Environment

Grass waves in the western South Dakota wind. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

South Dakota ranks third in federal grassland conservation sign-ups

BY: - July 22, 2023

Only two states enrolled more land than South Dakota in the most recent sign-up period for a federal grassland conservation program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers to convert or keep environmentally sensitive agricultural land as grassland for 10 to 15 years. Unlike the USDA’s standard Conservation Reserve Program, the […]

A worker moves coal at a coal-fired power plant on Feb. 1, 2019, in Romeoville, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Winter is coming and the U.S. grid remains vulnerable to power plant failures

BY: - July 22, 2023

From winter storms to sweltering summer heat, there’s a consensus among experts that increasing extreme weather, a shifting electric generation mix, delays in getting new power generation projects connected and the difficulties in getting new transmission lines and other infrastructure built all pose an increasing risk to the grid. At U.S. Senate committee hearings as […]

A May 2023 aerial view of the Wharf Mine near Lead. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)

State board gives blessing to Black Hills gold mine expansion

BY: - July 20, 2023

The state Board of Minerals and Environment unanimously endorsed the expansion of the Coeur Wharf Resources mine, just north of Terry Peak and west of Lead, during its Thursday meeting in Pierre. The action is contingent on the later submission of surety bonds and conditions that the mining company address and mitigate a surface water […]

(South Dakota Searchlight map via Datawrapper)

Company looking for lithium in Black Hills plans to drill 2 miles from Rushmore

BY: - July 19, 2023

A company’s plan to conduct exploratory drilling for lithium in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore has sparked criticism from an environmental group. The company is Midwest Lithium. Its South Dakota subsidiary, SDO Services, plans to drill up to 55 holes in an area that was historically mined for lithium about 2 miles northwest of Keystone […]

A May 2023 aerial view of the former Gilt Edge Mine, an EPA Superfund cleanup site near Lead. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)

Cleanup of abandoned Black Hills mine on hold for potential re-mining

BY: - July 17, 2023

Aspects of a two-decade-long cleanup at an abandoned Black Hills gold mine are pausing because a company might want to re-mine it. The Gilt Edge Mine was abandoned in 1999 when its operator, Brohm Mining, went bankrupt. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took over the site the next year. The EPA’s Joy Jenkins, of Denver, […]

The busts of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln tower over the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 2, 2020, near Keystone. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Park Service opposes Johnson’s Mount Rushmore Protection Act, calling it ‘unnecessary’

BY: - July 13, 2023

The National Park Service, which manages the preservation and upkeep of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, testified in opposition to South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson’s “Mount Rushmore Protection Act” on Thursday — not because the agency disagrees with the bill’s intent, but because the agency views the bill as “unnecessary.” NPS Deputy Director for […]

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks during a roundtable at Landus Cooperative’s headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 29, 2023. (Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

U.S. Department of Agriculture to spend $300M to boost climate data in farming, forestry

BY: - July 12, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend $300 million to better measure the effectiveness of techniques to lower carbon emissions in farming and forestry, the department said Wednesday. The funding comes from a $20 billion allocation for climate-smart agriculture in the climate and social policy law Democrats in Congress passed along party lines and President […]

Mike Hamsa, a fishing guide from Yutan, Nebraska, holds a walleye he caught while fishing on Lewis and Clark Lake State Recreation Area in Knox County. (Eric Fowler/NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

Biologists search for clues on why fish population has declined in Lewis & Clark Lake after 2011 flood

BY: - July 11, 2023

LINCOLN, Nebraska — Nebraska and South Dakota fisheries biologists are studying why fish populations have declined in popular Lewis & Clark Lake since the flooding of 2011. Populations of emerald shiners — the primary forage fish in the Missouri River reservoir — haven’t recovered, and neither have walleye, despite more than 100 million fry and […]

A wetland area in the Chesapeake Bay. (Courtesy EPA)

U.S. House Dems want data on impact of Supreme Court ruling on wetlands protection

BY: - July 10, 2023

Top Democrats on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee asked federal agencies Monday to track possible negative effects from a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited federal authority to regulate clean water. Washington’s Rick Larsen, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee ranking member Grace Napolitano of California, […]

Ed Fischbach, a Democrat and farmer from Spink County, speaks to a crowd of hundreds opposed to eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines on July 6, 2023, at the Capitol in Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Unusual alliances emerge amid opposition to eminent domain for carbon pipelines

BY: - July 7, 2023

Opponents of eminent domain for carbon dioxide pipeline projects in South Dakota have forged a unique coalition. It includes Republicans, Democrats, climate change deniers who see the pipelines as a boondoggle, and environmentalists skeptical of the pipelines’ benefits. Many of them agree on one contention: that unlike water and natural gas pipelines, electrical transmission lines […]

Firefighting foam, used at airports and military bases, has been identified as a source of toxic PFAS chemicals. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration)

Federal study detects ‘forever chemicals’ in three SD private wells

BY: - July 6, 2023

Rural water systems across the United States are less likely than urban areas to be contaminated with “forever chemicals” that may lead to health problems such as cancer, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, according to a study from the U.S. Geological Survey released Tuesday. But the same study detected those chemicals in rural private wells […]

Landowners Mark Lapka, left, and Jared Bossly (holding petitions with about 2,000 signatures) speak at the state Capitol in Pierre on July 6, 2023, demanding a prohibition against carbon capture pipeline companies gaining access to land against a landowner’s will. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Hundreds rally in Pierre against eminent domain for carbon pipelines

BY: - July 6, 2023

PIERRE — Hundreds of people descended on the state Capitol on Thursday, demanding a prohibition against carbon capture pipeline companies gaining access to land against a landowner’s will.  Lawmakers, landowners and concerned citizens from across the political spectrum called on Republican Gov. Kristi Noem to call a special legislative session to address the issue. She […]