Last updated on 2016.06.22
Heck, the Madville Times works as well as FOIA!
Donald Pay's posting here that Daugaard Administration might be angling to bring a nuclear waste dump to South Dakota got some attention in Pierre. Sioux Falls paper says Governor Daugaard is "denying reports" (reports? mine was the only one!) "that the governor last year volunteered South Dakota as a possible site for a long-term storage facility for nuclear waste." The Governor's office has released Daugaard's February 22, 2012, letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the document that sparked this conversation. The letter, cc'ed to our Congressional delegation, reads in full:
Dear Secretary Chu, [what? formal letters put a colon here!]
I am writing in support of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and their efforts to secure funding for research in our state's extensive shale formations. South Dakota possesses the expertise and experience to develop a comprehensive research program focused on shale, and I am supportive of efforts to further expand such research activities within the state.
In regard to the investigation of shale as a disposal medium for spent nuclear fuel, I see no reason not to conduct this research, as long as this proposition does not obligate the state of South Dakota to accept nuclear waste. Any such decision will be made based on the results of rigorous scientific study and a vote by the citizens of South Dakota. I will not support the storage of spent nuclear fuel in South Dakota without an affirmative public vote.
The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, with support from private research and engineering firms, is prepared to conduct research crucial to the energy future of the United States, and I urge your support. Thank you for your consideration.
Dennis Daugaard [letter, 2012.02.22]
Daugaard spokesman Tony Venhuizen soothes our nuclear nerves:
Tony Venhuizen, the governor’s director of policy and communications, said the letter was sent to promote a “theoretical research project,” and not a “feasibility study.”
“I think the clear message from this letter is pretty deep skepticism from the governor on actually storing this stuff here,” he said [Jonathan Ellis, "Daugaard: South Dakota Not Site for Nuclear Waste," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.06.14].
Venhuizen and Ellis both overtag the Governor's letter. The Governor does not express deep skepticism. He certainly does not, as Ellis's headline pretends, say that South Dakota won't host a nuclear waste dump. He does not issue a Janklovian ban on nuclear waste and vow to place Highway Patrol troopers at our borders to stop any such hazardous materials from entering our state. He says that if rigorous science and 50%+1 of South Dakota voters support it, he'll support nuclear waste in South Dakota.
I appreciate Daugaard's now-on-the-record commitment to science and democracy on an issue as important as this. But neither the letter nor Venhuizen's response undercut Donald Pay's original thesis. The state is promoting research (due at the end of this month, Mines researcher Bill Roggenthen tells Ellis) that could lay the scientific foundation for a campaign to bring a nuclear waste dump to South Dakota. The appointment of former Congresswoman Heather Wilson, with her connections to the nuclear industry, as president of the School of Mines, positions the school and the state to direct resources at producing and selling the case for a nuclear waste dump.