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KENT: Home of pending environmental disasters

KENT: Home of pending environmental disasters


Have you seen the state Tourism Department’s new slogan: “South Dakota – Home of Pending Environmental Disasters”?

Well, not yet it isn’t, but we’re right on track.

First, there’s the Southern Black Hills uranium issue with requests by PowerTech, yet another foreign company “investing” in America from … anyone? Correct, Canada: our good neighbors to the north.

Well, P.T. (no relation to P.T. Barnum, but the “sucker” slogan can apply) wants to mine the radioactive ore in the Madison and Inyan Kara aquifers.


The contamination of groundwater by uranium and its impacts is a calamity known all too well by the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They’ve been fighting the issue for years and, primarily, on their own. For first-hand accounts, feel free to visit the Rez.

Now that corporate greed for the yellow cake has expanded to geographic areas that will substantially impact the non-Native population, folks are getting … well, pretty upset I can tell you.

Sad as it is that it once again took a “now that it’s at my front door I’m really gonna’ holler about this” scenario to get people moving on an issue that’s been coming down the environmental pike for years, better late than never.

Then, of course, there’s the ongoing Keystone XL pipeline issue -- which will not only bring massive job creation to South Dakota and the country, but secure America’s energy future, generate tax revenue and cure the common cold.

Oops, sorry about that last part. I just get so excited by Sen. John Thune’s positive Keystone statements that I lose track of the promises about TransCanada Corp. -- another “friendly” Canadian company come to contaminate.

The fact that T.C.’s existing Keystone pipeline already has a history of leaks shouldn’t concern those South Dakotans whose property the Keystone XL (or Part Two) pipeline will cross, say its proponents.

After all, what’s a 21,000-gallon oil leak among friends (as happened in 2011 with the first Keystone pipeline in North Dakota)? If South Dakota has anything, it’s lots of nice arid land to suck up any similar spills. And with 90 percent of the state in a drought condition, those acres aren’t being used for much else … right?

Last and most recent on the pending environmental disasters list was the proposal to use our wide-open spaces for the disposal of waste from North Dakota’s oil fields.

Yup, the hits just keep on coming.

Let’s see, we could seriously invest in wind energy, but we support uranium mining and its known dangers to our water instead.

“National Treasure” director Jon Turteltaub already noted that Rapid City could easily create a film industry by drawing movie producers with its 1950s style architecture. Instead, Rapid and other West River communities keep eyeing North Dakota’s oil fields and even its waste.

I guess it’s just hard to believe that South Dakota’s leaders are actually crafting legislation to permit hunting wolves that don’t even exist in the state -- “just in case” -- while doing nothing to protect its residents and future generations from the very real existence of uranium contamination and other environmental dangers.

Still, maybe I missed it. Did they legalize smoking marijuana in the Legislature?

Jim Kent lives in Hot Springs. Write to The opinions expressed by this freelance columnist are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Rapid City Journal.

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