And the hearings begin

I am currently sitting in the Sylvan Room at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel, the long-awaited Powertech large scale mining permit application hearing to begin. The first thing I noticed about this morning? The cop car parked outside the front door of the hotel.

As folks pour in, it is heartening to see the faces of members and allies around the room. Our board chair, Paul Seamans, is sitting behind me; the secretary of our Black Hills Chapter is sitting next to me; and I just watched about eight more of our members and allies walk through the door. And then, Karla LaRive brought in local hero and uranium opponent, Dayton O. Hyde.

There is a small contingent of mine supporters mostly clustered in the center of the room. They’ve taken a page out of the organizing book apparently – they are wearing shirts with “I love U” on the front and Powertech’s logo on the back.

But by and large, the crowd is yellow shirts and the faces confronting the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment are those same faces that have been speaking out against this project for a long, long time. It is at times like this the need for and benefit of community organizing is clear. To go up against a foreign corporation with financial backing from around the world and the support of the pro-development members of the state government, is no small charge. But when we can come together to show the true public feeling and bring people into the process who would otherwise be shut out, we are a thousand steps closer to democracy, and well on our way to holding public officials accountable.

This is particularly true of appointed bodies such as the Board of Minerals and Environment. They were not elected. Their positions are not open to general members of the public. They are appointed by one man – Governor Daugaard. Their level of accountability is one step removed from other public officials who are subjected to regular public review through elections. As such, it is more difficult to ensure their decisions reflect the will and best interests of the state. What our members and allies are doing here today, and what you, the public, will continue to do throughout this process, is keep the Board accountable, to the public and to the law which they are obligated to uphold.

I’ll keep this blog updated on an on-going basis throughout the week. Public comment has begun – wish us luck.

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Comments

  1. Multiple Rapid City police cars and state troopers were here about 9am. I did not expect this. A state trooper sits at a table by the door inside the hearing room. Very strange.

  2. Reblogged this on Mining Awareness Plus and commented:
    Powertech Dewey-Burdock ISL Uranium Mining Permit Hearings are continuing Monday.
    This week are the State Water Hearings:
    Powertech (USA), Inc. – Environmental Permits
    October 7-11, 8:30 a.m. MDT Meeting Agenda — start the first day, water right permits and ground water discharge plan hearing before the Water Management Board at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Rapid City

    October 28 to November 1, Water Management Board will reconvene at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Rapid City, if needed

    November 11-14, Board of Minerals and Environment will reconvene at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Rapid City, if needed

    November 15, Board of Minerals and Environment will reconvene at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City, if needed

    More info here:
    http://denr.sd.gov/powertech.aspx
    http://sdcleanwateralliance.org/
    http://dakotarural.org/organize-chapters-committees/chapters/black-hills-chapter/

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