Well, at least he didn't call Dakota Rural Action "liberal"....
Reporter Bob Mercer says he's not mocking nor criticizing Dakota Rural Action, but he takes DRA to task for not presenting specific needs or dangers to persuade the Legislature's Executive Board to study uranium mining and energy issues:
The organization’s lobbyist, Sabrina King, testified to the board Tuesday, calling for a look at what other states have done or failed to do regarding mining. She said one such area is “frac-sand” mining. The sand is used in the fracking process that busts open underground formations so that more oil can be extracted. As the study committee on oil and gas found last year, there was room for improvement in South Dakota’s laws. Unfortunately, Dakota Rural Action didn’t present examples to the board Tuesday of specific inadequacies in South Dakota’s laws and regulations regarding gold, uranium and sand mining [Bob Mercer, "The Shortfall of Dakota Rural Action," Pure Pierre Politics, 2013.04.24].
"Shortfall"... that sounds like criticism to me.
Mercer continues his criticism by claiming DRA relied on fear instead of evidence of real problems while lobbying for what he characterizes as costly and unnecessary regulations on mining.
DRA's Sabrina King responds:
Mercer states there was no information given to the Board about specific inadequacies in South Dakota law. Those were referenced in the original request, as well as in subsequent emails and conversations both I and many of our members have had with legislators. I’m not sure if he was expecting references to specific statues or what – but the issues are clear, have been heavily discussed, and when it comes to frac sands mining, there wouldn’t be specific statues to point to anyway, as they don’t exist; that was the whole point [Sabrina King, "The Shortfall of Bob Mercer -- and the SD Executive Board," Dakota Rural Action, 2013.04.24].
King also challenges Mercer's assertions about DRA's efforts during the 2013 Legislative session:
I can’t say whether Bob Mercer was actually at any of the hearings on the gold or uranium bills, but I certainly don’t remember seeing him there. More importantly, not once – ever – has he called up anyone from Dakota Rural Action or the Clean Water Alliance to discuss mining. We presented more data, studies, reports, and actual information about the risks of uranium mining than the proponents did of its benefits (many of which were outright lies). We showed the issues that have been found at uranium mining sites in Wyoming and Nebraska. Our testimonies were laden with facts and figures, as well as with personal stories of those who would be directly affected by uranium mining in the Black Hills.
Furthermore, Mercer’s comment that our requests would have had no benefit to the general public or the environment is purely his interpretation and is not correct – at all. Ensuring permit violations are reported in a timely manner, and ensuring our aquifers are not permanently contaminated for a temporary mining operation have clear benefits to both the public and the environment, but I get the feeling Mercer didn’t actually read any of the bills we supported, nor did he listen to our testimony or read the information we presented [King/DRA, 2013.04.24].
It is worth noting that as Mr. Mercer criticizes DRA for asking that the Legislature study our regulations to find out if there are problems we should address, he reports without commentary on the Legislature's decision to pay outsiders to study its own staffing needs, even though the Legislative Research Council has presented no evidence that unmet staffing needs exist or that such money should be spent. If the Legislature can commission a study to discover its own specific problems, citizen groups like DRA ought to be able to request studies to discover specific problems in mining and energy regulations that could have much broader public impact.