Saturday, May 9, 2015

High Plains at risk to energy development

Only 150 years ago, the prairies of Nebraska and South Dakota were a part of a multi-state sea of native grasses laid out below an upside-down bowl of blue sky, with antelope, songbirds, prairie dog colonies and herds of buffalo roaming miles upon miles of the expanse and not a fence in sight. Agriculture and urban development have overcome the symbolic prairie, replacing hills of grass with crop and pastureland, taming the rivers and wetlands and breaking up the remaining ecosystems with roads, fences and other features of human civilization. Land use is changing in the Great Plains,” said Dirac Twidwell, rangeland ecologist with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. “There is considerable momentum for further conversion of our nation’s rangelands to support energy demand.” While development did not seem adverse when examined locally, he and others on the research team led by the University of Montana found that ecosystem degradation was evident when viewed from a large scale via high-resolution satellite measurements of vegetation growth. [Yankton Press & Dakotan, links added]
The League of Conservation Voters has released their 2014 environment scorecard. It doesn't look good for South Dakota's GOP congressional delegation.

Johnson, Tim P. D-SD 2014: 100%  lifetime: 73%
Thune, John R. R-SD   2014: 20%    lifetime: 13%
Noem, Kristi R-SD       2014: 3%     lifetime: 7%

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