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YOURS: Wind-energy projects bring challenges

I have been invited to speak at a wind energy workshop scheduled for the morning of Oct. 2 at the Western Heritage Center in Spearfish. This workshop is a valuable public service to South Dakota and the local West River areas affected by anticipated wind farm projects. The workshop should also be of interest to state, county and community elected officials.

Energy projects are a three-cornered hat: The developer, the landowner and the government. Infrastructure matters managed by government agencies arising out of a new development project are equally as important as efforts to obtain fair and just easements and agreements for landowners. Government agencies are in the front lines of any new project coming to town. Local public leaders are the decision-makers on key issues in order that a new energy project might become a successful neighbor in the community.

Planning and a broader vision for these new projects is required. The world of “new energy” affects us all in broader ways than first comes to mind. There are now 11 large wind farms operating in the state with more expected. These supply electricity to more than just South Dakota. In 1945 Harry Truman said, “The world is no longer county-sized, no longer state-sized, and no longer nation-sized. It is a world in which we all must get along.”

In 2012 Gov. Daugaard created an oil and gas development preparedness group. The recommendations of this group apply to all new energy projects in the state. One of the report findings was, “Proper management of traffic patterns, the use or overuse of certain roads, arrangements for maintenance and repair of haul roads caused by a development project and the like are local government problems.”

These recommendations have not been adequately heeded by local officials. By way of examples, Butte County, the location of a proposed new wind farm, has no siting ordinances dealing with the construction of a wind farm; and Pennington County wind farm ordinances have no requirement for insurance coverage during the operation of a wind farm and have no mandate for an operator’s financial surety for excessive wear and tear in use of public roads during construction and operation of a wind farm (Meade County requires this).

This lack of planning should change. Some of these topics will be discussed at the workshop. Infrastructure planning by way of both 1) agreements with developers regarding maintenance and road repair based on increased usage and 2) ordinances essential to a region’s successful hosting of an energy project should be on the table.

The use and demands upon county and township highways and roads are an important case in point. Without effective agreements with a developer and without proper siting ordinances directed to the unique concerns of a large wind farm, the stress on highways and roads is significant and often overlooked. This is a particular issue for counties and townships.

A couple of years ago I was working with a tribal committee chair at the Fort Berthold reservation. He discussed the financial problems he had with recent deterioration of the reservation highways because of heavy oil patch traffic. I asked him the best way to deal with this new problem. His answer was short and simple. “Planning,” he said.

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For Immediate Release:

Wind energy workshop to discuss emergence of renewable energy resource in South Dakota
SPEARFISH — Renewable energy opportunities and impacts continue to be a major topic of discussion in our country and have come to the forefront recently in Western South Dakota with the announcement of a proposed 40,000-acre wind field 10 miles northeast of Newell.

Wind energy has the potential to directly impact both state and local economies. With American wind energy projects actively pursuing projects in South Dakota, it’s important for South Dakotans to possess some knowledge of this renewable energy source and the industry that produces, operates, and maintains it.

To facilitate this, we invited renewable energy industry experts to speak at a Wind Energy Workshop on Friday, Oct. 2 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish.
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Senior Policy and Communications Specialist for the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Scott Minos, will speak at the workshop. Minos will discuss wind energy potential in South Dakota.

During his tenure at the DOE, Minos has worked extensively on a variety of DOE laboratory programs and various DOE initiatives including renewable energy and automotive engineering competitions. Minos has also traveled throughout Africa and Asia to support the Department’s Renewables for Sustainable Village Power program, which brings electric power to remote areas of the developing world.
David Ganje, with Ganje Law Offices in Rapid City, will speak on reviewing wind easements and what landowners should carefully consider.

“Wind easements, like oil and gas leases and pipeline easements, are not true leases or true easements,” Ganje said. “I describe oil and gas leases, pipeline easements, and wind easements as the three sisters of real estate law. Like all sisters they have quite a few similarities, but they also have distinct and different characteristics.”

Ganje will also speak on what he calls the post-op aspect of an easement, covering issues of clean up and costs that tend to be underemphasized in the negotiation process and in easement language.
The Wind Energy Workshop will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by noon. A question and answer period will conclude the workshop, allowing time for direct questions with speakers.
Tickets for the Wind Power Workshop are on sale for $25 per person and can be purchased in person at the Black Hills Pioneer, located at 315 Seaton Circle in Spearfish, or by phone by calling (605) 642-2761.

For additional information contact
Letti Lister, publisher
Black Hills Pioneer
More information regarding the workshop …

EPA proposing tougher rules for in situ mining

As the Environmental Protection Agency reviews permit applications for Powertech’s plan for in situ uranium-recovery mining in southwestern South Dakota, the agency is poised to roll out new, more stringent water quality standards.

