Holy glowing cow! If you're trying to work up the courage to run against Dennis Daugaard for Governor in 2014, let this stiffen your spine: Governor Daugaard may be setting South Dakota up to host a nuclear waste dump.

To explain, I yield the floor to one of the smartest commenters to grace the South Dakota blogosphere, Mr. Donald Pay, who draws dashes between the dots of Gov. Daugaard, former Rep. Heather Wilson, the School of Mines, and the nuclear industry:

I believe Heather Wilson's hiring at the School of Mines and Technology may be a part of a tightly held (so far secret from South Dakota residents) plan of the Governor of South Dakota to site an interim high-level radioactive waste disposal facility, or perhaps a geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste in South Dakota.

While Governor Daugaard has not made any public announcement, it appears he has been sending letters indicating an interest in having South Dakota serve as a storage site for high-level radioactive waste... [Donald Pay, comment, Madville Times, 2013.06.12].

Pay cites this blog post, which refers to a March 7, 2012, meeting of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, at which Albert Carnesale, nuclear engineer, former UCLA chancellor, and member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, mentioned a letter Governor Daugaard sent to then-U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu:

Some of you, I presume, that members of the Board may be aware, others may not be, just last week a letter was written by the Governor of South Dakota to Secretary Chu, asking for the support for a research program going on at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology on shale, broadly. But one aspect was to be what about the suitability of shale in South Dakota for storing radioactive waste? And he said he supports this fully, but he put in the usual caveats. The fact that it turns out to be promising does not guarantee that South Dakota would say, “Okay, put it here.” That they would have to go through some process themselves. But it’s not as if nobody is willing to step forward to even think about it [Albert Carnesale, transcript, U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, Spring Board Meeting, 2012.03.07].

Governor Daugaard "supports this fully." That phrase is perfect example of one of my English teacher pet peeves, the vague this. This what? This research? This nuclear waste dump? Always put a noun after this to make yourself clear. The unclear antecedent in Carnesale's statement could be the difference between South Dakota voters raising an eyebrow and going for their pitchforks.

Pay continues:

This development is very similar to the secret efforts made in the late 1982 by Governor Bill Janklow's administration to site a low-level radioactive waste facility at Igloo, SD. That attempt met strong opposition from South Dakotans, leading to an initiative vote followed by a Legislative ballot issue, which killed the plan. The 1984 initiative also precluded siting a high-level radioactive waste facility in South Dakota without a vote of the citizens. However, the Legislature used an illegal vote of a 100+ page bill to repeal that protection.

A new initiative may be necessary to protect South Dakota from Governor Daugaard's plans to site a high-level radioactive waste facility in South Dakota.

Heather Wilson, a well known supporter of the nuclear industry, may use her position to grease the skids for a high-level radioactive waste facility. She could use SDSM&T to launder nuclear industry money [Pay, 2013.06.12].

That's odd: I was of the impression that the brainiacs at Mines are doing enough good work there that we don't need to pimp ourselves out to nuclear waste to get research dollars. And I really, really, really don't see a nuclear waste dump boosting our effort to recruit Minnesotans to move to South Dakota (more on that in another post).

I don't fault the Governor for seeking federal money for solid research (I'll leave that to my anti-science RINO-hunting friends). But given the controversy that arose when Governor Janklow tried to "save" Edgemont with nuclear waste, it would seem wise for Governor Daugaard to make any intentions he has in this direction clear and invite the public to discuss whether they want to go down that road again.

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