Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jackley conflicts of interest killing South Dakotans

Cross-state pollution? Say it ain't so, Marty.

How bad does it have to get before Marty Jackley files lawsuits against Black Hills Power, NorthWestern Energy, Otter Tail and/or the Colstrip Generating Station?

Jackley got campaign cash from NWE last cycle; so did a bunch of other South Dakota Republicans.

Colstrip's parent company, Puget Sound Energy gives far more campaign cash to Republicans.

Sioux Falls-based Xcel Energy just enjoyed a 4 percent rate hike from the South Dakota Public Utility Cartel (SDPUC) but reduced its request in Colorado.
The latest Xcel Energy data show cannabis grow facilities statewide, the bulk in Denver, used as much as 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity in 2014, utility officials said. City officials said 354 grow facilities in Denver used about 121 million kwh in 2013, up from 86 million kwh at 351 facilities in 2012. Lighting companies are working with pot companies to test the potential for LED lamps to reduce electricity use without hurting plants, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said. Xcel is advising companies on how much electricity different lights use, he said. [The Cannabist]
In 2014, Xcel gave $10,000 to Mike Rounds, $2,500 to John Thune and $4,250 to Kristi Noem.

Why are Xcel and other utilities based in South Dakota? No taxes, a compliant regulator and cheap labor.

Now we know why South Dakota's GOP congressional delegation wants cheap dirty coal.
Environmental group Environment America in January 2011 released a report ranking power plants according to the amount of mercury the plant emits into the air and soil. The group, using EPA data, ranked a Montana power company the 11th-largest coal-fired polluter of mercury in the nation and the worst among those in Western states. According to its report, ”Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury,” Colstrip Steam Electric Station emitted 1,490 pounds of mercury in 2009. This accounted for most of the 1,726 pounds of mercury released by all of Montana’s power plants that year. [SourceWatch]
From the Rapid City Journal:
Coal-fired power plants like those operating across the region are easy targets when it comes to fixing blame for mercury pollution, because they do release mercury in their emissions. Trevor Selch, a former South Dakota State University doctoral student now working as a biologist in Montana, did research on the mercury impacts in South Dakota from 2004 to 2007. He sampled about 1,000 fish for mercury during that time and saw strong evidence of “the reservoir effect.”
Here is more from the eastern South Dakota chapter of the Sierra Club:
Anglers who come to South Dakota for toxin-free fishing may soon lose that luxury and South Dakota, in turn, will lose the revenue from fishing tourism. Mercury contamination is harder to repair than farm run-off---like cleaning up mercury from a broken thermometer, it's hard to do. Also, the costly burden of clean-up is too often on the State and local governments and not the polluter. Since mercury removal is often too much for state governments; it is easier to tell the public not to eat the fish.
Republicans are evil.
One of the larger donors to South Dakota PUC candidates is the South Dakota Telecommunications Association, which represents 19 companies that provide services across 75 percent of the state. The association typically gives $20,000 to candidates in each election cycle, including PUC candidates. In 2012, Matt McGovern refused to take money from lobbyists or industries the commission oversees when he tried to unseat Fiegen. He was able to outraise the incumbent by $47,800.
Read it all here.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is staffed by Republicans so they're pushovers for rate increases by companies who bankroll their elections to the posts they hold.

NorthWestern Energy has its base of operations in South Dakota because of the state's regressive corporate tax law, so do several other monopolies utilities.

After approval by the PUC, NorthWestern’s request will mean an average increase of $16.76 per month for the typical electric customer, or about 56 cents per day.

According to information provided to the Huron Daily Plainsman, the rate case has nothing to do with carbon rules proposed by the Obama administration for coal-fired plants; but, 96 percent of the $26.5 million being requested involves the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandated pollution controls at the Big Stone/Neal Unit 4 generating plants, Aberdeen peaking plant and the Yankton substation.

Behind the paywall at the Aberdeen American News the paper is hosting a propaganda piece written by NWE's CEO who lives in Helena, Montana: a place where his personal income is taxed by the state. He wants the SDPUC to allow the company to raise its rates because of a decision to buy dams that generate power from public waterways in Montana and to build a new complex in Butte.

Public Service New Mexico (PNM) was denied a rate increase because that state has a vigorous two party system where steamrolling over the state's power commission, made up of representatives from both political parties, is improbable. PNM has been sent back to the drawing board to rewrite its proposal for an increase.

Imagine such folly happening in South Dakota.
Despite all this, some 15 states are currently petitioning in Federal court to thwart President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to cut carbon emissions from power plants within the next 15 years. These states include West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Some of these states, such as West Virginia, are heavily reliant on the coal industry. Others simply don’t like the federal government. [Moyers and Company]
As Kristie Fiegen circles the drain wracked by cancer caused by Jackley's partisanship South Dakotans wholly expect their GOP governor to appoint another campaign donor to the post after she croaks.

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