Victoria Wicks

An economist from Oregon said Monday that the U.S. State Department’s socio-economic study of the Keystone XL pipeline is seriously flawed. The report was not generated by TransCanada but is included as an exhibit for PUC commissioners’ consideration. Kevin Cahill testified for Dakota Rural Action at the ongoing Public Utilities Commission hearing, held to determine if TransCanada can meet the 50 conditions imposed on a 2010 permit.

For a thorough look at the Keystone projects and their effects on South Dakota economy, go to the following links to find past SDPB coverage.

Victoria Wicks

Tribal rights have been a touchy subject at the Public Utility Commission’s Keystone XL hearing in Pierre. A pre-hearing order issued by the commission excludes aboriginal title arguments, but not discussion of treaty rights, a distinction attorneys don’t agree on. The pipeline, if built, crosses the western half of South Dakota, over territory set aside for the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation by the Fort Laramie Treaties, and although most of that land is now out of trust, certain laws still apply.

Chynna Lockett

The Sturgis Rally features activities such as rock concerts, motorcycle races and mud wrestling. But the rally also includes events that celebrate motorcycle culture. 

The art exhibition in the new town of the Buffalo Chip, South Dakota, is titled the Naked Truth, Motorcycles Exposed. It included metal motorcycles sitting on pedestals that are scattered around the room.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

An estimated one million people could be in the Black Hills this week for the 75th annual Sturgis Rally, which officially begins today. That would be the largest numbers of people ever recorded for the event. Last year’s event attracted less than half that, with an estimated 442,000 people in Sturgis. SDPB's Kent Osborne is one of the thousands of bikers at the rally and he joined Dakota Midday from downtown Sturgis.

See his blog post from the day.

Victoria Wicks

One of the most dogged opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline is John Harter, a landowner near Colome in Tripp County. He fought in court to keep TransCanada from siting the pipeline across his land, and he lost. At the Public Utilities Commission hearing in Pierre, he is an intervener, and as such may ask questions of TransCanada’s witnesses. Although he has a quiet voice and slight stature, he holds his own in a room full of lawyers.

Victoria Wicks

A former TransCanada employee referred to as a whistle-blower took the stand this weekend at the Public Utilities Commission hearing in Pierre. The meeting started last Monday and continues this week. Evan Vokes testified on Saturday, and his testimony continues Monday or Tuesday, depending on scheduling of other witnesses.

Victoria Wicks

If the Keystone XL pipeline is allowed to be built through Western South Dakota, TransCanada will dig a trench more than 300 miles long. The construction project is planned to go through territory occupied by indigenous people for thousands of years before settlers first arrived. As such, a tribal historic preservation officer says all tribes should be consulted.

Bikers Start Arriving For The 75 Sturgis Rally

Aug 3, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The Sturgis Rally officially starts today and the crowds are already large and expected to get larger into the peak numbers mid-week.

I’m reporting from a building on the corner of Kansas City and Seventh St. This is one block from Mount Rushmore Road in Rapid City.  Sturgis is 30 miles away but motorcycles can still be heard from my window.

Law Enforcement Urges Cautious Driving During Rally

Jul 31, 2015
Charles Michael Ray SDPB

  Traffic safety is a concern every year during the Sturgis Rally. The 75 Anniversary is expected to be the largest on record, bringing as many as 1-million people over the next few weeks. That means locals can expect lots more traffic. Officials are warning motorists to drive safely during the event.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Storms in mid-June ripped across South Dakota. A tornado, 95-mile-per-hour winds, baseball-sized hail, and heavy rains knocked down power lines, slammed trees and branches to the ground, and washed out roads and bridges.

The severe weather cause nearly $3 million in damage to public property. Jason Bauder with South Dakota’s Office of Emergency Management says the federal government is covering some of the repair costs.

Victoria Wicks

At the Public Utilities Commission’s hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, there are parties with attorneys, and there are parties without attorneys. The latter are the individual interveners who want to know what’s going on because their lives and their land could be affected by the pipeline, especially if something goes wrong. They have the right to cross examine TransCanada’s witnesses, and some of them are learning the frustration of trying to get an answer.

Lakota Hemp Farmer Fights For The Right To Plant

Jul 30, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

A Lakota farmer is fighting for the right to plant a new crop of industrial hemp on Pine Ridge.
Alex White Plume began growing hemp in the late 1990’s after the Oglala Sioux Tribe legalized the crop for industrial use.   
But drug enforcement agents soon seized the White Plume crop.   He spent several years fighting in federal court and is under an injunction restricting his ability to plant again, despite new provisions in the Farm Bill that open the door for the crop.

Dakota Midday: Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender

Jul 30, 2015

Former Rapid City police chief Steve Allender took office as mayor earlier this month. He was sworn in July 7th after defeating incumbent Sam Kooiker in June’s city election. Allender retired from the Rapid City Police Department last year after 29 years on the force. After just a few weeks in office, the new mayor has made his first annual budget proposal and is preparing for an influx of bikers for next week’s 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Mayor Allender joined Dakota Midday and discussed his first month on the job.

Victoria Wicks

Time set for the Keystone XL hearing in Pierre has been extended. The Public Utilities Commission had set the week of July 27 through Aug. 4, with a clear weekend. But today (Thursday), TransCanada’s witnesses are still on the stand, and interveners’ witnesses are still to come.

The delay comes largely because each TransCanada witness is subject to cross-examination by about a dozen interveners, one at a time. Questioning is detailed and lengthy, as are objections and discussions of the hearing’s format.

