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Legislative Update #5: February 7-13, 2011

February 11, 2011

submitted by Edward Raventonlobbyist for the SD Chapter of the Sierra Club

HB 1195, an attempt to undermine and/or nullify every conservation easement attached to a piece of property sold in the state was killed in committee 10 to 3. We worked hard to kill this bill and I want to thank everyone who contacted his or her legislators to oppose it. It had wide opposition at the hearing from conservation lobbyist, private citizens and the State Bar and Municipal League on legal grounds. I hope we don’t have to deal with the issue again for a while.

HB 1166, an act “to restrict, under certain circumstances, the transfer of certain land parcels by the federal government” attempted to do the same thing as HB 1195 by subjecting every conservation easement land sale in excess of 30 acres to the Federal Government (i.e. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to the public scrutiny of local county commissions. It was also killed. Chris Hesla, Paul Lepisto and I were primary in testifying against this anti-conservation piece of legislation.

We got clobbered 12 to 0 on HB 1047, a bill to “revise certain prairie dog shooting season provisions”. This bill rolled back every regulation regarding the shooting of prairie dogs. The usual ranchers south of the Conata Basin showed up with their hard luck stories of ranching in the marginal, near desert conditions of the Badlands. It’s a tough place to scratch out a living in the cow business but I can’t fault the prairie dogs for loving the Conata Basin area. It is ideal habitat for them due to the sparse, scarcity of grass. Prairie Dogs were nonetheless excoriated, demonized and railed against by the committee along with the Black footed ferret.

Essentially this bill if enacted into law will simply legalize an already, fairly common de facto practice of shooting prairie dogs whenever they want. I believe its limited over all effect will be more psychological than practical.

SB 180 an act to “impose a fee on certain pipelines carrying crude oil and to create a crude oil pipeline compensation fund that may be used in the event of a crude oil spill” was deferred until next Tuesday. I will support this piece of legislation along with Dakota Rural Action’s lobby and feel fairly confident that it has a good chance of passing out of committee.

SB 158 is a pro-industry, uranium mining bill that seeks to “toll (i.e. suspend) the Department of Environment and Natural Resources administrative rules on underground injection control Class III wells and in situ leach mining until the department obtains primary enforcement authority of the comparable federal programs”. This bill is an attempt to bypass the State DENR local regulatory authority in favor of the authority of the EPA and the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), national agencies distantly removed from where the actual mining is proposed to take place. The site is in the Dewey-Burdock area on the far western side of the Black Hills, northwest of Edgemont on the Wyoming line. It is remote even by SD standards and will need to be carefully and effectively monitored locally as the mining company is another foreign Canadian enterprise like Brohm Mining which created and then abruptly left an ugly superfund site in the northern Black Hills when it went bankrupt in 1999. This bill was deferred until next Tuesday morning. I will oppose it vigorously next week.

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