24 January 2005

Defenders of the Black Hills

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  P-R-E-S-S      R-E-L-E-A-S-E

RAPID CITY --  On Monday, Jan. 24, 2005, the Senate of the South Dakota legislature will vote on Senate Bill 61 to allow the SD Science and Technology Authority to use eminent domain on the underground portion of Homestake Mine in Lead, SD.  But not everybody in South Dakota is in favor of an underground laboratory at the now abandoned mine site.

At their Regular Meeting held Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005, the Defenders of the Black Hills issued a position statement against the continued development of Homestake Mine as a National Underground Laboratory.

One of the main concerns in the position statement is that “all residents of South Dakota will be held financially responsible for the environmental liability caused by the above ground and underground mining that was done for the private benefit of the owners of Homestake Mine.”  

The group also stated: “...the environmental liability of all activities at
Homestake Mine, including the contamination of underground water, is the sole responsibility of the corporate owners of Homestake Mine and the state of South Dakota does not have the right to transfer this responsibility to the taxpayers of South Dakota.”

Defenders of the Black Hills is a volunteer organization with more than 500 members which works on preserving and restoring the environment of the Black Hills and surrounding grasslands. They work on achieving their purposes through educating the public about current environmental situations and problems. 

      “We are concerned that the people and taxpayers of South Dakota have not been given enough information about all the environmental impacts of assuming responsibility for Homestake Mine by using eminent domain,” said Charmaine White Face, Coordinator for the organization. 

    “We think there needs to be more environmental studies on the long-term consequences of the Mine, particularly to underground water resources.  Studies need to be completed by independent experts not in the employ of the state or Barrick Mining Company, and the results made public.”

Petitions supporting the Defenders statement are being circulated and will be sent to the state legislature as well as the National Science Foundation.

   “We think the state is rushing into this project too quickly because of the economy at the price of environmental contamination to underground water,” said White Face.  “When the water is underground, how are you going to purify it?”

    Some local ranchers in the area are also looking at the bills, and seeing red flags.  They are concerned about the water and the open-endedness in the bill language which gives carte-blanche approval to the SD Technology and Science Authority to use eminent domain. 
 For further information contact: Defenders of the Black Hills at (605)
399-1868, or 343-5387; or e-mail:  bhdefenders@AOL.com, or cwhiteface@aol.com


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