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Wismer Inching Toward Opposition to Powertech Uranium Mining

Joe Lowe partisans take heart: the losing contender in our Democratic gubernatorial may have gotten through to nominee Rep. Susan Wismer on at least one issue. After weeks of awkward agnosticism, Rep. Wismer is working her way closer to saying Powertech's uranium mining plan for the Black Hills is a bad idea:

Rapid City Journal: An international firm has proposed to mine uranium near Edgemont, a project that supporters say will bring jobs and pad state coffers with tax revenue. But opponents worry the mine will harm the region's water supply. Do you support the project?

Susan Wismer: Unless and until I am completely assured that there would be no damage to the water, I can't see myself supporting it. The Legislature is surrounded with pro-uranium mining people, former legislators that are now there as lobbyists. So they are not hearing the same thing that is being heard out here. And it is just another symptom of our government, which is controlled by one party [Joe O'Sullivan, "Five Questions with Governor Candidate Susan Wismer," Rapid City Journal, 2014.06.09].

That answer is still wiggly. It leaves room for her to fall for those lobbyists' baloney. It shows that her study of the issue hasn't gotten around to the local press Lowe cited during the primary that said in situ leach mining always damages the water. And it doesn't explain her vote in 2011 to eliminate state oversight of uranium mining.

But Wismer's Powertech caution is better than the vague shrug she gave in May, and significantly more comforting to environmental sensibilities than Governor Daugaard's current absurd non-answer. Keep pushing, Black Hills water drinkers: we may get Wismer to take a stand against Powertech yet!


  1. Loren 2014.06.09

    Don't you just love pols that have to check the wind before letting you know what they think about any certain issue. EVERYTHING is politics all the time. Job is more important than people, state or nation. This is BOTH sides. No winners except special interests with big bucks! Sad!

  2. Tara Volesky 2014.06.09

    Loren, Mike Myers doesn't check the wind, he came out months ago against uranium mining, and the Keystone XL Pipeline. You aren't going to agree with him on every issue, but at least you will no where he stands. He doesn't play politics, and he is not for $ale. Thanks.

  3. Nick Nemec 2014.06.09

    It's not just Black Hills water drinkers who are in danger. The Madison aquifer underlies nearly all of South Dakota including the proposed mining area. Many cities, ranches, and farms across the state have wells that tap the Madison.

  4. Loren 2014.06.09

    Yes, Tara, your point is well taken. No one agrees all the time, but if pols would tell you straight up where they stand, Joe Public could make an informed decision. Right now, flip-flop is the game of choice ... unfortunately!

  5. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Susan, Susan, SUSAN, please develop some inner strength and come out against this with force. Your opponent is for this crap, if you are not completely against it, then why would voters see a difference between you? This is not a job maker and will never be one, unless it is for the clean up and by then, we will all be very dead or damned near it with poisoning. Get in front of this pronto and be clear. Take a look at what is going on in Harding County regarding this kind of nonsense.

  6. Steve Sibson 2014.06.09

    "we will all be very dead or damned near it with poisoning"

    While I am keeping an open mind on this issue and appreciate those who point out the dangers, I would also like to say that some of you have accused me of using fear in order to create paranoia when making similar warnings. I am not making that point on this issue and I would like that to be paid forward in the future regarding discussion on other topics.

  7. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.09

    Another NIMBY -- she has rolling hills, prairies and coteaus not uranium mining. But she IS for nuclear energy -- and that uses uranium.

  8. Lynn 2014.06.09

    Shirley, What do you propose we do for this election for Governor?

  9. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    The proposed uranium mine is owned by Chinese investors so all the yellowcake would go to help level 700 mountains there just as mountaintop-removal mining is planned for the Wyoming Black Hills.

  10. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.09

    I can't/won't support Susan. She votes against labor and environment. That's what republicans do. I plan to leave that bracket empty and not vote for any of the three. I really don't believe that the republicans will let her win anyway. Now, Larry, take a swipe at me. You've been waiting for the chance.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    I asked her to run knowing all that now she's our candidate: it's just that simple.

