Environment

Sanders Makes Three Stops In South Dakota

May 12, 2016
Chynna Lockett

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is speaking at events across South Dakota ahead of the June 7th primary.

He started with a community discussion in Pine Ridge where he spoke about issues of concern on the reservation and called on audience members to share their experiences.
 
Hundreds gathered in the gym of Pine Ridge School as Sanders took the stage.

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.

Officials with the US Army Corps of Engineers are considering permits to construct and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. The crude oil pipeline will connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to existing infrastructure in Illinois, traveling through part of South Dakota. Most of the more than eleven hundred mile pipeline crosses private lands. The US Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction on about 37 miles, or about three percent of the project…the sections that cross water or federal land. Eileen Williamson is a spokesperson for the Corps.

DENR Report: 143 Impaired Water Bodies In SD

May 4, 2016
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new report by the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources lists 143 of South Dakota's streams, lakes, and rivers as impaired or polluted.

The DENR reports pollution in surface water to the EPA every two years.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Survey crews are training for a time when the emerald ash borer finds its way to South Dakota trees. The exotic insect feeds on black, green or white ash. The trees have no defense against the beetle. State, local, and federal agencies are collaborating on a practice exercise in Sioux Falls.

State forester Gregory Josten says to claim South Dakota has escaped the emerald ash borer so far isn’t necessarily true.

"We don’t know for sure that it’s not here, but we have not found it here yet," Josten says.

Lead Killing Some Bald Eagles In South Dakota

Apr 19, 2016
John Gilman

Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown has cared for three eagles with lead poisoning this year. They may ingest a lead fishing weight, or eat contaminated meat…either another bird with lead poisoning, or fragmented bullets on deer carcasses.

 

$10 Million Settlement In Gilt Edge Cleanup

Apr 18, 2016
Amy Varland

Federal and State officials have secured $10 million in a settlement agreement for cleanup of the Gilt Edge Superfund site.

In the late 1990’s, the company operating the open pit gold mine in the Northern Black Hills went bankrupt and abandoned the site. Part of the effort to pay for on-going reclamation includes settlement agreements with the private companies involved in the former operation.

TransCanada

Officials with TransCanada say they’re working on an in-depth investigation into a leak that put 400 barrels of crude oil into the ground near Freeman, South Dakota. TransCanada shut down the Keystone oil pipeline for one week to find the problem and fix it.

TransCanada crews found the source of an oil leak Friday, worked to repair it over the weekend, and had crude oil flowing through the Keystone pipeline by Sunday.

Mark Cooper with TransCanada says the company is analyzing the root cause of the oil leak and he can’t offer details until the investigation is complete.

Parks That Changed America

Apr 11, 2016

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of National Parks.  

One group in the state is trying to remind people that all parks hold value from the biggest open spaces like the Badlands all the way down to the small city parks.

Michael Stanley is a landscape architect in Rapid City. 

TransCanada

TransCanada authorities say crude oil could move through the Keystone pipeline again by the end of the day Saturday. Crews discovered a leak that released nearly 17,000 gallons of oil. The pipeline is shut down, but TransCanada says it should be fixed by Satruday, so oil can flow at reduced pressure.

TransCanada officials say engineers and pipeline integrity specialists are working on the leak site. They say they have conditional approval from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to restart the line after repairs are done.

TransCanada

Landowners and regulators are watching as crews search for the source of an oil sheen in southeastern South Dakota. The Keystone Pipeline is shut down as TransCanada teams drill for soil samples and excavate to figure out how oil got into the land. Officials with TransCanada say the oil covers about 300 square feet of land near Freeman.

TransCanada

TransCanada crews are investigating what they call "a small potential leak along the Keystone pipeline right-of-way" near Freeman. Representatives from TransCanada say they’re testing oil discovered a field to learn whether it’s the same kind the Keystone Pipeline carries. An official says about 100 contractors from Canada and the United States have contained the oil and are working near Freeman, South Dakota.

Residents On Road To Rushmore Decry Quarry Expansion Plan

Apr 4, 2016

UPDATE:  Pennington County commissioners rejected the proposed expansion of this limestone quarry.
Attorney Tom Brady says the company is weighing its options.

Original story:

The proposed expansion of a rock quarry on a main road to Mount Rushmore has inflamed a dispute between the quarry operator and some local residents and business owners. The Pennington County Commission is holding a meeting on Tuesday the 5th to consider zoning of the quarry and a possible expansion. 

SDPB

Lawmakers finished their final day of work for the 2016 legislative session. They discussed five measures on veto day, ultimately agreeing with the Governor in all but one style and form veto.   Senate Bill 136, which incentivizes grassland buffer strips along waterways, failed to make it through both houses of the legislature.

Venkataraman Gadhamshetty

Researchers from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have successfully converted tomato waste into electricity, paving the way for an efficient low-cost new alternative energy source.

Dr. Scott Kenner, head of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at SD School of Mines and Technology and his Grad student Brian Freed join Innovation to discuss their research looking at the hydrologic response of watersheds to pine beetle infestation.

Statehouse Podcast: Abortion And Education Among Final Bills

Mar 7, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for March 7th, 2016 includes coverage of legislation on abortion, education, and confined animal feedlots.

