Uh oh: better go easy on the walleye. SDPB reports that sixteen lakes have state advisories that fish caught therein may have high mercury levels. The Department of Health lists those lakes and the potentially mercurial fish:

County Lake Fish Species
Brookings/Kingsbury Twin Lakes Walleye - 18" & larger
Northern Pike - 19" & larger
Brown Elm Lake Walleye - 25" & larger
Butte Newell Lake Walleye - 18" & larger
Northern Pike - over 18"
Clark Reid Lake Walleye - over 23"
Swan Lake Walleye - over 21"
Codington Long Lake Walleye - over 17"
Corson Pudwell Dam Walleye -18" & larger
Black Crappie - over 12"
Day Bitter Lake Walleye - all sizes
Northern Pike - 30" & larger
Lake Minnewasta Walleye -18" & larger
Middle Lynn Lake Walleye -18" & larger
Opitz Northern Pike - over 26"
Dewey Lake Isabel Northern Pike - 25" & larger
Largemouth Bass - 17" & larger
Kingsbury/Brookings Twin Lakes Walleye - 18" & larger
Northern Pike - 19" & larger
McCook/Minnehaha Island Lake Walleye - 18" & larger
Smallmouth Bass - 18" & larger
Minnehaha Twin Lakes Walleye - all sizes
Perkins Coal Springs Reservoir Northern Pike - over 25"
Potter Lake Hurley Largemouth Bass - 18" & larger
Tripp Lake Roosevelt Largemouth Bass -18" & larger
Northern Pike - over 24"

Lake Herman walleye are still good! Pass that frying pan!

If you're healthy, you should partake in the fish listed in the above lakes no more than once a week. Child-bearing and child-suckling women and children under seven should not eat such fish more than once a month.

Alas, these high mercury levels aren't unusual, says Pat Snyder of the DENR. But what's causing this fish pollution?

“A lot has to do with the flooding, the changes in lake elevation over time, the vegetation that’s flooded," Snyder says. "There’s air deposition rates that can alter over time. All of those kind of contribute in to what the particular mercury level in the lake is going to be” [Heidi Kornaizl, "Consumption Advisories Posted Due to High Mercury Levels in South Dakota Lakes," SDPB.org, 2014.07.17].

Flooding contributes to mercury contamination in fish by releasing previously emitted and absorbed mercury pollution from the soil. Coal-fired power plants are a significant source of mercury contamination, but luckily the Clean Air Act and EPA regulations are on track to reduce mercury emissions 80% from their 1990 levels by 2016...

...unless, of course, we elect Mike Rounds, who thinks trying to reduce the level of mercury in our walleye is a war on coal. More fish, please!

8 comments

Darned wasicu and their in-situ uranium mining....

The Clean Water Alliance is placing the following public service announcement on KOTA and KEVN television. But since TV is as bad for your brain as Powertech/Azarga's uranium mining will be for the Black Hills, why not watch it here on the Internet instead?

Chinese-Canadian Powertech/Azarga, whose big-money officers mostly live elsewhere and won't have to deal with the pollution they will leave in the Black Hills, face a public comment hearing hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Hot Springs on Monday, August 18, followed by the NRC evidentiary hearing August 19–21 in Rapid City.

17 comments

two bald eaglesI'm spending my Fourth of July in exile from the land I love. There will be no fireworks for us tonight; we saw our fireworks on Tuesday, Canada Day, over English Bay in Vancouver. We will spend our America Day as foreigners, blowing nothing up (though the seagulls sound a bit like whistler rockets) and adventuring in the big city surrounded by shops on normal business hours and lots of generally polite citizens on bicycles reveling in their long and rare sunshine.

If you think that's a funny way to spend to spend the Fourth of July, try Leo Kallis's recommendation that we watch Conspiracy, HBO's 2001 movie about the Nazis coming up with genocide:

If nothing else, the film is a firm and frightening reminder of what happens when those in power actively act against the principle "that all . . .are created equal and . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . . " It took less than ninety minutes to begin the process that took six million lives [Leo Kallis, "This Independence Day Be A Patriotic American: Watch A Movie About Nazis," The Displaced Plainsman, 2014.07.03].

Kallis offers his cinematic advice in the context of a recent Pew study that finds more Americans deeming members of the political party opposite their own "threaten the nation's well-being." Law professor Jedediah Purdy says partisan division wouldn't be a problem if we could channel it into effective action. Purdy says our nation's much greater problem is a deep-seated denial of real problems like income inequality and climate change, which are inherently conflictual:

Rejecting the politics of denial before things get more desperate would mean embracing a politics of conflict, a politics that recognizes the legitimacy and persistence of competing interests. Economic inequality is not just an unfortunate trend that is happening to all of us; it is deprivation, and sometimes exploitation, that is harming some of us and, often enough, benefiting others....

Climate change also presents distributive questions. Climate policy is a choice among futures—future energy economies, future atmospheric chemistry, future versions of seasons and weather. Each of these will be better for some industries, regions and people than for others. Even the catastrophic but likely scenario, where greenhouse-gas emissions keep growing at present rates, will work out especially well for the global elites now buying property in places like Vancouver, which are expected to be climate-resilient. Conversely, emissions controls 20 years ago would have been a boon to poor and low-lying populations from Bangladesh to New Orleans’s Ninth Ward. Now it’s probably too late [Jedediah Purdy, "Time Bomb," Politico Magazine, 2014.07.03].

Vancouver's nice to visit, but I won't be staying with the global elites. $3,000 a month for an apartment... and tsunamis.

Those people across the aisle aren't threats to America's well-being; they are fellow citizens with competing yet legitimate interests that must be resolved in compromise, not, à la Heydrich, extermination.

Purdy says dealing with inequality and climate change would be worth some conflict, but our stilted polarization drives us toward theatrics instead of real debates:

[Our polarization] produces infernos of political passion—think of the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012—followed at most by trickles of change. All this confirms the suspicion that government is always ineffective, that politics is a show of empty gestures and hollow promises. That kind of cynicism doesn’t make politics less engaging; it just makes it less consequential. Politics becomes a form of middle-class entertainment: a highbrow soap opera, sports for nerds, Hollywood for ugly people. This kind of politics could never produce a constructive engagement with America’s biggest problems. At best, it amuses us while we await the guillotine of austerity. In this guise, the politics of denial denies politics itself [Purdy, 2014.07.03].

I won't see any candidates handing out candy at parades today, but you might, in Lennox, Ramona, Belle Fourche, and other fine American towns. If you do, take some Smarties and a sticker, and then ask some questions about the economy and the environment. Ask how we fly alongside people who have different economic and environmental interests. Ask how we reach compromise that encompasses 100% of nobody's principles but keeps the country together. Asking such questions is not impolite. It's the kind of serious, even fireworky discourse that the Fourth of July and every day in America should be all about.

Related Holiday Reading:

16 comments

In good conservation news, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture is handing out money to six communities (including Watertown, via the Lake Area Zoological Society) to help plant more trees for us liberals to hug.

But wait: is this $11,076 of government largesse just another effort by S.D. Ag to introduce more invasive species onto the prairie? Heck, as a member of an invasive species, I'm fine with more trees. Let's acquire conservation easements along the rail right of ways from Canton to Belle Fourche and from Yankton to Aberdeen, lay two trans-Dakota bike paths, and plant mile-wide forest strips around them for shady, wind-free rides across the state!

Or just plant a couple shady groves around Watertown, Gary, Freeman, Wall, Lead, and Sturgis. Every tree helps.

Wherever these communities plant their trees, they should be sure to include a little placard reminding everyone that these wonderful trees were brought to them by socialism... or, more accurately, by the generosity of the United States Forest Service, for which federal largesse the Republicans running South Dakota's Department of Agriculture gladly take credit. The tree funds come from Urban and Community Forestry Assistance legislation in which Congress recognizes that "tree plantings and ground covers such as low growing dense perennial turfgrass sod in urban areas and communities can aid in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, mitigating the heat island effect, and reducing energy consumption, thus contributing to efforts to reduce global warming trends."

Yes, your Republican South Dakota Department of Agriculture is accepting and spending federal money to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce energy consumption, and fight global warming.

12 comments

The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems July newsletter offers a trio of articles that might make conservatives think that liberals have taken over the water works. Or maybe providing the most basic need to thousands of South Dakota homes simply requires our rural water providers to ignore ideology and stick with facts.

SDARWS first shares a report from Media Matters refuting conservative attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency's clarification of rules under the Clean Water Act. Apparently Fox and friends have been broadcasting false assertions that the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule is some evil land grab, imposing expensive regulations on every drop of water as well as farm drain tile and ditches. Senator John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem have fallen for this pro-polluter propaganda. Media Matters neatly dispenses with those myths and more, pointing out, among other things, that the clarified rules give the EPA less authority over less territory than it did under President Reagan; that the rules do farmers favors with exemptions for normal agricultural practices; and that the rules produce net economic benefits through cleaner water, recharged groundwater, reduced flooding (by protecting wetlands!), and more outdoor recreation.

SDARWS then cites Rich Widman and Chris Hesla of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, who urge us to contact Senators Thune and Johnson and tell them to put the Prairie Potholes over politics:

Over the last few years, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings that emphasized the need to clarify language that protects the safety of our drinking water supplies, wetlands and headwaters streams. Knowing they needed to clear things up and provide certainty for farmers, the EPA and Corps of Engineers last month posted the draft “Waters of the U.S.” rule for public comment.

But now – with a bit of political maneuvering – some politicians are attempting to derail this clean water rule that would restore longstanding Clean Water Act protections to some of the nation’s most important waters and wetlands.

When final, the rule will maintain exemptions for regular farming activities while re-establishing Clean Water Act protections for the wetlands and streams that provide drinking water for one in three Americans.

As a bonus for sportsmen and anglers, these same wetlands and streams provide critical habitat in our Prairie Pothole region for ducks, pheasants and fish, thereby helping to sustain the strong hunting and fishing economy of South Dakota.

Whether you enjoy clean water for drinking, or wildlife habitat for hunting and fishing, I urge you to join me in supporting the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. And I ask South Dakota U.S. Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson to do so, as well. All policy-makers should [Rich Widman and Chris Hesla, "Clean Water Critical for South Dakota Outdoors," Rapid City Journal, 2014.06.28].

Finally, SDARWS spotlights concerns in Nevada that global warming is intensifying drought conditions that are draining Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam, to its lowest level. The decline of that reservoir is just one of multiple pressures on water supplies exacerbated by climate change that will force the Southwest to change regulations and water-use practices made back in the day when water seemed plentiful:

"We've seen changes in river flow timing because of losses of snowpack in the western U.S., in California and the Rocky Mountains as snow disappears faster and faster because of higher temperatures," said Peter Gleick, a water researcher and president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland. "Those are all examples of some of the impacts we thought we would see and are now seeing from climate change."

..."Adding climate change on top of a system that's already out of balance makes all of our problems more difficult," Gleick said. "We have to realize that there are limits, especially in the dry Southwest. We can't just pretend that we can grow our cities forever and somehow find new resources for them, new water for them. We have to change the way we do planning. We have to change the way we manage water. And if we don't, changes are going to be forced on us" [Ian James, "Vanishing Water: An Already Strained Water Supply, Threatened by Climate Change," Desert Sun, 2014.06.14].

Water is precious, and with rising population, industry, and temperatures, it is not as plentiful as when we got here. The Waters of the U.S. rule is one attempt to keep the water we have left clean.

The federal portal for submitting comments on the Waters of the U.S. rule is here. The more immediate way to protect your drinking water, your fishing holes, and that hidden slough where you always bag your duck limit is to turn off Fox News and listen to your local experts on our water supply.

Related Reading: Midland, Texas, is dealing with drought and dwindling aquifers by tapping water sources 67 miles away and by raising marginal water rates fivefold. The latter worked really well: higher water bills got folks to cut water usage 35%. But less usage means less revenue for Midland to spend on repairing and upgrading its water system.

3 comments

Joe Lowe partisans take heart: the losing contender in our Democratic gubernatorial may have gotten through to nominee Rep. Susan Wismer on at least one issue. After weeks of awkward agnosticism, Rep. Wismer is working her way closer to saying Powertech's uranium mining plan for the Black Hills is a bad idea:

Rapid City Journal: An international firm has proposed to mine uranium near Edgemont, a project that supporters say will bring jobs and pad state coffers with tax revenue. But opponents worry the mine will harm the region's water supply. Do you support the project?

Susan Wismer: Unless and until I am completely assured that there would be no damage to the water, I can't see myself supporting it. The Legislature is surrounded with pro-uranium mining people, former legislators that are now there as lobbyists. So they are not hearing the same thing that is being heard out here. And it is just another symptom of our government, which is controlled by one party [Joe O'Sullivan, "Five Questions with Governor Candidate Susan Wismer," Rapid City Journal, 2014.06.09].

That answer is still wiggly. It leaves room for her to fall for those lobbyists' baloney. It shows that her study of the issue hasn't gotten around to the local press Lowe cited during the primary that said in situ leach mining always damages the water. And it doesn't explain her vote in 2011 to eliminate state oversight of uranium mining.

But Wismer's Powertech caution is better than the vague shrug she gave in May, and significantly more comforting to environmental sensibilities than Governor Daugaard's current absurd non-answer. Keep pushing, Black Hills water drinkers: we may get Wismer to take a stand against Powertech yet!

