The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Kathy Tyler, Former State Legislator & Big Stone City resident.
It was published on 2/4/20 in the Brookings Register and is published here by permission of the author.
I am writing in response to the AP article describing Governor Noem’s bill that would streamline permitting for feedlots.
I’m not here to argue the pros/cons of CAFOs, windfarms, or any other large facility, but rather to point out the inaccuracies in the article, inaccuracies that are supporting a bill that will affect every person in a county with zoning regulations.
Having been an advocate for citizens fighting CAFOs, I am fairly familiar with the permitting process. I have never, in any CAFO discussion, seen “frivolous lawsuits and people who want to jam up the process,” as quoted by the governor. The citizens of communities can’t afford frivolous lawsuits; and as for jamming up the process….sorry, it just doesn’t happen.
The comment by Craig Anderson, president of the South Dakota Pork Producers’ Council is another misconception: “While the appeal process is important and legal, it is often used as a delay tactic to stop projects.” Again, never have I seen a permit appealed for this reason. An appeal is an arduous and expensive process that is carefully considered before any action.
The bill’s abolishment of the public notice and public hearing requirements for large projects removes the opportunity for any community involvement in the discussion of a facility that may or may not be the best for a neighborhood. Governor Noem’s ‘check the box’ approach guarantees approval for any facility.
If this bill passes, citizens will no longer have a say of what type of industry settles in their neighborhoods. There won’t need to be any conditions: trees around lagoons, road haul agreements, noise abatements, etc. In fact, neighborhoods may not even know when a facility is being considered until the dirt moving equipment moves in, but will have to live with it, unlike the out-of-state owners.
County level administrators know their counties better than the authorities in Pierre. Let’s keep decisions that affect our neighborhoods in the neighborhood. Let’s keep it local.