  12. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Your conscience is clear then Mr. Sibson

  13. Lynn 2014.06.09

    Cory is there any chance you could interview Susan Wismer to get some clarification on some issues? I understand and respect where Shirley is coming from.

  14. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.09

    She might be 'edging' toward saying no, but once she's elected, all bets are off.

  15. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.09

    Here's something else to consider with Susan: I sat outside for days on end to get 500 signers on the minimum wage petition. That's a labor issue. Susan votes against labor. Labor and environment are Democrat issues. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.....

  16. Rorschach 2014.06.09

    Campaigns are part of the process of shaping candidates into the elected officials they will be. Along the way, they learn things. They listen to the public. They formulate positions and sometimes change positions.

    That said, when someone changes their fundamental beliefs for calculated reasons - like Mitt Romney (on abortion, Romney/Obamacare, etc.) and Bosworth (on abortion and same sex marriage) it's fake, and such a candidate suffers from a lack of integrity.

    But when a candidate revises or clarifies a position outside of their fundamental beliefs based upon new evidence, that candidate is simply engaged in the learning process. We should encourage rather than excoriate that. Though I did not support Susan Wismer in the primary, I view her as fundamentally honest, forthright and willing to learn. I hope she steps up her game and puts forth her best effort, which I don't think she did in the primary. Give her a chance, Shirley. Don't write her off.

  17. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.09

    Sorry, Rorschach. Voting integrity is important. Susan has a voting record which was carefully not brought to the fore. And she posted on Facebook back in February that how she voted didn't matter because she was in the minority. Well, a governor in a state is a minority of one. I have NO HOPES that Susan will step up and do what's right. Her voting integrity as a Dem is badly damaged. I'm still not voting for her.

  18. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Well said Mr. Rorschach. I too did not put the ink in the box for Susan and voted for Joe Lowe because of my distaste for the taste of tainted water for one. Mr. Lowe was very clear in his feelings on that and I appreciated it enough for me to vote for him.

    Mr. Lowe lost, and now we have Susan against Dennis the menace Daugaard, the current governor. There can be no denying his position of hate towards the working poor and veterans, a labor issue right there with a healthcare issue, along with the Keystone XL and the uranium mine, an environmental issue. I think that Susan needs to be aware of the importance of these issues to all South Dakota voters, not just Democrats, Independents but also to Republicans. So lets not get ahead of ourselves and forget about what we are trying to accomplish here and that is to get the corrupt regime out of Pierre so we can start fresh. Shirley, your vote is needed as well as your support. It is clear that we cannot work with Governor Daugaard, we must have change and I believe we can work with that change. In exchange for that, Susan must work to get that support too. She cannot be letting those knees get all wobbly.

  19. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    It's difficult to imagine a female Kevin Weiland (or a male one) to be elected governor in South Dakota. However, Rep. Wismer could pick him as a running mate but tribes would still have little skin in the game, forgive the pun.

  20. Rorschach 2014.06.09

    Mike Myers' running mate Caitlin Collier may be the super-ultra-megaliberal you're looking for, larry.

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.06.09

    "not get ahead of ourselves and forget about what we are trying to accomplish here and that is to get the corrupt regime out of Pierre"

    I would like to see that, but I do not believe it can be done politically, because the corrupt have most of the money and it takes money to win elections. And, as long there is big government, there will be corruption chasing after it.

  22. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    She's not West River, R.

  23. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Everything can be done politically Mr. Sibson, where ya been? World conflicts can be solved politically, voting rights can be solved politically, healthcare can be solved politically and corruption can be solved politically. Boss Tweed thought he had the world by the juevos too as did Huey Long, but those issues were solved politically. You can even check out more things historically to see my point. Funny the things you learn and remember from public school isn't it. Now if I could just remember the fertilizer compound for my peppers, my world would just be swell.

