnson thinks that Custer State Park knows how to better manage a forest, he needs to know they have not had a timber sale since 2018, when the salvage was done on the Legion Lake Fire. The reason the Black Hills NF continues to have timber targets of 120,000 ccf is due to the pressure that he and others put on the Washington Office and the Regional Office. That’s how it works. It has not been based on what the Forest can provide. I agree there needs to be constructive dialogue. I am going to contact his Rapid City office and see if he will meet with me. In addition, I would like to actually take him to the Forest so he can see what is going on out there. Maybe Seth Tupper could tag along. [Dave Mertz, Faceberg comment]
John Wrede studied Park Management and Wildlife Management at South Dakota State University, had a long career with SD Game, Fish and Park and lives in the occupied Black Hills. He has called what South Dakota Republicans have done to habitat, "managerially inexcusable" and also commented on Johnson's lack of forest acumen.
The man hasn't got an ecological bone in his body. And his so called forestry experience is rooted in political thinking and rhetoric no differently that his colleagues he brought to the Black Hills to strong arm the Forest Service. This wouldn't be an issue at all if business wasn't squealing and he understood ecological sustainability and the differences between even age and uneven age stand management. He uses the false equivalent of Norbeck and Black Elk to glorify CSP mangement that is completely different in legal mandate. No where does he mention Daschles work or the Burns Carter Memorandum law suit that now governs how Norbeck is to be managed nor does he acknowledge the federal agreement to treat The Forest, that portion of Custer State Park in The Needles and Mt Rushmore to protect the old growth and aesthetics in that region from Pine Beetle damage. The only thing that guy understands is money and the [weird] notion that the government has a duty to abuse public resources in subsidy to private enterprise. He isnt a student of Gifford Pinchot and neither are his colleagues in congress. [John Wrede, Faceberg comment]
Citing management responsibilities the BHNF wants to conduct fuel treatments in a portion of the Wyoming Black Hills.
The Forest Service is proposing to treat up to 8,000 acres of National Forest land four miles south of Beulah, WY, 13 miles east of Sundance, WY, and nine miles west of Spearfish, SD through mechanical and manual fuel reduction, prescribed fire, management of oak shrubs, and tree planting. The area includes lower Grand Canyon/Sand Creek, Dugout Gulch, and Boundary Gulch. Adjacent developments include historic Ranch A, Red Canyon subdivision, and the Sand Creek Country Club. The Forest Service is partnering with the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Crook County Natural Resource District, and Bureau of Land Management in an all-lands approach to managing forests in and adjacent to the project area. [Public Comments Sought for North Sand Project on Bearlodge Ranger District]
Using the word, "manage" thirteen times a Republican Lawrence County commissioner offered his two cents about the BHNF in the Black Hills Pioneer.

There aren't enough litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the Black Hills National Forest and there is no evidence to support the claim that logging is effective insect control. Some imaginary war with the bark beetle on the BHNF is really more a fight for clean water because after all dead trees don't suck aquifers dry

Until forest managers and South Dakota's Republican congressional delegation get that they are being preyed upon by the Neimans to take legacy trees and leave the doghair for someone else to deal with, they won't be focused on hardwood release, prescribed fire and restoring the Hills bioregion to what it was 150 years ago.

4/8/24

Freedom means driving drunk in South Dakota

Will Lantis was a Republican politician who died drunk at the wheel in 2006 in a single vehicle crash near Spearditch. 

And today, South Dakota's Trump-drunk Republican governor has been selling the state as one of the freest in the United States but continual sobriety checkpoints have done little to discourage inebriated drivers from operating motor vehicles in Mrs. Noem's state according to Forbes

Yes, pollution, crashes, blackouts, anthrax, Legionella, shigella, bovine TB, suicides, flooding, wildfires, hail, ecocide, crime, corruption, disease, drought, destruction, distrust and dependence: these are the Noem years.

2. South Dakota

South Dakota’s score: 98.78 out of 100

  • South Dakota has the highest number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers (879.12), ranking the state second among the worst states for drunk driving.
  • More than one-third (35.14%) of traffic deaths are caused by drunk drivers in South Dakota, the 11th highest percentage in our study.
  • South Dakota has the eighth-highest rate of drunk drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes (0.57 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • According to our study, South Dakota has the ninth-highest percentage of traffic deaths caused by drivers with a relatively low blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 to 0.07 (6.76%).
  • The Mount Rushmore State has the 11th-highest rate of people killed in crashes involving a drunk driver (4.66 per 100,000 state residents).

