The Custer County Democrats hosted a candidates forum over the weekend. Among the topics discussed was the in situ leach (or in situ recovery) mining Canadian/Chinese uranium prospectors Powertech/Azarga want to do in the Black Hills. Custer and Hot Springs have been hotbeds of opposition to this environmentally risky project.
Democratic candidate for governor Joe Lowe came ready for his audience. A Black Hills resident himself, Lowe said bluntly, "I will not support uranium mining in the Hills." He cited information from local press on a 2009 USGS report that found "No remediation of an ISR operation in the United States has successfully returned the aquifer to baseline conditions." Lowe says we don't want to be West Virginia having to truck in drinking water after mining operations pollute our groundwater. Lowe's firm, informed stance met with applause from Custer residents.
Then Susan Wismer took the mic. Lowe's opponent in the Democratic primary offered the following position statement on uranium mining in the Black Hills:
...I don't know enough about it to say too much of intelligence. I'm willing... I know I have a lot to learn, yes. What I've been told does concern me greatly. I can't really say any much more than that. It sounds like it would be something that it would make... I just hate to make promises without being, without all the information, so I hesitate to say I would, that there's no way, but, no, what I know so far, which really isn't very much, I would say I would be opposed [Susan Wismer, statement to Custer County Democrats, Custer, South Dakota, 2014.05.10].
That's odd: three years ago, Rep. Wismer knew enough about ISL uranium mining to vote for 2011's Senate Bill 158, a bill brought by Powertech to the Legislature to remove state oversight of uranium mining and hand that authority to the distant and understaffed EPA.
Here's the video, edited by the Lowe campaign, of Lowe's and Wismer's comments on uranium mining in the Black Hills: