Hey, you know that guy Rep. Kristi Noem is bringing here, Rep. John Mica from Florida, to talk flooding in Pierre on Friday? He tried to kill some South Dakota airports this summer.
Remember that Federal Aviation Administration shutdown that put 75,000 workers on ice for a couple weeks and cost Uncle Sam $350 million in tax revenues that the airlines pocketed for themselves? That snafu happened in part because the FAA funding bill included a provision to cut rural airport subsidies. Rep. John Mica put that provision in the bill.
Rep. Noem has defended the Essential Air Service program that keeps flights affordable at her hometown Watertown airport. Perhaps she will discuss that topic with Rep. Mica at her Friday roundtable. Better yet, perhaps she will allow members of the South Dakota flying public to ask Rep. Mica about his opposition to subsidizing rural airports. If you get the chance, be sure to ask Rep. Mica how he gets to Pierre, which used to get the federal air subsidy and which the free market is now deciding isn't worth serving with airplanes.
Folks concerned about the Keystone tar sands oil pipeline system in South Dakota might also want to try catching Rep. Mica's attention. Congress is making some surprising moves to tighten oil pipeline regulations. Included in two noteworthy bills, the Democratic Lautenberg-Rockefeller Senate bill and the bipartisan Upton-Dingell House bill, is a call to study diluted bitumen, the stuff TransCanada is pumping across East River now in the Keystone pipeline and even more of which it would pump across West River in the Keystone XL pipeline.
Given that Canadian tar sands contain more corrosive sulfur, chloride salts, and hard quartz sand than regular oil, studying diluted bitumen to see if it wears out pipelines faster and requires more safety precautions seems prudent. However, Rep. John Mica's Transportation committee appears to be writing its own pipeline regulations, which some expect to water down the calls for study and safety. (Now there, Mica and Noem may find common ground, since she certainly doesn't like all those hard science questions.)
If you're concerned about the Keystone pipelines, you might want to get to Pierre on Friday, August 19, and see if you can get the chance to jawbone this Florida Congressman about where he stands on tar sands pipelines crossing the South Dakota prairie.