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Powertech’s Hollenbeck Gripes about Weather Delay; Profits Before Public Safety!

Speaking of selfishness, Powertech's point man in South Dakota exposes his company's hyperinflated sense of self-worth by griping about the very sensible weather delay in its hearing before the state's Water Management Board:

Powertech USA Inc., board members agreed to postpone the week of hearings to the end of the month. This move, however, frustrated Powertech’s project manager Mark Hollenbeck.

“It’s taken us over a year to get a hearing,” he said, adding that the company applied for a water permit in June, 2012. The permit was recommended for approval by the Department of Natural Resources in November 2012.

“This will kill economic development in South Dakota,” he said. “It’s horrendously expensive to bring in experts … I understand the hardships, but we could have had these hearings last summer. We’re extremely frustrated” [Kayla Gahagan, "Hearing Postponement Frustrates Powertech Rep," Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.10.11].

Making a uranium mine wait another three weeks for a hearing isn't going to "kill economic development in South Dakota." Other businesses around the state seem to be toodling along just fine, entirely independent of Powertech's flounderings. The prospect of Powertech polluting the Black Hills' water supplies has more potential to kill economic development than any reasonable regulatory conversation about Powertech's water permits.

In Gahagan's report, Hollenbeck also complains that the state could have held this hearing last summer but waited until fall to avoid higher hotel rates in Rapid City. Darn South Dakota, trying to save money instead of hurrying up and doing what Canadian business wants! (By the way, leaving hotel rooms available for big-spending tourists at the height of tourism season probably boosted economic development.)

Clean Water Alliance lawyer Bruce Ellison catches the dangerous selfishness in Powertech's frustration:

It’s a process that could dramatically affect the water resources in South Dakota and they’re worried their profits are down because we’re starting six months late? [Bruce Ellison, quoted in Gahagan, 2013.10.11]

Public health, safety, the environment, state taxpayer dollars, rule of law... pish posh! Powertech's profits are at stake!

Such are the priorities of the Canadian company that wants to mine uranium from the Black Hills.


  1. Jana 2013.10.13

    Powertech is certainly the poster child for how not to be a good corporate citizen.

    Of course we have trained business in South Dakota that it's business ahead of matter what. So maybe they are just doing what they were trained to do.

  2. Donald Pay 2013.10.14

    I guess Hollenbeck didn't learn the way the system works very well, which is odd since his former girlfriend was put on the Board of Minerals and Environment at the last minute to cast a vote to provide SDDS its permit. Hollenbeck went about this all wrong. In fact he tried to copy the way SDDS started out, which was getting them nowhere. SDDS thought they could just run over the South Dakota rubes. Then they got told by Mickelson's economic development director that that is not the way to do business. When they finally got smart, they were able to work the system, which, of course, is semi-corrupt.

    Instead of working to bring the good ole boys in line (through campaign bribes and massaging egos), he tried to strip the good ole boys of power. Hollenbeck should know that's not the way to do business in South Dakota. They've got a thousand ways to screw with you. You might eke out a permit, or you might not, but it's not going to be a sure thing like it could have been. Funny how a bunch of out of staters (SDDS) figured out the system better than Hollenbeck, who was one of the people SDDS played. Once a patsy, always a patsy.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.14

    (Donald: SDDS stands for...?)

  4. bret clanton 2013.10.14

    South Dakota Disposal Systems......Lonetree....

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.14

    There it is! Thanks, Bret! I need a little more practice to keep all this history in my head.

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