4/6/24

RFK, Jr. gunning for Trump voters

The night in 1983 before Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was popped for heroin possession at Rapid City Regional Airport he was partying with us at Durty Nelly's in the basement of the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood. But since then, Kennedy, who's just a couple months older than this interested party but suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, has worn many hats including one as an environmental activist.

And today after convincing one of his wives to take her own life and decades of womanizing Kennedy is just fucking nuts.
In a statement Friday seeking to clarify his position on the Capitol attack, Kennedy questioned whether the riot qualified as an “insurrection”; echoed Trump’s claims that the prosecution of its participants was politically motivated; and said he was “disturbed by the weaponization of government” against the former president. This is part of a pattern for Kennedy. [RFK Jr. parrots Trump on ‘weaponization’ over Jan. 6 prosecutions]
As recently as 2023 former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate, Gary Johnson said he'd support Bobby if he ran as a Libertarian. 

Misanthrope Kennedy, who's just a shadow of his father, is much like Donald Trump who would kill 'em all and let White Jesus sort 'em out and enjoys a strong following among anarchists, anti-vaxxers and those opposed to abortion rights making his candidacy far more destructive to career criminal Trump than to President Joe Biden.

4/5/24

Noem losing her grip on reality?

As Kristi Noem auditions for a role as second diddle at Trump World her versions of reality are becoming even more phantasmagorical. 

Pundits in her own party have even dubbed Mrs. Noem's unbridled whoppery as desperate or too eager to please and refer to her as South Dakota's COVID queen who trails the other Earth haters lurking for a Veep spot on a criminal's presidential ticket.

South Dakota is at full employment now but according to Creighton University economics guru, Ernie Goss that trend is unlikely to last as midwestern Trump states flounder, lackluster sales create an inventory glut and business conditions indices slump in the eight red states he tracks.

WalletHub sez South Dakota has dropped to 49th in financial literacy and 50th in financial knowledge and education despite Mrs. Noem's pathological Pollyannaism. The state is the 43rd best economy in the US, 51st in percentage of businesses owned by women and 50th in innovation potential. Because of talent flight and brain drain in 2023 South Dakota was among the least innovative states, ranked 50th in venture capital spending per capita, 47th in R&D spending and 51st in share of tech companies. 

Quizzically known as the Land of Infinite Variety the state is 40th in overall innovation, 45th in innovation environment, 50th in share of technology companies and is still 47th in R&D spending per capita. South Dakota is 24th of states where workers are fleeing their jobs, 35th in women's health and safety and 47th in road and bridge infrastructure.

So, Kristi’s Trump Republicans just want to kill ‘em all and let White Jesus sort ‘em out, right?

Not to put too fine a point on it but the grassland fire danger index will reach the extreme category again Friday and Saturday for much of South Dakota as the Noem fan sprays even more shit all over the body politic.

Read Mid-America Manufacturing Weak: Higher Inflation and Fewer New Hires linked here.

4/4/24

Spearditch Republican concerned about poisoned waterways

Back in 2010 veteran journalist Kevin Woster shared his understanding of how anthropogenic activity affects the ecology of South Dakota when lotic science took him wading right out into the middle of Spearditch Creek. It provoked a fascinating exchange among real scientists at his now-deleted Take it Outside blog about the effects of the sediment propagated by stream disturbances on wildlife and geology. 

This blog has covered waterway impairment in South Dakota ever since watching contamination from mining, industrial agriculture and livestock pollution steadily worsen across the entire state in nearly every stream and lake. Because of ag chemicals South Dakota led the US in breast cancer rates in 2016 now Iowa has taken the lead in that infamous development.

To add insult to infamy South Dakota's current Republican governor merged the state's Department of Agriculture with Environment and Natural Resources in 2021 eliminating the word environment because she hates the Earth. Even the US Environmental Protection Agency is frustrated with South Dakota's lackadaisical response to and even the combative rejection of Waters of the United States or WOTUS.

So, a couple weeks ago State Representative Scott Odenbach (R-Spearditch) shared several graphics at his Faceberg page from the state's 2022 report of impaired waterways in South Dakota with concerns that Spearditch Creek might look like the Big Sioux River one day. With a hundred or more septic systems and acid mine drainage in that watershed leaching into the creek that scenario is not impossible.

Researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines already know most, if not all, the mercury in the state's lakes has precipitated from emissions released from coal fired power plants in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. 

