Day four – on not being alone

It is day four here at the Ramkota, and Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary lawyer Mike Hickey is currently grilling Richard Blubaugh, Powertech’s Vice President of Health, Safety and Environmental Resources. He’s doing a rather good job of showing how Mr. Blubaugh lacks the experience claimed by Powertech. Again, you can listen to it here. A few key points:

-Powertech, in its disclosure of witnesses, listed Mr. Blubaugh as an “expert” witness, and listed several areas of the application in which he is that expert. However, many of those areas of the permit application were written by consultants and Mr. Blubaugh has no training in many of the areas in which he has been designated on Powertech’s disclosure.

-Yesterday, the entire Powertech testimony given by Mr. Blubaugh was directed at the NRC permit, the EPA Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, and the recommendations of the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. There was not testimony given regarding the permit in front of this board, the Large Scale Mining Permit.

-Citizen intervenors rock.

That last point is also the launching point for the theme of this post. This process, this hearing, is incredibly long, difficult, and complicated. People are taking time out of their lives, off their jobs, to be here to listen and ask questions. And they’re doing so because they feel passionately about protecting land, water, livestock, wildlife, and about protecting all those things not just now, but into the future.

Members and others have been getting up and speaking out against a company with funding from all over the world and the apparent backing of parts of the government. Make no mistake, it is an uphill battle. And people are putting themselves on the line to stop this project.

But each time a citizen intervenor gets up to do just that, to put themselves on the line; each time one of these people gets up to ask questions, to object to unfair and untrue statements; each time, they turn around to a group of people who have their back. The core group of people here, the group of people who will sit through four (or more) weeks of testimony and cross-examination, is a group of strong individuals who have come together to form a community. A family, if you will, people bonded by blood sweat and tears, a family which is standing its ground.

We live in a world of individualistic tendencies. A world where we hand away our power as citizens nearly every day, where we expect our elected officials to take care of things and advocates to speak for us. But more and more, people are finding that will no longer work. And people are taking their voices and their power back. And people are learning that the most effective – the only effective – way of doing so is in partnership and in union with others.

However this goes, we all know we are not alone. And in this world, that is a big, big thing to know.




  1. I second this post! We entered this hearing on a decidedly less than optimistic note. On this fourth day of the hearing, intervenors have not only held their own, they have made some progress. If you cannot be here, listen to the audio recordings – MUCH more interesting than a TV program!

  2. Reblogged this on Haiti Mining Awareness Plus and commented:
    Stopping Uranium Mining in the Black Hills – critically important.

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