But how the proposed new standards will affect Powertech’s Dewey-Burdock permit applications is unclear. Read complete article …

Eastern SD Water Conference

Read complete article …

December 1, 2013 – Capital Journal, The Voice of Central South Dakota Since 1881

Brownfields are properties the use, expansion or re-development of which is complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance. Environmental laws now include financial assistance for the clean up and sale of such properties. Brownfield clean up can address mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, chemicals or sites contaminated as a result of manufacturing. Read complete article …

November 22, 2013 – The Green Sheet, Farm Forum

Many South Dakota municipalities, local governments and private owners are missing the boat. Not all environmental regulations are bad. Two useful but underused environmental cleanup programs in the state are: Read complete article …

Dec 1, 1997 – The Business Review

Ganje proves business product label contained accurate information about the product’s composition. Read complete article …

December 15, 2016 – Argus Leader

The use of eminent domain (condemnation) is a modern legal problem. Condemnation is the taking of property for a public and in some cases a private interest. Condemnation is a legally sanctioned sword. My argument in this article is not that eminent domain as a concept is wrong. My argument is that in its present state, as a legal vehicle attempting to provide fairness, eminent domain is a lemon in need of repair on both sides. Read complete article …

December 22, 2016 – Bismarck Tribune

This is the second of two articles discussing eminent domain law in both South Dakota and North Dakota. This article will address several problems with North Dakota condemnation law. Read complete article …

December 22, 2016 – Bismarck Tribune

On Monday, Jan. 9, The U. S. Supreme Court denied the Petition of a Miner County South Dakota farm couple who were fighting a USDA wetlands designation. USDA enforces rules in which it declares as “wetlands” farmland that has been converted by a farmer from wetlands to arable working land. When such a federal designation is made the farmer loses his right to participate in USDA programs and benefits. Read complete article …

December 22, 2016 – Bismarck Tribune

Many are searching for a solution to the continuing problems and conflicts on the subject of water drainage in South Dakota. As reported in my previous articles, county commissioners in the state have fundamental authority over these issues. Unfortunately, not all counties in the state have faced theses legal responsibilities head-on. Read complete article …

December 22, 2016 – Bismarck Tribune

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in a new effort to obtain control over ‘surplus water’ found in its managed water reservoir systems. The Corps is attempting to define ‘surplus water’ in order to manage and sell the so-called surplus water. This is the second time in recent memory that the Corps has engaged in this enterprise. Read complete article …

August 1, 2017 – Capital Journal

The 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill just passed the U. S. House of Representatives on July 27th. Among other matters the bill attempts to address the ongoing issue of the Army Corps of Engineers proposed ‘surplus waters’ regulation. In a prior opinion piece as well as a letter to the Western States Water Council, both of which can be found on my website, I discuss the dangers of the Corps’ proposed rule. By its new proposed regulation the Corps wants to define ‘surplus water’ in order to control and obtain revenue from so-called surplus water in Corp-managed reservoirs. The new proposed rule is objected to and opposed by Indian tribes and several states. It must be reported just the same that none of these objecting parties effectively or productively advised Congress on this issue. Read complete article …

Published 2:10 p.m. CT Oct. 9, 2017

The South Dakota mining company Powertech has applications for in situ uranium mining approval pending before several agencies including the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Bureau of Land Management. Read article…

Published 2:48 p.m. CT Dec. 16, 2017

There was free money on the table for farmers this year, but most of them left it there.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s buffer strip program was designed as a reward for farmers who put runoff-absorbing grass or wildflowers between crops and polluted lakes, rivers or streams all across the state. Read Article…

Published Feb. 18, 2018

The legislature is considering a pending animal waste pipeline bill which gives business interests the right to apply under existing statutes to create private animal waste pipelines over other landowner’s private property along rights of way. Concerning property rights the SD Supreme Court has held, “It is universally recognized that an owner of land abutting on a conventional street or highway has certain private rights in the street or highway distinct from that of the general public. . . Right of access is one of these private property rights which cannot be taken for public use or materially impaired without compensation. . . This has long been the settled law of this state.” This new 2018 bill (HB 1184) allows for animal waste pipelines by piggy-backing animal waste pipeline authorization into existing law. These existing statutes give county commissions the authority to take private property for use by telephone companies as well as electrical power companies or municipalities in the course of using and distributing electrical power and telephone services. These statutes have a “public use” basis to their existence. The pending bill specifically allows for the, “laying and construction of force mains to dispose of animal waste.” Read Article…

In this opinion piece I discuss the legislature’s animal waste pipeline bill. The bill as written was untouched by human thought. During my short-lived career as a juvenile delinquent in Aberdeen, my father had more than one occasion to tell me, “David we are seriously disappointed in you.” Read Article

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