HB 1193 doesn’t pass

Our water bill (HB 1193) went in front of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this week, with some testimony Tuesday and the final testimony and vote Thursday. Several Dakota Rural Action members came out Monday to lobby the bill directly to legislators before the hearing, and to speak on Tuesday. Unfortunately, on Thursday the train got derailed, and our bill was sent to the 41st legislative day (which doesn’t exist), effectively killing our efforts to get some protections in the law for our water.

While this is a setback for groundwater protection in our state, we will keep going. HB 1193 would have required baseline water quality restoration similar to that required in Wyoming, and would have brought regulations for underground mining operations more in line with those already set for above-ground mines.

We have an entire chapter in state law on mined land reclamation. It is chapter 45-6B and the requirements are extensive. 45-6B was written originally in 1982 when gold mining was becoming a more prominent industry and the legislature at that time found it prudent to ensure any surface mining operation would not damage the land. Pages of guidelines and requirements about how the land should be restored after a mining operation is done are on the books because we recognize the value of our land. But we’re now looking at a new kind of mining, mining done below ground in the aquifers using our water. Because this is a new process we don’t have the same kinds of regulations for below ground mining as we do for above ground mining. But why shouldn’t we? We require land to be reclaimed. Why wouldn’t we require the water to be reclaimed?

“This bill would have protected us from the potentially harmful activities of foreign corporations,” says Dr. Lilias Jarding of Rapid City, Black Hills Chapter member and West River at large board representative for DRA. “South Dakota needs protection from its state government. The state has missed a chance here.”

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  1. […] “Because this is a new process we don’t have the same kinds of regulations for below ground mining as we do for above ground mining. But why shouldn’t we? We require land to be reclaimed. Why wouldn’t we require the water to be reclaimed?” …”South Dakota needs protection from its state government.” Dakota Rural Action, 14 February 2014 http://legislation.dakotarural.org/2014/02/14/hb-1193/ […]

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