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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rapid City Picks People Power over Powertech, Opposes Black Hills Uranium Mine

Speaking of mining, the Rapid City Council made my week by voting Monday night to pass a resolution expressing "grave concern" about Powertech's plan to squirt a millions of gallons of drinkable water into the ground to blast uranium to the surface.

The Council loses two points for letting the term "grave concern" take the place of straight-up opposition in the original esolution presented in the agenda. However, even the decision to go as far as to say that Powertech has left too many questions unanswered and that the Canadian companies uranium mine poses an "unacceptable risk" to the Madison aquifer gives cause for celebration to citizen activists and to folks who prefer non-fluorescent drinking water.

The resolution is a stunning rebuke to Powertech's main Black Hills stooge, Mark Hollenbeck, who simpered that his reputation is at stake (hmmm... one guy's reputation versus public health, agriculture, and tourism...) and then tried to talk the Council down with the patently false claim that "There’s no way physically possible that we can affect either your quality or quantity of water from what we do at Dewey."

The Rapid City Council had a choice between doing the bidding of a foreign corporation or listening to the concerns of local citizens. The council listened to and says it shares those concerns. The council put environmental caution over the promises of foreign speculators and extractors. That's pretty remarkable for South Dakota.

Rapid City's resolution likely won't stop Powertech's Chinese investors from pressing ahead with their plan to take America's uranium, drain our aquifers, and leave us with a warm glow. But the resolution does show that if South Dakotans organize and protest, they can win. Let's take that fighting spirit to the state environmental hearings on Powertech!

The only "no" vote on the ten-member council came from Steve Laurenti, who fumble-mummed around his fealty to rich exploiters:
"The problem I have, from a logical standpoint, is to oppose something or even to have grave concern, grave meaning that I have a fear for my life," Laurenti said. "I don't fear for my life over this issue at this point."

Laurenti said he doesn't necessarily support the mine, but more debate is needed and the council should wait to see what comes from the state permit hearings.

"The bottom line is, it's very difficult for me to have grave concern about something I don't have a lot of information on," Laurenti said. "I'll be honest with you, I would be dishonest with my constituents and with all of you tonight if I said I had grave concerns about this issue at this point."
My sources tell me that Laurenti had received a whole lot of information on Powertech's plan back at a council meeting back in December. According to one source, Laurenti immediately threw that notebook in the trash.

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