  24. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Big money does have a huge factor in elections as far as getting the corrupt message out. It is up to us as individual to sift through the fertilizer and stay the course. One thing I have admired over the years is the lockstep march the republicans make to the voting booth. Even if there particular candidate does not make the cut, they support who is left standing. As you can read on some of the posts, including mine, that is not the case with Democrats and Independents. I guess that even Jesus Christ would somehow be not up to some of our standards. I am guilty as hell of that and find it hard to stomach given my ability to see I am wrong in doing so. I am going to vote for this Susan and whomever she picks as her running mate as a solemn duty to myself as a citizen of this state. I hope that she shares my thoughts about the projects that I hold dear, but in the end, I want to rid ourselves of the blight that we have in Pierre at present and this is the only way to get it done.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.09

    Lynn, I invited numerous candidates to do blog interviews in May. Joe Lowe obliged; Susan Wismer did not respond. I'll try again this summer.

  26. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.09

    Dilemma choices suck. So do Hobson's choices, but guess these are more like dilemmas.

    Between XL and Uranium in situ mining, nearly all good aquifers in South Dakota could be poisoned. XL crosses Bad, White, and Cheyenne Rivers if I am not mistaken it also goes through areas with not much distance between local drainage and rivers and streams running into Missouri Reservoirs. The solvents thinning the crude may be more dangerous and serious than the actual crude.

    The pipeline also goes through the north end of the Ogalalla aquifer just a few thousand feet from wells for Winner, SD. and Colome, SD.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.09

    Shirley, suppose Wismer is an uncertain bet on Powertech. Would you agree that Daugaard is a much more certain bet to favor Powertech and other exploiters? Where should we put our money?

  28. grudznick 2014.06.09

    Mr. H, you would put your money on the young Ms. Wismer. If you were a one issue voter and this Uranium digging thing was your one issue.

    If you were wiser/Wismer, you would put your money on Mr. Daugaard.

  29. grudznick 2014.06.09

    That probably should have been "if you were wiser (not Wismer) you would put your money on Mr. Daugaard."

    Seems to make more sense. And I've rarely been accused of being nonsensical.

  30. Jessie 2014.06.09

    Jerry, you write of Repubs being in the habit of " support[ing] who is left standing." You say that Dems and Indies do not. I can't speak for Dems and whether they value party loyalty in such fashion, but I can ask why would you expect Indies to support whatever lame candidate they refused to support prior to a primary? Indies are, after all, independent. I refuse to join the Dem party because I do not value party loyalty and will not promise to do what it might ask of me.

  31. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    The wheel is fixed.

    Larry, what sort of town is Missoula?

  32. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    Was through Missoula last fall, Stan: sprawl, homelessness, Democrats, snooty, cloudy, center of progressive Montana, long cold wet winters: loved it late 70s early 80s but too big now. I'm looking at property in Newport, OR for late summer and fall but Santa Fe is a drug hard to shake.

  33. larry kurtz 2014.06.09

    Aberdeen, Washington caught my eye, Stan: depressed logging, fishing town with huge historic inventory, cheap real estate and close to most everything Northwest.

  34. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Larry, thanks! Will check Aberdeen, Washington out for sure.

    In the mean time, I will take the NIMBY stand on uranium, and second your notion about geothermal energy as a better deal.

    And green with envy over Cory's video-making prowess (the interview with Howie), I offer this take on topic:

  35. G-Man 2014.06.09

    Visit the "Dead Zone" in NW SD and you'll see why this is DEADLY idea. If you want the future of the Black Hills to look like the NW corner of the state with mutant animals and dead vegetation, then, by all means support this.