Now, the crippled agency that monitors over 97,500 miles of waterways and 213,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs in South Dakota has released its 2024 report as required under the federal Clean Water Act.
The report also covers the state’s 577 lakes and reservoirs, of which 180 have been assessed. Eighty percent of tested lakes were too polluted to support all of their assigned beneficial uses, and the report primarily blames mercury detected in fish. Agriculture also contributes to lake pollution, according to the report: “These lakes have sizeable watersheds of nutrient-rich glacial soils that are extensively developed for agriculture. Runoff carrying sediment and nutrients from agricultural land is the most significant source of nonpoint pollution.” The EPA praised the state for finishing the report but suggested making the data easier to understand. [80% of tested surface water in South Dakota fails to meet state standards]
Because of the failures of South Dakota's Republican governors and legislature to control pollution some $172 million has been set aside for pipelines and drinking water improvements including in this interested party’s home town of Elkton where dairies and nitrates have ruined wells.

The 2022 EPA Toxics Release Inventory for South Dakota linked here.

4/3/24

Prayers for violence splitting Republican Party


Just say it: radical christianic terrorism; but now it’s time to add stochastic to that tagline, too.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century the Ku Klux Klan and those on the losing side believed John Wilkes Booth was a patriot who took out the US President that started the American Civil War directed by a Marxist Illuminati. Then after World War I the Klan grew to some 4 million members, got involved in education and its leader, Hiram Evans complained that the control of school textbooks had been taken away by "un-American forces." 

In 1940, the Scottish immigrant who founded the magazine, Forbes started circulating the notion that public school students were being indoctrinated by the forces of Communism and the American Legion agreed then began lobbing that grenade with prejudice. 

Fast forward to the Red Scare, Brown v. Board of Education and to 1958 when the John Birch Society was founded then to President Eisenhower and to the 1960s when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed to relieve some of the effects of poverty and segregation despite Section 604 which forbade federal control of education. 

In 2010 Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Jane Mayer after The New Yorker outed David and Charles Koch as members of JBS. In 2011 Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, Robert Reich appeared as a panelist at a super secret Bircher-inflenced, Koch-hosted retreat in Palm Springs. In 2012 a normally routine meeting of the Missoula City Council erupted as members of JBS began a protest of payments to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney's mentor was a rabid Bircher. 

Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the TEA party, 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." The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too.

Recall the Birch Society billboards along I-90 across South Dakota that urged voters to get US out of the United Nations, pray to end abortion and how close travelers are to Wall Drug.

But how to dismantle the administrative state?

Enter the Freedom Caucus.
When a Republican colleague threatened to read aloud from a 2-foot stack of books — including a biblical guide to leadership and a tome by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist — to protest inaction on his bills last week, Missouri state Sen. Rick Brattin quickly took up the cause. “It’s hard to do stuff even when everybody’s acting in good faith,” said Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, a Republican. But the Freedom Caucuses formed because some Republicans saw the rest of their party as not conservative enough. That has led to intraparty conflict in many GOP-dominated state capitols. In Arizona, Freedom Caucus members, led by chair Sen. Jake Hoffman, spearheaded a drive that resulted in the state Board of Education delaying until next year a proposed new handbook governing how parents use state-funded educational savings accounts to send their kids to private schools. [Freedom Caucuses push for conservative state laws, but getting attention is their big success]
Nothing says freedom like driving women out of state for medical care, praying for martial law so you can kill anyone you want, burning textbooks and denying the protections of the First, Fourth and Ninth Amendments to people who enjoy cannabis, right? 

Montana, South Dakota and Idaho are the most profitable states for doctors and hospitals. Grover Norquist's obesity is the flag of entitlement. The compulsion of the extreme white wing to consume is mitochondrial so the corpulent capitalists use their fat stores to enable their behaviors that seek to destroy the security of any weak state. Their lack of exercise drives compulsive resource hoarding and props up their religious absolutism.


To little surprise Forbes is still rousing rabble, too.

4/2/24

South Dakota's medical industry triopoly ensures doctors stay rich

So, if Avera, Sanford and Monument are monopolies in their markets like utilities are why isn't there a public commission to regulate pricing?


2. South Dakota

South Dakota’s score: 93.41 out of 100

South Dakota is the second most-expensive state for healthcare. It has these key statistics:

  • South Dakota ranks fourth highest for its percentage of children whose families struggled to pay for their child’s medical bills in the past 12 months (11.9%).
  • It also has the fourth highest average deductible for residents with single health insurance coverage through an employer ($2,433 annually).
  • South Dakota features the fifth highest average deductible for residents with family health insurance coverage through an employer ($4,330.67 annually).
  • The state also has the sixth highest average premium for residents with plus-one health insurance coverage through an employer ($4,599.33 annually).
  • Additionally, South Dakota has the sixth highest health insurance premium for those with silver plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace ($596.67 annually).

