Seth Tupper

Business and Economic Development Beat

Seth Tupper is SDPB’s business and economic development reporter. He is based at SDPB’s Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.

Raised in Wessington Springs and Kimball, and a graduate of Kimball High School, Tupper earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University.

He most recently reported for the Rapid City Journal, where he spent five years covering politics, Black Hills-based natural-resource management, county government and numerous other topics. Prior to his tenure at the Journal, Tupper worked for The Daily Republic in Mitchell and The Daily Globe in Worthington, MN.

Tupper wrote the 2017 book Calvin Coolidge in the Black Hills (Arcadia Publishing), about the president’s eventful three-month stay in 1927.


Just when it looked like 40 orphaned natural-gas wells in northwestern South Dakota would finally be plugged, the story took a turn into the realm of cryptocurrency. 

A Texas company, Spyglass Cedar Creek, drilled the wells 15 years ago on the vast grasslands in the vicinity of Buffalo.  

S.D. Department of Public Safety

Police interrogation videos reveal new details about a fatal vehicle-pedestrian accident involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.  

Gov. Kristi Noem has asked Ravnsborg to resign, and the attorney general faces impeachment articles in the Legislature. 

The state Department of Public Safety released the videos Tuesday evening that show investigators interrogating Ravnsborg twice for a total of about three hours. Investigators from North Dakota conducted the interviews. 

Seth Tupper/SDPB


Optimism is high at a new Rapid City COVID-19 vaccination clinic, where Monument Health is vaccinating 900 people a day. 




A billionaire’s heir is the driving force behind a proposed $5 million Bison Interpretive Center at Custer State Park. 

Walter Panzirer is the grandson of the late East Coast developer Leona Helmsley. He’s also a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has funded numerous projects in South Dakota.  

Last summer, Panzirer, a former Mitchell police officer who now lives in Pierre, was in Custer State Park with his wife and children when the inspiration for the interpretive center struck. 

Seth Tupper/SDPB


Last year was a good one for the only active, large-scale gold mine in the Black Hills. 

Chicago-based Coeur Mining owns five mines in North America. One is the Wharf Mine near Lead. 

The company recently reported its 2020 financial results. The Wharf Mine generated $72.5 million in “free cash flow,” which is a measure of profitability. It's the highest amount during Coeur’s ownership of the mine. 


The state House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would restrict the ability of conservation officers to enter private land.

Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration introduced the bill. It says officers from the Department of Game, Fish & Parks would need permission to go on private property.  

Joshua Haiar / SDPB

Lori Brandner said the trouble started while her sister was visiting.  

“I cut our visit short," Brandner said, "because my head hurt so bad.”  

Brandner was serving time at the Walworth County Jail. That’s in Selby, a town of less than 600 people in north-central South Dakota.   

SDPB / Joshua Haiar

A watchdog group says legislation presented by Gov. Kristi Noem as a nonprofit protection effort could hide political contributions. 

Noem sent her lawyer, Mark Miller, to testify on the bill during legislative committee hearings. 




After years of avoiding it, South Dakota is applying to a federal program that allows interstate shipments of state-inspected meat. 

The application is motivated by problems highlighted during the early days of the pandemic, when temporary shutdowns and slowdowns at packing plants made meat scarce in grocery stores. Consumers nationwide turned to small processors like local lockers, but in South Dakota, most of those local meat processors could not ship their meat to other states.  

Seth Tupper/SDPB


President Biden has revoked a permit for the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline, but some people along the pipeline route want to revive it.  


Custer County GIS


A series of faraway events is causing the sale of a cult compound in South Dakota.

The polygamous cult is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known as FLDS. It broke away long ago from the Mormon Church.

The FLDS is based in a community called Short Creek on the Arizona-Utah border. It has enclaves elsewhere, including a compound in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

SD Tourism


Western South Dakota came under national scrutiny for hosting the Sturgis motorcycle rally during the pandemic, and now the region is hosting its biggest wintertime gathering.

The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo brings thousands of visitors to Rapid City for a week's worth of events. There’s the stock show and multiple rodeo performances. There’s a speaker series, art show, trade show and many other things on the packed schedule.


Merger Erases ‘Environment’ From Name Of State Agency Created To Protect It - Watch it on YouTube


Gov. Kristi Noem has been clear about her motivation for merging the state’s environmental and agricultural departments.

She wants to help agriculture.




Gov. Kristi Noem has tapped into a deep vein of historical controversy with her request for $5 million to upgrade the state's airplane fleet.