  36. G-Man 2014.06.09

    A fellow BHSU Today reporter (back in the 1990's) doing a story on the uranium mines that were never cleaned up in the NW corner of SD. She interviewed the ranchers that lived near the area (Ludlow and Buffalo) and the deadly effects the radiated dust has had on the environment TO THIS DAY. I wish I had kept a copy of that story

  37. G-Man 2014.06.09

    The future of the Black Hills??? Radiated dust from mined uranium filling the air. The radiated dust would slowly descend on everything living there and while it would kill those living things by creating cancers. Animals with no hair, skin and bones, trying to forage for vegetation that is gone

  38. Donald Pay 2014.06.09

    Where do these so-called Democrats come from, and how in hell can anyone vote for her? Her answer to the RCJ question is just awful from all sorts of perspectives. She voted to give back to the feds the authority SD regulators had over permitting the water quality issues of this mine. So, how is her administration going to have any authority at all over water quality? Even Janklow, no friend of environmental regulation, wanted this authority and got it through the Legislature, after years of opposition. She voted to give it away!!! There have been folks lobbying on this issue, but she chose to go along with the Republican/Powertech lobby.

    I wouldn't vote for her.

  39. G-Man 2014.06.09

    Donald: Get out your Geiger Counters, ANNIE! We're goin' to the Black Hills to get us some of that RADIOACTIVE GOLD! AH HUH!!!

  40. grudznick 2014.06.09

    Mr. Pay, you and I don't see eye-to-eye on a couple of planes but I think you are shorting this young woman just a wee bit. I am all for your vote going to somebody other than...wait you can't vote here can you? OK, well, I still think you are shorting this young lady. She will lose, of that there is zero doubt, but still. You are throwing her to the wolves. I'm just sayin...

    Ms. Wismer is the best budget guru from the libbie side since Roger McKellips dominated the landscape with his feathered hats. Do you remember Mr. McK, Mr. Pay?

  41. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.09

    Larry, I love Santa Re. But it gets coooold in the winter because the elevation is 7000 feet. (It's the highest state capital in the US of A.)

    Aberdeen, WA, on the Olympic Peninsula is a gorgeous part of Washington. If you live there drive up to LaPush and Rialto Beach. It's my very favorite place in the entire, beautiful state. The Indian reservations in WA are small and their imagery and customs are very different from the Plains Indians. But the powwow dances are the same. And they make delicious fry bread too.

    Newport, OR is just west of Salem, where I'm moving. 2 things I don't like about living on the

  42. Jerry 2014.06.09

    Sorry Jessie that it took so long to get back to you. First off, I am an Independent and have been for several years. I tend to lean Democratic because the Democrats tend to follow my ideals of health, labor and environment and vote that way. I voted for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin when I was disappointed in the way she was doing business in her final term in office against my better judgement because I thought NOem would be a lousy replacement. Turns out, I was correct on that.

    And here we are. I find out in this blog that there were others that were not happy with her, but choose to just leave the ballot blank because of their displeasure. Boy that showed her, and look what we got, one of the most worthless representatives that ever hit Washington, a complete looser. To answer your question, take a look at what happened when Independents and Democrats stay home or choose to not vote, look what we get. Listen to this yo yo speak sometime, this is what we got. If we at least hang together to put someone in the office that we can at least meet half way on issues, we win. If we at least have someone who will try to work with us Independents and Democrats that will be great. Remember something Jessie, Governor Daugaard has declared that he could give a damn about the issues you and I call hot buttons and moreover, the disgraceful treatment of our working poor and veterans with not expanding Medicaid, is just too much. How could you or anyone else who is thinking of not voting even sleep at night knowing that by doing so has cost the life of an innocent working South Dakotan that happens to be poor. We Indies and Democrats do have one thing in common, we are compassionate. We cannot allow this smug twit of a man continue to govern our state. He has to go and take the rest of his crooked bunch with him.

  43. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.09

    Larry, I love Santa Fe. But it gets coooold in the winter because the elevation is 7000 feet. (It's the highest state capital in the US of A.)

    Aberdeen, WA, on the Olympic Peninsula is a gorgeous part of Washington. If you live there drive up to LaPush and Rialto Beach. It's my very favorite place in the entire, beautiful state. The Indian reservations in WA are small and their imagery and customs are very different from the Plains Indians. But the powwow dances are the same. And they make delicious fry bread too.

    Newport, OR is just west of Salem, where I'm moving. 2 things I don't like about living right on the coast: It's always always windy. Global warming = rising sea levels.