Victoria Wicks

When TransCanada was given authority to build the Keystone XL Pipeline through Western South Dakota ten years ago, the Public Utilities Commission issued 50 amended conditions with the permit. Those 50 conditions are at the heart of the Keystone XL Pipeline hearing held this week and next.

To read the 50 conditions, go to this link and scroll down to page 25.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The official floodplain in Sioux Falls is shrinking. That’s because a project to update levees in the city is complete, so FEMA officials are changing flood maps. Five years ago city leaders advanced the federal government millions of local tax dollars to accelerate the project. Since then, federal officials have reimbursed the city, and the project is a split among local, state, and federal money.

Victoria Wicks SDPB

After a year and a half of hearings, motions, and filings, the state Public Utilities Commission is taking testimony on whether to authorize TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across South Dakota. Both opponents and proponents have been outlining their cases in the seven-day hearing before the PUC. 

Victoria Wicks

A witness called by TransCanada on Tuesday has been bumped to later in the week. Rick Perkins was called to provide rebuttal testimony to a witness for the Yankton Sioux Tribe, but that witness had not yet testified and therefore could not be rebutted.

Seven Tularemia Cases Found In SD

Jul 28, 2015

Seven people in South Dakota have contracted tularemia. The state health department reports the disease in six adults over the age of 50 and one child who is younger than five. Some needed to be hospitalized.

Health officials discovered all seven tularemia cases in the northern part of the Black Hills. State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says the disease is sometimes called rabbit fever.

"Tularemia is often found in rabbits, and people get infected when they kill a rabbit or are exposed to rabbit blood," Kightlinger says.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The National Wildlife Federation intends to sue the federal government over pipeline regulations – and some are in South Dakota. NWF leaders say federal officials aren’t enforcing a 1990s law that helps protect communities, people and animals when oil spills happen. The problem arises when pipelines cross waterways. 

National Wildlife Federation leaders say the US Department of Transportation is failing to comply with the Oil Pollution Act, and they’ve filed a notice of intent to sue. Mike Shriberg is the executive director for the Great Lakes Region.

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline hearings in Pierre delve into details of the Keystone One pipeline already built on the eastern side of the state, and on assurances TransCanada has made for the proposed Western South Dakota route. A Keystone official has been on the stand since Monday afternoon, often deferring questions to other TransCanada witnesses still to come. Each witness is subject to cross-examination and re-cross by interveners and their attorneys, and by Public Utilities Commissioners and their staff.

New USDA Biofuel Program Expected To Fund More Research

Jul 27, 2015
courtesy photo

The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, recently started accepting applications for its new funding program. The program supports the production of advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased product manufacturing. It could affect researchers in rural areas, such as South Dakota, where some of this research is done.

Victoria Wicks

Parties in the Keystone XL pipeline hearings in Pierre made opening statements Monday afternoon. Both opponents and proponents outlined what case they’ll try to make during the seven-day hearing, held before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks is in Pierre covering the hearing held to determine if TransCanada can still meet the conditions set when the PUC gave the company its 2010 permit to build.

Inside Gold Discovery Day’s Hot Air Balloon Rally

Jul 27, 2015
Chynna Lockett

The Annual Gold Discovery Days Celebration in Custer features a variety of events from an afternoon parade to an arts and crafts festival. But people that wake up early enough get the chance to see the day’s first event - the hot air balloon rally.

Onlookers gathered at Custer’s Pageant Hill as the sun rose on Saturday. Trucks drove trailers filled with equipment onto the grass as workers began to prepare eight hot air balloons for the morning’s event.

Victoria Wicks

After a year and a half of hearings, motions, and filings, the Public Utilities Commission is taking testimony on whether to authorize TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across South Dakota. The commission started taking opening statements from opponents and proponents Monday morning. It’s been an emotionally charged issue on both sides.

2015 Accelerator Challenge - it’s a program to boost emerging entrepreneurs and launch businesses. 

The show features six of the participants in a short conversation about their idea and where they're at in launching a business in South Dakota.  Also featured in the show is Rich Naser, Executive Director of the South Dakota Technology Business, a business incubator launched by Forward Sioux Falls in 2004. The Center and its staff serve as the resource for innovators and entrepreneurs launching, growing or expanding successful technology-based businesses in Sioux Falls.

Photo courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission

Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen won’t attend a seven-day hearing that starts Monday as part of the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Fiegen announced publicly earlier this year that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson says Fiegen’s treatment during the time of the hearing won’t allow her to attend either in person or by phone. However, he says state law allows a board or commission member to participate in a hearing after the fact by reading a complete transcript or listening to a complete recording.

Capital One

Hundreds of people are losing their jobs as a Sioux Falls financial call center closes. A spokesperson for Capital One says the company is shifting strategies and moving work from Sioux Falls to other places. It’s supposed to happen by the end of the year. A layoff of 750 workers is significant, but the situation offers those employees some opportunities.

Thursday Capital One leaders alerted workers that their business in Sioux Falls is shutting down. Employees are not out of a job right away. They can work for a few months before Capital One’s operations end.

Kealey Bultena SDPB

A railroad company and Sioux Falls have struck a multi-million dollar deal for land in the central part of the city. BSNF Railway Company agrees to sell much of the rail yard in downtown Sioux Falls for more than $27 million.

Victoria Wicks

On the isolated prairie 24 miles northwest of Miller lies the town of Polo. It’s a small residential community notable for its distinctive landmark, the Saint Liborius Church and School, a block-long Spanish Mission-style complex that is largely empty and crumbling.
Most of the structure could soon be torn down, leaving only the church and rectory standing. The parishioners have asked the Bishop of the Diocese for permission to raze the old building and build a new Parish Hall.