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Hagg Moves Powertech Mining Permit Hearing to Rapid City

The deck unstacks, just a little! After initially scheduling the hearing for Powertech's uranium mining permit in Pierre, Board of Minerals and Environment hearing chair Rexford Hagg has relocated the hearing to the Best Western Ramkota in Rapid City. The hearing date remains the same, putting pressure on opponents of Powertech's in situ mining project under the gun to prep for both that hearing and the water permit hearing October 7 through October 11.

You can learn more about the hearings and see who's ready to raise a ruckus on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Powertech page.

I'm pleased that the state has demonstrated its willingness to accommodate the Black Hills opponents of this hazardous mining plan. Even with this location concession to opponents, Jim Woodward of raises his concerns about Rex Hagg's ability to fairly chair the mining permit hearing:

Rexford A. "Rex" Hagg is a 56-year-old plaintiff's attorney with Rapid City law firm Whiting Hagg Hagg Dorsey & Hagg LLP. He specializes in personal injury and workers' compensation cases.

Hagg was appointed to the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment in August 2012 by Governor Dennis Daugaard. On March 1 of this year, board Chair Richard Sweetman appointed Hagg as Hearing Chair for the Powertech permit application.

It is unclear from the public record why Hagg was appointed Hearing Chair after serving on the board for only seven months. Any decisions made by Hagg on Powertech's permit application are final unless the board overrules the decision.

Rexford Hagg has a long association with Powertech project manager Mark Hollenbeck that dates back to 1989. In that year, both men were elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives. The two Republicans served together for six years. Both Hagg and Hollenbeck later worked as registered lobbyists in the state legislature [Jim Woodward, "Hagg reverses himself, agrees to hold mine permit hearing closer to affected parties,", 2013.06.13].

Personal injury and workers' comp... not exactly an environmental engineering skill set. Maybe opponents should invite Mr. Hagg out to discuss environmental issues at the bowling alley:

If opponents can tie uranium mining to whiplash, they'll have Hagg in their corner.


  1. Donald Pay 2013.06.14

    It's a matter of facts and law, and how you weigh contradictory facts and interpret different ideas about how the law applies to those facts. The more experience you have in an area of law the better you are at making those complex decisions.

    I've seen attorneys on the BME do excellent jobs running a hearing, but completely miss the important issues. One of the best criminal attorneys in the state gave SD the Lonetree dump (which I believe Rep. Hagg voted for in the Legislature), and another respected attorney gave us the sewage ash scam. If they had paid even minimal attention to the facts and the law, neither of these projects should have received permits.

    Generally the BME uses attorneys as hearing examiners when they feel a decisions is likely to be appealed.

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