3/31/24

Montana county leaves BSPRA but loves air service subsidies

In a poke at Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) the three Republicans on the Prairie County Commission have voted to withdraw from the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority citing too much competition for federal subsidies with essential air service in nearby Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney, and Wolf Point, Montana. 

Calling the potential for passenger rail service "a huge asset" in 2020 Broadwater, Butte-Silver Bow, Dawson, Gallatin, Granite, Jefferson, Missoula, Park, Powell, Prairie, Sanders and Wibaux counties became founding BSPRA member counties. 

Sen. Tester is all aboard for restoring the North Coast Hiawatha and finding funding for the next phase of the project through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill while his Small Community Air Service Enhancement Act boosts airport improvements in eastern Montana counties.

Treasure County was the latest to join the BSPRA as nineteen Montana counties, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Northern Cheyenne and Apsáalooke Nations bring the former North Coast Hiawatha to life. Lewis and Clark County is home to the state capital and has yet to support the concept citing lack of service while Yellowstone County, the state's most populous, is holding out for more money. Sweetgrass, Deer Lodge, Beaverhead and Madison Counties have yet to join the compact.

The Authority hopes to restore passenger rail across southern Montana from North Dakota to Idaho and include some 47 stops in seven states. 

The FRA and BSPRA will hold a meeting in Missoula on 7 June

Prairie County Commissioner Dennis Teske lost to Republican former US Representative Denny Rehberg in the 2012 US Senate primary by a huge margin. Today, Rehberg is one of eight Earth haters running for the eastern Montana US House seat vacated by Trump freak, Matt Rosendale.

Learn more at the Terry Tribune.

3/30/24

Pe'Sla meeting pits sovereign nations against state government

It’s not really South nor even really Dakota.

Nearly twenty years ago Congress passed the Tribal Forest Protection Act when this columnist was still living in the Black Hills. It authorized tribal nations to enter agreements with the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to protect public resources bordering or adjacent to reservations and trust lands that have biological, archaeological, historical, or cultural connections. 

So in 2010 Democratic former US Senator Tim Johnson introduced the Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act that would have created a 48,000 acre wilderness in the nearly 600,000 acre Buffalo Gap National Grassland adjacent to the Oglala Lakota Nation. 

Then in 2012 the Sicangu Lakota Oyate or Rosebud Sioux Tribe raised some $10 million combined with contributions from the other members of the Oceti Sakowin the People of the Seven Council Fires purchased Pe'Sla, the property formerly called Reynold's Prairie by the descendants of white settlers.

In 2014 the Nations acquired the final 437 acres of the Heart of Everything That Is and in 2015 the Oyates began moving bison to the meadow with hopes to add many more after winning federal trust status but in 2020 the herd of sixty five was removed after whining from welfare ranchers who lease Forest Service land for domestic cattle grazing at pennies per head.

In 2023 $12 million was designated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support co-stewardship under the TFPA and complete projects in mostly western states including some $700,000 for efforts blending Indigenous knowledge on the Black Hills National Forest and $100,000 to restore degraded habitats on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. The Buffalo Gap and Fort Pierre National Grasslands in South Dakota are managed from Nebraska. The Grand River National Grassland in northwestern South Dakota is managed from Bismarck, North Dakota.

Proving irony is dead Kristi Noem’s political campaign has called for an audit of tribal communities from a state that’s an ethics black hole and where Republicans routinely raid the Future Fund while the governor peddles favors from South Dakota's executive branch like it was a $60 bible. 

Mrs. Noem photobombed Friday's quarterly meeting at the Pe'Sla Sacred Sites where she reliably continued to complain about co-stewardship with Tribal governments even as the Black Hills National Forest faces habitat degradation fraught with lead contamination from unregulated shooting plus off-highway vehicles, grazing, mining and logging. 

Preservation is a weak spot in the Republican agenda and if enough people believe forest and rangeland resilience is a bankable position the South Dakota Democratic Party needs to exploit it by fielding candidates who can convince voters to reject politicians like John Thune, Kristi Noem, Mike Rounds and Dusty Johnson who work for the grazing, mining and logging profiteers at the expense of public lands. 


