Dakota Rural Action is rallying the troops for the beginning of important hearings on Powertech's plan to mine the southern Black Hills for uranium. The public only gets two hours to speak up about the dangers of in situ leach mining to our precious water supplies, so folks had better make that time count:
A contested case hearing for Powertech’s Large Scale Mine permit application begins on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 10 am in the Sylvan Room at the Ramkota Hotel, 2111 N. LaCrosse in Rapid City. Dakota Rural Action (DRA) strongly encourages massive public attendance to voice their concerns to the SD Board of Minerals and Environment during the two-hour public comment period starting at 10 am on Monday morning.
“People need to come out and make it clear to the board that they should not risk the future of the Black Hills for the small, short-term gain of a few,” states Clay Uptain, DRA Black Hills Chapter Chair.
“If the board is taking actions limiting public input to 2 hours, it would seem they are listening to the industry and are not working for the people of South Dakota to protect public interest,” says Uptain. “We are very disappointed they are shutting the public out of this process” [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2013.09.18].
The Board of Minerals and Environment doesn't want to hear from Rapid City: the board has rejected a petition from the Rapid City Council to have the city's resolution against Powertech's plan read into the public record on the Powertech docket. Mayor Sam Kooiker is baffled:
"Why would they want to deny the entering of a simple resolution into the public record. It’s extraordinary and we can’t figure it out,” says Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker Kooiker says the state’s second largest city has a right to be concerned and heard about the proposed use of water for uranium mining in the Black Hills by the Powertech mining company. “The South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment has unfortunately silenced the voice of our city in the upcoming PowerTech hearings,” says Kooiker [Charles Michael Ray, "City Decries State Board Denial on Uranium," SDPB, 2013.09.17].
Hot Springs resident Mary Helen Pederson writes me to express her support for Rapid City's official efforts to protect the water, the Hills, and the people who live there:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead. I want to thank the Rapid City council for all coming out against in situ leach mining in South Dakota and the Rapid City Journal for its editorial calling for the permitting boards to do their due diligence in examining the applications.. I do think they should have been stronger and out right opposed it. I did want to say that Steve Laurenti’s excuse for voting against the rest of the council is pretty suspicious, though after coming out of the meeting and over hearing some one say he was given the same information, but threw it in the trash. Some people have such closed minds, they will never change them with over whelming evidence. It is all about the water! Yesterday alone I had 20 pages that I printed out about water depletions across the western U. S., So it isn’t just my opinion. Last night Edgemont had a “Determining Edgemont’s Destiny”. Haven’t they figured out yet what Edgemont’s Destiny with uranium destruction has all ready done to there area? [Mary Helen Pederson, letter to the editor, 2013.09.03]
We are depleting South Dakota's aquifers. We regulate irrigation to keep even a vital local industry like agriculture from doing too much damage to our water supplies. We should hesitate even more at letting foreign investors drain our aquifers to extract our mineral wealth and ship nuclear material to overseas markets. Black Hills neighbors, the state is making it hard for you to make your voices heard, but our Hills and our water are worth the effort.
p.s.: Cheap natural gas is killing Powertech's nuclear market. And by the time we burn up all the gas, solar and wind may outprice nuclear.