Statehouse Podcast: Medicaid Expansion Delay, Education, CAFO Zoning

Feb 29, 2016

The Statehouse Podcast for February 29th, 2016 includes coverage of a delay in possible Medicaid expansion, education issues, CAFO zoning changes, and a bill dealing with the sale of fetal body parts.

CAFO Zoning Bill Advances

Feb 29, 2016
SDPB

A bill that changes the way county zoning is done for Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs has cleared a State Senate committee.

Those backing House Bill 1140 say it keeps South Dakota agriculture competitive but stops red tape and frivolous delays for local approval.  

Opponents say the measure takes away local control and helps corporate farms to push large feedlots into areas where they are unwanted.

EPA Fines BNSF $600K For Violations Including Oahe Spill

Feb 25, 2016
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined BNSF Railroad $600-thousand for violations including oil and diesel spills at its rail yards and along railways.  

One spill in 2010 affected Lake Oahe.

BNSF reached an agreement with the EPA to resolve the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act across several states.

Dr. Robert “Bud” Grant teaches environmental theology, at St. Ambrose University.   He is an environmentalist, author, theologian, and Catholic priest.  He joins Dakota Midday to discuss his thoughts on the intersection of morality and climate change and Pope Francis’ encyclical "Laudato Si".

Courtesy Buffalo Field Campaign

The non-profit “Buffalo Field Campaign” is holding rallies near Yellowstone National Park this week. Their goal is to educate the public about Yellowstone’s buffalo herd and protest the long-standing practice of killing buffalo that wander out of the park into Montana. But some in Montana worry the buffalo could harm cattle.

The “Buffalo Field Campaign” was founded in 1997 by Lakota elder Rosalie Little Thunder and Mike Mease. Their goal was to stop the killing of buffalo that left Yellowstone National Park during the winter.

Northern Hills Mine Put On Hold

Jan 22, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

A proposed rare earth mine in the Bear Lodge Mountains of Wyoming is on hold.   

The Bear Lodge sit just north of the Black Hills near the state line.  The mining company Rare Element Resources is backing the project.  Mine officials say a deposit in the area contains a high volume of minerals needed in the production of batteries and computer components.

Great Kiskadee Loses Fight With SD Winter

Jan 8, 2016
K.C. Jensen / SDSU

A tropical bird living outside Brookings has lost his struggle to survive an eastern South Dakota winter.
 
The appearance of a Great Kiskadee in 2015 captured the attention of bird watchers around the region.  Many were rooting for the underdog to make it through the cold and snowy season.

Bird Counts: Citizen Science Documents Climate Change Impacts

Dec 30, 2015
Courtesy Wind Cave National Park

The 116th annual Christmas Bird Count is happening across the country again this season.  The counts include volunteers who fan out around communities and document as many birds as they can on a given day.

There are over a dozen bird counts happening in South Dakota from late December into early January.

Lost Tropical Bird Eats Cat Food To Survive SD Winter

Dec 21, 2015
K.C. Jensen / SDSU

A tropical bird that doesn’t often make it farther north than Texas is toughing out the winter in South Dakota.   

The Great Kiskadee normally calls Mexico home, but birdwatchers confirmed one living in South Dakota this fall, and they’ve even photographed it in the snow.  The bird is finding some creative solutions to survive a South Dakota winter.

Finding a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota is a little bit like having a penguin pop up on a beach in Jamaica.

South Dakota Is Party To Multiple Lawsuits Against The EPA

Dec 17, 2015
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota is now suing the EPA over implementation of the Clean Water Act.    

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says  federal officials are overstepping their authority in regulating how South Dakota uses its water.

This is one in a number of multi state lawsuits the state has currently signed on against the EPA.

SD Scientists Welcome Renewable Research Boost

Dec 7, 2015
SDSU

World leaders are meeting in Paris to hash out a new agreement on the best way to deal with climate change.   As part of the effort President Barak Obama announced a doubling in funding for renewable energy research.   
 
This could have a direct impact on on-going research into new biofuels in South Dakota.
 
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Professor Jim Stone is part of a team of scientists researching the potential for oil seeds as a renewable fuel crop.

Downtown Rapid City Green Space Wins Award

Dec 7, 2015
Ken Steinken / Trinity Eco Prayer Park

A small park in Downtown Rapid City has won the town’s 2015 Sustainability Award.

 The solar powered Trinity Eco Prayer Park collects and cleans storm water runoff before it enters Rapid Creek while providing a bit of green landscape in the middle of downtown.

Dakota Midday: First West River Wind Farm Moves Forward

Dec 1, 2015
Stuart Surma

Political leaders meeting at the COP21 U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Paris are now hashing out an agreement that could further reduce global carbon emissions.  

Public Utilities Commissioners have approved a permit for an oil pipeline built across eastern South Dakota. The pipeline is more than 1,100 miles long and will transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. Commissioners approved the permit with conditions on a split vote.

The local segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from the North Dakota border 272 miles across South Dakota to the Iowa state line. It includes one pump station, and the proposed route crosses 13 eastern South Dakota counties.

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