SD Tourism

Gov. Kristi Noem hopes the new president supports fireworks at Mount Rushmore as much as the last one.

“Yes, absolutely, I’d love to have President Biden at Mount Rushmore on July third with the fireworks as well,” she said Thursday in response to a reporter’s question during a press conference.


The governor brought fireworks back to Mount Rushmore last summer with then-President Donald Trump’s help. It was the first such show at the mountain carving in 11 years. Trump attended along with several thousand people.

Noem said the fireworks were a success.


Experts say a South Dakota criminal no longer has to pay his victims nearly $3 million in restitution after President Trump pardoned him and labeled his crimes “minor.”

That criminal, Paul Erickson, of Sioux Falls, is best known as the boyfriend of Russian operative Maria Butina. She was deported in 2019 after illegally working as a foreign agent in the United States.



People in South Dakota could soon have control of a space object, apparently for the first time in the state’s history.

The new capability is coming to the federal government’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, known by the acronym EROS, near Sioux Falls.

The staff at EROS has been processing satellite imagery since 1972, but the facility has never been able to control a satellite’s movements – until now.


U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, voted “no” on impeachment Wednesday and explained his vote to the PBS NewsHour.

“I'll be voting against impeachment, and to be clear, I'm frustrated with the president,” Johnson said. “I think many of his actions, many of his words in recent weeks, have not been helpful. They have made the situation worse, not better. Much of that action has not been particularly presidential.

Rapid City is paying almost $300,000 to the owner of an adult-themed store to settle a dispute that began four years ago.


The City Council denied a conditional-use permit for Dick & Jane’s Super Spot in 2017. The owner, David Eliason, filed a lawsuit.


Gov. Kristi Noem describes the Parler social-media app as a bastion of free speech, but many commenters on her posts are condoning the riot at the U.S. Capitol and calling for more violence. 

U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said it’s difficult to know how much President Donald Trump is to blame for the mob that violently stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. 


Governor Kristi Noem has criticized the accuracy of statistical modeling used to make predictions about the pandemic, but one of her own projections from nine months ago has proven sadly accurate.

That projection is the death toll. In April, Noem released numbers indicating the state would eventually suffer a minimum of 1,325 deaths. The state recently surpassed that total and has now suffered 1,519 deaths among people infected with COVID-19.


U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., is condemning the siege on the Capitol today by pro-Trump protesters.

Members of Congress were moved to secure locations when the violence began. Johnson’s staff shared an audio statement that he recorded.

Here is that statement in its entirety:


A new company is bidding for some of the mineral rights associated with 40 orphaned natural-gas wells in northwest South Dakota, raising the prospect that some of the wells could eventually go back into production. 



Gambling revenue from Deadwood casinos is almost even with last year. That’s despite a one-month shutdown in the spring because of the pandemic.

Global Forest Watch

It seems like a simple idea: Plant a trillion trees around the world.  


It would help with the fight against climate change, because trees pull carbon dioxide – a heat-trapping greenhouse gas – out of the air.  


South Dakota is building a network of charging stations for electric cars, thanks to a scandal that soiled the reputation of a global carmaker.


Five years ago, Volkswagen was caught rigging vehicle systems to pass emissions tests. The company paid billions to settle lawsuits. All the states got settlements, and South Dakota got about $8 million.

West Dakota Water Development

A public board is spending more money to study a potential Missouri River pipeline to the Black Hills area.

The board of the West Dakota Water Development District voted last week to spend up to $79,030 to keep investigating the idea. Most of that money will go toward a water-usage study to determine what entities might participate in the project, how much it might cost and whether it would be financially feasible.

Office of State Geologist / SD DENR

There are almost 100 documented earthquakes in South Dakota history, including a recent one that shook the Bowdle area.

That 3.2-magnitude quake may have been caused by massive plates shifting along faults underground. Or, said State Geologist Tim Cowman, there could be another cause.

“The thing that probably more likely caused this earthquake,” he said, “is something that we call ‘glacial rebound’ or ‘isostatic rebound.’”

Carla Knecht felt it just before midnight.

“My husband said my name a couple times and then he said, ‘Are you OK?’ And I said, ‘yeah,’ and we both said, ‘What was that?’”

What they felt was a vibrating jolt. It lasted about 5 seconds. They felt their bed and the house shake. They heard a low rumble.

“I’ve never felt that before, thank God,” Knecht said, “and I hope I never do again.”

But they’re OK, and so is their house. It’s about 7 miles west of the small town of Bowdle in north-central South Dakota.