South Dakota State University released results of its 2015 South Dakota Farm Real Estate Survey. The report showed cropland prices slipping for the first time in at least few years. Cropland values in South Dakota declined 4.8 percent during the last year. In the 2013-2014 survey, the values had increased 5.4 percent. Over the prior three years, land values increased an average of 17.7 to 37.8 percent. [Tri-State Neighbor]Soils are worn out from decades of pesticides, poor farming practices and manufactured fertilizers. Shallow wells and waterways suffer impairment from nitrate pollution making water less available especially where aquifer levels are dwindling.
The Lewis & Clark system is not operating under an interstate water compact, although it is providing S.D. waters to users in Minnesota and Iowa. Interstate water compacts, among other things, provide a roadmap for access, quantities and priority of distribution in times of drought. By statute, S.D. may provide water to out-of-state users. However, the use must be consistent with the interest of the public and must be the best utilization of water supplies. Importantly, the highest use for public water in the state has been declared to be domestic use. [David Ganje]Republicans don't need no stinking science.
Every year, agriculture contributes an estimated 60-80 percent of delivered nitrogen and 49-60 percent of delivered phosphorous in the Gulf of Mexico. An [Economic Research Service] analysis found that on an annual basis, the amount of nitrogen removed per dollar spent to restore and preserve a new wetland ranged from 0.15 to 34 pounds within the area of study (the Upper Mississippi/Ohio River watershed), or a range of $0.03 to $7.00 per pound of nitrogen removed. [US Department of Agriculture ERS]The US Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to reverse the effects of nitrogen pollution in the Prairie Pothole Region; but, South Dakota's Republican At-large US Representative Kristi Noem says to hell with that:
Small ditches that flow through our backyards, prairie potholes, and streams that only run during heavy rains could now be subject to Clean Water Act regulations, meaning everyday tasks like spraying your lawn for mosquitos or your crops for disease could potentially require new federal permits. [Noem staffer release]Last year through EPA the White House moved to more closely identify the sources of non-point pollution.
The Obama administration is promising to rewrite its proposed Clean Water Act rule to ensure that farmers have clear guidance about what streams, ditches and ponds will be regulated. Speaking to the National Farmers Union annual convention in Wichita, Kansas, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the final rule is being prepared for White House review, and that the administration still intends to complete it this spring. Her remarks won't satisfy the Farm Bureau. Don Parrish, the group's senior director of regulatory affairs, noted that the administration hasn't committed to any changes in the definitions yet. “What constitutes ‘destroy and pollute' in EPA's eyes are different from what farmers might think,” he said. [Agri-Pulse]A transcript of McCarthy's remarks is linked here.
The EPA argues it isn’t expanding its authority, just clarifying it, and that the change will protect the country’s water supply. [Sioux Falls Argus Leader]This year South Dakota's GOP congressional delegation is stumbling all over itself trying to protect donors like Monsanto and Syngenta from their accountability for the state's impaired waters.
The woman in Harvey Dunn’s masterpiece holds a piece of climate change in her hand – and maybe even a key to understanding a proposed new name for an epoch in Earth’s history. But the woman is a product of the industrial revolution, and that scissors she holds for cutting flowers is made of steel from a plant in the East that’s fired by coal; so with the stove pipe jutting from the house. The dress she wears, the clothing her children wear, that’s made of cotton in a mill that may be powered by coal. South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey Looking backward to see ahead added that it is more than just climate change that is wrapped up in that discussion of whether to call a new age the Anthropocene. “I think this even includes human issues with climate change, but land use changes and conversion of wild lands to agricultural and a much more ‘managed’ state,” Todey said. [Lance Nixon, Pierre Capital Journal]And:
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]South Dakota's legislature is dominated by Republicans who ignore the effects of the Anthropocene and lobbyists are lining up to stuff their pockets with cash.
South Dakota Democrats are concerned about climate change and debated language at the state convention in Yankton.
A study released 2 April in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the renewable fuel requirement is transforming the Midwest landscape.
The massive increase in corn ethanol production has led growers to plow up millions of acres of grasslands to produce more corn and soybeans, degrading water and air quality and destroying critical wildlife habitat. How much more evidence will it take before Congress gets serious about reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard and putting that last nail into the coffin of the corn ethanol mandate? [AgMag Blog]After cutting NASA's budget John Thune and the GOP leadership are postulating that Earth science being conducted by the agency is not real science.
U.S. geoscientists are accustomed to being used as a punching bag by climate change skeptics in Congress, who challenge the science of global warming. But some influential Republican legislators are now going a step further, by denigrating the discipline itself. The idea that the geosciences aren’t hard science comes as a shock to Margaret Leinen, president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a former head of the National Science Foundation’s geosciences directorate. Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), the top Democrat on the full commerce committee and the only current member of Congress to have flown in space, took a more gentlemanly tack. “Let me point out that budgets are not always as clear as what we think they are,” he said, noting that several other NASA accounts also support exploration activities. “Earth science relates directly to everything we are doing in space exploration,” Nelson asserted. [Jeffrey Mervis]Seriously, South Dakota? NASA turns satellites not only to study pollution in South Dakota but also to learn how a force like the Anthropocene affects a planet.
South Dakota deserves better.