64 comments

When it comes to climate change, Republicans are like our drunk uncle: he won't admit he has a drinking problem, but he sure likes us to spend our money bailing him out when his drinking wraps his car around a tree and puts him in jail.

Rep. Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune are both pleased that the Farm Bill directs more resources to the Black Hills to fight the pine beetle. But the pine beetle epidemic is brought to us in part by climate change:

Scientists say climate change is to blame: Winters haven’t been cold enough to reduce beetle populations. The average U.S. temperature has increased as much as 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.06 Celsius) since 1895, with most occurring since 1970, according to the National Climate Assessment issued in May by the Obama administration.

The warming let beetles proliferate at higher elevations and latitudes, and resulted in more generations per year in some areas, according to a 2011 Forest Service report [Jennifer Oldham, "Pine Beetles Ravaging Forests Strain Budgets in U.S. West," Bloomberg, 2014.06.02].

Climate change is causing problems the cost South Dakota and Uncle Sam money. Yet Rep. Noem and Senator Thune have both supported legislation that prevent us from addressing or even studying climate change. When President Barack Obama tries to tackle the cause of climate change, Senator Thune cries "Energy tax!"

Listen to the Republicans, and we'll end up with ears full of sand and Hills full of dead trees as we treat the symptoms but ignore the disease of climate change.

69 comments

South Dakota, represent!

I learn all sorts of fun South Dakota facts from my Twitter friends. For instance, the USDA reported that in 2013, South Dakota was the nation's leading producer of bison, oats, and sunflowers. That list sounds so much more concrete, so much more vivid, than health, wealth, and beauty... let's update DeeCort Hammitt!

Hail, South Dakota,
A great state of the land!
Bison, oats, and sunflowers,
That's what makes her grand!

Then this evening, a friends shows me this map created by Seth Kadish showing USDA data on cattle per capita in the United States:

Map of cattle per capita, by Seth Kadish, based on USDA data

Map of cattle per capita, by Seth Kadish, based on USDA data

There are 87.7 million head of cattle in the United States. That's 0.28 cattle per American.

Nine states have more cattle than people, all adjacent on the Great Plains, plus Iowa. The highest cattle count per person is right here in South Dakota, with 4.32 hoofed mooers per person.

In other words, South Dakota has more bull per person than anywhere else in the country.

As you drive by those bovine pastures on your way to the 14-81 for a Jacks Burger, consider that each pound of beef your 4.32 cattle produce requires nearly 2,500 gallons of water to produce. Each dairy cow produces 120 pounds of wet manure per day. (Feel free to weigh your own production... or take the EPA's word that it takes 20 to 40 people to produce the same amount of poop.)

And still, with all those cattle around, Northern Beef Packers couldn't turn a profit. Go figure.

12 comments

Poll: SDLP A.G. Nomination

Lib AG: H H or 0
If no one else runs, whom should the SD Libertarian Party nominate for attorney general?

Recent Comments

  • mike from iowa on "God Under Attack! Us...": ....so the chairman of a particularly nasty HMO di...
  • Jenny on "God Under Attack! Us...": Bush had contact with God telling him to bomb Iraq...
  • Stan Gibilisco on "One Guy Balks at $21...": Jerry, Of course the judges are partisan. They ...
  • Kurt Evans on "God Under Attack! Us...": Deb Geelsdottir wrote: >"So Kurt, you're agree...
  • Deb Geelsdottir on "God Under Attack! Us...": I've listened to many people describing contact wi...
  • Kurt Evans on "God Under Attack! Us...": Roger Cornelius wrote: >"Did [God] email, text...
  • Deb Geelsdottir on "God Under Attack! Us...": So Kurt, you're agreeing with me that the type of ...
  • Bob Newland on "Chad Haber: "The Hai...": If Janklow showed up at the SDLP convention, even ...
  • Kurt Evans on "God Under Attack! Us...": I'd written: >"As I studied what the Bible say...
  • Roger Cornelius on "God Under Attack! Us...": How and when did God tell you "No, God tells me He...

Support Your Local Blogger!

  • Click the Tip Jar to send your donation to the Madville Times via PayPal, and support local alternative news and commentary!

Hot off the Press

Subscribe

Enter your email to subscribe to future updates

South Dakota Political Blogs

Greater SD Blogosphere

Visit These Sponsors

Conversation and Lunch with Democrats!
Join Stan Adelstein's conversation about South Dakota's past and future
Mike Myers, Independent Candidate for South Dakota Governor
Come learn with us at Rutland School

SBS Blogroll

South Dakota Media

Madville Monthly

Meta