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When Mayor Sam Kooiker won re-election to a second term, he affirmed his standing in Rapid City’s volatile municipal politics. Now Mayor Sam and the entire city council are pursuing a resolution of opposition to the Powertech permits for uranium mining. The reason cited is concern for the municipal water supply. If the argument is amount, the numbers aren’t overly convincing. But if the argument is potential for uranium pollution, fear is a very real motivation. South Dakota made its feelings known in two statewide votes in 1980 and 1984. The theme of the ’84 campaign was “Why not Edgemont?” regarding a disposal site proposed there for low-level nuclear waste. What resulted instead was a requirement of voter approval for disposal of low-level nuclear waste in South Dakota or entering a multi-state compact for it. The initiative passed statewide 182,952 yes and 112,161 no, winning in 61 counties and losing only in Fall River, McPherson, Walworth, Corson and Dewey. Those results 19 years ago seem to still stand today. Powertech needs to pass two big hurdles at the state level. The state Board of Water Management will decide whether Powertech gets its water permits and the state Board of Minerals and Environment will determine the mining permit. More importantly, federal approval is necessary, and common sense suggests there won’t be any Powertech green-light in the three remaining years of President Obama’s administration. All of that aside, the Rapid City resolution, which is still in draft form at this time, casts a very large shadow of its own on this project’s future.

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