    Good luck to you and Stan with your choices.

  44. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Radioactive hail storms on the res.

  45. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Glowing snow on the Trail.

  46. Stan Gibilisco 2014.06.09

    Purple twisters in Scottsbluff.

  47. moses 2014.06.09

    Cory can you tell me if wismer against collective bargaining and unios let me know Mose thks for all you do.If she is against organized labor we need to get the word out,

  48. G-Man 2014.06.09

    Deb, there have been some really nice and no wind days on the Coast. If you don't like the wind all the time, the Valley is a better place to live and you're only an hour away from the beach. I go to Florence at least once a month from Eugene. I was up in Salem today for business and visited Central Oregon this past weekend to take a hike through very scenic Smith Rock State Park, north of Bend. Beautiful State Capitol. You'll definitely want to visit there when the cherry trees blossom. Newport is a beautiful town, too!

  49. G-Man 2014.06.09

    Deb, also be sure to visit Gold Beach, Bandon, and Brookings...the Southern Coastal Cities of Oregon.

  50. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.10

    Got it. Thanks G-Man.

  51. Donald Pay 2014.06.10

    Yes, Grudz, I remember Sen. McKellips. He voted to strengthen state statutes on uranium mining. He also opposed turning South Dakota into a nuclear waste dump. Any other questions?

  52. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.10

    Cory, the only way I'd change my mind was if we had a STRONG Lt. Gov. who was west river, pro-labor and pro-environment. Pro-choice would be a bonus. I doubt the Dems can come up with someone like that. They're still pissing their pants over having a woman running for governor.

  53. larry kurtz 2014.06.10

    and a cannabis rights advocate.

  54. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Well, that probably ain't happening there Shirley, so you can sit this one out.

  55. Jessie 2014.06.10

    Jerry, thanks for responding.

    I too tend to vote Dem because I can agree with them on any number of important issues. But in the particular case of Herseth-Sandlin, my opinion of her obstructionism was that it was worse than having a Republican because she undercut Obama's efforts. I agree than Noem as a replacement is a complete loser, but that's the beauty of it. She is totally ineffective. Just lucked out there.

    Please don't assume that I'm even thinking of not voting or that I'm going to vote for a Repub. I may have no choice but to vote for Susan, but I'm damn unhappy about casting a vote for someone I think incapable of doing the job. It sticks in my craw that I have no one worthy of my vote. The ethical/moral conundrums of responsible citizenship can haunt me in the voting booth.

    You said "If we at least hang together to put someone in the office that we can at least meet half way on issues, we win." Do we win if that person we agree with is so weak in their performance that the opposition runs rough-shod over them and makes things worse than they were? I don't have answers to all this, wish I did.

  56. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Jessie, "Do we win if that person we agree with is so weak in their performance that the opposition runs rough-shod over them and makes things worse than they were?" Of course no one wins then in that scenario, but that is the gamble that must be taken. We never know what will happen even under the best intentions of the elected official. We do know a couple of things though, the governor can make Medicaid Expansion the law of the state, they have that power to do so. For me, the idea of saving lives trumps just about everything. We can fight the fight over the Keystone and the mining as we are doing now, the shoddy treatment of our working poor, including veterans, needs to be addressed and solved. To solve that, a Democrat must be elected.

  57. Shirley Harrington-Moore 2014.06.10

    and, Jerry, you think west river has no one capable of being both pro-labor and pro-environment. West river folk will be delighted to hear that. Kinda like when Wismer said west river legislators are difficult and simple minded. You don't get my vote either.

  58. Jerry 2014.06.10

    Who would you suggest to be that LT. Governor? I made my position on who I would choose very well known Shirley, you do not. Who, in West River South Dakota would you recommend to go for the position and why?

  59. larry kurtz 2014.06.10

    Rep. Wismer is right, Shirley: except for Kevin Killer, name one who isn't simple minded?

  60. Jerry 2014.06.10

    True enough there Bob S. reminds of a Rolling Stone song.

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