3/28/24

Wildfire salvage driving lumber glut

Statistic: Monthly price of lumber in the United States from January 2016 to February 2024 (in U.S. dollars per thousand board feet) | Statista


Fire managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns but it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest.
Back in graduate school in the late 70s my major Prof Jim Peek, used to talk about proximate and ultimate causes. The proximate cause of the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fires was ignitions by the Forest Service. The ultimate cause was a century of fire suppression, that followed a cessation of Native American burning in the 1800s. In essence the Forest Service is put in the position of being the the bomb squad. When detonating the bomb does not go right and damage happens there are people who point fingers. The obvious thing is these horrible fires would happen sooner or later, because all of the prerequisites (ultimate causes) are there. We need to support prescribed fire knowing it won’t always go as planned, because fire is inevitable. [John Marshall, blog comment]
Missoula, Montana sits in a dry lake bed surrounded by mountains so when this scribe lived there in the late 1970s and early 80s and the pulp mill in Frenchtown was operating the valley would fill with stinky water vapor and wood smoke creating a toxic ice fog during winter months. Now, sawmills in Montana that rely on ponderosa pine are closing in part because of low lumber prices driven by salvage sales after record wildfire seasons caused by human influences on global climate patterns.
“It’s not just the facilities and jobs that are impacted at those facilities,” said Todd Morgan, director of the University of Montana’s Forest Industry Research Program. Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products cited challenges competing with more modern plants with the 1969 building’s aging manufacturing platform as the main reason for closing the Missoula facility. For Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Missoula County’s last remaining sawmill, sawn timber prices are back down to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, but not terrible, Todd Johnson, president and general manager, told Montana Free Press. Montana still has milling capacity, but problems in other Western states illustrate reviving lumber infrastructure is more difficult than maintaining it, Morgan said. For example, Arizona and New Mexico are struggling financially to complete fire hazard treatments with a shrunken wood products industry, he said. [Missoula-area wood industry closures mean ripple effects for workers, tax base, forest management]
Smurfit-Stone declared bankruptcy in 2009, closed the mill in 2010 and sold it for scrap in 2011 leaving taxpayers a US Environmental Protection Agency Superfund mess polluted with PCBs and dioxins that make the Clark Fork River America's fifth most endangered waterway in 2023.
Over a human lifespan, the modeled impacts of the suppression bias exceed those from fuel accumulation or climate change alone, suggesting that suppression may exert a significant and underappreciated influence on patterns of fire globally. Managing wildfires to safely burn under low and moderate conditions is thus a critical tool to address the growing wildfire crisis. [Fire suppression makes wildfires more severe and accentuates impacts of climate change and fuel accumulation]
Koch Industries owns Georgia-Pacific LLC, one of the largest forest products ravagers in the United States. 

Interfor is another huge timber multi-national that sold a sawmill to Neiman Enterprises now shipping salvage logs to Wyoming.

3/27/24

Want to curtail Chinese influence in the Caribbean? Increase trade with Cuba

Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was a criminal propped up by the Dulles brothers to rule Cuba until Fidel Castro led a socialist revolution there in 1959. When Castro took the reins he dissolved the previous constitution with all its treaties, wrote a new manual and ruled by decree. Yes, those same Dulles brothers conspired to murder President John F. Kennedy. 

Cuba is among the Earth's most literate countries while the United States surfs the middle. President Jimmy Carter tried to save the world by embracing Cuba but few Americans cared. Recall that in 2015 Republican South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch ranted about the challenges facing agriculture at a conference in Deadwood and talked about getting genetically engineered food-like substances into Cuba.

In 2020 President-elect Joe Biden said he wanted to see trade relations loosened and improved between the United States and Cuba and South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke was also pleased to see a Democratic administration focusing on that island nation as a possible trading partner. In 2021 Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and others moved to end the cruel embargo against Cuba.

Today, South Dakota's current Republican governor has taken steps to bar Cuban ownership of agricultural land in that state. But with indicted Cuban-American Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) likely going away his threatened filibuster of any bill to repeal the travel ban to Cuba will go away with him. 

The US learned of a Chinese espionage operation in Cuba in 2023.
More than 60 years after the embargo took effect, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture led a trade mission in February to the island country south of the Florida Keys to identify and address trade barriers for U.S. ag products. The U.S. exported $372 million worth of goods to Cuba and imported $6 million worth in 2022. Cubans already buy a lot of the chicken from the U.S., mostly quarter legs. [Cuban-U.S. trade relationship hints of change]
After the US trade delegation met with Cuban officials a special representative from China visited the island earlier this month.

A record cicada outbreak is expected this year so harvest those insects then export them to Cuba where farmers can feed them to chickens and hogs.

This blog wants Cuba to be the 54th State.